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Interfaith dialogue can transform outlooks

Irish Baptist (Write Back, July 31) is eager to point out that the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland does not "dialogue" with the Catholic Church.

Many of us were well aware of that fact and of the spiritual mindset that lies behind it. Many would also challenge that mentality - its prejudices and assumptions - and would dispute with the "reservoir of anti-Catholicism", correctly identified by Dr Ken Newell, still to be found among some professing evangelical Christians in Ireland today.

Dialogue, when it is entered with open hearts and a sincere desire to be faithful to God's will, often leads to transformation of attitudes; to conversion of minds and hearts, away from hostile, mutually anathematising narratives that were dictated in the toxic religious atmospheres of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Evangelical Christians, including Irish Baptists, are not blameless for the sectarianism for which all Christians have, in various ways, been responsible over the years, causing enormous suffering to Catholic and Protestant Christians.

Thank God, many Christians - Catholic and Reformed - have reached out, beyond entrenched theological opinions and ideologies forged in times of foment. When we have the courage to do so, we discover there is more that unites than divides us.

FR PATRICK MCCAFFERTY

Corpus Christi Parish, Belfast

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