Saturday, September 18, 2010


FOOT INSIDE LAMBETH PALACE - Pope Benedict XVI joined Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams for the highly-symbolic ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey. In what marked the first visit by any pope to the Abbey, the pontiff was presented to the Rev Dr Jane Hedges, canon steward of Westminster Abbey. The campaigner for women bishops joined a gathering of the Abbey’s chapter to greet the Pope as he arrived for the hour-long prayer service. Dr Hedges was also one of those leading prayers during the service, praying for the Queen, Government, elected representatives and community leaders. The introduction of women bishops in the Church of England, which moved a step closer this summer, has been opposed by the Vatican as a ‘‘break with apostolic tradition’’ and a ‘‘further obstacle’’ to any efforts at dialogue between the two churches. To add to the tensions, in July the Vatican listed the attempted ordination of a woman, just as sexual abuse of a child by a priest, as one of the gravest crimes for the Catholic Church.

Members of the 2,000-strong congregation started arriving at the Abbey hours before the service. Among their number were representatives from all churches in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The Pope spoke of the need for Christians to talk about their faith even though society had become “increasingly indifferent or even hostile”, and also about the successful efforts to unite the Christian communities since the Edinburgh Conference’s appeal for Christian unity 100 years ago. “In a society which has become increasingly indifferent or even hostile to the Christian message, we are all the more compelled to give a joyful and convincing account of the hope that is within us and to present the Risen Lord as the response to the deepest questions and spiritual aspirations of the men and women of our time.”

The Ecumenial Celebration at Westminster Abbey "reminded of how greatly the Christian faith shaped the unity and culture of Europe and the heart and spirit of the English people," the Pope said. As Vaishnavas, we must mantain nice relationships with other religious people and always be lovingly and generously disposed towards all others.

The interreligious ecumenical development in the world is very positive. But it requires a lot of rethinking. For example, a big picture of devotees doing harināma was hanging in a Catholic monastery in Rome, showing their respect for the activities of the Vaishnavas. All these apparently open-minded approaches nevertheless, are interrupted by sectarian backlashes that easily get dangerous if we do not maintain very nice relationships with the other religions. ... The fact that today on interreligious forums the transcendental truth on Vaishnavism can be exposed and will be listened to by serious practitioners of other religions, is a revolutionary platform. Of course it also means that we must be ready to listen to their theological understandings. Practically there are interreligious forums all over the world now. It would be nice if the Vaishnavas make contact and participate in their functions ... needless to say, such devotees should be well prepared and unconditionally friendly.

Śrīla Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti Mahārāja :
“Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha - WVA”
“A Study about the Past, Present & Future of the World Vaishnava Association”
“What is the purpose of the Interreligious Communication Committee?”

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