Inspired by the Franciscan charism of the Felician Sisters, the Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue is an educational initiative, committed to Madonna University’s core value of respect for every human person, that seeks to promote understanding, justice, and peace through theological and philosophical reflection, scholarship, and dialogue.


At the core of the world’s great religions stands the common conviction that the universe is grounded in goodness. The Catholic tradition of Christianity believes that God created all things with a plan of love. This love reaches its ultimate expression in the self-gift of Jesus the Christ, who embodied and enacted the compassion of God in human form. Jesus reached out to all persons with unconditional love and calls upon his followers in all times and places to do likewise.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) has taken up this call in our time. With its document Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions), the Council urges Catholics to engage in “dialogue and collaboration with members of other religions”: “Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve, and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians” (§2).

Pope Francis reminds us that “the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced.”


“Our task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy, else we find ourselves treading on another’s dream. More serious still, we may forget that God was present before our arrival." — (Author unknown)

This quotation captures something deeply true and beautiful about the world we live in. And in this vast and complex world, no one owns God. No one person, tradition, culture, or religion has a monopoly on the unfathomable mystery upon which our universe and our fragile lives rest.

During the Crusades, Francis of Assisi had the revolutionary idea of reaching out to the Sultan, the leader of the Saracen forces, in peace, in the midst of a brutal war. Both of these men were changed by that encounter. They developed an understanding and respect for one another and a keen appreciation of the vibrancy of the other’s faith and depth of devotion to God. The little poor man from Assisi can be a model for us again today in reaching out to one another with humility, with awe, with joy, and with gratitude for the rich blessings of our religious traditions.