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St Mary’s Hosts Conference Exploring the Catholic Church in Dialogue

St Mary’s University, Twickenham welcomed His Most Reverend Excellency Antonio Mennini during a conference exploring the Catholic Church in Dialogue.

From 16th – 18th June, St Mary’s University, Twickenham hosted the conference, ‘The Catholic Church in Dialogue: Ecclesiam Suam and its Legacy’ welcoming guests from around the world, including His Most Reverend Excellency Antonio Mennini. In September 2010, St Mary’s received HH Pope Benedict XVI during the first Papal visit to the UK since 1982. During his visit the Holy Father declared that since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has placed special emphasis on the importance of dialogue and co-operation with the followers of other religions and non-believers. This dialogue, he stressed, is one that calls all to action in ‘promoting integral human development, working for peace, justice and the stewardship of creation.’ Following the visit, St Mary’s has been committed to deepening the dialogue between the Catholic church, Christian denominations, those of non-Christian faiths and people of no faith, which has included hosting the inaugural Pope Benedict XVI lecture, which was given by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in 2011. This latest conference, which was hosted in conjunction with Leeds Trinity University and Newman University, continues this commitment and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of HH Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Ecclesiam Suam. It brought together Christians of all denominations, people of all faiths and none, to explore the possibilities and limits of dialogue within and beyond the Catholic Church. Although His Holiness Pope Paul VI did not want to intervene directly in the ongoing work of the Second Vatican Council in 1964, there is no doubt that his valuable insights steered the Council in the direction that produced the groundbreaking encyclicals Unitatis Redintegratio and Nostra Aetate. The fruits of these epoch making encyclicals can be seen most recently in HH Pope Francis’ peace initiative at the Vatican with the Presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority when His Holiness Pope Francis said on the Vatican lawns that ‘peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare,’ and added that we should ‘instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.’ During the St Mary’s conference major international scholars including Prof Norman Tanner, Prof Gavin C’Costa, Dr John McDade, Dr Jonathan Gorsky, Dr Stephen Bullivant, Prof Peter Tyler, Dr Mustafa Baig, Prof Mary Boys, Prof Ivana Noble and Abbot Timothy Wright engaged in dialogue with each other to promote deepening understanding of each other’s positions. A highlight of the week was the launch of The Gift of Dialogue (CTS, 2014) by Most Reverend Kevin McDonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark,  which has republished the key documents on dialogue (Ecclesiam Suam, Nostra Aetate and Unitatis Redintegratio) together with an informed introduction by the Archbishop. During the launch reception, St Mary’s Vice-Chancellor (Designate) Francis Campbell was delighted to welcome His Most Reverend Excellency Antonio Mennini who expressed his gratitude to Archbishop Kevin McDonald and St Mary’s for this timely celebration of Pope Paul VI’s deeply important encyclical.

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