2012-09-10 08:46:01

Salesians in “a dialogue of life” with Muslims

(Vatican Radio) When Pope Benedict XVI travels to Lebanon September 14-16, he will be travelling to a region where Muslims make up the overwhelming majority of the population while Christians, natives to these lands, consist of a very small minority. But the world’s Muslims by no means come exclusively from the Middle East.

2010 statistics from the “PEW Institute” indicate a world population of 1.6 thousand million Muslims, with an annual increase of 1.5%. By the year 2030, 60% of the world’s Muslims are expected to be in the Asia-Pacific region and it is believed that Pakistan will surpass Indonesia to become the country with the largest number of Muslims.

Fr. Václav Klement, Salesian Councillor for Missions, says about 30 of the order’s 90-some Provinces are in daily contact with young Muslims, and the Salesians of Don Bosco are seeing an increasing trend in similar nature in European Provinces.

That’s because Salesian communities primarily operate shelters for homeless or at-risk youths; schools and universities; technical, vocational, and language instruction centers for youths and adults; and boys' clubs and community centers.

Salesians are also active in publishing as well as work, especially in , , and .

Fr. Klement points out that “there are hundreds of Salesians born in countries with a Muslim majority, who grew up within Christian communities which had the opportunity to be in a dialogue of life with Muslim brothers and sisters and with the different Muslim cultures.”

But he acknowledges that one of the chief challenges to Salesians living in a Muslim context is that “In the whole Congregation unfortunately we have few confreres with a good academic and practical preparation (in Islamic studies).”

Listen to Tracey McClure’s interview with Fr. Vaclav Klement in which he talks about the challenges facing Salesian missionaries in the Muslim world today…
listen: RealAudioMP3

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