Purdue emeritus prof leads Buddhist-Catholic dialogue at the Vatican

June 22, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue emeritus professor known for his work in interfaith religious studies, is leading a first of its kind religious meeting with Buddhist and Catholic leaders in Rome Tuesday through Saturday (June 23-27). As part of the conference, the participants will have an audience with Pope Francis.

Donald Mitchell, professor emeritus of philosophy who is an expert in interfaith relations, worked as an organizer for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in collaboration with the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to organize the "Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue on Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity."

"After years of academic dialogues on mutual respect and understandings across faiths, the pope requested a new one called 'Dialogue and Fraternity,' that would lead to fellowship resulting in social action," Mitchell said. "This event is for Catholic and Buddhist leaders from the United States to address relational suffering, build fraternity and discuss opportunities for social action collaboration in major cities. We hope to identify projects and opportunities where members of both faith can work together to support their communities."

On Wednesday (June 24), Mitchell and the conference participants will have an audience with the pope to hear his thoughts and for him to meet the individual conference participants.

Mitchell has brought many religious groups together during his career for interfaith discussions. He also is author of "Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience" and co-editor of "The Gethsemani Encounter," "Spiritual Advice for Buddhists and Christians," and "Transforming Suffering: Reflections on Finding Peace in Troubled Times.” The last book is a collection of letters and reflections from various religious leaders including the Dali Lama and Pope John Paul II. During his career, Mitchell also has worked for 10 years with the U.S. Department of State on organizing interfaith exchange programs, with a focus on peace building through sports for teenagers from the Middle East as well as programs to bring Muslim leaders to visit the United States.

In 2007, Mitchell was instrumental in bringing the Dali Lama to Purdue's campus for a public lecture. Mitchell also served as the director of the Indiana Center for Cultural Exchange, a partnership between various Indiana universities. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Donald Mitchell, dmitch@purdue.edu 

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