WASHINGTON--The chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace will brief bishops and public officials on the details of a dialogue initiated by a delegation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during a trip to Iran, March 11-17. The Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom, the preeminent center of religious scholarship in Iran, hosted the dialogue, which sought to promote greater understanding and peace between Americans and Iranians. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops' International Justice and Peace committee, led the delegation.
"We had a productive religious and moral dialogue that we hope will promote understanding between the peoples of Iran and the United States. We are committed to continuing and deepening these discussions in the future in order to contribute to a more just and peaceful world," said Bishop Pates. "As Pope Francis has said, dialogue is the key to discovering truth and avoiding misunderstanding."
Bishop Pates plans to meet with the Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, and officials in Congress, the State Department and the administration this week to share what the delegation learned.
The delegation consisted of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington; Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; John Steinbruner, Ph.D., professor of public policy, University of Maryland, and consultant to the USCCB International Justice and Peace committee; Stephen Colecchi, USCCB's director of International Justice and Peace; and Ebrahim Mohseni, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland.
Over a four-day period, the delegation engaged in discussions with prominent Ayatollahs and scholars in Qom, including Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadaei, vice president of the Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom; Grand Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Ayatollah Jawad Shahrestani and Ayatollah Ali-Reza Arafi.
USCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace developed this project over the course of a year and consulted with church and policy experts and public officials. The exchanges focused on the religious and moral dimensions of key public concerns. The project was made possible through the support of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and the hospitality of the hosts in Iran.