A Knight in Robes Monk Cited for Promoting Interreligious Dialogue

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

A Knight in Robes Monk Cited for Promoting Interreligious Dialogue


Byline: Susan Dibble sdibble@dailyherald.com

Growing up in Chicago as the descendant of Austrian and Bavarian nobility, the Rev. Julian von Duerbeck was aware of the orders of knighthood.

He debated between joining the military and the priesthood, and chose the life of a monk at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle.

That hasnAEt stopped him from becoming a knight.

This fall, in a papal appointment that was approved by Rome, he was invested as a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre for his work in promoting interreligious dialogue. The teacher of world religions has personal contact with many faiths through his relationships with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and people of other religious beliefs.

"IAEve made friends with people from all these religions," he said. "I feel my own faith has deepened because IAEve had to explain it."

ItAEs a long evolution since the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre were formed to protect the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy Land at the end of the First Crusade in 1099. After the Roman Catholic Church was driven out of the Holy Land in 1292, the order was reformed.

Today, the 23,000 knights and ladies of the Holy Sepulchre are devoted primarily to doing charitable work in the Holy Land for Christians, but also for Muslims and Jews, von Duerbeck said.

In an area of the world that would seem to epitomize the divisions between religions, von Duerbeck believes that

dialogue, better understanding of other faiths, and religions working together can help provide the answers.

"The moral stance of all religions are very close to each other," von Duerbeck said. "The harmony of religions is one of the things I believe will contribute to a peaceful resolution to the worldAEs problems."

An example of that working together, St. Procopius Abbey is a supporter of Benedictine efforts to build an academy in Jerusalem for Jewish, Christian and Muslim youth.

Von Duerbeck teaches a class in world religions at Benet Academy in Lisle and classes on the Mediterranean world and the baptism of Europe at Benedictine University. Von Duerbeck said he finds students at the Catholic university in Lisle very open to learning about other faiths.

"At Benedictine, 14 percent of our students are Muslims," he said.

Von Duerbeck has long been involved with organizing interfaith events and formerly served on the board of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. …

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