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*Recent News* -- Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin prompts response from Bishop Denis J. Madden. Read Press Release
"The human person: With his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the ‘seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material,’ can have its origin only in God.”- Catechism of the Catholic Church #33
What is Sikhism?
Sikhism is a religion that originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region, near the present day border between Pakistan and India. The term "Sikh" means "disciple” or “student", and a Sikh is a follower of Sikhism.
The Sikh code of conduct and conventions defines a Sikh as any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; the ten Gurus and the teachings of the ten Gurus; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion. Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man, the One Supreme God, and the individuality of the human soul.
The opening hymn of holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib expounds on a Sikh understanding of the attributes of God, “There is one supreme eternal reality; the truth; immanent in all things; creator of all things; immanent in creation. Without fear and without hatred; not subject to time; beyond birth and death; self-revealing. Known by the Guru’s grace.”
The basis of the religion is the union of soul with God, which comes about through a discipline of thoughts and actions against lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. Sikhs believe that the cycle of reincarnation is escaped by this union. Protecting the religious and political rights of all people and preventing discrimination is an integral part of the Sikh faith.
How does the USCCB engage with Sikhs?
Since 2006 the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has been engaged in an exchange of ideas and mutual understanding with the Sikh community in the United States. Through its relationship with the Interfaith Committee of the World Sikh Council- America Region (WSC-AR),the USCCB has co-hosted several bilateral retreats with leadership and young adult representatives of both the Catholic and Sikh communities. The most recent retreat took place in May 2012, in Washington D.C. Retreat topics have included the nature of God, the spiritual teachings and practices of the two communities, and the nature of interreligious dialogue.
In addition, in 2006 the two communities met for a landmark all-day Catholic-Sikh bilateral national interreligious consultation at the Church Center of the United Nations. Archbishop Felix Machado, the then Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, attended the meeting as special guest and advisor. Leaders and representatives of both communities exchanged ideas and concerns over topics including religious freedom, immigration, and secularism.
Dr. Anthony Cirelli is currently the lead staff member for the Bishops Conference’s dialogue with the Sikh community on a national level.
A chronological history of the USCCB’s Catholic-Sikh discourse can be found here.
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