Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue: A Mode of Doing Public Theology

by The Revd Dr Lilian Lira

Date added: 25/04/2017

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Brazil National Conference – Recife

24-27 April 2017


Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue: A Way of Doing Public Theology?

Lilian Conceição da S. P. de Lira[i]

[...] all religions have their gospel, their good news, and [...] this good news [sic] is not the privilege of us, Christians, nor of our churches fragmented by centuries of struggle, dogmatisms and orthodoxies.[ii]

Starting point

I completed my postgraduate studies at a Lutheran college in São Leopoldo, southern Brazil. There, for the first time, I heard about Public Theology, which initially seemed to me a redefinition or an update to what in Latin America we call Liberation Theology. However, from Argentine theologian Nicolás Panotto’s current doctoral research, "Religion, Politics and Public Space", I was able to understand the specificity of Public Theology in Latin America, welcoming the challenges he points out: a) understanding the importance of the ideas of plurality and heterogeneity to define the public space; b) the need to read the political as a key to identity and not only institutionally; c) highlight the plurality of subjects within the public space.[iii]

I do theology from daily life, particularly from my own life, lived in relationship with other lives. And the identities that I embody imprint in me a permanent restlessness that impels me to reflect on how the faith that I profess constrains me to think of alternatives to confront and overcome the many vulnerabilities that intersect and potentiate human rights violations affecting people and social groups in terms of social class, race and gender.

Christian mission as an expression of God's desire to embrace humanity lovingly

To admit that the perception and the confrontation of rights violations that befall us daily, worldwide and for ages, demands a web of knowledges and wisdoms, of accumulated life experiences, of experiences of faith that the Christian tradition does not contain. It also makes it necessary to trace a path that necessarily breaks the religious chains that hinder the ability to see God beyond the Christian tradition and opens toward a dialogue with the world without religion, with the atheist world and with other traditions of faith.

To recognize the diversity of the Christian tradition, as understood since the division of the Christian world between East and West is to admit that the Western Christian tradition is also diverse and complex, composed of a range of Christian expressions – Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant – and that, therefore, referring to the Christian tradition in this paper would be too broad and would require a comprehensive description of the specificities of Christian denominations, which goes beyond the objectives proposed here.[iv]

For the purposes of this paper, I chose to focus on the Anglican Christian tradition of which I have been a clergywoman for fifteen years, based on the theological principle of the horizons of the Anglican mission as expounded by the Anglican theologian Titus Presler,[v] which can be summarized in the following motto: “Cooperate with people of other faiths”.[vi]

Presler, currently based in the USA, had missionary experiences in India and Zimbabwe, and the multicultural environment he knew enabled him to learn the ways of a new vision of mission by considering the global community, in which people of Christian tradition are part. The main argument of the author is that Christian mission must express God's desire to embrace humanity lovingly.

In Presler's view, “Mission in the new century must encourage church members in exploring the faith journeys of people who embrace other religions.”[vii] He affirms this by believing that the Christian Church is not God's keeper, and that “God's mission is not limited to the Church.”[viii]

The author understands that the global mission will only be strengthened by educational initiatives that enable the dialogue of Anglican Christian people with people from other religious experiences: “Global mission can only be strengthened by educational initiatives that enable people in the world to understand more about religions, preferably through direct contact with people of other faiths.”[ix] In this theologian's view, there is a global mission that can only be strengthened by educational initiatives that allow Anglican Christian people to understand other world religions, preferably through dialogue with people of other religions.

We should acknowledge that this missiological understanding is not unique or original to Anglicanism. Reformed South African missiologist David J. Bosch,[x] for example, devotes the entire last part of his extensive and major work, Transforming Mission, to address the “Elements of an Emerging Ecumenical Missionary Paradigm.”[xi] From the contributions of this text, it is worth emphasising the “creative tension”[xii] between two conceptions of the church, resulting from the new missionary paradigm. One conception consists in the church's perception of being the “only bearer of a message of salvation of which it holds the monopoly”. The other conception consists in perceiving the church as seeing itself “as an illustration – in words and deeds – of God's involvement with the world.” This latter perception, in turn, promotes the understanding of mission as a contribution to the humanisation of society.

