Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

Deacon DANG Minh Duc, sdb


31 May 2017, STS Jerusalem
PLASEK Vladimir, sdb

On the morning of 31st May, 2017, Dn. Minh Duc DANG, SDB defended his baccalaureate Synthesis at Studium Theologicum Salesianum in Jerusalem, thus finishing the 1st circle of Theology and earning the title of Bachelor of Theology. The title of his thesis was: “Faith to faith: the dialogue with Judaism and Islam opened up by the Second Vatican Council, in the spirit of Nostra Aetate, and its implications for Ecclesiology, Ecumenism and the way the Christians live out their faith”. The commission consisted of the Rev. Vonck Leopold, M.Afr.,the tutor; Rev. Russell William, M.Afr., the reader of the paper and Michael Biju, SDB, the president of STS.

Firstly, Dn. Minh gave a ten minute presentation of his synthesis. His work was strongly influenced by the last summer experience, spent in Istanbul. Mornings he could spend writing and studying, while afternoon working in refugee camp discussing and working with young adults and children. Thus his concern in Judaism and Islam developed theoretically and practically he translated into the synthesis. It starts with the overview of the interfaith dialogue from the Scripture, models of dialogue in the early Church including martyrdom. It continues presenting the Middle Age and Modern periods and their influence on the mind-set of Muslims and Christians today. It ends with the Interreligious dialogue based on Nostra Aetate and its proposals for the dialogue facing the challenges of present days.

The tutor Fr. Leopold Vonck pointed out how the Scripture narratives, as well as the periods of history and the Second Vatican Council can strongly influence contemporary dialogue, which is in the heart of the essay. He posed the question: “Can you spell out some particular ecclesiological implications of this dialogue?” Minh underlined the change of the language. The second question was related to the martyrdom as a form of dialogue. Deacon Minh distinguished the liberal and rigorist approach, presented the model of St. Paul meeting the traditional practices of people proposed the living Christ as the only God. Words of Tertullian about martyrs as seed of new Christians encouraged the way of the life of Christians, who later fulfilled the whole Roman Empire. Martyrdom could test the faith of Christians.

The reader Fr. William Russell pointed out the synthesis should strongly stick to the title choosing the crucial Biblical passages and analyse seriously the main church documents, like Nostra Aetate. He distinguished the dialogue with Jews from dialogue with Judaism, as well as dialogue with Muslims from the dialogue with Islam. Finally, he posed the question: “What does faith mean for Catholics and what is the Church comparing it with other human communities, especially in Islam and Judaism?” In his answer Dn. Minh underlined the points of differences between the Catholic Church and two other monotheistic religions as well as the role of dialogue between them.

Lastly, Fr. Biju Michael pointed out that the martyrdom is the supreme proof of the witness of the faith and distinguished the interreligious from the ordinary dialogue. Deacon Minh stressed the role of witnessing the truth and underlined the supernatural element of faith.

After a short break, the members of the panel awarded deacon Minh Duc DANG, SDB, with the Bachelor of Theology degree. He is expected to be ordained to the Order of the Priesthood on 24th of June 2017 in New York, United States of America.

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