Archbishop Nichols, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Archbishop McDonald, Archbishop Longley Picture: Peter Jennings
A new teaching document on interfaith dialogue was launched in Westminster on Friday by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
'Meeting God in Friend and Stranger: fostering mutual respect and understanding between the religions' reminds all Catholics that they are called by their Baptism to engage in dialogue with others, and specifically with people of other religions. It says this is part of the Church's task of continuing the dialogue that God engages with His Church, and of reading the signs of His will in our times.
The document stresses that this dialogue is not restricted to academics, but takes place where everyday life is shared in an atmosphere of respect and openness. Shared experiences of worship - where the worship takes the form not of coming to pray together, but of coming together to pray, is also a valuable aspect of dialogue, and one which meets appropriately the desire to share occasions of grief, joy and remembrance.
Catholics are also encouraged to seek shared action with other religions - our shared concern for the environment being one obvious point on which to enter into a dialogue of action.
Catholics are advised, in their engagement with others, to share openly what they hold to be true, while at the same time being prepared to be inspired by the truth and holiness apparent in other religions. This dialogue is the work of Jesus Christ and it continues His mission of engaging with others in full respect for their otherness, and of bringing to the world an awareness of God's good plan for the whole of humanity.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "This is a most important document addressing the theme of dialogue between the faiths. It therefore addresses many points of great significance for our society, not least for those who, at this moment, do not appreciate the importance of religious faith. I hope it receives widespread attention."