The Spirit of Dialogue in South Korea

The Dialogue Commission of the Korean Province is conducting a course to recall the meeting of St. Francis and Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta, Egypt, 800 years ago, in 1219.

Br. Joseph Seokanimator for the Province, reports about the program called “East of Eden” which started in 2015 and based on the “Spirit of Assisi.” It consists of a series of special lectures to meditate on the origin and the spirit of Christianity and to understand other (or rather, neighboring) religions and cultures.

The Franciscans who participated in the first program have visited Turkey to make a pilgrimage to the Orthodox Church, experience the Islam tradition and encounter the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew as a culmination of the whole program. In April 2019, the second group begun its spiritual journey. The course will help the participants recall the historic encounter between Francis and the Sultan and have deeper insights on the event from the religious, socio-cultural, historical and spiritual perspectives. There will also be a pilgrimage in October to Damietta, Coptic Church, Islam, Orthodox Church and historical sites, and opportunities of having dialogues with people of other religious traditions.

In the last twenty years, the Korean Province has organized on a regular basis various academic and spiritual programs, study groups and events on the Spirit of Assisi, Social Doctrine of the Church, Interreligious Dialogue with Buddhism, Protestantism, Orthodox Church, Islam and Korean native religions. This year, as a result of these efforts, the Dialogue Commission will organize a joint commission with Islam (Turkish Cultural Center in Seoul) aimed at friendship and common good between the two religions and cultures in Korea.