Conference on Mother Mary, Christians and Muslims

The Lakshmi Menon Bhatia Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Loyola College, Chennai and Islamic Studies Association, Delhi organised a webinar on Mother Mary: Christians and Muslims on October 24.

Nov 05, 2021

Prof Rita Tvrtkovic


NEW DELHI:
The Lakshmi Menon Bhatia Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Loyola College, Chennai and Islamic Studies Association, Delhi organised a webinar on Mother Mary: Christians and Muslims on October 24. The webinar was presented by Professor Rita George-Tvrtkovi? (Associate Professor of Theology, Benedictine University, Illinois, USA).

Prof Rita George Tvrtkovic in her lecture highlighted the representation of Mother Mary as both a bridge between Christians and Muslims and a barrier to mutual relations between these two sets of believers. She used various documents ranging from the 5th century Byzantine records to the Spanish Cantigas to illustrate her point.

She also pointed out that in an outburst of missionary zeal, the Dominican scholar William of Tripoli (d. 1291), in line with Thomas Aquinas, wrote that he believed that faith cannot be imparted to the other in intellectual fencing matches. He affirmed that the points in common to both religions such as ‘doctrines on Jesus and Mary’ could be used as ‘stepping stones’ (bridges) for better understanding between Christians and Muslims. William of Tripoli praised the piety of Muslims and their reverential fear of God despite being critical of Islam in his writings (Treatise on the Saracen State).

Further, Professor Tvrtkovi? said that Mother Mary has been represented as per the various socio-political interests and compulsions of the times. The Portuguese in medieval times represented Mother Mary as a barrier for Muslims and as someone who only represented the interests of the Christian Faith. She was also pulled into various intra-religious tussles between the Catholics and other branches of Christianity.

Prof Tvrtkovic then highlighted various shared shrines that are dedicated to Mother Mary across the world, where people of multiple beliefs gather in faith. These shrines in Syria, Lebanon to India show how uniting is her holy Presence. The works of French Catholic Scholar of Islam Louis Massignon, who coined the term “Abrahamic Faith” in the late 1950s, once again throws light on Mother Mary’s role as a bridge between Christians and Muslims.

This presentation was followed by a discussion moderated by Fr Mary Arul Raja. The 50 odd participants from around the world shared their thoughts and views and raised some important questions.ICN

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