By Paul McKenna
The interfaith movement is globalizing. As more and more regions of the world become multicultural and multireligious environments, the seeds of interfaith cooperation are germinating and yielding fruit. One aspect of this international interfaith conversation is an emerging dialogue among monks and monastic nuns of various religious traditions.
Two of the key actors in this movement are Christianity and Buddhism, both of which have rich and longstanding monastic traditions. It is now becoming common, for example, for Buddhist and Christian monastics to visit one another's monasteries. In some cases, these visits take monks and nuns from one side of the world to another and can last for months.
Much of this dialogue among monastic men and women of different religions focuses on issues of prayer, meditation, spirituality and monastic discipline. Roman Catholics are providing important leadership in this global dialogue among monastics. In fact, Catholic monasteries in the United States are the administrative headquarters for this international moment.
Even prior to the great opening to interfaith dialogue that occurred at the Second Vatican Council, Catholic monks were breaking ground in the field of interreligious dialogue. Most notable among these were Fr. Henri LeSaux (a Belgian Benedictine), Fr. Bede Griffiths (a British Benedictine) and Thomas Merton (an American Trappist).
To learn more about this movement, visit the website of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue at www.monasticinterreligiousdialogue.com