The author refers this way of seeing mission to the writings of the Catholic theologian Edmond Dunn,[xiii] who presents the church as an awareness raiser toward this process of humanization. The great challenge posed by Bosch consists in the possibility of treating this tension in a creative and non–destructive way, since the first conception “deprives the gospel of its ethical impulse”, while the second conception ignores the soteriological potential of mission.[xiv] Deprivation of the ethical impulse limits the church's action to microethical, personal conduct, without attending to commitment to social justice. The soteriological potential, in turn, refers to the understanding that the church is the only bearer of the saving message.

The author highlights the contribution of the statement by the World Council of Churches,[xv] bringing together two working groups, the Western European Group and the North American Group, in 1967. “We emphasize humanisation as an objective of mission because we believe that, more than others, it conveys, in our historical period, the meaning of the messianic objective.”[xvi]

The German theologian Hermann Brandt[xvii] writes on the contributions of the Lutheran theologian Georg Friedrich Vicedom (1903–1974), forerunner of the pluralist theology of religion,[xviii] in his piece “The mission of world religions”, emphasising his perception of the new scenario and the distancing from conventional concepts of mission. Vicedom, a conservative theologian, is surprised to say that it is the image of a “young church” that guides him to missionary empiricism, since its source of inspiration is experience. Vicedom recognises mission as being God's own, and the Church's part, therefore, is to be an instrument for this mission.

It is interesting to note that the classical theology of mission defined its relation with other religions in a conflictive way, whereas the pluralist theology of religions proposes agreements or correspondences; put otherwise, if pluralist theology, on the one hand, asks about correspondences, the theology of mission of religions accentuates differences.[xix]

Emerging Ecumenism and Dialogue

The term ecumenism derives from the Greek word οἰκουμένη (oikoumenē), which means home, inhabited earth, inhabited world, or humanity.[xx] It echoes the expression “global community” employed by Titus Presler. In this sense, it would be about the world inhabited by different peoples.[xxi] The Spanish Dominican theologian Juan Bosch Navarro (1939–2006) makes a significant contribution in presenting ecumenism's diverse possibilities of meaning and typologies, among which secular ecumenism, here adopted as being the one that best describes the Greek word that has given rise to it and also for being the concept adopted by the Anglican Church.

The identification of types of ecumenism occurred during my Master's research, when I systematized educational activities run by the Ecumenical Centre for Black Culture (CECUNE), of which I have been a member for over a decade, based on epistemological curiosity about the meaning of the term "ecumenical" in CECUNE's terminology, "characterized by diaconia to the world, service of the world through justice and peace."[xxii]

Throughout the world there have been many initiatives to fight for human rights and to overcome violence. However important the efforts by social movements, governments[xxiii] and religious communities, the scenario raises a huge and urgent challenge for the whole society.

There have been many efforts by various groups and institutions to seek respect for human rights. The challenge, however, is to broaden the understanding that such efforts must come from the whole society. This challenge has been faced particularly by the sensitivity and commitment shown by the Anglican Communion and by its province, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, in fulfilling the role as agents of transformation of this reality, when the latter joins and participates in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue bodies, such as the World Council of Churches (WCC); the Latin American Council of Christian Churches (CLAI), the National Council of Christian Churches (CONIC), as well as regional, state–level and municipal forums on religious diversity.[xxiv] I single out, as a participant, the Dialogues Forum on Religious Diversity, in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil.[xxv]

I agree with the statement by the Brazilian pedagogue and religious studies scholar Carolina Teles Lemos:

[...] religion does not only function to provide meaning and legitimise the already established social order. Religion can also motivate and justify a movement of social rupture or protest when reality is very different from the ideal and set of values proposed by it.[xxvi]

The global, Latin American and national political scenarios constrain religious traditions to assume positions consistent with their discourses, usually in promoting a culture of respect and peace.

Corroborating the argument by American theologian Linell Cady, who identifies in public theology two tasks: a) “to sustain, interpret, criticize and reform a particular religious worldview and its simultaneous way of living”[xxvii] and b) “to contribute to the improvement and critical transformation of our public life”,[xxviii] we find Cady's points concretely, through the stands taken by the Anglican Church in particular, and other religious traditions in general, as fruits of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, faced with a reality of religious intolerance that violates human rights.

