Bilateral Talks Held Between U.S. Sikhs and Catholics in New York

May 24, 2006


On May 24, 2006 the reported, "Representatives of the World Sikh Council - America Region (WSC-AR) and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) met for a landmark all-day Catholic-Sikh bilateral national interreligious consultation. The day-long meeting was hosted by Religions for Peace - USA at the Church Center at the United Nations. The objective of the meeting was for the Catholic and Sikh communities in the US to meet formally for the first time and explore issues of common interest. The Catholic delegation was headed Rev. James Massa, Executive Director of USCCB's Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs, with Monsignor Felix Machado, Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican in Rome, as a special guest and advisor. The Sikh delegation was led by Dr. Manohar Singh, Chairperson of the WSC-AR with assistance from Dr. Tarunjit Singh, Chair of Interfaith Committee of WSC-AR. A total of 12 invited representatives from the USCCB and WSC-AR attended and participated in the discussions. Two observers of Religions for Peace - USA also attended the consultation. Monsignor Felix Machado in his opening comments remarked that 'the Catholic Church at the highest level appreciates this dialogue with the Sikh community. Sikhs respect us, not suspect us.' In his opening remarks, Dr. Manohar Singh said, 'The universal message of Sikhi respects pluralism and we welcome our Catholic friends with open arms. This dialogue is an opportunity for our communities to begin a conversation at the highest level on how we may be able to work with each other in trust and friendship to make this world a more peaceful and just place for all.' At the consultation, the Sikh and Catholic communities expressed shared concerns over the challenges faced by immigrant communities in the U.S., the curtailment of religious freedom and human rights in South Asia, and the challenges of secularism to both religious communities."