Let's Keep Talking

Interfaith Dialogue
A Catholic View
Michael L. Fitzgerald and John Borelli
Orbis Books. $25, 192 pp.

After Vatican II, ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue became central to the life of the church. No one expressed this more lucidly or succinctly than Pope John Paul II at the conclusion of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace on October 27, 1986. Addressing representatives of all major world religions who were gathered in Assisi, the pope stated: “Either we learn to walk together in peace and harmony, or we drift apart and ruin ourselves and others.”

Faced with a Kierkegaardian either/or, who could prefer wars of religion over learning to walk together in peace and harmony? The simple, yet profound answer is obvious, and it has guided the authors of this book, two of Catholicism’s leading figures in interreligious dialogue.

Each contributes an autobiographical account of how he came to work in this area of the church’s mission. Both grew up as Catholics surrounded by a majority population that was not always friendly: Michael Fitzgerald in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in the English Midlands, and John Borelli in overwhelmingly Baptist Oklahoma City. The experience of hostility and isolation made it easy for Catholics to nurture a siege mentality and a sense of aloofness and superiority. What could we possibly learn from “them” that we didn’t already know better? Fitzgerald recalls that one could not say an Our Father together with a Protestant and that the word “dialogue” was “not part...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Edward McGlynn Gaffney Jr., a frequent contributor, is professor of Law at Valparaiso University.