On July 8-12, 2019, a Franciscan symposium took place in the auditorium of the São Bonaventura Institute (ISB) in Brasilia, Brazil. The event was organized to mark the 800th anniversary of the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan of Egypt.
The main theme of the conferences was inter-religious dialogue.
In the first presentation, Friar Elio ROJAS, OFM Conv., of the “Rioplatense” Province of St. Anthony of Padua in Argentina and Uruguay, spoke about “Dialogue as One of the Foundations of Franciscan Spirituality”. He explained that the goal of our Seraphic Father St. Francis was never to convert the Sultan, but to share the ideas of a greater spiritual mysticism.
The next speaker was Friar Sandro Roberto DA COSTA, OFM, of the Franciscan Theological Institute of Rio de Janeiro. He tried to analyze the various authors, moments and works that historically represented the meeting. Professors Monica UDLER and Marcos Aurelio FERNANDES together made contributions covering philosophy and mysticism.
On the last day of the symposium, there were presentations by some Muslim brothers, namely, Abdul RASHID, a journalism student from the University of Brasilia (UNB) and Amara CHANDOUL a professor of Islamic Sciences in Tunisia who is specialized in mathematics at the University of Brasilia.
To start the debate, Dr. Cláudio FONTELES (OFS) used the Abu Dhabi document on human brotherhood, world peace and common coexistence, signed by Pope Francis and the great Imam of Al-Azhar in February of this year.
To conclude, Friar Rafael NORMANDO, OFM Conv., spoke about Franciscan mysticism and how we should go out to meet our neighbors. “We must not only talk, but be in touch with our neighbor’s world in order to dialogue. Intolerance is never part of Franciscan spirituality,” he said.
The symposium was a time of wonderful dialogue, debate, common respect and true signs of peacebuilding.
Friar Luís Felipe MARQUES, OFM Conv.