Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations release ‘The Sydney Statement’06 December, 2021
On the 11 March 2021, in the presence of political, civic, faith, interfaith and educational leaders, youth and students, Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions) officially launched The Sydney Statement at the Sydney Town Hall. This is a new interfaith charter for “Building Bridges Between Believers from Different Religions”. Congratulations to all involved for their hard work over the past two years in producing this world-class document.
The Statement is published on the dedicated website, www.thesydneystatement.org.au. The short version is available as Al and A4 posters. The long version is available as a 32-page booklet. These can be downloaded free from the website and professionally printed versions can be purchased from the online shop. The website also has concrete suggestions for carrying out the 21 commitments and is packed with other interfaith resources.
The next task is to spread The Sydney Statement far and wide, to youth, to schools, to religious communities, to religious leaders, to everyone! An initial e-mail blitz shared it to schools and local councils in NSW, to faith and interfaith organisations, to more than 100,000 contacts. We reported on it in the September issue of The Swag, which goes to many priests around Australia. In September, Ryan Epondulan and I presented it to the online Mission One Heart Many Voices conference here in Sydney. In October, Kim Chong, Ryan Epondulan and I presented it live to the online Parliament of the World’s Religions, the world’s oldest and largest interfaith event, and also in our first interfaith E-Bulletin. Youth PoWR are also promoting it in their online events. If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to sign up on the dedicated website and to spread the word to your family, friends and community networks. Enclosed please find a few business cards that you can use for sharing a QR code to The Sydney Statement.
During Ramadan, we enjoyed meeting Muslim and interfaith friends at iftar dinners and celebrating with them at Eid. However, shortly after, with the Delta variant rampant, COVID restrictions put everyone in Sydney in lockdown for around four months. We continued working from home, with meetings and webinars migrating online. We are grateful to the many frontline health workers who cared for the sick and vulnerable and to the essential workers who provided transport and supplies to keep society functioning during that very stressful time.
The Abraham Conference, which brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims, was again held online. For 2021, we chose the theme “Women Leaders in the Abrahamic Traditions: Role Models for Our Time”. Appropriately, the Aboriginal elder who did the Acknowledgement, the Moderator and the three speakers, were all women. The Conference was very successful and attracted more than 200 participants. Yoµ can see a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tLqfaNAwQO&t=4488s.
Kim Chong, in partnership with others, has started the Western Sydney Women’s interfaith Initiative, which brings together women from different faiths. It is a grassroots effort to promote sharing and mutual support.
In September, we welcomed Samantha Cherian to the Centre as our new Youth & Networking Coordinator. She will be taking over from Ryan Epondulan in the new year, to lead the Youth PoWR network and to promote interfaith among youth in Western Sydney and online.
Along with other responsibilities, the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations has been working on a new resource booklet, a Christian approach to interfaith relations. It is still in the drafting stage, but we hope to publish it next year.
Bishop Vincent Long has established an Interfaith Commission for the Diocese of Parramatta. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, it has not yet been able to meet. We look forward to partnering with the members of the Commission in promoting interfaith relations in Western Sydney.
We give thanks for all that we were able to achieve in 2021 and ask mercy for our limitations. Along with everybody else, we look forward to a new and better year in 2022.
The December issue of our flagship publication, Bridges, . Every quarter some 2,500 copies go out with highlights from our activities at the Centre, news from the world, feature articles on Christian-Muslim relations and interfaith dialogue in general, as well as coming events.
We also have released the 2022 Columban Religious Art Calendar which you can find online (Or in stock at St Joseph’s Cathedral Parish bookstore). We hope it will be a daily reminder of our shared call as missionary disciples to spread Gospel joy in 2022.
Thank you for your prayers and support for the interfaith work of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations. Engaging with people of different faiths and worldviews is a task we all share. We wish you every blessing during the Christmas season and throughout the new year.