Our annual Autumn Seminar at the beginning of each new programme year is the opportunity for our participants to meet for the first time. Therefore, it is important to find a location that, on the one hand, gives them enough space to get to know each other and come together as a group and, on the other hand, offers the opportunity to experience the European religious and worldview plurality in the surrounding community.
In preparation for our Autumn Seminar 2023, our programme managers Rachel de Boor and Henri Vogel travelled to Rome for a couple of days in in the beginning of December 2022. With the highly committed support of our participants Eleonora, Anas and Claudio, who all live and work in Rome, we were able to gather first impressions of the various facets and layers of this unique city, get an overview of the interreligious and worldview landscape and meet potential network partners.
In preparation for our trip, we had an exciting conversation with Reverend Matthew Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome, who told us about the intra-religious dialogue between the Methodist churches and the Catholic Church and their joint work on memory and healing. In Rome we met Iman Sami Salem, imam at the El Fath Mosque, located in Magliana on the outskirts of Rome. He explained the importance of interreligious encounters and the role of religion and spirituality in it. We also had the great pleasure of meeting Mariam Salem, who was the first hijab-wearing candidate in Roman local elections.
At the Casa di Goethe, director Dr. Gregor Lersch took us on a tour of the current special exhibition, which brings Goethe’s writings into the present in a completely new and impressive manner. The Casa itself, Goethe’s old residence in the heart of Rome, also points beyond its place and time and is to be further enriched with contemporary life and current perspectives in the years to come. For a tour of the former ghetto of Rome and an interesting conversation about the role of the Catholic Church in Italy today, we met Elena Dini from the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue.
On the last day we met Prof. Bishara Ebeid, theologian and currently lecturer at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, and talked about the role of Christians as mediators in conflicts, but also about communication and the subtle differences in meaning between seemingly corresponding words in different languages. In addition to the meetings, we explored Rome as a religious, interreligious and worldview place, strongly influenced by Catholicism, but also offering a great diversity, especially in what is not visible at first sight, to be discovered and explored.
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to meet us and with whom we will be working during the Autumn Seminar 2023. A special thanks goes to our participants, without whom our visit and the numerous encounters and conversations would not have been possible.
˝DialoguePerspectives offers a unique change of perspective! The programme allows you to really grapple with current and highly societally relevant questions, to reflect on your own identity, and to get to know the diversity of European identities. I am very grateful for the intensive personal discussion and encounters, and the great amount of food for thought that has stuck with me long past the seminars.
Ezgi, DialoguePerspectives alumnus