Friday, May 06, 2016
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Catholic Church in South Africa Discusses Gülen Movement

Catholic Church in South Africa Discusses Gülen MovementThe Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue Committee of the Catholic Church of South Africa sponsored a conference last week in the South African province of Pretoria with the cooperation of the Turquoise Harmony Institute, a Johannesburg-based interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue organization, to discuss the Gülen movement and its contributions to world peace.

Explaining the need for interfaith dialogue in the world and their attempts to create a connection with Muslims, George Francis Daniel, archbishop emeritus of Pretoria and the head of the committee, praised the efforts of the Turquoise Harmony Institute. "As the committee on inter-religious dialogue, we have been trying to reach out to other religions, but we were not sure how to go about reaching Muslims. However, we did not have to reach Muslims because Muslims reached us through the Turquoise Harmony Institute, and the problem was solved. The philosophy and activities of Fethullah Gülen, whom I had the opportunity of knowing during my visit to Turkey, has impressed us deeply, and after our return we wanted to have a session at the South African Catholic Bishops Conference about his philosophy and the movement." The archbishop added in his opening speech that "we did not have to reach Islam; Islam reached us."

The program started with a video presentation about Fethullah Gülen and was followed by a presentation that lasted approximately 30 minutes. During the presentation, the development of the Gülen movement was briefly explained. Following the presentation smaller groups were created to exchange views of how interfaith dialogue can be improved in workshops. The participants expressed the sentiment that they are impressed with Fethullah Gülen’s approach, which suggests that "we are first human, then Muslim."

It was also emphasized in the workshops, which were held during the conference after the presentations, that the heart of all religions recommends peace and harmony. Furthermore, raising public awareness on the issues of world peace and peaceful coexistence between different religions and cultures was identified as a priority at the workshops.