In his Epistle to the Corinthians, written around the year 100 CE, Clement of Rome remarked that 'it is by faith and hospitality that Abraham became the son of the Covenant'. Not by faith alone, but also by a hospitality that had its origin in faith. Today, more than ever, it is important that our faith is linked to hospitality: to welocming the stranger in our midst. The tradition of hospitality has always been considered a sacred duty in all of humanity's cultures and religions. The stranger and guest have a right to sanctuary and are seen as directly connected to God, who is present in them. For some years interfaith meetings have been held in monasteries. No longer a matter of casual encounter when individuals venturing aborad are received in monasteries of another faith background, but as part of a programme of structured and often official interchange. This book testifies to the fruitfulness of such an approach for interreligious dialogue. The real challenge, as elsewhere, is the confrontation with a post-Christian world, which we must respond to with the magnanimous hospitality with which Abraham received the angels. Fr Pierre-Francois de Bethune is the Prior of the Monastery of Clerlande. His insights into interfaith dialogue have been gained principally in the Zen Buddhist monasteries of Japan. Secretary General of the Commission for Monastic Interfaith Dialogue, which brings together monks and nuns of different faiths on four continents, he also acts as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
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