New Perspectives on the Dominican Engagement for a Catholic Dialogue with Jews and Muslims
January 19‒21, 2024, in Trier (Germany)
As “one of the final surprises of the Second Vatican Council”1 (Maurice Borrmans), its comparatively short declaration of Nostra Aetate “on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions” (1965) marks a paradigm shift in the attitude of the Catholic Church towards other religions. Despite numerous theological —from today’s perspective— shortcomings of the Declaration, it represents a different, appreciative perception of other religions, especially Judaism and Islam, and thus laid the basis for a modern theology of religions from a Catholic perspective.
It is indisputable that various religious, among them Dominicans, played a significant role in drafting the Declaration.2 Less known is their intensive, sometimes decades-long theological and/or practical work of preparation, which they carried out through personal encounters with Jews and Muslims as well as through their academic study of Judaism and Islam, paving the way for Nostra Aetate. In contrast, other members of the Order were critical of this engagement and attempted to prevent such a far-reaching declaration of the Council, but ultimately failed because of the Council Fathers’ call for an ‘aggiornamento’ in the Church.
The theological and dialogical preconditions for an inter-religious opening in the first half of the twentieth century until the end of the Council in 1965 will be the topic of an international conference at the Faculty of Theology in Trier, Germany, in cooperation with the Emil Frank Institute and the Institute for Research on the History of the Dominican Order in German-Speaking Lands (IGDom). Focusing on Dominicans, the conference will examine the direct and indirect contribution of members of the Order —i.e. sisters, brothers, and lay people— to the paradigm shift in Jewish-Catholic as well as Muslim-Catholic relations.
Based on hitherto unexplored sources (letters, reports, chronicles, theological works etc.), which are preserved in public and private libraries as well as in archives, the topic will be discussed in different contexts (social, ecclesiastical, political) and regions (countries, provinces of the Order). Our goal is to critically examine the inter-religious engagement of the members of the Order in the first half of the twentieth century as a prerequisite for the declaration of Nostra Aetate, for the purpose of identifying desiderata and stimulating future research in this field.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate on October 28ᵗʰ, 2025, a publication of the most innovative papers is planned in the series of “Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Dominikanerordens – Neue Folge”, with the publisher De Gruyter.
The organizers of the academic conference are issuing a call for papers that focus on one of the following three levels:
1. Individual members of the Dominican Order such as:
- Georges Chehata Anawati, OP (1905‒1994)
- Paolo Vieri Andreotti, OP (1921‒1995)
- Kevin William Barden, OP (1908‒2004)
- Serge de Laugier de Beaurecueil, OP (1917‒2005)
- Pierre Benoit, OP (1906‒1987)
- Dominique Boilot, OP (1912‒1989)
- Marie-Dominique Boulanger, OP (1885‒1961)
- Marie-Dominique Chenu, OP (1895‒1990)
- Francesco Benedetto Cialeo, OP (1901‒1985)
- Marcel-Jacques Dubois, OP (1920‒2007)
- Bernard Dupuy, OP (1925‒2014)
- Willehad Paul Eckert, OP (1926‒2005)
- Paulus Engelhardt, OP (1921‒2014)
- Sebastianus Van den Eynde, OP (1893‒1960)
- Claude Geffré, OP (1926‒2017)
- Giuseppe Girotti, OP (1905‒1945)
- Bruno Hussar, OP (1911‒1996)
- Antonin Jaussen, OP (1871-1962)
- Jacques Jomier, OP (1914‒2008)
- Jean-Paul Lichtenberg-Lantier, OP (1926‒1972)
- Jean Pierre de Menasce, OP (1902‒1973)
- Félix Morlion, OP (1904‒1987)
- Carolus Pauwels, OP (1903‒1965)
- Giorgio La Pira, OP (1904‒1977)
- Cyprian Rice, OP (1889‒1966)
- Reginaldo Santilli, OP (1908‒1981)
- Rose Thering, OP (1920‒2006)
2. Groups of Dominicans (communities, convents, institutions) such as:
- Antagonists vs. protagonists within the Order “dialogue pairs”
- Dominicans as participants in the Seelisberg Conference of 1947
- École biblique et archéologique française, Jerusalem
- Convents (e.g. in Algiers, Baghdad, Beirut, Casablanca, İstanbul, Mosul, Multan, Rabat, Shiraz, Tehran)
- Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Cairo
- Saint Isaiah House, Jerusalem
3. Journals such as:
- L’Afrique dominicaine, Algiers, 1936‒1956 (renamed Les Cahiers religieux d’Afrique du Nord, 1956‒1961, Aujourd’hui, 1964‒1966)
- Blackfriars, 1920‒1964 (renamed New Blackfriars, 1964‒)
- Cahiers du Cercle thomiste, Cairo, 1934‒1952
- Istina, 1954‒
- Lumière et vie, 1951‒2013
- Mélanges de l’Institut dominicain d’études orientales, 1954‒
- Revue biblique, 1892‒
Please email an abstract of your paper, up to 300 words, and a short academic CV to by September 30, 2023 (subject heading: Trier Conference 2024).
Conference date: Friday, January 19ᵗʰ, through Sunday, January 21ˢᵗ, 2024.
Conference venue: Haus der pastoralen Berufe (Conference hall II), Jesuitenstraße 13, 54290 Trier, Germany.
Conference languages: English, French, German (no interpretation provided).
Organizers: Elias H. Füllenbach OP (IGDom) / Dr. Dennis Halft OP (Faculty of Theology in Trier, Emil Frank Institute).
1. M. Borrmans, “L’émergence de la Déclaration Nostra Aetate au Concile Vatican II,” in: idem, Dialogues, rencontres et points de contact entre musulmans et chrétiens dans une dimension historique, Milano 2007, 32-64, here 32.
2. See M. Attridge, D. Dias, M. Eaton, and N. Olkovich (eds), The Promise of Renewal: Dominicans and Vatican II, Adelaide 2017.