PEACETALK: Promoting inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue in Mindanao and beyond

(Welcome Address of Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University and host of the 45th General Assembly of the Mindanao Bishops-Ulama Conference on 27 November 2018 at the San Pedro Calungsod and San Vitores Center of the ADDU).  

It is my privilege as President of the Ateneo de Davao University to welcome you to the 45th General Assembly of the Bishops-Ulama Conference here at the Calungsod-San Vitores Center of the Community Center of the First Companions of the Society of Jesus.

With the Bishops-Ulama Conference it is my distinct pleasure to welcome His Grace Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, the representative in the Philippines of His Holiness Pope Francis, to our university.

With all the Jesuits worldwide, the ADDU considers inter-cultural and interreligious dialogue as part of its core mission. In fulfillment of this mission it has been blessed to establish the Al Qalam Institute for Muslim Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia headed by Datu Mussolini Lidasan.

Through this institute we have been deeply engaged in promoting inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue in Mindanao and beyond. We have researched and documented the historical injustices that have over the centuries been committed against Filipino Muslims, and have advocated the right to self determination and autonomy of the Bangsamoro as part of the Philippine nation. In this context, we are only Jesuit university in the country with an academic program for Islamic Studies, and have been happy to partner with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines and the National Association of Bangsamoro Education in managing the Madaris Volunteer Program.

Through our general instruction and formation, our law school, we have been supporters of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) not only in the ADDU but in all the 1497 schools of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines. We have been happy to support our Datu Lidasan of Al Qalam as a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. That support continues through our analyses and endorsement of the recently passed Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) otherwise known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

In this context we consider it a distinct privilege to support the empowerment of the Bangsamoro Youth in their yearning for and advocacy of peace in Mindanao through the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Their movement they call the Salaam Movement, the movement for peace. It is in peace and in the name of peace which we know is at the heart of Islam that I welcome you to Ateneo de Davao University.