Celebrating Damietta In Rome

The Commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Damietta began early in Rome. On December 13, 2018, when the Centro Pro Unione hosted Br. Michael Calabria, OFM and Dr. Muhammad Shafiq as co-presenters for its twenty-first annual conference in honor of the Servant of God Father Paul Wattson and Mother Lurana White, founders of the Society of the Atonement. Br. Michael and Dr. Shafiq spoke on the theme St. Francis and the Sultan: Foundations for Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the 21st Century.

In their collaborative presentation, Br. Michael and Dr. Shafiq discussed the historical context within which the encounter between St. Francis and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil took place, the encounter itself, how both the Saint and the Sultan were able to transcend the prejudices of their day because they were each deeply committed to their respective faith traditions. It was in the light of such commitment that, contrary to the expectations of their contemporaries, St. Francis and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil were able to see one another as friend rather than foe. Br. Michael and Dr. Shafiq concluded their presentation by exploring more recent initiatives in Catholic-Muslim dialogue worldwide, and by reflecting on contemporary challenges to fruitful dialogue from Franciscan and Muslim perspectives.

The Centro Pro Unione has made the Br. Michael and Dr. Shafiq’s presentation (in English) available online at www.prounione.it/it/media/conferenze-video/.

Br. Michael is President of the Order’s Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam and founding director of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at St. Bonaventure University (USA). Dr. Shafiq is the Executive Director of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and Professor at Nazareth College (USA). The Centro Pro Unione is a ministry of the Franciscan Society of the Atonement. Its Director, Br. James Puglisi, SA, is a member of our Order’s Commission for Dialogue.