An official delegation from the Vatican visited in September to observe the fruits of dialogue with world religions here in Australia.

As representatives of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), their main task is to advise Pope Francis on the Catholic Church’s attitudes, teachings, dialogue and initiatives regarding building bridges of peace together.

The Pontifical Council Delegation have explicitly called their visit a “pastoral visit”, to both encourage and learn, and to offer advice from the global Catholic Church on peacemaking through interreligious dialogue and listening.

The delegation was headed by Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot MCCJ, Secretary of PCID, an expert on Islam and included Monsgr Indunil Kodithuwakku, Monsgr Santiago Michael and Father Markus Solo.

The visit included Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

On Friday 21 September, Canberra’s local religious leaders from the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i communities attended a lunch at the Archbishop’s residence, hosted by Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Chair of the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue.

“In welcoming this high-level delegation on interreligious dialogue from the Vatican, we look forward to sharing with them the gifts of interreligious dialogue in our ancient, but new land,” said Archbishop Christopher Prowse.

“We also hope to learn from the global Catholic Church about how we can make that dialogue even more fruitful as a way of peacemaking,” he further added.

Bishop Miguel stressed the need to leverage on the “rich salad” of the world’s religions to better understand each other for encouraging peace and prosperity.

The Muslim community representation included Mainul Haque, President of the Canberra Muslim Community (CMC), Fethullah Erdogan, Director of Bluestar Intercultural Centre and Dr Majharul Talukder from Islamic Practice and Dawah Circle (IPDC).