Fr. PhD Minel Vodoiu, The Bases for Interreligious Dialogue

Publishing House Metropolitan of Oltenia, Craiova, 2022

In this paper we have used reasoning related to “cultural complexity” in an attempt to present the manner in which the boundaries between interreligious dialogues can be destabilized, using the model of religious difference as a challenge. When borders are destabilized, it is necessary to reflect on how they can influence power relations within interreligious dialogue. Power and influence are distributed according to specific identities such as gender, religious and cultural identification and social class.

Human diversity is a reality approved God. In this diversity, people of different religions, ethnicities and cultures live and share their own values. This coexistence can be achieved through dialogue which is perceived by all participants as the best mechanism for reaching mutual understanding and respect. The dialogue basically refers to a conversation between people of different types, in certain aspects related to their life, such as how to live a normal life in a multicultural society or how to share your own religious values. On the other hand, the aim of the dialogue is to identify the differences and similarities between people, so that they can understand and learn from each other. Dialogue contributes to creating a general relationship of trust without giving up specific values and principles of life. In the context of a multicultural society, dialogue is extremely important because it supports cohesion and harmony in society.

Religious differences, as a premise for the achievement of interreligious dialogue are a fairly obvious truth. However, the acknowledgement of human differences in a broader context can be seen as the basic premise of any human dialogue in a philosophical sense. If the human differences between the parties to the dialogue are not realized or are rejected, the dialogue collapses into a monologue. Then the people involved do not participate in a meeting in which their own truths and standards are challenged, but each participant remains trapped inside his or her own universe. Dialogue, understood as a qualified communication, does not mean mirroring or confirming one’s own person and does not allow directing communication or reducing the other party to a simple positive or negative image.

The foundations of interreligious dialogue as a field for the realization of communion and the human community vary between compartmentalization and complexity, with the risk of reproducing dichotomies between believers and unbelievers or majority and minority, i.e. between those who consider religions as being stable, and those who consider religions as being more fluid. Dialogue as a liminal space, in which all types of essentialism are challenged, cannot escape the power structures that may require strategic essentialism.