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The contribution of Catholic Scouts to interreligious dialogue How can Catholic Scouts contribute to interreligious dialogue? It seems to me that it is for you to answer this question rather than me. Although I was a Wolf Cub and then a Scout for a brief period, I have not had much contact with Scouting for over fifty years. Nevertheless let me make some suggestions in line with what has been said about the aims of dialogue. It seems to me that Scouting helps people to develop a healthy curiosity. Scouts learn about nature, and they learn to respect nature. They come to admire the variety of plants and animals. They acquire a greater understanding of the power of the forces of nature, wind and water, fire and sun, as also the beauty of the stars which can give a sense of direction. Scouts were also taught, in my time at least, different methods of communication: Morse, semaphore, and so on. Cannot this curiosity and skill in communication be relevant in the multireligious world in which we live? If we are meeting with Buddhists, Hindus, Jews or Muslims can we not be curious to learn more about who they are, what they believe and what their practices are? We may start by reading something about these different religions, or at least that one whose followers we have most contact with. We may begin to ask questions, not aggressively for the sake of getting into an argument, but out of a genuine desire to understand others better. The greater knowledge acquired in this way, through study or through conversation, the more we shall be able to contribute to dissipating half-truths and overcoming prejudices. It is these that so often destroy the good relations between groups of people who differ. The greater knowledge will also lead to deeper respect Let me illustrate this by an example from the Philippines. In this country the Muslims were referred to as Moros, for the Spaniards who had expelled the Muslims, the Moors, from their country, arriving in the Philippines, across the other side of the world, found themselves in contact once more with Muslims, and used the same name for them. There was a most unpleasant and disrespectful saying in vogue there: “A good Moro is a dead Moro” When a Church group decided to organize summer camps for young Christians and young Muslims, they were naturally very apprehensive. Engaging in common activities, however, they came to know one another better. Angelo discovered that Ahmad was not such a bad fellow, he was pretty good at basket-ball, and very fair too. Through these camps prejudices were broken down and friendships across religious boundaries were made possible. Have not Scout camps had the same effect when they have brought people of different religions together? I have mentioned communications. Is this not something that needs to be taken into account? We need to recognise that words do not always have the same meaning. A different religious context can give them a different meaning. A simple example. If you mention prayer to a Muslim, he or she will probably think immediately of the ritual

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CICS Interreligious Dialogue 2007  

International Catholic Conference on Scouting (ICCS) Interreligious Dialogue 2007 http://www.cics.org/?wpfb_dl=21

CICS Interreligious Dialogue 2007  

International Catholic Conference on Scouting (ICCS) Interreligious Dialogue 2007 http://www.cics.org/?wpfb_dl=21

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