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Francophone Interfaith Circle Explores the Role of Women

Paris, France – To mark International Women's Day, the Dialogue & Alliance francophone interfaith circle held its monthly meeting on March 10, 2024, on “The Contribution of Women to Interfaith Dialogue.” 

Ms. Soraya Ayouch led the main meeting at the Espace Barrault in Paris. French speakers from nearly twenty countries joined by videoconference.

The first reading, from a Christian perspective, was an extract from Pope Francis' address at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on June 9, 2017. Commentary was offered by Ms. Marie Derain de Vaucresson, who took part in this Vatican event on the place of women in the church. In November 2021, she was appointed to chair the new Independent National Commission for Recognition and Reparation, responsible for supporting victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. She strongly asserted that “Women must have greater access to positions of responsibility.”

The second reading was four short suras from the Koran, read and commented on by Ms. Fouzia Oukazi, a member of the Alawyyia Sufi brotherhood. She is a graduate of L’Institut D’étude Des Religions et De La Laïcité (Institute for the Study of Religions and Secularism), and a history and geography teacher, as well as author of essays and novels. She is also a frequent participant in interfaith dialogue, as a moderator or speaker.

A short cultural break featured a dance by Ms. Jyotsna Liyanaratne called “L’Envol” (“The Flight”). This dance was inspired by samā, the sacred dance of the whirling dervishes, handed down by the Sufi mystic and poet, Djalal ad-Dîn Rûmî.

The third reading, from the Unificationist faith, was commented on by Ms. Patricia Earle. Since 1991 she has been working in Birmingham, where she founded Women for Peace, a group which now has over 1,000 members. She regularly organises events at her home, bringing together hundreds of women, young and old, from all social backgrounds, faiths, ethnicities and cultures, around the themes of peace, friendship and social action. In 2004 she presented an illustrated report of the Peace Group's activities to the late Queen Elizabeth II, and in May 2023, she was presented with the Coronation Champion's Award by King Charles and Queen Camilla.

The meeting concluded with a question-and-answer session coordinated by Mr. Laurent Ladouce, and remarks by Mr. Jean-Francois Moulinet, coordinator of the Dialogue & Alliance circle, who announced that the next meeting would take place on April 7 on the theme of “The Golden Rule,” to mark the International Day of the Golden Rule.


By Jean-François Moulinet, Coordinator, Dialogue & Alliance, France March 10, 2024


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