Rome, Italy, January 13, 2015 / 12:27 p.m.
The publication of the Farsi edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church could promote the continuation of interreligious dialogue in Iran, although this depends on the commitment of local communities, a Vatican official has said.
Prof. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, pointed out on January 12 that “time will tell if this Farsi translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will contribute to fostering the culture of encounter, (which is) so close to the Pope’s heart.”
However, he added that “much will depend on the availability and openness of the local communities, first and foremost the Christian Churches”, which will have the opportunity to use this Farsi edition of the Catechism “to present, in a balanced and unequivocally, the content of the faith to members of other religious traditions, especially to representatives of the diverse Islamic world of Iran”.
The Farsi edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was presented on January 12 at the Gregorian University in Rome. It includes a preface by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Sponsored by the University of Religions and Confessions in Qom, Iran, the idea of translating Catholic texts into Farsi was born in a context of increased interreligious dialogue carried by Shia Islam.
“The fact that Iran and the Iranian religious authorities have decided to translate many texts proves that they are open to the Western world and to Christianity, and in particular to Catholic Christianity,” the father said. Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, an expert in Islamic studies, told CNA on January 13.
This is why “many texts from the Catholic tradition, including ‘City of God’ by Saint Augustine, have been translated into Farsi”, says Fr. Khalil.
Shiites represent approximately 15% of Muslims in the world, and the city of Qom is one of the “holy centers” of this Muslim faith.
The Qom shrine, where the corpse of the wife of the eighth Shia imam is buried, is visited by 15 million people a year. More than 100 study centers are established in Qom, and there are between 50 and 60 thousand scholars of the Koran and Islam, out of 1 million inhabitants. Two thousand of these scholars are committed to studying other religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Introducing the new translation, Hojjat ol Eslam va ol Moslemin Sayyed Abolhassan Navvab, rector of the University of Religions and Faiths, explained that “many steps have been taken to promote better relations between Islam and Christianity.”
However, he also warned that some “dialogues are simply (are) held for themselves and not to be influential, which reduces disbelief”.
“I ask for Catholic cooperation to build a fruitful dialogue,” he concluded.
Professor Ahmad Reza Meftah led the translation project. The professor explained that the English edition of the Catechism was the “reference edition”, but the translation was then refined and polished by an Italian Catholic who speaks fluent Farsi, and who also compared the translation with the original version. in Latin.
According to Roberto Catalano, director of the Interreligious Dialogue department of the Focolare movement, the Farsi edition of the Catechism “will help to circumvent certain difficulties in the promotion of interreligious dialogue”.
The greatest of these difficulties is that “Farsi is the official language in Iran, but it cannot be officially used by the Church in Iran. Christians in Iran are allowed to use, according to Iranian law, Armenian , Chaldean, Latin, English and Italian”. , but not in Farsi, in order to avoid the possibility of any proselytizing,” Catalano shared with CNA on January 10.
As the Farsi edition of the Catechism has been published, scholars in Qom will now be able to study Christianity from an original text.
As Fr. Ayuso said, “Dialogue is possible if we strive to understand others, and – even before – if we strive to understand ourselves, beyond the patterns and stereotypes that push us to enter in conflict”.
He then added that “hermeneutics is a tool that applies human reason to the word of God, not to manipulate or bias it, but to illuminate its deeper meaning.”