Three American bishops in Qom to promote dialogue between US and Iran

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Three American bishops in Qom to promote dialogue between US and Iran

Giorgio Bernardelli--

A four-day trip to Qom to promote greater understanding between Americans and Iranians. This was the purpose of the unique mission launched by a delegation of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, led by three bishops: the president of the Commission for Justice and Peace; the bishop of Des Moines, Richard Pates; the archbishop emeritus of Washington, Cardinal Theodor McCarrick, and Mgr. Denis Madde, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore andpresident of the US Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue Commission.

The visit comes as a great surprise given Teheran has long viewed America as “the Great Satan”. After the famous abduction of the group of diplomats from the US embassy back in 1979, it was only last September that an official meeting took place between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Zarif, at the end of the UN General Assembly in New York. This was a sign of the change in climate favoured by the presidency of the moderate Hassan Rouhani. But this does not mean that relations between the two countries are now normalized.

The USCCB delegation’s trip to Iran took place in March but the news only came out yesterday. The University of Maryland also played an important role in organizing the visit. The Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom hosted the meetings with the US bishops who also met with Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadaei, Vice President of the influential Shiite academic centre, and the Grand Ayatollah, Javadi Amoli, amongst others.

“We had a productive religious and moral dialogue that we hope will promote understanding between the peoples of Iran and the United States. We are committed to continuing and deepening these discussions in the future in order to contribute to a more just and peaceful world. As Pope Francis has said, dialogue is the key to discovering truth and avoiding misunderstanding,” said Bishop Pates.

It is worth noting that the Seminary Teachers of Qom have also been engaged in dialogue with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for some time now. Another Iranian ayatollah, Mostafa Ahmadabadi, was invited to attend the Synod for the Middle East, where he gave a speech. Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran visited the important Shiite institution in 2010. Another meeting between the Iranian Centre for Interreligious Dialogue and its Vatican counterpart is set to take place in Qom, in October 2014.

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 09:52
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