Interreligious Dialogue a Must, Cardinal Arinze Says

Appeals to Synod Fathers to Teach Magisterium Clearly

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Bishops have to engage in interreligious dialogue today, while remaining firmly founded in the magisterium, Cardinal Francis Arinze told the Synod of Bishops.



"In today´s world, the bishop does not have a choice to promote or not promote interreligious dialogue," the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said. "Religious plurality is a fact in most societies."

He added: "Population movements for economic, cultural, political or other reasons have been facilitated by modern means of travel. Cultures, religions and languages are meeting as never before in human history."

Cardinal Arinze stressed that dialogue must "be based on orthodoxy," because, above all, the bishop is "the teacher of the doctrine of the faith."

He explained the ways in which the challenge of interreligious dialogue should be faced.

"While interreligious dialogue may start with the horizontal dimension -- joint pursuit of justice, peace, harmony and social values -- it should above all keep clearly in sight the vertical dimension -- looking for God, search for religious truth, effort at greater openness to divine action," he said.

Cardinal Arinze posed a fundamental question: "If the bishop does not teach and communicate this truth, who will do it?"

"The Church´s approach to people of other religions is built on her faith in Jesus Christ," the Nigerian cardinal explained. "All humanity belongs to Christ, the firstborn of all creation. For the Church, interreligious dialogue or collaboration is marked with hope, hope that, ultimately, everyone and everything will be reconciled in Christ, Lord of history and the desire of all hearts."

As teacher of the faith, the bishop "has to keep watch over theological ideas on interreligious dialogue in his area," said the cardinal. "[But] even more important, he has to feed his people with the rich doctrine enshrined in the magisterium."

He added that a "Christian, who meets people of other religions, is first of all a witness to Christ. Through that Christian, other believers should see, hear, experience, touch, speak with and work with Christ."