271. The different religions, based on their respect for each human person as a creature called to be a child of God, contribute significantly to building fraternity and defending justice in society. Dialogue between the followers of different religions does not take place simply for the sake of diplomacy, consideration or tolerance. In the words of the Bishops of India, “the goal of dialogue is to establish friendship, peace and harmony, and to share spiritual and moral values and experiences in a spirit of truth and love”.
In his Encyclical ‘Fratelli tutti’ the Holy Father Pope Francis intended to speak to everybody, without distinction of religion, faith, origin…Every man can understand, hope and work for fraternity and social friendship! Especially in the eighth chapter, with the title ‘RELIGIONS AT THE SERVICE OF FRATERNITY IN OUR WORLD’, Pope Francis argues that when every man or woman live fully and seriously the moral and spiritual values of his/her own religion, it helps the path and progress to human fraternity of the whole world.
274. From our faith experience and from the wisdom accumulated over centuries, but also from lessons learned from our many weaknesses and failures, we, the believers of the different religions, know that our witness to God benefits our societies. The effort to seek God with a sincere heart, provided it is never sullied by ideological or self-serving aims, helps us recognize one another as travelling companions, truly brothers and sisters.
This can be the beauty and the challenge of living as believers: discover and build human fraternity. At the beginning of my second year here in Bangladesh, I experienced this during my time in our community in Khulna – Boyra, in the South of Bangladesh, where I arrived almost two months ago. This community has been opened in 1991 as ‘Damien House’, in order to have a place to take care of leprosy patients and to carry on leprosy prevention programmes. From 2001, on a Government’s request, the Centre started to treat also TBC patients.
Inside the area of the Damien House there is the main building of the Saint Damien Hospital for leprosy and TBC patients and also the community for the sisters (at present sr. Roberta, sr. Tondra and sr. Joyonti), inserted in a beautiful garden. The staff is composed of forty members, the majority of them work for the Leprosy and TBC programme as nurses, field operators, while others for the maintenance of the house and the hospital.
At 8.00 am: everyday here in Boyra starts with a simple and short prayer together with all the workers of the Hospital, the patients and also the sisters. We take turns to lead the prayer, including the sisters (of course!) each one according to his/her own religion. In fact, the majority of the workers are Christians, but there are also many Muslims and a few Hindus.
The month of May this year for the Muslims was characterized by the period of fasting and praying called Ramadan, and for us Christians was the month dedicated to the invocation to the Holy Mary, this time with the special intention given by the Holy Father to pray for the ending of the corona virus pandemic. Our Muslim workers during this time followed the rules of Ramadan, with the special fasting everyday till the sunset, and, in the meanwhile, with the Christian workers we organized the Holy Rosary every week in our Chapel, to pray for the special intention given by the Holy Father, together with all the Christian sanctuaries and communities all around the world.
Living here, in this way, I felt very strongly this coincidence: in each of our own religions we were called to pray with all our heart and our mind, to implore the grace of God and of Mary on the whole world. I felt the truth hidden in the words of the Holy Father: living truly and fully our own faith cannot separate us but of course it will increase our mutual understanding and love.
I can say without any doubt that this atmosphere of special and deep prayer was understandable and helped us to respect each other more, knowing that we are all praying and putting our own efforts for the good of the whole world. Interreligious dialogue starts from here!
I thank the Lord for this opportunity and for this Encyclical, that helps us to read and interpret the events of our life, trying to grow in all those attitudes that can lead the all of us to real fraternity!
sr. Lorenza Radini –Bangladesh Province
A Prayer to the Creator (FRATELLI TUTTI)
Lord, Father of our human family,
you created all human beings equal in dignity:
pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit
and inspire in us a dream of renewed encounter,
dialogue, justice and peace.
Move us to create healthier societies
and a more dignified world,
a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.
May our hearts be open
to all the peoples and nations of the earth.
May we recognize the goodness and beauty
that you have sown in each of us,
and thus forge bonds of unity, common projects,
and shared dreams. Amen.