NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, center, invited his fellow theologians to “reflect honestly upon the role that obsolete and problematic religious teachings play in many contemporary conflicts. . . threatening humanity and even the future of civilization itself.”
Abrahamic Faiths Initiative: “Religions should serve as a basis for resolving problems, not creating them.” From 14 – 16 January 2020, eighteen Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders gathered to explore potential avenues of cooperation between the various Abrahamic faiths, in order to address a rapidly metastasizing global crisis that is strongly colored by animosity and violence between rival ethnic and religious groups. The two-day event, convened at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome under Chatham House Rule, included prominent religious scholars and the heads of major faith communities from Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America.
Participants included Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and all Palestine; Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf (“Gus Yahya”), General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council; prominent Shi’ite scholar Sayyed Yousif al-Khoei; Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, Chairman of the UAE Fatwa Council; Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee; Reverend Thomas K. Johnson, who serves as the World Evangelical Alliance’s Special Envoy to the Vatican and to Humanitarian Islam; and Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
On the evening of Wednesday, January 15, AFI participants visited Pope Francis at his private residence in Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican, where they discussed a wide range of issues for over an hour. During their conversation, NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and Pope Francis discussed the possibility of His Holiness visiting the world’s fourth most populous nation and its largest Muslim-majority democracy.
KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf with Pope Francis (above) and being interviewed on EWTN Global Catholic Television Network (below)