VATICAN Shia scholars translate the Catechism of the Catholic Church into Persian


Card Jean-Louis Tauran wrote the introduction, and various Catholic officials revised the book. This is the work of scholars from the University of Religions and Faiths in Qom, who seek to know about other religions through their sources. Dialogue and mutual understanding are the way to peace. Christians are in a special situation in Iran. Here is the third part of the report on Iran.

Qom (AsiaNews) – Shia scholars have translated the Catechism of the Catholic Church into Persian. A group of translators from University of Religions and Denominations (URD)located at the gates of Qom, is at the origin of this major step towards dialogue.

Under the guidance of Prof. Ahmad Reza Meftah (picture, center), the translators (Profs Sulemaniye and Ghanbari) have finished the work (nearly 1,000 pages on theology and pastoral care) which will be released shortly.

Obviously, various Catholic officials in Iran have checked their translation, which has an introduction by Card Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The University of Religions and Denominations, which has about 2,000 students, offers courses in Islamic theology and denominations as well as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism.

In order to learn more about religions, students and teachers study and translate their basic texts and sources into Persian. So far, at least 200 books, including 50 volumes from Christian sources, have been translated.

Professor Meftah told me what path he followed for the translation of the Catechism. “When we started studying other religions, some of us studied Christianity. We needed an authoritative Christian source to study for us and for our students. Dr. Legenhausen, a Catholic from the States United, who teaches in our universities, has convinced us that the Catechism is important for Catholics, so we have started to translate it in order to better understand the Catholic faith, both for ourselves and for our science. We have always wanted to study and do research, translating certain Christian books into Persian, such as the Gospels or Augustine’s City of God.”

“We translated the catechism from the English version and then compared it to the Arabic version. We wanted to translate it very accurately. That’s why we needed the translation to be somehow confirmed by the Vatican. We gave the book to an Italian Catholic who knows Persian, and had it checked against the original Latin text. It took nine months just for that! He compared the versions closely and gave us some advice. After that , some of our friends have revised the translation once again.

“Last year we wanted to publish this book and we got in touch with Fr Franco Pirisi (a Salesian who worked for decades with the nunciature in Tehran) who helped us get some kind of official confirmation from the Vatican Father Pirisi knows Persian very well. After reading the whole book, he gave us an introduction by Card Jean-Louis Tauran, which he translated into Persian. Now the book is ready. It will be published by Editions de l university but with… the stamp of the Vatican It was essential to ask the nunciature for authorization to publish it, asking them to read it carefully, and they confirmed our translation.

It must be said that under Iranian law, each Christian Church has the right to use its own language (Armenian, Chaldean, Latin, English, etc.) but not the Persian language, perhaps for fear of facilitating this what the authorities call “proselytism”. “. For this reason, it would have been impossible for the Catholic Church to publish the book in the Persian language.

“In this way,” Professor Meftah said with a laugh, “we helped the freedom of expression of Christians. It was not our main objective, but one of the results. For us and our students, it was important to learn about Christianity from what Christians say about themselves and not from what others say, so we can eliminate misunderstandings and ideological patterns and foster respect for Christians. each other. It is a practical step to strengthen the dialogue between us.

Professor Meftah has big plans. “In the future, we want to present the new book in Rome. If possible, we would like to publish the Italian translation of a book on Shiism. This way we can show the dialogue in a very practical way. C This is an opportunity to show our openness to dialogue: we are ready to discuss with you without restriction.Moreover, this is probably the first time that a Catholic book of this importance has been translated by a group of Muslim scholars.

Ahmad Reza Meftah and his colleagues point out that this attitude of openness towards other religions is not new. It did not start with the arrival of President Hassan Rouhani, well known for his support for dialogue.

“We were prepared for dialogue even before President Rouhani,” he said, “and we always tried to take some steps towards peace between Iran and other countries and religions. With the arrival of Rouhani, there may be more opportunities, at least to remove some restrictions and misunderstandings.

“The relationship between Islam and Christianity in Iran cannot be compared to situations in other Islamic countries,” he explained. Iranian Christians are safe (from attacks) and we can share a common goal. If we consider each other friends, we won’t have any problems. But if we look at each other as enemies, with suspicion or indifference, if we compete with each other, trying to steal something, it will be like in other countries, including terrorism. Treating each other as friends eliminates terrorism and moves us forward towards peace.”


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