Hindu and Roman Catholic representatives in the Los Angeles area have established a formal dialogue to explore common religious interests and exchange perspectives on faith.
Formation of the 16-member dialogue committee, which met for the second time this week, represents the fourth such ongoing dialogue established by the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese with major world religions represented in Southern California.
Already in place are formal Catholic dialogues with Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist religious leaders, said Msgr. Royale Vadakin, archdiocesan director of ecumenical and interreligious affairs.
Co-chairing the Hindu/Catholic dialogue with Vadakin are Swami Swahananda of the Hollywood-based Vedanta Society of Southern California and Dr. S. K. Durairaj of the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California, builders of the Venkateswara Hindu Temple in Malibu Canyon.
Estimates of the Hindu population in Southern California have ranged from 25,000 to 35,000 families, according to M. Barbhasarathi, temple manager and a dialogue participant.
The multifaith Interreligious Council of Southern California has provided limited contact between Catholic officials and representatives of the Vedanta Society, the council’s sole Hindu member. But the dialogue teams, which meet every five or six weeks, provide greater opportunities for discussion and mutual understanding, Vadakin said.
“We like to prepare study papers on selected topics periodically to give some focus to the meetings,” said Vadakin, who is pastor of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral.
Durairaj said the Hindu Temple Society welcomes the concept. “We are sure that such a dialogue will go a long way to remove the many misconceptions in the proper understanding of the different religions and their practices,” he said in a statement.
The Interfaith Center to Reverse the Arms Race, unable to pay its staff because of drops in donations since the fading of Cold War tensions, will all but close its office at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena this Sunday. Founded 10 years ago, the group was very active during the 1982 movement advocating a freeze by the superpowers on nuclear arms production. The center served “as an educational resource both to elected officials and to religious congregations, helping them to understand the high cost of the arms race,” Katherine Littlewood, the center’s president, wrote in the All Saints church bulletin. Judith Glass, whose contract as executive director expires in a few months, said the center will keep its telephone line and a desk at the church as its board explores future directions. “There is so much public perception that the peace movement isn’t needed anymore,” Glass said in an interview, “but we see an enormous amount of work to be done.”
The AIDS crisis and church responses will be discussed Sunday at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Blvd., at the 12:30 p.m. “Pastor’s Forum” by the Rev. Gary Wilburn and the Rev. Lisa Bove, director of the AIDS/HIV Ministry at West Hollywood Presbyterian Church.
Among the efforts by religious leaders to protest the state’s death penalty and the scheduled execution at 3 a.m. Tuesday of Robert Alton Harris at San Quentin is a vigil and service starting at 8 p.m. Monday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Altadena, where the Rev. Richard Graves is rector.
World religions authority Huston Smith, a visiting professor of religious studies at San Diego State University, will present a public lecture, “Indian Thought in World Perspective,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the university’s Hepner Hall. A second public lecture on the campus is scheduled for May 1 on “The Continuing Relevance of India’s Vision.”
Catholic Archbishop Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles will address the 13th annual Huntington Park Community Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, sponsored by that city’s Chamber of Commerce. The breakfast will be held at the Elks Lodge.