The Archbishop of Canterbury at the Opening Session of the 6th Building Bridges Seminar
Tuesday 4th December 2007A video and transcript of the Archbishop's address at the Opening Session of the 6th Building Bridges Seminar held at the National University of Singapore.
A transcript follows:
'Friends, this is an opportunity for me to thank the National University in particular for their hospitality to us on this occasion. We're delighted and honoured to be received in this way in this very splendid and impressive surroundings and I hope that our deliberations will be worthy of our location.
As you've heard, this is the 6th seminar in this series. What has it achieved and what does it achieve, this series of discussions? We don't meet as political leaders and we don't meet as decision-makers; we meet as people seeking to reflect on our tradition and seeking to reflect together, to learn from the experience of watching somebody else reflect. If it's true, as sometimes has been said, that Christians and Muslims will never understand the possibility of the common future unless they understand something of the common history they have in common, then these seminars are part of that enterprise.
But we've sought to go rather deeper than that. We've sought to encounter one another not simply as scholars, but as readers and hearers of the world. One of the most distinctive things about these seminars has been the experience of sharing the study of each other's sacred text. Because when that happens, I meet the other person not as a scholar, not as the representative of some alien set of commitments, but as someone seeking to open their mind and their heart to the self communication of God. And to meet another person in that light and in that way is to meet them at a very deep level. That is how we have sought to approach our business and that has been, I am sure participants in the seminar would agree, a distinctive aspect of how we work together. We've not sought to issue communiqués or come to conclusions but to inform ourselves and to ask God to help us grow through the experience of meeting, in trust – and perhaps a very ambitious trust – that as we seek to grow and to learn and to open our minds and hearts to God then something around us will begin to shift and develop as well in the various contexts in which we work.
So that is how we've sought to approach our work, and those of us who have been regularly involved in these consultations will agree that we have been changed by them; that levels of confidence, trust and expectation of one another in a good sense have been deep and fruitful. So we meet once more in this fresh environment and we meet with a new set of companions, hearers and contributors to our discussions; those of you who have very kindly come today to hear these lectures and to ask your questions.
Without more ado let me repeat the gratitude for the welcome that the university has given us, gratitude to all of you who have come to share our deliberations today and, of course, my gratitude to my colleagues in these seminars over the years which for me have been such enriching and joyful encounters. I hope something of that enrichment and something of that joy will communicate itself to those who have joined us for today and I look forward to our exchanges.
Thank you very much indeed.'