The Church's Role in Promoting Inter-Religious Dialogue Broadly
One of the [Bishops-Ulama Conference] BUC’s greatest achievements lies in “mainstreaming inter-religious dialogue,” in The Philippines and neighboring countries. “Modeling the possibility that high-level religious leaders can talk,” sending “a steadfast message to all . . . that the senior Christian and Muslim leaders of Mindanao are for peace,” is no small achievement, however. The same grassroots IRD participant quoted above continued that “from 1996, the BUC has been an inspiration for people on the ground. Since political leaders don’t talk to each other, seeing religious leaders talking to each other inspires them to emulate them. It sets a precedent for many activities initiated by dioceses and civil society organizations.”
The National Security Advisor is a regular attendee at BUC assemblies, and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has recognized the BUC’s role in “strengthening the spiritual and moral fiber of our society, in sustaining the spirit of enterprise among our people, in keeping our guard against terror, destabilization and in bringing peace to Mindanao and in guiding us towards the preferential option for the poor.” Inter-religious dialogue is now mandated by executive order, and government agencies are instructed to participate in the Mindanao Week of Peace, for example.
Excerpt from Brenda Fitzpatrick, The Mindanao Bishops-Ulama Conference, in Mark M. Rogers, Tom Bamat and Julie Ideh, eds. Pursuing Just Peace: An Overview and Case Studies for Faith-Based Peacebuilders (Baltimore: Catholic Relief Services, 2008): 117-131.