Ottilien 2019

Buddhist-Christian Encounter –

A Visionary Approach

A Conference inspired by Lynn A. de Silva (1919-1982)

In Cooperation with the WCC

St. Ottilien / Munich (27 June – 1 July 2019)

Since the 1960s Buddhists and Christians have entered into serious dialogical relations in various places around the world. At this conference we will inquire into the transformation triggered by dialogical encounter. The selection of topics is inspired by the work of Lynn A de Silva (1919-1982). De Silva, a Sri Lankan Methodist minister and academic, was a major pioneer in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. On the occasion of his centenary we will pick up his visionary approach and ask: How far has dialogue transformed Buddhist and Christian reciprocal understanding? What has been achieved? And what might be the next steps to be taken? In each session, the first presentation will include an examination of Lynn de Silva’s thinking on the topic concerned. The second will examine the present state of Buddhist-Christian dialogue on the topic and future possibilities.

Conference Flyer (pdf)

Conference Poster (pdf)

Call for Papers Welcome Letter by Dr Elizabeth Harris, President of the ENBCS, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham August 2018.

Video on Lynn A. Desilva (Tulana Media Unit) The Sermon Delivered during the Service Commemorating the Birth Centenary of Rev. Dr. Lynn A de Silva at the METHODIST CHURCH (Colombo 6), on TRINITY SUNDAY (16 June 2019) by Aloysius Pieris, s.j. here.


Conference Program

Thursday, 27 June 2019 Arrivals: 18.45 – 19.30: Supper

19.45 - 20.00 Opening of the Conference
20.00: Lynn A. de Silva - An Appraisal Revd Professor Wesley Ariarajah
20.45: Response: Revd Dr Peniel Rajkumar
21.00 - 21.20: Lynn A. De Silva: a presentation by a member of his family

Friday, 28 June 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast

Session I: May Dialogue Change our Self-Understanding and View of the Religious Other?

09.00 – 09.45: First Presentation (Perry Schmidt-Leukel)

09.45 – 10.30: Second Presentation (James Fredericks)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.00: Discussion

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

Session II: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of the Human Being?

15.00 – 15.45: First Presentation (Amos Yong)

15.45 - 16.15: Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00: Second Presentation (Kurt Krammer)

17.00 – 18.00: Discussion

18.45 – 19.30: Supper

Session III: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of Death and Life After Death?

19.45 – 21.00: First and Second Presentation (Martin Repp; Elke Hessel)

21.00 – 21.30: Discussion

Saturday, 29 June 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast

Session IV: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of Ultimate Reality?

09.00 – 09.45: First Presentation (Elizabeth Harris)

09.45 – 10.30: Second Presentation (André van der Braak)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.00: Discussion

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

Session V: May Dialogue Change Our Understanding of the Buddha and the Christ?

15.00 – 15.45: First Presentation (Joseph O’Leary)

15.45 - 16.15: Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00: Second Presentation (Annewieke Vroom)

17.00 – 18.00: Discussion

18.45 – 19.30: Supper

19.45 – 21.15: Open Presentations (1)

Sunday, 30 June 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast

Session VI: May Art Inspire Dialogue – May Dialogue Inspire Art?

09.00 – 09.45: First Presentation (Gudrun Löwner)

09.45 – 10.30: Second Presentation (Jude Lal Fernando; Rasika Pieris)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.00: Discussion

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch Session

VII: May Popular Religion Alter the Course of Dialogue?

15.00 – 15.45: Presentation (Andreas Nehring)

15.45 - 16.15: Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00: Discussion

Concluding Session

17.00 – 18.00: Reflections on the Conference (Marshal Fernando, Indunil Kodithuwakku)

18.00 – 18.30: Words of Gratitude

18.45 – 19.30: Supper

19.45 – 21.15: Open Presentations (2)

Monday, 1 July 2019

07.15 – 07.45: Meditation

07.45 – 08.45: Breakfast Departures (Optional)

09.30 – 12.00: Exploring St Ottilien + Guided Tour of the Mission Museum

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch Departures


Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar pjr Rev Dr Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar is Programme Coordinator in the office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and teaches in the Ecumenical Institute of the WCC in Bossey. Prior to this he was Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics at the United Theological College, Bangalore, India. His publications include Many Yet One: Multiple Religious Belonging, (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2015 - as coeditor), Asian Theology on the Way (Minneapolis : Fortress, 2015 - as editor), Dalit Theology and Dalit Liberation, (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010). He is also the editor of Current Dialogue the interreligious journal of the WCC.





