“How do people of faith engage in a secular world?” was the theme of the University of Notre Dame Australia's third annual interfaith event, Abraham Day. Source: The eRecord.
Held at the university’s Fremantle campus last week, the event brought together Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Chief Rabbi of Western Australia Daniel Lieberman, and teacher at Langford Islamic College, Sheikh Muhammad Agherdien.
Opening the event, UNDA Vice-Chancellor Celia Hammond said Abraham Day is “an opportunity for us all to come together, to celebrate our commonalities and shared beliefs in a spirit of openness, fraternity and hospitality”.
Professor Hammond explained that recent census had shown there was an increasing number of Australians who identify as having “no religion”.
“What the data doesn’t show, because it is not the purpose of the census, is why this happened. Nor did the statistics directly reveal the impact of this changing reality.
“We have invited our faith leaders here today to find out from them what they think how people of faith, or more accurately people of religious faith engage with this reality.”
Archbishop Costelloe said central to the Christian approach to life in secular society is the belief “that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God”.
“A secular society is one which recognises and upholds the distinction between Church and State and certainly the Catholic tradition and many other Christian traditions support this position,” he added.
“A secularised society is a society which seeks to marginalise or completely privatise belief in God and the practice of religious faith; they are connected, but they are two different things.”
Archbishop Costelloe said the secular nature of Australian society has led Catholics to adopt the position which has been expressed by Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.
"Both say or often said: ‘we propose ceaselessly, but we never impose’. I think that is a key idea how we meant to engage in a secular society, we propose ceaselessly, but we never impose,” Archbishop Costelloe said.