And what is dialogue? It is a horizontal relation of A to B. It is born out of a critical matrix and generates criticality [...]. It nurtures love, humility, hope, faith, trust. Therefore, only dialogue communicates. And when the two poles of dialogue are bound together like this, with love, with hope, with faith in one another, they become critical in the search for something. A relationship of sympathy between the two is then established. Only then there is communication. [xxix]

If it is by saying the word with which, “pronouncing” the world, men are transformed, dialogue imposes itself as the way by which men gain meaning as men. For this reason, dialogue is an existential requirement. And if it is the meeting together of reflection and action addressed to the world to be transformed and humanised, dialogue cannot be reduced to an act of depositing ideas of one subject in the other, nor can it be a mere exchange of ideas to be consumed by interlocutors. [xxx]

I turn to Paulo Freire to remind that dialogue is only possible if there are at least two agents[xxxi] who communicate with each other. And such a dialogue, he says, is nourished by love, that enables this connection of trust, humility, faith and hope, strengthening them for the critical search of something that one wants to find.[xxxii] Dialogue that generates mutual acceptance. Acceptance so common to women's practices, learned culturally by women in different societies. As women are a majority within religions, they hold the potential for acceptance. Not by accident, Brazilian feminist theologian and philosopher Ivone Gebara says: “Religion in its original basis is maternal, protective and cosy.”[xxxiii] This, however, does not mean that men are not important, or that they are unable to live such practices. Only, this is an affirmation that this religious assumption, which is at the basis of religious sentiment, is a source of learning. Or, as the author argues:

The oldest religious representations of humankind are female or, more precisely, are projections of the female experiences of motherhood and fertility. [...] Mothers and religion indicate an original complicity marked by many contradictions.[xxxiv]

In his Master's thesis, the Brazilian Anglican theologian Josué Soares Flores revisits the theme “God's Motherhood in Julian of Norwich”,[xxxv] and states that: “The Church is ... a womb that connects us to the bosom of the Trinity, through care and through nourishment.”[xxxvi] One of the Anglican Christian tradition's tasks in global mission is to strengthen educational initiatives that allow for dialogue between Anglican Christian people and people of other religions.[xxxvii]

The plurality that concerns the Christian theology of religious pluralism pictures God as universal love.[xxxviii] Speaking about the consequences of not respecting pluralism, Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebara, says

That the neglect of such pluralism by various institutions, as expressed in part through the relationship between the feminine and the masculine, since we are women and men who recognize and speak of it, was in part the cause of the extreme violence in which we have lived in recent centuries. A part of ourselves, the masculine affirmed itself as a single principle, trying not only to conceal the feminine, but to attack and destroy it in the concrete existence of social institutions.[xxxix]

Acknowledging the pluralism of founding principles of human existence promotes a better understanding of the human being about him/herself, as well as enables the development of dialogue actions and politics that transform violent human relations into human relations of mutual care:[xl]

[...] Therefore, the appeal of the ethical wisdoms of all human cultures has always insisted on the need to look at the other, male and female, to take them as my fellow humans, to discover them as my other self, as my neighbour, without whom my own life does not come true. And lately, this principle of interdependence that has travelled with us as the fruit of the evolution of life, the principle of plural maintenance of all lives, expands in consciousness towards all other living beings and vitally needs them. So one could say that the plurality of principles could even be reduced, in a certain sense, to the unity expressed through care for life. ... I believe that the question of pluralism invites us once again to thought, to closeness with wisdom, to friendship with the different, to what is near and far, as expressions of the astonishing complexity of life. And this also applies to theologies because, ultimately, their certainty has to do with the weak, uncertain, plural and always renewable bet on the love that sustains us: “Where there is love, God is there ...”[xli]

Again, we are back to the theme of love. And here I turn to Afro-North-American writer and activist bell hooks, to emphasize the gesture of loving as an extension of ourselves: “The idea that love means our expansion in the sense of nurturing our spiritual growth or that of another person, helps me to grow by affirming that love is an action.”[xlii]

These are small actions that become great actions, “in view of a better present and future, but this fragile chance has to be loved, cared for and diffused as a possible ‘good news’ of life in abundance,” as Gebara announces.[xliii]

