Francis was part of a service which saw poignant reflections from Jewish and Muslim leaders, a prayer of remembrance from the pope, and Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, and Muslim meditations.
Though today's university students were not even born when Nostra Aetate, the Vatican Council statement on interreligious relations, was promulgated 50 years ago, they are affected by its contents.
The day, Francis said, will give Catholics an opportunity to ask God's help in protecting creation and for forgiveness for "sins against the world."
Gathering at "a time of severe tension and conflict," particularly in the Middle East, 24 Catholic and Muslim leaders and scholars urged dialogue to promote greater respect and understanding and condemned all acts of violence committed in the name of religion.
Last Sunday, I joined more than 300,000 people in New York City for possibly the largest demonstration for environmental causes in history, the People’s Climate March.
In addition to bringing together people from across classes, across races and across the globe, the event served as a great interfaith rallying point. Christian clergy, rabbis, imams and a variety of lay folks from many faith traditions boarded and walked beside a large replica of Noah’s Ark, which featured the words: “We are all Noah now.”
Religious folk are not so good at a lot of things, but we are experts at ritual. The Mass. The wedding. The baptism. The bar mitzvah. The funeral. The praise service.
At Sunday’s People’s Climate March, we multi-faith types joined the rest of the 300,000-plus people who love the earth enough to march it to create a ritual. When a ritual works, people feel something. They are changed. They come in the door one person and go out another.
Chant and dance can "awaken a powerful, experiential response that takes people beyond what a verbal recitation does."
The issues dividing Christian communities have changed over the past 50 years, but a Philadelphia archdiocesan priest working in ecumenical dialogue at the Vatican is confident that Christian unity is possible.
"We are people of hope. We trust we have the same Scriptures, the same belief in Christ," said Msgr. Gregory Fairbanks, an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Forget about the roses and chocolates this weekend. Instead, “make God your Valentine” urges the Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest and president/founder of Interfaith Power and Light, based in San Francisco.
In a Feb. 2 homily, Bingham asks people to move beyond their personal selves for the three days, and flip the meaning of a commercially driven holiday filled with lacy greeting cards, posies and sweets by “doing something to restore our fragile island home.”