1) A demanding but promising trip for you Prof. Coda; what were your main impressions?
The island of Taiwan, which is called ‘Formosa’ by the Europeans because of its natural beauty, has a rich and particular culture. Now more than ever, it appears to be launched for a run in technical development, but it also constitutes an ideal bridge with the Mainland of China. After all, it enjoys an incisive and consolidated presence of the Catholic Church, on the cultural level as well.
Some institutions have established a singular tie for some time with the Focolare Movement, so much so, that, in 1997, Chiara Lubich was given a Doctoral Degree in theology by the prestigious University of Fu Jen in the capital of Taipei, in which the Jesuits and Verbites are active alongside the Diocese.
The impression is that for the millenarian civilization behind this vivacious, hardworking, and luminous race, Taiwan could become the launching pad for an extraordinary season of presence on the world scene, and of constructive contribution to the future of a united world.
2) What is the specific objective of the Convention which Sophia has been called upon to promote together with the three Catholic Universities of Taiwan?
The Convention “Patterns of Unity: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue on the Thought of Chiara Lubich (1920-2008)” was born from the desire to go in-depth at an academic level, in some of the intuitions and types of commitments which flow from the charism of unity, five years since the death of Chiara Lubich. The Convention was opened by a precious talk by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Apostolic Life Society, which carried with it a message of good wishes by Pope Francis.
The works that followed were articulated into four sections: theology, education, economy of communion, interreligious dialogue. The talks and debates were very efficacious and of great level, and the participation was convincing and nourishing. Sophia was officially present by a talk given by myself, in the area of theology, with a much appreciated talk given also by Luigino Bruni on the project of economy of Communion and with a beautiful contribution by Surinkaew Preeyanoot (Metta), a Buddhist from Thailand, who last year, received a Master’s degree at Sophia, on the interreligious dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism.
3) What are the collaborative prospects which are delineated?
With the three universities with which we worked - Fu Jen Catholic University, Providence University, Wenzao Ursuline College -, we are now working on a project of the constituting of a permanent research Centre which may proceed with the activities of study and formation around the paths identified by the Convention. A memorandum of understanding, which foresees the exchange of students and professors, was signed by the Rector of Providence University of Taichung, the prof. Augustine Chuan-Yi Ttang, during a very warm and fruitful session.
The prospects which stand out on the side of the interreligious dialogue are very stimulating, in particular with the Dharma Drum Buddhist College of Taipei, where we were welcomed by the Rector, the Venerable Huimim Bhikshu, who will be coming to Italy soon to visit Sophia, and by a group of professors of the Institute.
Moreover, the contribution offered by prof. Donald Mitchell, of Purdue University of West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, of world fame, opened up another occasion of collaboration to our academic institutions: the opportunity was thought, of inviting Prof. Mitchell in May of 2014 to Sophia, to give a series of lessons and to share further, some nodal points around the topic of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, one of the most relevant frontiers of our research.
Text: Julie Tremblay