EMBLEM OF THE COMMISSION
The tree symbolizes the mystery of life on earth. Its roots that run deep into the
heart of the mother earth, both vertically and horizontally, speak of life ‘being
rooted in the divine’. Its trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits stand for
the immense diversities of human life, in the ethnic, social, cultural, religious
and other spheres. It refers to the natural inclination of human life to reach out
to all directions for ‘being related to the other’. Its centrally basic position
in the emblem emphasizes the comprehensive meaning of life, along with its implications
for all forms and dimensions. The tree, along with its roots, branches and all their
contents, represent the eternal reality in its entirety, with all its manifestations
and mystical delicacies.
Symbols of Religions
Diverse Religious Symbols with different shapes and colours affirm the ‘identity
and singular character’ of each religious tradition. Their being placed randomly
in the logo rules out any consideration in terms of superior and inferior positions
in life. They have a common origin and a common destiny. They belong to the Creator
together. They belong to each other. They live with each other. They exist together.
The beauty of their diversity is in their ‘spirit of togetherness’. The ‘celebration
of communion’ among them explains the vision and mission of the organization.
White-Blue Background and White Glow at the Centre
The sky blue background represents the colourful universe around us. The space outside
refers to the ‘infinite’ beyond us and to the vastness of the unknown wisdom yet
to be sought. The white glow depicted at the centre stands for the depth of the
divine wisdom to be fathomed by all faith traditions, irrespective and in spite
of their own special provisions for spiritual attainments.
The Rays Emanating To and Fro
The rays emanating to and fro refer to the dynamism of yearning for enlightenment
as well as of the quest for wisdom that lie beyond the ordinary perceptions of all
faith traditions. They refer to the ‘spiritual dynamics of interaction and mutuality’
as well as to the ever-emerging divine energy, in the ‘inter-natural’, ‘inter-human’,
‘inter-faith’ and the ‘human-divine’ dimensions.
Harmony of Faiths
Harmony of Faiths, Religions, Ideologies, Perspectives and Ways is the sublime rationale
and common goal of human life. A ‘dialogical process’ is the means to achieve that
goal. ‘Willingness to unlearn’ and ‘go beyond the already known’ is the sure way
to ‘learn the yet to be known’. A ‘culture of cross-cultural relations’ and the
ensuing ‘walking together in life’ is the way forward for the humans. Commitment
to newer insights, deeper experiences and broader implications is the spiritual
path towards further heights in celebrating the ‘oneness of humanity’ amidst the
diversities of communities. This is the way that leads the humans to their eternal
destiny that merges with the transcendent and all-encompassing presence of the divine,
in response of the laborious search of the human heart.
Today, Dialogue, is the Church’s style of service as she continues to ascertain
a dialogue of love with the human family. In the Church in India, the CBCI office
for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism strives to establish network of contacts, organize
training programs to create an ever-growing awareness in the field of dialogue and
The Beginnings - Alterations in name with a growing clarity of mission
There was a gradual change from 1973 – 2011, in the very name itself. The CBCI Office
for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism had the following names:
- Commission for Proclamation, Ecumenism, Dialogue and Mass Media
- Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue - 1973
- Commission for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism
- Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue or Commission for Inter-faith Dialogue and
National Desk for Ecumenism
- The Commission for Religious Harmony
- CBCI Office for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism - 2011
Leadership that left an impact
One of the characteristics of the CBCI office for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism
is the leaders of its history and their creative efforts to shape its vision and
mission. Most Rev. George Punnakottil, Most Rev. Kuriakose Kunnacharry, Most Rev.
Patrick D’Souza, and Most Rev. Gali Bali have served as Chairman of CBCI Commission
for Ecumenism and Dialogue. Currently, His Grace Archbishop Felix Machado is the
Fr. Dr. Albert Nambiaparambil took up the work as National Secretary of the Commission
for Ecumenism and Dialogue in January 1973 and continued till 1982 - mid year. He
was again requested to take up the work in 1987 and remained in office until 1994.
The years 1994 – 2002 saw Fr. Dr. A. Suresh as secretary for CBCI Commission for
Ecumenism and Dialogue. From 2002 - 8 October 2011, Fr. Dr. M.D. Thomas worked as
National Director of the Commission for Religious Harmony. Commencing on 8 October
2011 onwards Sr. Dr. Teresa Joseph fma is the Secretary.
Formation of Personnel to set dialogue on the solid ground of Catholic Teaching.
- Training of personnel (all categories of people) Study days/Seminars
- Assisting the Regional Councils when requested
- Collaborating with the Regional Secretaries of Dialogue and Ecumenism
- Net-working at all levels
- Systematic encounters with believers of other religions
- Furthering the beginning and growth of ‘mini Assisi’ wherever possible
- Live-in seminars to equip those interested with skills for Peace research and conflict
- Accompaniment of couples – especially mixed marriages
- Preparation of resource material
Specific Programs carried out over the past five years:
- Seminars for Teachers/Parents and Students
- Training Young College Students to be Ambassadors of Peace and Harmony
- Live-in Seminars for Couples of Mixed Marriages
- Basic Courses on Interreligious dialogue for Teachers of all religions
- Interreligious Retreats for Teachers /Parents and Students
- Interreligious Camps for children and young people
- Visiting of Families and Counselling
“ . . . Dialogue is essential if we are to know, understand and respect one another.
But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it
must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.
Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and
practices are. But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able
to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual
esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.” Pope Francis, January 13, 2015, Address
at the Interreligious and Ecumenical Gathering Bandaranaike Memorial International
Conference Hall, Colombo