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Pujya Swamiji was one of the Hindu leaders at a special Hindu-Christian dialogue in Mumbai (Bombay) on the 12-13 June. The vatican sent its main representative on interfaith affairs H.E. Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Touran, as well as Cardinal Pedro Lopez Quintana, the Vatican’s ambassador in India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, Archibishop Felix Machado of Nashik, Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune and Bishop Raphy Manjaly of Varanasi. These leaders met in closed door sessions with top Hindu leaders including H.H. Sri Shankaracharyaji Kanchi Kaam Koti, Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji of Parmarth Niketan, Dadi Jankiji (head of the Brahmakumaris), and Swami Nikhileshwaranandaji a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Mission.

It was a very fruitful and productive program, organized by Dr. Shantilal Somaiya and Dr. Kala Acharya of the Somaiya Institute in Bombay. The dialogue addressed pressing issues such as violence, conversions, and general misunderstandings between the faiths. The Christian leaders emphasized that neither the Vatican nor the Catholic Diocese advocates any form of forced or coerced conversions, and that the Vatican doesn’t even recognize any conversion obtained through force or pressure. Both sides condemned any form of violence and renewed their commitments to ensure that their followers, adherants and congregations follow a path of non-violence in word and in deed.

Following the closed door meetings, all of the leaders went together to the Siddhi Vinayak Mandir in Mumbai and then to the Holy Name Catholic Cathedral. There was also a large, public, interfaith gathering in which leaders of other faiths as well (Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Jain, etc.) also joined, on the following day. The leaders of all religions emphasized the core principles of their faith, which are committed to peace, compassion, non-violence and unity.

It was an excellent program and one that bodes very well for future relations between Hindus and Christians. (see for details of the Christian-Hindu dialogue Pujya Swamiji organized between top Hindu political leaders and top Christian leaders in the midst of the violence in Orissa)







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