reppMartin Repp

Prof Dr Martin Repp is assigned by the Church of Hesse and Nassau (Germany) as representative for dialogue with Asian religions and he is a lecturer for religious studies at Heidelberg University. He had studied theology and philosophy of religion at the universities of Marburg, Münster and Jerusalem. In his doctoral thesis he treated Paul Tillich’s concept of God (Marburg University 1984) and in his post-doctoral treatise (Habilitation) he investigated the Japanese Buddhist monk Hōnen’s work and structures of religious reforms in comparison with Luther’s reformation (Heidelberg University 2001). Between 1988 and 2009 he worked full-time, and later volunteered, at the NCC Center for the Study of Japanese Religions in Kyoto as Associate Director, Editor of its journal Japanese Religions, and Coordinator of the Interreligious Studies in Japan Program (ISJP). In 2004-2009 he taught as Professor for Comparative Religious Studies at Ryukoku University (Kyoto). His research focuses on Japanese Buddhism, Japanese new religions, structures of religious innovation processes, and intra- and inter-religious communications.

His writings and editing include: Die Transzendierung des Theismus in der Religionsphilosophie Paul Tillichs (1986); Aum Shinrikyō – Ein Kapitel krimineller Religionsgeschichte (1997); Das religiöse Denken Hōnens – Eine Untersuchung zu Strukturen religiöser Erneuerung (2005); Mondō to ronsō no bukkyō. Shūkyō-teki komyunikēshon no shatei (Didactic conversations and disputations in Buddhism – Investigating the scope of religious communications. Edited, together with Yoshiyuki Inoue; 2011); Mutō Kazuo, Christianity and the Notion of Nothingness – Contributions to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue from the Kyoto School (Ed., transl. by Jan van Bragt; 2012). Der eine Gott und die anderen Götter -- Eine historische und systematische Einführung in Religionstheologien der Ökumene (2018).


Professor Wesley Ariarajah we Dr. S. Wesley Ariarajah, Methodist Minister from Sri Lanka, is currently Professor Emeritus of Ecumenical Theology at the Drew University School of Theology, Madison, NJ. Before teaching at Drew for 17 years, he served the World Council of Churches, Geneva, for 16 years, first as the Director of the Interfaith Dialogue Programme, and later as the Council’s Deputy General Secretary. He has written widely on Interfaith Relations, Theology of Religions, and Ecumenism. His latest publications include: Your God, My God, Our God – Rethinking Christian Theology for Religious Plurality (WCC: 2012), and Strangers or Co-Pilgrims?-The Impact of Interfaith Dialogue on Christian Faith and Practice (Fortress: 2017).





Dr Elizabeth J Harris el Dr Elizabeth Harris holds an Honorary Senior Research Fellowship within the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at Birmingham University (UK). Previous to this, she was an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope University (UK), specializing in Buddhist Studies. From 1996 – 2007, she was the national Inter-Faith Relations Officer for the Methodist Church in Britain, whilst also being an Honorary Lecturer at Birmingham University and a Visiting Lecturer at Lund University. She is an International Adviser to the Society for Buddhist-Christian Relations and is currently President of the European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies. Her publications include: What Buddhists Believe (Oneworld, 1998): Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, missionary and colonial experience in nineteenth century Sri Lanka (Routledge, 2006): Buddhism for a Violent World: A Christian Reflection (Epworth, 2010/now published by SCM); Religion, Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka: colonial and postcolonial contexts(Routledge, 2018).




André van der Braak aAndré van der Braak is professor of Buddhist Philosophy in Dialogue with other World Views at the faculty of Religion and Theology of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His publications include “Nietzsche and Zen: Self-overcoming without a Self” (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2011). Since 2013 he has been project leader of the research project “Multiple Religious Belonging: Hermeneutical and Empirical Explorations of Hybrid Religiosity”.








pDr. Perry Schmidt-Leukel Professor of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology, University of Muenster, is one of the founding members of the ENBCS. Before, he taught at the Universities of Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Glasgow. He has more than 250 publications in the fields of religious pluralism, interreligious encounter, Buddhist-Christian dialogue and Buddhist Studies. Among his more recent books are Religious Pluralism and Interreligious Theology. The Gifford Lectures—An Extended Edition (Orbis Books 2017); God Beyond Boundaries. A Christian and Pluralist Theology of Religions (Waxman 2017); Buddha Mind—Christ Mind. A Christian Commentary on the Bodhicaryāvatāra (Peeters 2019).






jlfJames Fredericks James Fredericks, Ph.D. is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He is also a specialist in inter-religious dialogue, especially the dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity. He has collaborated with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue on various projects. He was a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar in Kyoto, Japan, and held the Numata Chair in Buddhism and Culture at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. For many years, he has participated in the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, the Los Angeles Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue Group and the San Francisco Bay Area Zen-Catholic Dialogue Group. In addition to many articles, he is the author of Faith Among Faiths: Christian Theology and the Non-Christian Religions (Paulist Press) and Buddhists and Christians: Through Comparative Theology to a New Solidarity (Orbis Books). He is the co-editor of Interreligious Friendships After Nostra Aetate (Palgrave-MacMillan 2015). He has lectured internationally in Japan, China, India, Iran, and Europe and his work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, German, and Spanish.



