The Catholic University of America

Lunch with Archbishop McDonald

On April 26, 2012, local leaders in interreligious and ecumenical dialogue gathered at St. Paul’s College in Northeast DC for a lunch and discussion with Archbishop Kevin McDonald of the Archdiocese of Southwark in the United Kingdom.  The discussion covered a wide variety of topics including the future of interreligious dialogue in the Catholic Church and the recent release of “Meeting God in Friend and Neighbor,” a document from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

This informal event was the first of the newly revitalized Institute for Interreligious Study and Dialogue of the Catholic University of America’s School of Theology and Religious Studies.  It was hosted in collaboration with St. Paul’s College in Washington, DC.  

Dr. Pim Valkenberg, Director of the Institute for Interreligious Study and Dialogue, found the event successful and enlightening: "The two most interesting things that I learned from the conversation with Archbishop McDonald is, first of all, how often people come to an awareness of interreligious dialogue through their engagement in ecumenical dialogue. The group that was gathered this afternoon in St. Paul’s College showed this double interest as well, but, as some of them warned, often interreligious dialogue gets more attention and ecumenical dialogue seems to be on the wane. The second thing that impressed me was that Archbishop McDonald emphasized the importance of raising awareness of dialogue as something that is integral to the Church’s mission. It is not something extra, but it is part of what we need to do as the Church of Christ."

Archbishop Kevin McDonald was ordained a priest in 1974 and completed a licentiate in Moral Theology in 1975.From 1985-1993 he worked as an official with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, specifically working with Anglican relations, while completing a doctorate.As a parish priest in Sparkhill, a Birmingham community with a large Muslim population, from 1993-1998, he developed an interest in interreligious dialogue.He was ordained Bishop of Northamption in May 2001, and was installed as Archbishop of Southwark in December 2003 and retired in December 2009.He is currently the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ Committee for Other Faiths and of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations and a Catholic representative to the Christian Muslim Forum.

Participants included Dr. Valkenberg; Paulist Father Ron Roberson of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Fr. Tom Stransky and Fr. Tom Ryan of the Paulist Fathers; Rebecca Cohen, Brandon Turner, Dr. Michael Root and Fr. James Wiseman of the Catholic University of America; Dr. John Borelli of Georgetown University; Dr. Richard Jones of the Virginia Theological Seminary; Rev. Clark Lobenstine of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington; Franciscan Father Jim Gardiner; Fr. Don Rooney of the Diocese of Arlington.