Friday, January 19, 2007

Difference in Unity

This week Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice (also of CL) was New York for the promotion of his Oasis journal, an endeavor of religious dialogue. He also had a session at the United Nations. John Allen covers the story with an interview at his weekly column. Scola underlines the need for identity combined with mutual respect during a time of unprecedented movement of peoples. Here's an excerpt:

You've talked about the "hybridization of cultures" going on today.
Isn't there a risk of syncretism implied -- what the pope has called a
'dictatorship of relativism'?

In the first place, for me it's decisive that we be aware that we're
speaking of this hybridization, this 'cross-breeding,' as a fact that's taking
place. It's not an idea or a hypothesis. There are more than 200 million
immigrants at this moment in the world, and scholars who study this phenomenon
say there are two billion people who face the possibility, or perhaps the
necessity, of immigration in the coming years. This is a historic process
without precedent. We have to enter into this process and accompany it.
Obviously, the risk of syncretism is very strong. For my part, I believe we can
overcome this risk on two conditions. The first is to be well aware that any
process of 'mixing' is always one of great suffering, as the elemental
experience of mixing of races demonstrates. People suffer in their own skin this
reality; in English, the pejorative term 'bastard' expresses the fact. In a
sense, we have to 'purify' this process. The second condition is to always have
the courage to depart from the elementary experience of the human person,
holding on to the great principle of difference in unity. It's clear that I
can't play around with religious syncretism, but I can't avoid certain facts.
Ten years ago in Italy, the problem of Islam didn't exist. Now it does. This
risk of confusion, which leads some Christians to say 'one religion is as good
as another,' is here to stay. So we have to confront it critically, with the
principle of unity in difference. The key word, I think, is 'witness.' We have
to run the risk, but with awareness of what we're doing.

Hat tip Crossroads.

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