gDr Gudrun Loewner Prof. Dr. Gudrun Loewner is a Lutheran German Pastor who is presently teaching intercultural theology and ecumenics at the United Theological College in Bangalore. Her PhD is from Heidelberg University, Germany on "Religion and Development in Sri Lanka". Her special interest is in inculturation, Buddhism and women. Her books in English are Christian Themes in Indian Art from the Mogul times till today(Manohar, New Delhi, 2012 -together with Anand Amaladass SJ) and Intercultural Dialogue in Art and Religion(Manohar, New Delhi 2018).





Dr Annewieke Vroom av Dr. Annewieke Vroom is Associate Professor in the Comparative Philosophy of Religion at the Faculty for Religion and Theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her teaching and research focus on Asian systems of thought, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, religious diversity and non-violent communication. She has a book coming out (2019) on the Masao Abe Dialogues. Annewieke Vroom also coordinates the BA-track in Comparative Religion and is interfaith supervisor in the MA-track in Spiritual Care at her university.  






Professor Amos Yong yong Amos Yong is Professor of Theology and Mission and Director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary (now Portland Seminary) and Portland State University, both in Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He has authored or edited approximately four dozen volumes. He and his wife, Alma, have three children and three grandchildren. Amos and Alma reside in Pasadena, California.  





Kurt Gakuro Krammer kurt Kurt Gakuro Krammer is a Buddhist pracitioner and has been active in Interreligious Dialogue for over 30 years. Currently he heads the “Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Dialogue of Religions” in Salzburg, Austria, offering lectures and meditation classes. He has been an active member of European Buddhist Union since 1993, served as its vice president for a term and is currently responsible for the EBU network “Connecting world-views“.








eElke Hessel lke Hessel studied the integration of art and architecture, and art education at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. She has also studied educational science at the University of Düsseldorf and has undertaken studies in classical Tibetan at the University of Bonn. She is Director of Tibethaus Germany in Frankfurt and editor-in-chief of the magazine “Chökor/Tibethaus Journal”. She has written and lectured on Buddhist iconography, Tantric Buddhism, ritual studies and interreligious dialogue. She is author of the biography of the Tibetan artist and scholar, Amdo Gendün Chöpel, "Die Welt hat mich drunken gemacht" (i.e. the world has made me drunk), published 2000 by Theseus Verlag.





jDr Joseph O’Leary Born in Cork, 1949, Joseph S. O'Leary studied literature and theology at Maynooth College and also in Rome and Paris. He taught theology in the USA (1981-83) and literature at Sophia University, Tokyo (1988-2015). He has collaborated with the Nanzan Instutute for Religion and Culture (Nanzan University) and the Oriens Institute for Religious Research, and has drawn on Indian Mahāyāna sources in his reflections on fundamental theology, especially in Philosophie occidentale et concepts bouddhistes (Gilson lectures, Presses Universitaires de France, 2011), Conventional and Ultimate Truth (Notre Dame, 2015) and Buddhist Nonduality, Paschal Paradox (Peeters, 2018





ra Dr Rasika Pieris Rasika Pieris is a Sri Lankan religious sister in the congregation of the Holy Family of Bordeaux. She completed her doctoral studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands. She is currently teaching at the University of Kelaniya as a visiting lecturer and is also working with women's groups and different groups of people at inter-religious and inter-ethnic levels.  






Jude Lal Fernando d Jude Lal Fernando is Assistant Professor in Trinity College Dublin where he coordinates the postgraduate program on Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies in the Irish School of Ecumenics, School of Religion. He is the Director of the Trinity Centre for Post-Conflict Justice and the coordinator of the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka. His main areas of expertise are in the role of religion in Conflict and Peace in Asia with a specific focus on Korea, Japan and Sri Lanka. Some of his works have been published in Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Interreligious Studies, Oxford Hand Book on Christianity in Asia, Uppsala University Series on Buddhism among Tamils and Routledge Series on Communalism and Globalisation. He was also the visiting professor in Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Sophia University, Tokyo, Tampere University in Finland and Uppsala University in Sweden.





