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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

US bishops optimistic dialogue with Iranian religious leaders can lead to peace

Three Catholic bishops said they learned that they share common values with the Iranian religious leaders they have met and hope to better understand the differences they hold in future conversations.

The Bishop of Des Moines, Iowa, Richard E. Pates, the Bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Oscar Cantu, and the Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, Denis J. Madden, agreed that the time spent with Iranian ayatollahs eventually will lead to closer ties and lasting peace between the two nations.

The bishops recounted their experiences from two meetings – in Iran in 2014 and at the Vatican in June at the behest of Pope Francis – during a program on 17th November at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

“The nature of our trip there was to try to see if we as religious leaders could help create better relations between our two countries. We didn’t think that we had a master plan or anything to bring this about. When people engage in dialogue and get to know each other, you grow from that relationship,” Bishop Madden told the audience.

Bishops Pates and Madden, who made the original trip to Iran, described visits to schools and institutions and meeting everyday Iranians during their visit, recounting how friendly and welcoming the Iranians were in spontaneous encounters.

“We grew to learn about each other,” Bishop Madden said. “We grew to see each other as human beings.”

Picture: An Iranian cleric walks next to an anti-US mural in Tehran on 3rd November. (CNS photo/Abedin Taherkenareh, EPA).