From reflection to Action: Practical Theology in Interfaith and Intercultural Settings in Asia
Sr. Anne Antenita LAMBERT
KU Leuven Belgium
Many people regard religion as a source of peace. It is generally acknowledged that religion plays a significant role in promoting both peace and the pursuit of justice and human rights for all (Peyton and Jalongo 2008, Soni 2010, Kalin 2012, Longchar 2012, Sharma 2014, Bhutto & Munir 2016, Keskin 2016, Pilario 2019). However, in the modern world, religion is frequently viewed as the primary cause of war, violence, and terrorism. Various religious disputes exist in Asia’s multi-religious cultures, either between religions or within religious communities (Scheepers and Sterkens 2020, Neo 2021). In 2023, many countries or regions are experiencing war or facing post-war contexts (Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka). Hundreds of people die or are injured due to war and violence under the cover of religion. People are divided in the name of ethnicity, religion, and culture. Sri Lanka has various conflicts within its multi-ethnic and multi-religious backgrounds (Bopage 2010, Jayaseelan 2020). People from many religious beliefs have sanctioned violence. Besides, extremism has been invoked in the name of religion. People have become extremists in the name of religion, resulting in ethnic conflicts. Their religious intolerance includes pressure, harassment, imprisonment, and religious rigidity. However, there is inadequate literature to examine the ongoing struggle against religious extremism and how interfaith and intercultural dimensions of religion could work together to promote peace. In particular, there is nearly no ( or less) academic literature regarding peaceful living in multi-religious and ethnic. The interfaith and intercultural approach through the Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation project is necessary for promoting mutuality among cultures and religions in the context of Sri Lanka. Through the framework of Pope Francis’ emphasis on ‘no more war!’ in Fratelli Tutti, this paper examines interfaith and intercultural approaches towards a religious witnessing to the world for peaceful living in a specific way in the post-war context of Sri Lanka. The essay argues that a practical theological engagement of post-war cultures sheds light on the interconnected experiences and collaborative participation of people in the light of multi-religious religious faith practices.
Keywords: Practical theology, religion, peace, interfaith and intercultural settings, Asia, Sri Lanka
I am Sr. Anne Antenita Lambert SDS and I belong to Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Saviour, also known as Salvatorian Sisters, from Sri Lanka. I did my professional studies in Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (Theology) at Aquinas University College, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2011-2014). I recently finished the Research Master: Master of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion at KU Leuven (2017-2019). I am currently a final year doctoral researcher at KU Leuven Belgium and working on the theme “CHILDREN’S SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE: A PRACTICAL THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS IN THE POST-WAR CONTEXT OF SRI LANKA.