In my understanding, in DIALOGUES Forum one finds the possibility that each tradition, perceiving itself as religion, may recognise itself as a locus for that welcoming and nourishment that sustain life, offering opportunities for alternatives to overcome the many forms of violence, particularly religious intolerance, which affect, in Pernambuco, African, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-indigenous traditions.[xliv]

Welcoming and nurturing are keywords in my doctoral research, when I approached the the Batuque tradition in Rio Grande do Sul, a religion of African origin, in order to learn, through dialogue, how to confront gender violence against black women, recognizing that racism enhances sexism, making black women the hardest hit by feminicide in our country.

This dialogue becomes fertile in “people who find in their respective religions the ultimate meaning of their existence”[xlv] and who therefore believe that “the meeting of cultural religious horizons can allow the welcoming of the other, male and female, in their otherness, their difference.”[xlvi] The otherness mentioned by the Afro–Brazilian theologian Irene Dias recalls the words of Mexican poet Octavio Paz (1914–1998): “‘Otherness’ is strangeness, stupefaction, paralysis of the spirit: amazement”[xlvii] before the other. Otherness is an educational paradigm “in which solidarity, justice and acceptance of the other are assumed as part of the process of humanisation,” as the Brazilian theologian Luis Carlos Dalla Rosa states.[xlviii]

The ancient good news that is renewed here, in life and everywhere, always and once again, is that there is a powerful action, capable of transforming human relations, to restore the complementarity of the web of life, promoting cosmic harmony and overcoming all violence: Love.

Love must be a presence in the life of all people. When there is love, there is life in abundance. When there is love, there is respect and care. When there is love, there is a welcoming that feeds and nourishes bodies, life. And the life that follows its course is perpetuated by ancestry, uniting all people in the way back to originary humanity, which began in God, who is Love.

Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, therefore, proposes an apprenticeship that can revitalize educational actions and pedagogical processes, through the promotion of respect for life, and allows for sustenance of humanity, as it cooperates toward the establishment of a civilizing process in which human relations are based on love and respect among people. I see in these modes of being and living concrete possibilities and loci of experiences of emerging public theologies, in line with what American theologian Rebecca Chopp identifies as four modes of public theology discourse,[xlix] in dialogue with black and feminist theologies:

1. Empathy, as a search for understanding others based on their history and testimony;

2. Solidarity, as an experience of otherness, recognising and respecting differences;

3. Creation of a public space in which compassion is cultivated as hope and the promotion of justice;

4. Prioritisation of the testimonies of marginalised people.

Such modes of public–theological discourse have been possible in experiences such as those found in the DIALOGUES Forum on Religious Diversity in Pernambuco, in which the Anglican Diocese of Recife, of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Recife, is actively represented, finding in this space a missiological opportunity for strengthening its testimony of faith and practice.

[i]  Anglican female clergy for 15 years. MA and PhD in Theology (Religion and Education) at EST College, São Leopoldo, southern Brazil; black movement and feminist black movement activist; member of the Ecumenical Centre for Black Culture (CECUNE) and the Pernambuco Black Women Network; Anglican Diocese of Recife’s representative in the National Council of Christian Churches-Pernambuco Chapter as well as the DIALOGUES Forum on Religious Diversity.

[ii]  BOTAS, Paulo. Carne do Sagrado, Edun Ara: devaneios sobre a espiritualidade dos Orixás. Petrópolis/Rio de Janeiro: Koinonia Presença Ecumênica e Serviço/Vozes, 1996, p. 16. Botas is a Catholic priest initiated within Candomble.

[iii] See also JACOBSEN, Eneida. A teologia ancorada no mundo da vida e dialogicamente situada na esfera pública: uma contribuição ao debate contemporâneo sobre teologia pública. MA thesis in Theology. São Leopoldo: EST/PPG, 2011. 150 pp.

