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Conferences and Seminars
Interfaith Symposium on Death and Dying (7-9 April, 2010)


Interfaith Symposium on Death and Dying
 
Held at the St Patrick Campus of the Australian Catholic University
 
Melbourne, April 7-9, 2010
 
Hosted by the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
Sponsored by the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Australian Catholic University


 
For full program and downloads of audio and presentations, click here

For full list of and information about speakers and presenters, click here

Is death an unmitigated evil or does it have its place in how we conduct our lives? Is our passing simply an end or is it a transition? What understanding of death and dying should govern our laws? Our religious traditions teach people how best to live, but can they also teach people ‘how best to die’?

These and other questions were on the agenda at a three-day Interfaith Symposium on Death and Dying held in April 2010 and hosted by the Archdiocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, with the sponsorship of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Australian Catholic University.

In the presence of keynote speakers Bishop Christopher Prowse and Julian Gardner, Public Advocate for Victoria 2000-07, James Merlino, the Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, opened the symposium saying: “In our multifaith and multicultural society it is important that we have an understanding of the different religious traditions that influence how we each deal with death … We need this perspective.”

The three-day program provided participants with knowledge and insight into what each religious tradition believes about death and dying; the meaning of the rites of passage and funeral practices; and the legal, ethical, and medical aspects of preparing for death from the different faith perspectives, with input from those involved directly with the dying and their families.

About 120 pastoral and palliative-care workers, funeral directors, clergy and members of the different faith communities attended the symposium to hear 28 speakers from Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Indigenous perspectives. Professionals in the area of palliative care, including Dr Bruce Rumbold of Latrobe University and Dr Michelle Gold of the Alfred Hospital, also brought their expertise to the table.

As a first for the commission, we invited a member of the Rationalist Society of Victoria, Lyn Allison (previously Democrat senator for Victoria) to join in the conversation from a non-faith perspective. It is notable that several members of the Dying with Dignity organisation attended the symposium, which at times led to a very interesting debate about euthanasia. We also heard about the political issues facing religious communities on death and dying from Inga Peulich MLC.

The symposium made it clear that the issues surrounding the process of dying and death are many, and are the subject of considerable debate in our community. All were agreed, however, on the vital significance of interreligious discussion for the determination of the kind of society we are creating.

For full program and downloads of audio and presentations, click here

For full list of and information about speakers and presenters, click here




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