Dr Peter Admirand presented a paper at the 2nd Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion, held in Bologna, Italy from 3 March to 7 March, 2019. 1,400 academics were involved in the conference, deemed “the largest platform for religious sciences in Europe.”
The panel Dr Admirand presented in was titled: “Diverse Aspects of Interreligious Dialogue: Christianity and Islam.” It was organized by Professor Mario Aguilar, of St Andrew’s University. In his paper, Dr. Admirand examined the impact of recent advances in Jewish-Christian dialogue on Muslim-Christian dialogue. In this regard, he built upon the paper he gave in Philadelphia in January of 2019 to a select group of experts in Jewish-Christian dialogue, to ask what aspects of that paper, pertinent to a Jewish-Christian audience, need more refinement, clarification, or changes in a more religiously mixed setting. For example, the Catholic Church praises the Jewish-Christian relationship as “special,” which may be complimentary among Jews, but what about when speaking with those of other traditions?
While the variety and depth of papers throughout the conference were impressive, choices had to be made (if only we could be in more than two places at the same time!). Particular highlights from this year’s conference include: the invitation only launch of KAICIID’s “Network for Dialogue,” to empower intercultural and interreligious action for refugee and migrant inclusion; the Gala Dinner held at the Palazzo R Enzo; an invitation only event titled: “Dialogue 4.0: the Role of Religious Communities in Fostering Inclusive Societies and Sustainable Development” (with talks from Craig Calhoun and Fadi Daou, among others); and a special session with Alan Race discussing his recently co-edited book with Harold Kasimow: Pope Francis and Interreligious Dialogue: Religious Thinkers Engage with Recent Papal Initiatives. Perry-Schmidt-Leukel and Alberto Melloni were the respondents, ably representing the left-right Christian divide, respectively, and more importantly, amicably. Schmidt-Leukel, for example asked of Pope Francis: “Is he an anonymous religious pluralist?”, though concluding he “is a Catholic inclusivist of the most inconsistent type.” Dr Admirand’s question on how the systemic child abuse scandal should effect Catholic participation in interfaith dialogue (and the reception of Catholic participation and words by non-Catholics) further added to the lively discussion.