Fr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku DSC09573 Fr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage is a Catholic priest of the diocese of Badulla, Sri Lanka. He holds a B.A (Hons) degree in Sociology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and a Doctorate in Missiology from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. From 2008-2014, he was a Professor at the Faculty of Missiology at the Pontifical Urban University. He currently serves as Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue at the Vatican  






Andreas Nehring a Andreas Nehring (*1957), Dr. theol. is Professor for Religious Studies and Mission Studies at the Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen. His fields of research are: Theories of Religious and Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Theologies, Transcultural Processes of Exchange and Communication between Europe and India und Indien, History of Missions. Central Publications: Orientalismus und Mission – Die Repräsentation südindischer Religion durch deutsche Missionare, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz (2003); Religious Turns – Turning Religions. Veränderte kulturelle Diskurse – neue religiöse Wissensformen, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer (ed. together with Joachim Valentin 2008); Fundamentalism and Secularism. The Indian Predicament, Chennai: Navashakti (ed. 1994), Postkoloniale Theologie, (ed. with Simon Tielesch, Stuttgart 2011).







Marshal Fernando f Marshal Fernando has been attached to the Ecumenical Institute of Study and Dialogue (EISD) in Sri Lanka since 1986 and has served as its Director since 1993. He graduated from the University of Ceylon with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and has obtained an MA in Economics, an MA in International Relations and an MA in Buddhism. He served as the Chairman of the Student Christian Movement of Sri Lanka and has held many positions in the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). Initially he served as an Area Secretary for the Asian region, and later he was elected as the Chairperson of the Asia Regional Committee. He was then elected Chairperson of the WSCF (world body) from 1990 – 1995. These engagements provided him with wide experience in theological and interfaith dialogue work. He is responsible for the continuous production of the flagship publication of the EISD- the journal, Dialogue.






Travel and Check-in Information

On Thur 27th June 2019 from 14:00 to 18:30 A shuttle bus will comute between S-Bahn Station Geltendorf and the Archabbey St. Ottilien. Please wait in front of the railwaistation builidng. If you need help to reach St. Ottilien please phone Prof. Dr. Martin Rötting on 0162 935 1984. Thur 27th June 2019 16:00 REGISTRATION DESK opens at the Foyer of the Exerzitienhaus St. Ottilien.  

Travel to the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Ottilien

By Car: Find your route/directions with google maps.   By Plane: The nearest airport is Munich (MUC). You can take the S-Bahn (S1 or S8) from Munich airport (Flughafen) to the main station or Hauptbahnhof of Munich city. Change train to S4 Geltendorf. (Click here for the transport shedule of the Munich local Trainservice (MVV). At Geltendorf, a conference shuttle service (from 3 - 6 pm) will be in place to bring you to the monastery, just wait in front of the station building in Geltndorf. In case of problems, ring Martin on 0162 935 1984. Taxi Anton Boch, Am Bahnhof 31, 82269 Geltendorf, Tel.: 0049 8193 1010   By Train: From the main train-station or Hauptbahnhof of Munich, take the S-Bahn (S4) to Geltendorf. A conference shuttle bus will bring you from this station to the monastery of Sankt Ottilien. Also, there is a small train-station in St. Ottilien. Find your way and book your ticket for train-travel here. Taxi Anton Boch, Am Bahnhof 31, 82269 Geltendorf, Tel.: 0049 8193 1010

NOTE: Registration for Asian Buddhist Nuns/Monks


  1. As a monk you can register with the reduced rate (EUR 270).
  2. You can pay online or by direct bank transfer (see below) if you need.
  3. After payment send via email a letter of your abbot confirming your monk status (including your Name as in your passport and your passport number) and the payment receipt and the adress of your Embassy for visa application to the secretary Prof. Dr. Martin Rötting (Univ. Salzburg), Email:
  4. A letter of confirmation, stating that you have payed all fees for the conference will be sent out.
  5. Please note: We can not send out "invitation letters" stating that your health or travel is covered. Registration fee can not be refunded.
  6. Due to a high number of requests, please understand that we can only refer to the above instructions. Thank You.


Rates include conference fee and catering and hosting: EUR 370 regular EUR 270 reduced (students) Registration includes:

  • conference fee
  • hosting
  • food (also vegetarian/vegan options, etc.)
  • cultural tour on the monastery ground.

Direct payment by international banking transfer Register online for transfer in Germany or Credit Card payment. If you need to pay by direct international banking transfer, 1) Please pay to: Bank Account: Erzabtei St. Ottilien, Network for Buddhist Christian Studies Bank: Hypobank Landsberg, Germany IBAN: DE09 7202 0070 0016 6303 14 BIC: HYVEDEMM408 2) Send a copy of your payment receipt (stating the bank, your full name and payment date) to the Secretary: IMPORTANT: Please make sure to apply for your visa in time. Please note: We cannot send invitation letters for visa application. After registration and payment you will

  • receive a letter/email of confirmation
  • please use this letter/email for visa-application
  • receive further information and updates on the conference shortly before the event.

Conference Secretary: re If you need any furhter information, please wirte to: Prof. Dr. Martin Rötting (Univ. Salzburg) Email: