Respect, Dignity and Interfaith Dialogue
Vincent DePaul lived at a time when religious tension and conflict was a regular feature of life, both within Christianity and between Christians and people of other faiths. The spirituality Saint Vincent embraced, while enthusiastically faithful to the Catholic church, was one which emphasized humility, gentleness and pragmatic service to the poor over contentious debate. The spirituality of the order Vincent founded, the Congregation of the Mission, has created a living tradition which is rooted in its history but is always looking to respond to the real needs of the marginalized in each new time and place, continuously asking the question, “What must be done?”
It is this Vincentian spirit which led DePaul to be the first Catholic university chartered in Illinois to specify in its charter that there would be no religious test or requirement for admission or for hiring. That is, from its beginning DePaul University has believed that welcoming students, faculty, and staff of all faiths or none to the opportunities of higher education and to form a community together was to be faithful to its Vincentian Catholic commitment to honoring the dignity of every human person.
DePaul continues this commitment to the dignity and spiritual care and growth of all members of the community with Mission & Ministry staff members who are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and of no faith tradition. DePaul fosters interfaith dialogue on campus through the framework of the Four Forms of Interreligious Dialogue outlined by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. This framework emphasizes that we live in a community which is consistently marked by people with a wide diversity of faiths and worldviews who are interacting, cooperating and working together for a better world. These forms include the dialogues of service, religious experience, and of life itself in addition to the narrow category which we often think of as “interfaith dialogue,” the dialogue of theological exchange.
It is with this history and this understanding that we, as a community made up of people of many different faiths and of none, that we embrace our continuing commitment to the Vincentian Catholic Mission of DePaul University and seek to respond to the continuing human challenges of a world that stands in need of so much.