PEACETALK: Dialogue Towards Harmony: Humility, no monologue openness to all ideas

(Message  of Fernando R. Capalla, Archbishop Emeritus of Davao and chair of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, on the Mindanao Week of Peace 2020 on November 26 to December 2).

With the late Dr. Mahid Mutilan, founder of the Ulama League of the Philippines and my co-founder of the Bishops-Ulama Conference,  I join his Ulama League successor and my co-convenor Judge Abu Ali Cali together with UCCP Bishop Hilario Gomez, our Protestant co-convenor, in conveying our greetings of peace and harmony to all Mindanaoans today November 26, the first day of the Mindanao Week of Peace.

In a very special way and with due respect I send my cordial greetings of harmony and peace to all the Ulama, Bishops and Pastors of our bishops-Ulama Conference. And together with them in grateful remembrance of friendship and shared interfaith collaboration I greet our official affiliates, namely, the Mindanao Tripartite Youth Core, the Imam-Pastors-Priest forum, the Mindanao World Vision Development Committee, and the BUC Human Fraternity Movement Secretariat under Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University.

The theme of our celebration of peace is Dialogue Towards Harmony. This means that to promote the culture of peace and bring about peaceful relationships among individuals and communities, among families and associations in business, government, schools, churches and society in general there is a crucial need for harmony and dialogue among followers of different religions in the present pandemic situation.

What is harmony in our response to the problems of COVID-19 and how dialogue can bring it about?

More than any other world crisis affecting us and where harmony and dialogue is more needed in our peaceful relationships,

the present one is uniquely unprecedented and urgent. They demand mutual cooperation from everyone, that is, from government, military, police, the barangay captains, businesses, churches, educators, NGOs, and the health and hospital personnel especially the so-called courageous Frontliners.

Without going into details, the decisions of the Government’s Integrated Guidance Committee and the people’s willing acceptance of quarantine measures, lockdown arrangements and duration, health protocols and observance of the rules of conduct and fines of misconduct must be followed. The principle that I follow is: I am willing to sacrifice certain personal freedoms for the sake of the common good, mostly of the poor and the marginalized.

As we all know from experience all these processes and activities involve ideas and feelings, that is, both the head and the heart must be involved. And harmony and peace are achieved when the following simple principles of authentic, human and fraternal dialogue are followed.

The first is humility, that is, no air of superiority; the second is no monologue but listening with the two ears and with the heart the third ear because God created us with two ears and only one mouth in order to listen twice as much as we speak; the third principle is openness to all ideas without accepting or rejecting any.

These three principles, which I call dialogue of feelings, promote oneness, unity or communion or solidarity or harmony or order and peace. On this very important principle, as summing up everything in my message, let us hear the inspiring words of the late Chiara Lubich, founder of the FOCOLARE Movement, a unique promoter of Interfaith Dialogue in the Church and in the world. She had said: ”

We must be one with our neighbor not in an abstract way but in a real way. Not in some future time but in the present. To be one means feeling within us what our neighbor feels, resolving our neighbor’s problem as if they were our own, because they have been made our own by charity and for the love of Jesus in our neighbor ( see Cor 9:19-22 )”

“Aiutiamo il fratello nel superare le sue difficolta”.

( Let us help our brother to overcome his problem )

Thank you. Peace, harmony through dialogue to all! Good day!