ROME, Italy – An Indian Salesian was moderator of an inter-religious symposium marking the year of priests. Saleisan Father Jose Chunkapura, a professor at the Salesin University Rome and Rector of one of the six student communities – Don Rua Community, which has over 60 international priest students, moderated the two hour session held at Chavara Institute of Indian and Interreligious Studies (CIIS), Rome, 22 May 2010.
“Prof. Chunkapura is the best person suited to moderate the sessions as he is a specialist on God consciousness in Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, not only, he is also the president of the Indian Priests, Sisters and Brothers Union in Rome which has over 1,500 members,” said the director of CIIS, Prof Isaac Arickappalil CMI, the organizer of the symposium.
Mr Rajesh Kumar Agnihothri, first secretary in-charge of the Cultural and Communications Department at the Indian Embassy Rome was the chief guest. Besides, inaugurating the session, he also spoke on the need of religious people working for peace and harmony in society.
Three eminent and knowledgeable persons presented papers on Hindu, Christian and Muslim concept of priesthood.
Prof Fabio Scialpi a specialist on Hinduism from the University of La Sapienza Rome spoke on the notion of priesthood in Hinduism.
Prof Thomas Aykara CMI spoke on the Christian understanding of priesthood while Pakistan born Italian national Mr. Jawed Q Khan, member of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy, Rome presented the concept of priesthood in Islam.
While the role of priests in Hinduism and Christianity is to mediate between God and man, Islam does not have any priesthood nor do they have any intermediary between God and man. Each individual believer is directly responsible to God for his behaviour.
The priesthood in Hinduism is by birth and heredity, while priesthood in Christianity is by a divine call to represent Christ, an invitation by God to which man responds. While in Islam, there is no priesthood per se to mediate between God and man.
Over 40 scholars and doctoral students and well-wishers participated at the symposium.
Fr Bobby was the master of ceremonies and Mr Chandi Plammoottil gave the vote of thanks.
Photo caption – L to R: Prof Scialpi, Prof Chunkapura, Mr Agnihothri, Mr. Jawed and Prof. Aykara at the “Priesthood in World Religions” symposium Rome, 22 May 2010.
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