Last 15 November Dr. Munehiro Niwano, President of the Gakuri Educational Institute of the Japanese Buddhist Movement, Rissho Kosei Kai (Tokyo), came to visit, accompanied by Mr. Hiromasa Tanaka.
Munehiro Niwano is quite a renowned figure in the field of interreligious dialogue at international levels. He studied Catholic theology at the Salesian and Gregorian Pontifical Universities in Rome, and lived in Loppiano during his studies in Italy. Hiromasa Tanaka is completing his doctorate in Theology on the Trinitarian Onthology of Klaus Hemmerle and interreligious dialogue at the St. Thomas of Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome.
When he came to Italy in 2012 to participate in a Buddhist-Christian Symposium at the Mariapolis Centre in Castelgandolfo (Rome), Munehiro Niwano also visited Sophia, where he came up with the idea of promoting a partnership between the Gakurin Institute and Sophia. The following year, in response to his idea, Yuki Ohi and Akie Otomo, students of the Tokyo University and members of the Rissho Kossei Kai, enrolled in Sophia’s postgraduate course in the Culture of Unity and are currently attending the second year.
Also this time, the encounter was very cordial and fruitful. After a long morning conversation with the Dean of Sophia, in the afternoon Prof. Niwano met a big group of professors and students who presented new developments underway in Sophia and shared some of their personal experiences. He then illustrated the Gakurin Institute’s mission, and also shared his personal experience regarding his deep encounter with Christianity.
In a joyful and intense atmosphere, Munehiro Niwano and Piero Coda then expressed their hopes to continue this partnership – also through the specific educational programmes they will set up for dialogue between the youths of both Institutes, so as to deepen the mutual knowledge of their respective identities and commit themselves to giving a joint witness to brotherhood in society today.