The first, founding session of the University of Rijeka Interreligious Dialogue and Diplomacy Committee was held on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 at the University of Rijeka Rectorate. The Committee is a collegiate body of the Rector, and its aim is to contribute to the strengthening of interreligious cooperation emphasizing the development of international cooperation, social engagement and social sensitivity.
The members of the Committee are representatives of the University of Rijeka, representatives of religious communities and diplomatic representatives who will, through a series of public events, forums, roundtable discussions, and other appropriate activities, work on fostering interreligious dialogue and international cooperation and raise awareness of many relevant issues.
Present at the session were:
- Prof. Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Ph.D., UNIRI Rector
- Prof. Sanja Barić, Ph.D., Rector’s Assistant for Study Programs and Institutional Policies
- Msgr. Matija Matičić, Ph.D., Rector of the St. Vitus Cathedral in Rijeka, Deputy Archbishop of Rijeka
- H.E. Mrs. Olive Hempenstall, Madam Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of Croatia
- H.E. Mr. Hrvoje Marušić, former Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in the Kingdom of Norway
- Mr. Guillaume Colin, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the French Republic to the Republic of Croatia
- Ms. Jasna Bas, Attaché for Scientific and University Cooperation, French Institute in Zagreb
- Mrs. Vivian Špacapan, DMD, representative of the Jewish Community Rijeka
- Pastor Mr. Giorgio Grlj, Baptist Church Rijeka
- Mr. Naum Milković, Archimandrite, Diocese of Gornji Karlovac, Orthodox Church.
During a very dynamic and constructive exchange of ideas, the members of the Committee touched upon a number of problems encountered in today’s world – hate speech, stereotypes, the boundaries of political correctness, lack of direction in dialogues, radicalization, and exclusion of those who are considered ‘different’.
The members agreed that, in light of today’s frequent (religious) conflicts, there is a great need for education and effective communication with the community. Instead of the word ‘tolerance’, which has a negative connotation, they will try to advocate words such as ‘togetherness’ and ‘synergy’ and, in the year in which Rijeka proudly holds the title of the European Capital of Culture, emphasize the importance and benefits of life in Rijeka, i.e. the Port of Diversity.
In its further work, the Committee will promote interreligious dialogue as a means of finding a new dimension of peace, i.e. develop positive interaction among people of different religious perspectives.