[iv]  On Christian tradition, there is a wealth of sources. For some of them, see WALKER, W. História da igreja cristã. 3. ed. Revista e atualizada. Trad. Paulo Sipierski. São Paulo: ASTE, 2005, v. I e v. II; HOORNAERT, Eduardo. A memória do povo cristão:uma história da Igreja nos três primeiros séculos. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1986; NEILL, Stephen. História das missões. 2. ed. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1997; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos mártires. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1980, v. 1; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos gigantes. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1980, v. 2; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era das trevas. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1981, v. 3; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos altos ideais. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1986, v. 4; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos sonhos frustrados. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1981, v. 5; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos reformadores. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1986, v. 6; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos conquistadores. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1983, v. 7; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos dogmas. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1986, v. 8; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era dos novos horizontes. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1988, v. 9; GONZÁLEZ, Justo L. Uma história ilustrada do cristianismo. A era inconclusa. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 1996, v. 10; e história da Igreja na América Latina e no Caribe.Petrópolis: Vozes, 1987.

[v]  PRESLER, Titus. Horizons of mission. The New Church’s Teaching Series. Cambridge, Boston, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2001, v. 11, offers a new vision of mission in the multicultural environment of a global community, presenting Latin America, Africa and Asia as new gravitational centres of Christianity.

[vi]  PRESLER, 2001, p. 156.

[vii]  Op. Cit., p. 157.

[viii]  Op. Cit., p. 174.

[ix]  Idem, ibidem.

[x]  BOSCH, David J. Missão transformadora:mudanças de paradigma na teologia da missão. São Leopoldo: Sinodal, Escola Superior de Teologia, 2002. On the dialogue with other religions from the vantage point of Christian theology, see AMALADOSS, Michael. Pela estrada da vida: Prática do diálogo interreligioso. São Paulo: Paulinas, 1996; KNITTER, Paul. Una terra molte religioni: Dialogo interreligioso e responsabilità globale. Assisi: Cittadella Editrice, 1998; KÜNG, Hans. Projeto de ética mundial: Uma moral ecumênica em vista da sobrevivência humana. São Paulo: Paulinas, 1992, p. 110–144; KÜNG, Hans. Teologia in cammino. Milano: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1987; PANIKKAR, Raimundo. Il dialogo intrareligioso. Assisi: Cittadella Editrice, 1988; TEIXEIRA, Faustino Luiz Couto (Org.) O diálogo de pássaros: nos caminhos do diálogo inter–religioso. São Paulo: Paulinas, 1993; TEIXEIRA, Faustino. A teologia do pluralismo religioso em Claude Geffré. Numen, n°. 1, 1998, v. 1, p. 45–83; TEIXEIRA, Faustino. Novos paradigmas resultantes do diálogo interreligioso. In: ANJOS, Márcio Fabri dos (org.) Teologia e novos paradigmas. São Paulo: Loyola, SOTER, 1996, p. 105–133; TEIXEIRA, Faustino. O diálogo inter–religioso como afirmação da vida. São Paulo: Paulinas, 1987; TEIXEIRA, Faustino. Teologia das religiões – uma visão panorâmica. São Paulo: Paulinas, 1995.

[xi]  See BOSCH, 2002, chap. 12, p. 442–608. More specifically, when he presents the relationship between dialogue and mission, see p. 576–584.

[xii]  BOSCH, 2002, p. 457.

[xiii]  DUNN, Edmond J. Missionary theology: Foundations in Development. Washington: University Press of America, 1980, p. 83–103.

[xiv]  Do grego soter, que significa salvação, a palavra soteriológica deriva do termo soteriologia, parte da teologia que estuda Cristo em sua qualidade de salvador da humanidade. See DE PEDRO, Áquilo. Dicionário de termos religiosos e afins. Aparecida: Santuário, 1993, p. 297.

[xv]  CONSEJO MUNDIAL DE IGLESIAS ES UMA COMUNIAD DE IGLESIAS. ¿Qué es el Consejo Mundial de Iglesias? Disponível em: <–us>. 23 jan. 2014.

[xvi]  BOSCH, 2002, p. 459. Apud WORDL CONUNCIL OF CHURCHES. The church for others and the church of the world. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1967, p. 78.

[xvii]  BRANDT, H. Vicedom como precursor da teologia pluralista da religião: uma recordação de seu escrito “A missão das religiões mundiais”. Estudos Teológicos, América do Norte, 40, mai. 2013. Available: <>. Accessed: 2 Jan 2014.

