Benedict on interreligious dialogue

Benedict on interreligious dialogue

In the midst of an address to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (could they think of a longer name?) Pope Benedict made what I thought was an interesting remark about interreligious dialogue.:

The Pope highlighted the Catholic Church’s awareness of the fact that “inter-religious dialogue is part of her commitment to serve humanity in the modern world.” In our time, “Christians are called to cultivate a form of open dialogue on religious problems, not renouncing the presentation … of the Christian message in keeping with their own identity.”

Dialogue with adherents to other religions is not an option for Catholics, but a requirement, and that dialogue is not simply informing others of the Truth and then telling them to accept it or go away. Dialogue entails a back and forth, not to end up at a compromise position that is a chimera of the two religions, but so that a gradual enlightenment can occur leading the non-Christian to the Truth and the Christian to a greater understanding of the mindset and outlook of the non-Christian. Note how he says that while a dialogue is important for discussing religious problems, the participants must not lose their own Christian identity in the process.

Seems to be a rebuke of the both the conquistador school of religious dialogue (“Convert or die!”) as well as the syncretist school (“Whatever floats your boat, man, now pass the peace pipe.”).

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
4 comments
  • I didn’t see the part where the Holy Father said to make sure that non-Christians keep their own identities apart from the visible Church Christ established. Could you quote it for me?

  • He’s saying that the Christians engaging in dialogue should not renounce their identity.

    Perhaps you might examine whether your own preconceived notions may have colored how you read the statement.

  • The precedent for interreligious dialogue is set by St. Paul who engaged in dialogue with the Greek pagans at the Areopagus.

  • I understood clearly.  This has an application for any person working in a modern global environment.  You must be willing to work with other people, while making it known that you are Catholic.  At the same time, you must respect the right of others to believe what they wish, while being staunch in believing what you believe and never denying the truth. 

    It also applies in mixed marriages.  I’m Catholic and my husband is not.  He respects my convert Catholic faith while believing that it’s not right for him or the truth.  I nevertheless believe that it is necessary for him and the truth, and he knows that.  He can accept that I believe that because he also knows that I’m not going to deny that Catholicism is the one and only way.  We don’t fight about this.  It just is—it’s a condition we both accept at this point.  I pray for him; he watches me.  Weird, huh?

    The problem, in pluralism and mixed marriages and such arrangements, arises when there is no tolerance.  There cannot be a situation where a Catholic hides the truth to avoid offending others, or where a Catholic becomes willing to deny the truth for whatever expediency.  This is NEVER warranted.

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