On Ecumenism and the Peace of Religions

Article excerpt

Abstract: The study aims at reconsidering the prerequisites and preconditions required in order to make interreligious communication possible. The issue is addressed within the broader framework of the debate surrounding ecumenism and "the peace of religions", making explicit reference to the particular case of Central and Eastern Europe. Particular attention is given to describing and interpreting the current stage of religious cohabitation (touching on the situation of post-communist countries), and to predicting the possible directions in which this will evolve, as well as the potential mechanisms and triggers that might reconfigure the framework for discussion in the medium and long term.

The possibility of interreligious communication is reappraised and re-examined by analysing several key-concepts in the dynamic of their relation and by referring to particular contexts: religion and ideology, spiritual and political authority, religious and spiritual leadership, gaze and authenticity, political system and religious education, religious minority and religious majority, ecumenism and "the peace of religions".

Key Words: religion, communication, ecumenism, pax fidei, authority, education, minority, Central and Eastern Europe

Introduction

The aim of the present study is to address a complex and, at the same time, delicate subject, whose ramifications will be analysed and reexamined by following several lines of research.1

Put succinctly, the general subject matter is the prerequisites and preconditions required in order to make interreligious communication possible. The issue will be addressed within the broader framework of the debate surrounding ecumenism and "the peace of religions"2, making explicit reference to the particular case of Central and Eastern Europe. Particular attention will be given to describing and interpreting the current stage of religious cohabitation, touching on the situation of postcommunist countries, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to predicting, in a rather pragmatic manner, the possible directions in which this will evolve, as well as the potential mechanisms and triggers that might reconfigure the framework for discussion in the medium and long term.

The approach to the topic under examination is from a perspective pertaining mainly to the fields of the philosophy of religion and the history of religious ideas.

The chosen viewpoint brings together and integrates debates and issues relevant, on the one hand, to the historical developments of the various embodied "faces" of the religious, grasped in their political and communal aspects, and, on the other hand, to the reappraisal of meanings and interpretations, divested of diachrony and revealed in religious and/or theological discourse, with regard to "the peace of religions"3.

These two coexisting "viewpoints" naturally interweave the communal, institutionalised dimension of the understanding of religion, and the personal (and personalised) dimension of religious experience.

The political extent of interreligious dialogue, in its secular and institutionalised dimension, is emblematically reflected in the different usages of the term "ecumenism", which posit communication at the level of individuals following different religious traditions, as well as at the level of the institutions meant to represent, traditionally or officially, coexisting religions, in a more or less politicised manner.

The non-secularised dimension of interreligious communication, envisaged as a non-politicised dialogue stemming from spiritual premises alone, will be further addressed drawing upon the suggestive formulation used by Nicolaus Cusanus: "the peace of religions".

Thus, the present study intends to analyse the two aspects as they reflect each other, explicitly emphasising that their differentiation is purely methodological, and their edges of interference will be brought into close discussion. …

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