[xviii]  Marcelo Barros argues that “[the] Theology of Religious Pluralism is the state of the art in the field of Christian theology”. For him, “[a] foundation of the Christian theology of Religious Pluralism is the understanding that God is Love and universal Salvation. He does not restrict his love and his project of life to a single religion or spiritual way. Some Church fathers spoke about “old testaments” of other peoples. They compared Greek philosophers to biblical prophets. Others still said all religions contain “seeds of the Divine Word.” (See FAUSTINO TEIXEIRA, Teologia das Religiões, uma visão panorâmica, São Paulo, Paulinas, 1995, p. 22). As of the 1960s, the Catholic Church, through its theology of the Vatican II Council, and the historical evangelical churches, through the World Council of Churches, deepened this theological valuing of other religions further. In the Protestant field, this was the general orientation of the World Council of Churches’s conferences in 1961, in Vancouver (“Jesus Christ, Life of the World”), and 1968, in Uppsala ("Behold, I Make All Things New"). See BARROS, Marcelo. A reconciliação de quem nunca se separou. Pluralismo cultural e religioso: Eixo da Teologia da Libertação. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 02 jan. 2014.

[xix]  VICEDOM, Georg F. Von der selbstentfaltung des evangeliums in der jungen kirche. In: Basileia: Festschrift für W. Freytag, Stuttgart, 1959, p. 346–355.

[xx] RUSCONI, Carlo. Dicionário do grego do Novo Testamento. São Paulo: Paulus, 2003, p. 328–329; NAVARRO, 1995, p. 10; SANTA ANA. Ecumenismo e Libertação. São Paulo: Vozes, 1991, p. 17.

[xxi]  NAVARRO, 1995, p. 10.

[xxii] LIRA, Lilian C. S. P. de. As Ações Educativas do Centro Ecumênico de Cultura Negra (CECUNE). MA thesis in Theology. São Leopoldo: EST/PPG, 2006, p. 55.

[xxiii]  During the administration of President Dilma Rousseff, the Special Secretariat for Human Rights, with the status of a Ministry of State, established the National Committee for Respect for Religious Diversity (CNRDR), an advisory collegial body aimed, pending other decision–making bodies and rules of the federal administration, at promoting recognition and respect for religious diversity, and defending the right to free exercise of various religious practices, thus disseminating a culture of peace, justice and respect for different beliefs and persuasions. The Committee is responsible for contributing to Public Policies within the framework of the secular state, based on the following themes: relationship of beliefs and persuasions; public policies in defence of human rights in relation to religious affairs. (On CNRDR, see:–social/cnrdr). I am currently a full member of CNRDR, as representative of the DIALOGUES Forum on Religious Diversity in Pernambuco, where I represent the Anglican Diocese of Recife/Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil.

[xxiv]  The Anglican Diocese of Recife, for instance, participates in the Pernambuco Chapter of the National Council of Christian Churches, and the Dialogues Forum for Religious Diversity.

[xxv] DIALOGUES was created from the initiative of the public prosecutor Westei Conde Martín y Junior in 2012, as a response to numerous cases of religious intolerance that came to the table as lawsuits. This led him to invite local religious leaders from various traditions to a meeting, proposing the creation of a forum that could promote interreligious dialogue. This was welcomed by the leaders present and on November 4, 2012, at a hearing in the Legislative Assembly of Pernambuco, DIALOGUES was launched, with the following aims: I - to spread respectful coexistence and act as interlocutor between the existing religions in the state of Pernambuco; II - to propose and defend initiatives aimed at the concrete realisation of freedom of conscience and belief, the free exercise of religious services and the protection of places of worship and their liturgies; III - to lend visibility to interreligious dialogue with a view to strengthening the democratic rule of law; IV- to promote a culture of peace between religions and in society as a whole. DIALOGUES meets monthly, each time in a sacred space of one of the traditions represented, or one of the non-religious institutions that participate in it.

[xxvi]  LEMOS, Carolina Teles. Religião e tessitura da vida cotidiana. Goiânia: PUC/GO, 2012, p. 123

[xxvii]  CADY, Linell. The task of public theology. In: THIEMANN, Ronald (Ed.). The legacy of H. Richard Niebuhr. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991. p. 119.

