ABC Australia: What’s the point of interfaith dialogue?

religious booksPeaceful solutions to the world’s problems are hard to find — and religious tensions are part of the problem. What needs to happen so we can all share in the bounty of peace? The ABC Australia’s James Carleton joins a panel of three people who have made interfaith dialogue their life’s work.

In this episode:

Francis Clooney is a Harvard Professor and he’s been a Jesuit Priest for the last 50 years, but he’s also an expert on the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hinduism. What was it about the Hindu tradition that fascinated him? What tensions exist between the two faith traditions, and how can they be overcome?

Professor Catherine Cornille is renowed for her work in comparative theology and interreligious dialogue. She was also the first ever female professor in the history of Belgium’s 600-year old Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. She says there are specific conditions necessary for successful interreligious dialogue to occur — empathy alone is insufficient.

Rabbi Zalman Kastel grew up in Brooklyn in an ultra-orthodox Chabad Jewish home and rarely spoke with his African-American and Christian neighbours. But today, he has worked with over 100,000 school students and teachers to foster interfaith and intercultural understanding. He also discusses the possible benefits of sending your child to a religious school.

You may listen to this interview here or download the podcast (Opens in new page)


Professor Catherine Cornille, Newton College Alumnae Chair of Western Culture in the Department of Theology at Boston College. The author of sixteen books including The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue.

Professor Francis Clooney, Jesuit Priest and Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard. Former director of Harvard’s centre for the Study of World Religions.

Rabbi Zalman Kastel, National director of Together for Humanity, which has exposed hundreds of thousands of students and teachers to different faith perspectives.

James Carleton
Rohan Salmond / Hong Jiang


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So many religions seem to share irreconcilable differences — can interfaith dialogue help? (Getty: Fred de Noyelle / Godong)

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