Commission for Dialogue –  Report from its Annual Meeting

The Commission for Dialogue held its annual meeting from 19-25 February. At the invitation of its member Br. Iko Skoko, it convened in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. In attendance were,

  • Russel Murray (General Curia, Rome), President.
  • Michael Calabria (Province of New York, “Holy Name,” USA), Vice President.
  • Apollinaire Bahinde (International Fraternity for Dialogue, Istanbul/Izmir).
  • James Puglisi, SA (Centro Pro Unione, Rome).
  • John Wong (Custody of Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei).
  • Iko Skoko (Province of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina).
  • Lia Giovanazzi Beltrami (Aurora Vision, Trent).
  • Pradeep Kalliath (Province of India).
  • Riccardo Burigana (Istituto dei Studi Ecumenici, Venice).


The Commission reviewed the previous year’s commitments and established new commitments for the year ahead. Particular note may be made of the following items,

  • To make available resources for the formation of friars, as well as other religious and laity, in the fields of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, particularly resources readily and easily available through the internet.
  • To develop “Schools of Dialogue” in different regions of the world where friars, in together with other religious and laity, may learn how to engage effectively in dialogue with the faithful of other Christian Churches and of other Faith Traditions.
  • To cultivate collaborative relationships that promote ecumenical and interreligious dialogue for the sake of a more just and peaceful world for all people.


The Commission also endorsed fully the program prepared by the Special Sub-Commission for Dialogue with Islam to mark the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ encounter with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta. The program was presented by Br. Michael, President of the Special Commission; it included,

  • An online resource kit for friars and their partners-in-ministry to prepare to commemorate the anniversary of the Damietta Encounter.
  • A special commemoration of the Damietta Encounter to be led by the General Minister in the name of the Order.


In keeping with its mission to promote local ecumenical and interreligious initiatives by members of the Order of Friars Minor, the Commission met Br. Iko’s ecumenical and interreligious partners, as well as with civil authorities who support his work.

  • Archbishop of Sarajevo, H. E. Vinko Cardinal Puljić.
  • Mufti of Mostar, Salem Ef. Dedović.
  • Abbot of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of the Annunciation in Mostar, Hegumen Daniel Pavlović.
  • Mayor of Mostar, Hon. Ljubo Bešlić.
  • Deputy Co-Mayors of Srebrinica, Hon. Senad Subašić.
  • Rector University of Mostar, Prof. Dr. Zoran Tomić.


The Commission personally thanked, in both its name and the name of the Order, the Provincial Minsters, as well as the local Guardians and Fraternities, who so warmly and generously welcomed it,

  • Provincial Minister of Mostar, Br. Miljenko Šteko.
  • Provincial Minister of Sarajevo, Br. Jozo Marinčić.
  • Provincial Minister of Split, Br. Joško Kodžoman.
  • Guardian in Sarajevo, Br. Mile Babić.
  • Guardian in Konjic, Br. Ferdo Boban.
  • Guardian in Široki Brijeg, Br. Tomislav Puljić.
  • Parish-Priest in Srebrenica/Zvornik, Br. Joso Orošilić.


The Commission was extremely moved during its visits. As its hosts recounted, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a land scared by three wars and seventy years of Communist rule, where memories of historical pain are as fresh as they are deep. If peace is to be its future, dialogue must be its present work. The Commission, therefore, commends the work of Br. Iko, his brothers and his partners. May it bear the fruit of that peace which surpasses all understanding.

The Commission will next meet in March 2019, at Santa Maria Draperis Friary in Istanbul, home of the Order’s International Fraternity for Dialogue.