Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

We build better relations between Christians and Muslims. 

We follow the teaching of the Catholic Church on Christian-Muslim and interfaith relations, as exemplified by the recent popes in their dealings with Muslim individuals and organisations.  We promote better mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims and better cooperation for the common good.  Christians and Muslims share a common origin, a common destiny and a common pilgrim journey in our lives on earth to the one God, who is the Creator, Saviour and Merciful Judge of all. 

This apostolate also responds to the numerical and global strategic importance of Islam and Muslims in the world.  Together Christians and Muslims make up over 55% of the world’s population, so if there is to be meaningful peace in the world, there must be mutual understanding between the followers of these two world religions. 

Although numerically small in Australia—2.6% of the population in the 2016 census—Muslims and Islam loom large in people’s consciousness, due mostly to negative stereotyping in the media.  Therefore, Christian-Muslim relations are also important in our multicultural, multi-faith Australian society. 

The Christian-Muslim apostolate naturally extends to building relations with believers from other faiths.

Our Activities

We carry out our Christian-Muslim apostolate through a variety of activities:  

  • We nurture friendships with Muslim individuals and organisations by attending Muslim, interfaith and multi-faith events.
  • We participate in Muslim community celebrations such as ‘Eid (feast days) and iftar dinners (during Ramadan).
  • We give talks and seminars on Islam and Interreligious Dialogue for schools, teachers, parish and other community groups.
  • We publish the quarterly newsletter, Bridges.
  • We maintain a positive presence on social media to counter negative stereotypes.
  • We facilitate Youth PoWR (Parliament of the World’s Religions) to promote interfaith relations among the next generation.
  • We partner with others in co-hosting events where Christians and Muslims and believers from other religions can meet, dialogue and learn from one another, such as The Abraham Conference.
  • We publish occasional educational resources on Islam, Christian-Muslim relations and interreligious dialogue, such as Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.
  • We promote The Golden Rule Poster, an Australian resource for building interfaith relations.
  • We publish articles in Columban and other media platforms, such as The Far East, e-news, websites, Columban Intercom, Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST)
    • We teach tertiary level academic courses on Islam and on Interreligious Dialogue.
    • We participate in academic conferences and contribute to academic journals.
  • We are members of interfaith and multi-faith organisations such as the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews, the Council for Christians and Jews (NSW), the Jewish, Christian & Muslim Association (JCMA) and Religions for Peace.

Why & How We Go About Dialogue

Our motivation for this interfaith apostolate is that “interreligious dialogue is an integral element of the Church's evangelizing mission” (DP 38; cf RM 55).  We are practising and promoting the teaching of the Catholic Church on interreligious dialogue.  This includes the dialogue of life, the dialogue of deeds, the dialogue of theological exchange and the dialogue of religious experience (DM 28-35), all the while cultivating the dialogue of friendship (cf. Wayne Teasdale, Catholicism in Dialogue: Conversations Across Traditions, pp 28ff).

Catholic teaching on interreligious dialogue, developed at Vatican II and in subsequent documents, often remains “a hidden treasure” (Mt 13:44).  We try to uncover this treasure in word and deed for the local churches, both Catholic and Protestant, sharing it through talks, seminars and workshops, and modelling it in practice in our relationships with individuals and organisations from other religions, especially Muslims. 

By attending Muslim, interfaith and multi-faith events, we are a presence of the church.  Where past church teachings were often antagonistic towards believers from other religions and created animosity and resentment, we witness to a more positive, respectful, welcoming and friendly image of the church in accord with the contemporary understanding of mission. In doing so, we contribute to social cohesion in multicultural, multi-faith NZ.