[xxviii]  CADY, Linell. The task of public theology. In: THIEMANN, Ronald (Ed.). The legacy of H. Richard Niebuhr. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991. p. 119.

[xxix]  FREIRE, Paulo. Educação como prática da liberdade. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1967, p. 107. Available: Karl Theodor Jaspers (1883–1969) was a German existentialist philosopher and psychiatrist.

[xxx]  FREIRE, p. 45.

[xxxi]  Agents, from Asante's perspective: "[...] agency is the ability to dispose of the psychological and cultural resources necessary for the advancement of human freedom. In a situation of lack of freedom, oppression and racial repression, the active idea within the concept of agents takes on a prominent position. What is the practical significance of this in the context of Afrocentricity? When considering issues of place, situation, context and occasion involving African participants, it is important to look at the concept of agency as opposed to non–agency. We say that there is non–agency in any situation in which the African is discarded as an actor or protagonist in his own world. "MAZAMA, Ama. A afrocentricidade como um novo paradigma, p. 111–127. In: NASCIMENTO, 2009, p. 94–95.

[xxxii]  FREIRE, 1967, p. 107.

[xxxiii]  GEBARA, 2000a, p. 101.

[xxxiv]  Ibidem, Idem.

[xxxv]  FLORES, Josué Soares. A maternidade de Deus em Juliana de Norwich. São Paulo: Fonte Editorial, 2013. Julian of Norwich (1343–1413) was a 14th–century English Benedictine mystic.

[xxxvi]  FLORES, 2013, p. 103.

[xxxvii]  PRESLER, 2001, p. 174.

[xxxviii]  BARROS, Marcelo. A reconciliação de quem nunca se separou. Pluralismo cultural e religioso:
Eixo da Teologia da Libertação. Available: <>. Accessed 2 Jan 2014.

[xxxix]  GEBARA, Ivone. Vulnerabilidade, justiça e feminismos: antologias de textos. São Bernardo do Campo: Nhanduti, 2010, p. 25.

[xl]  GEBARA, 2010, p. 26.

[xli]  GEBARA, Ivone. A mobilidade da senzala feminina. Mulheres nordestinas, vida melhor e feminismo. São Paulo: Paulinas, 2000a, p. 26

[xlii]  HOOKS, Bell. Vivendo de amor.  Translated by Maísa Mendonça. Available: <–de–atuacao/questoes–de–genero/180–artigos–de–genero/4799–vivendo–de–amor>. Accessed 11 Jan 2014. Gloria Jean Watkins, or bell hooks, as she likes to be called and as she writes her own name, is an American writer and activist, widely read and cited among Black feminist activists.

[xliii]  GEBARA, 2010, p. 103.

[xliv]  GEBARA, p. 62.

[xlv]  OLIVEIRA, Irene Dias de. Religiões afro–brasileiras e violência.  Ciberteologia – Revista de Teologia & Cultura. n. 35, v. VII, Jul/Aug/Sept 2011, p. 22. Available <–afro–brasileiras–e–violencia/>. Accessed 14 Jan 2014.

[xlvi]  OLIVEIRA, 2011, p. 22.

[xlvii]  PAZ, Octavio. El arco y la lira.El poema, la revelación poética, poesía e historia. 3. ed. México: FCE, 1972, p. 129.

[xlviii]  ROSA, Luis Carlos Dalla. Educar para a sabedoria do amor. A alteridade como paradigma educativo. 2010. PhD diss. Postgraduate Programme in Theology, EST College, São Leopoldo, 2010. The dissertation received a prize from SOTER – Society of Theology and Religious Studies and a post–doctoral grant from CAPES, in 2011. See EST. Egresso da EST vence o Prêmio CAPES de Teses. Disponível em: <–da–est–vence–o–premio–capes–de–teses>. Acesso em: 15 jan. 2014, p.29.

[xlix]  CHOPP, Rebecca. Reimagining public discourse, JTSA, 103, 1999. p. 44–46. Apud Koopman, Nico. Apontamentos sobre a teologia pública hoje. In: Revista Eletrônica do Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisa do Protestantismo da Escola Superior de Teologia – EST. Available <>.

The Revd Dr Lilian Lira

The Revd Dr Lilian Lira



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