September 21, 2018

That All May Be One / Fr. Rick Ginther

Dialogues of life, action to be highlighted at Festival of Faiths

Fr. Rick GintherLast month, I wrote of interreligious connections in the Louisville and Cincinnati areas. The reason was to highlight that an archdiocese as geographically large as ours often can be served by its neighbors.

This month, I return to the greater Indianapolis area, and to the sixth annual Indy Festival of Faiths.

The Center for Interfaith Cooperation (highlighted in a column in February) is the creator and sponsor of this event. It will take place from 1-5 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Veterans Memorial Plaza, located at the corner of Meridian and Michigan streets in downtown Indianapolis.

This year’s theme is “Compassion through action.”

The event offers a wonderful opportunity for the greater local community to learn about, share and celebrate our rich religious diversity. Each religion will witness at various booths to their outreach in compassion to their neighbors.

Such outreach is a universal principle of the religions of our world. The theological or philosophical reasons may find their roots in different texts and cultural backdrops, but their universal focus is human dignity and human need.

The Indy Festival of Faiths offers anyone the opportunity to engage in dialogue. As noted in a prior column, the 1991 document “Dialogue and Proclamation” issued by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue identifies four forms of dialogue. At this event, two of those four forms can be entered.

Dialogue of life. The festival will allow you to see people striving to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations.

Dialogue of action. The festival will reveal concretely how Christianity and other religions act and even collaborate for the integral development and liberation of people.

As Pope Francis has often stated, dialogue is an integral part of living the Gospel.

He also speaks of living the Gospel through encounter, compassion and accompaniment.

Encounter is to spend time with a person who has a life story, hopes, dreams and losses.

Mercy is not solely an emotion, which can be fleeting. Mercy is compassion, a willingness to “suffer with” another, to be vulnerable to their pain, connected to my pain.

Accompaniment is meeting people where they are, but not superficially. It is not leaving them where they are, but walking with them toward a better life, broader understanding and greater wisdom.

The archdiocese will be represented at two booths. This office and Catholic Charities will be present to share how the compassion to which we are called by Christ is shown to our neighbors daily, regardless of their race, religious affiliation, or any other distinguishing characteristic.

In this time of polarization, coming together in such a straightforward and simple way will help to demonstrate the value of human solidarity.

Seeing what other religions are doing may inspire us to do the same.

Learning what we as a Church do may inspire others to follow our lead.

And seeing what people rooted in faith can do may inspire some of the varied faiths to find new ways of cooperative, compassionate care.

Come join us! Bring an open mind, your heart and your faith. Absorb, and be connected as you may never have before!

(Father Rick Ginther is director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism. He is also pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis.)

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