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Why I went to the Italian Senate to have a conversation about religious pluralism

As Christians, we’re called to model humility and civility in our interactions with people of other faiths and deep interest in the issues of public concern.

EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES AUTOR 144/Rene_Breuel 28 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 14:20 h
Right, evangelical pastor René Breuel, with other faith representatives at the event in the Italian Senate on 27 November 2023. / Photo: R. Breuel.

On 27 November, the Isma Hall of the Italian Senate hosted a conference on the topic “The Role of Religious and Ethnic Communities in Building Europe’s Identity and Solving Its Crises”.



It featured panels on the religious, political, legal, and media aspects of religious pluralism in Europe.



I had the honor participating in the religious panel as a spokesperson for the evangelical Christian faith, alongside Muslim, Jewish, Anglican, and secular leaders. The atmosphere was cordial, and many speakers stressed the need for mutual respect and listening.



[destacate]“As a Christian, my faith in Jesus does not just motivate me to merely tolerate others. It motivates me to serve others and love them in concrete ways”[/destacate]In my talk, I highlighted some of the contributions faith communities give to the common good, among which are the character formation of citizens, the transmission of age-old wisdom, being communities of cross-cultural friendships and inclusion, and the moral values that can inspire the vision of a virtuous Europe.


“As a Christian, my love for God and neighbor comes from the fact that at the heart of my faith is a man who laid down his life for his enemies. My faith in Jesus does not just motivate me to merely tolerate others. It motivates me to serve others and love them in concrete ways”, I explained.



Christians need to be at the forefront of public debates in Europe. We can’t assume a dominant position like in vanquished days of Christendom, but we can’t be outsiders to public conversations either.



In fact, we’re called to model humility and civility in our interactions with people of other faiths and deep interest in the issues of public concern.



[destacate]We can’t assume a dominant position like in vanquished days of Christendom, but we can’t be outsiders to public conversations either[/destacate]I was invited to this conference by the Muslim editor with whom I had held a dialogue on religious violence and peace in 2016, Nizar Ramadan. And I had gotten to know him because my wife, Sarah, had led a Bible study at university where Muslim students wanted to learn more about Jesus.


On a personal note, I was struck by how those humble conversations with students across faith barriers had led to the formal interactions of this week. We never know what the Lord will do with the seeds of the gospel we sow, do we?



René Breuel, evangelical pastor in Rome.


 

 


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