MONASTIC INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE (MID)
IN GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND

The Christian monasteries in Great Britain and Ireland, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, are committed to interreligious dialogue. For some monasteries this is expressed mainly by prayer, others are able to take a more active part in dialogue.

Exchange visits have been made over the years. Monks and nuns of different faiths have discovered how much they have in common and been able to enrich each other’s understanding of their own and the other’s faith and practice. Some monks and nuns have been able over the years to visit monasteries of other faiths in their country of origin—Tibet, Nepal, India, Japan—and have received Eastern as well as Western Buddhist and Hindu monks or nuns into their own communities for similar exchange visits. This has become known as the ‘dialogue of spiritual exchange’ and takes its place alongside the dialogue of theological exchange and the dialogue of life.

 

DIMMID     www.dimmid.org

Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique / Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID) is an international monastic organization that promotes and supports dialogue, especially dialogue at the level of religious experience and practice, between Christian monastic men and women and followers of other religions.

DIMMID is a commission of the Benedictine Confederation with formal links to both branches of the Cistercian order. It acts in liaison with the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and welcomes collaboration with other organizations that foster interreligious dialogue.

While the natural dialogue partners of Christian monastics are monastics of other religious traditions, DIMMID also engages in spiritual dialogue with adherents of religions that do not have an institutionalized form of monasticism, for example—and in particular—with Muslims.

For further information about DIMMID, see What is DIMMID? on the DIMMID website

 

A British/Irish local commission of DIMMID existed for upwards of twenty five years. The trigger for its founding was the visit of Fr Bernard de Soos of the Alliance for International Monasticism: www.aimintl.org. Fr Bernard visited UK in 1982/83 and asked Fr Vincent Cooper of Ealing Abbey to set up MID in Britain. Fr Peter Bowe, then of Douai, Britain (www.douaiabbey.org.uk ), now of Douai, France, took over as Coordinator on his return from a pilgrimage to India, in 1984. In the late 1980s Fr Martin Shipperlee of Ealing was Coordinator for a few years, and then Fr Peter took up the role again. In all, Fr Peter served as Coordinator for 20 years until his departure to found a new community in Douai, France in 2005. From then until 2013 the role of Coordinator was filled by Sr Lucy Brydon of Turvey Abbey.
Whilst monastic interreligious dialogue continues unabated in Great Britain and Ireland, through force of circumstances the local commission was closed in July 2013.

 

THE DIMMID LOGO

The logo includes the Francophone and English language initials: DIM – Dialogue Interreligieuse Monastique, and MID – Monastic Interfaith Dialogue. The circle in the centre, and horizontal and vertical lines represent the Cross and Emptiness, the Cross being one of the main symbols of the Christian monastic life. The concept of Emptiness undergirds both the monastic life of other Faiths such as Buddhism and Hinduism, and the apophatic tradition in Christian mystical theology. Thus, the logo expresses an area where Christian monks and nuns and those of other Faiths can meet and walk alongside each other.