The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue

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The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue

Why does interreligious dialogue so often fail? What qualities do we need to cultivate a true understanding of another's beliefs? Catherine Cornille takes on these provocative questions and shows the potential of interfaith encounters to awaken spiritual revelation.

This provocative essay investigates the possibilities and limits of interreligious dialogue. Cornille suggests that addressing the significant obstacles to dialogue within Christianity can foster self-understanding which in turn cultivates the ability to communicate with other religious traditions.

Cornille frames the conditions for constructive and enriching dialogue between religions with a series of virtues, including: doctrinal humility, commitment to a particular religion, interconnection, empathy, and hospitality.

Reviews and endorsements

"The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue is an insightful and original contribution to our understanding and practice of interreligious dialogue today. By stressing the theological virtues of dialogue in practice—humility, commitment, interconnection, empathy, and hospitality—Cornille in a practical and perceptive way alerts us to the promise and difficulty of interreligious exchange, and its demands on us as persons and communities grounded in faith and possessed of complex histories. Speaking with a clear Christian voice, she makes these virtues her own too, and thus provides the space for an exchange that is neither naively optimistic nor muffled by anxieties about the risk of openness. This book will be a valuable guide in our conversations on dialogue for years to come."
Francis X. Clooney, S. J., Parkman Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School


“Catherine Cornille is a key player in the enterprise of interreligious dialogue . . . In her new book she projects a radiant and persuasive vision of the virtues required for this dialogue and the blessings which it yields. She articulates a spiritual and human wisdom that will bring an invigorating dose of oxygen to the often airless world of debate on the religions. Her vision is a beacon for those who undertake dialogue not just as an academic exercise but as a practice of listening and of witnessing in faith."
Joseph S. O’Leary, Sohia University, Tokyo


“In a fresh and clarifying analysis, Catherine Cornille shifts the focus of discussion from the content of religious dialogue or justifications for it to a telling question: what qualities must be present in a religious tradition in order to make interreligious dialogue possible? . . . Drawing richly on her direct experience, Corneille explicitly explores the way in which these qualities may be developed in Christianity, but her discussion applies to other religions as well. This thoughtful work leads us away from academic typologies and toward the spiritual meaning of interfaith encounter.”
S. Mark Heim, Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology Andover Newton Theological School


“Convinced of the need for hospitality to religious truth in all its forms and yet cautious of one religious tradition imposing its rationale for dialogue on another, Cornille strikes the kind of balance that only someone who has thought through the questions carefully and from all sides can. Not only is this book an immense help in navigating one’s way through the vast sea of literature, it forces the reader, time and again, to have another look at the blessings and the follies of the interreligious adventure.”
James Heisig, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture

Paperback / 280 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9 1/4

Ecumenism, Religion