Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, head of the Office for Relations with Islam at the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, delivered a lecture in Amman on May 7, 2018 titled, “25 Years in the Service of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue”, in which he outlined his experience over the past 25 years in the field of Islamic-Christian dialogue.
Present at the lecture, organized by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in cooperation with the Cultural Committee of the Orthodox Club in Amman, a number of bishops and priests, ministers, members of Jordan’s Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, Muslim clergymen, and a large number of people.
In his lecture, Fr. Akasheh lauded the prevailing cordial relations among all Jordanian citizens, which made them renowned for their nobility and openness, as well as praised their role which serves as a leading model in the field of Islamic-Christian encounter and dialogue. He also addressed the importance of dialogue nowadays, especially at a time which witnesses the emergence of dissonant views that seek to wreak discord and get religion indulged in the maze of politics by justifying killing and terrorism. He said that dialogue is neither debate nor mere geographic contiguity, but rather a joint encounter, interaction, and cooperation designed to build humanity. He classified four forms of dialogue, namely the dialogue of life, the dialogue of joint action, the dialogue of theological discussion, and the dialogue of spiritual experience. He set real-life examples of every form and accentuated the need for the dialogue of life which calls on Muslims and Christians in the world to exchange views on humanitarian, social, cultural environmental grounds in order to consider how to serve humanity in a better way.
After he enumerated in a chronological order the development of relations and initiatives for dialogue, particularly with regards to the cooperation between the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue on the one hand as well as the Royal Aal al-Bayt institute for Islamic Thought chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Ben Muhammad, and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, on the other, Monsignor Akasheh elaborated on the importance of educating the new generations on the culture of peace as well as the ecumenical cooperation among Churches– through the cooperation between the Vatican and the World Council of Churches–so as to unanimously call for dialogue. He also talked in detail about the importance of school curricula in educating the generations on the need to maintain openness and acceptance of others within the framework of the mentality of encounter, cordiality and cooperation among the students themselves as part of enlightened curricula, in addition to providing teachers capable of instilling in the children the values of common living and permanent cooperation without exclusions or discriminations.
Monsignor Akasheh also focused on the importance of the role played by modern media in promoting openness as well as the values of accepting others and participation in building the society. He also praised the abouna.org website whose slogan is “Media for humanity through the culture of encounter”.
At the end of the lecture, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Rif’at Bader presented to Monsignor Akasheh a mosaic plaque in appreciation of his efforts over the past 25 years in the field of dialogue and the culture of encounter. The gift is identical to the gift presented by Pope Benedict XVI nine years ago to the King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque in May 2009. It represents two pigeons of peace at a spring with one of them drinking water while the other one guarding it in a fraternal atmosphere.
Fr. Bader had earlier conveyed heartfelt wishes to Monsignor Akasheh saying that he shoulders the values of universal dialogue, and conveying good wishes to his dear homeland, Arabism, Christianity and his work at the Holy See. He pointed out that the timing of the lecture coincides with 9th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan where his wonderful photo during his visiting to Al Hussein Ben Talal Mosque in Amman is a sign of mutual appreciation between Muslims and Christians. He added that it is not unusual for Jordan to issue sublime initiatives that have become universal in the field of Islamic-Christian encounter and reconciliation, however the situation has gone beyond launching initiatives as we have brilliant people in the field of interfaith dialogue, such as Fr. Khaled Akasheh.
Director of the Cultural Committee at the Orthodox Club Dr. Samir Qatami gave an address which briefly reviewed the biography of Monsignor Akasheh .
Later, Monsignor Akasheh’s niece Hiba reviewed the biography of her uncle reviewing his role in disseminating the message of love. She added: “I would say that we are proud of you because you are part of our family, you are the ambassador of Christians and Muslims of the East as well as Jordan’s ambassador of love, brotherhood and unity.”