Pope Advises Formation Before Dialogue

Says Knowledge of One's Faith Takes Priority

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Interreligious dialogue is nourished by an adequate formation in the faith and by a profound knowledge of the beliefs of others, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience participants in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Vatican dicastery, greeted the Pope and explained to him the issues that were discussed during the dicastery's meeting, which focused on the theme “Dialogue in Truth and Charity: Pastoral Orientations.”

The sessions took into consideration some practical issues regarding interreligious relationships: identity of the dialogue partner, religious education in schools, conversions, proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom and the role of religious leaders in society.

“As Christians,” Cardinal Tauran said, “we are convinced that God alone is the absolute truth and that he has opened the human heart to the desire for truth,” and that “that all men and women are called to know and live such truth.”

Nevertheless, he added, “it is necessary to reach a delicate balance between the proclamation of the truth and the respect of the spiritual journey and freedom of conscience of persons.”

Truth and charity

“Charity presupposes the welcoming of the other in his diversity," said the cardinal, "but it also implies the duty of sharing our religious patrimony with him.” He noted that “truth, diversity and dialogue are inseparable.”

Cardinal Tauran informed the Pope that his dicastery is preparing a document containing some “guidelines” for dialogue directed at pastors and faithful who live in multiethnic, multireligious and multicultural societies.

Benedict XVI observed in his address that “all the Church’s activities must be permeated with love,” because it is love “that invites every believer to listen to others and to seek areas of collaboration” without impositions.

Nevertheless, the Pope added, the “great proliferation of interreligious meetings in the world today requires discernment.”

Indeed, he explained, to “be authentic such dialogue must be a journey of faith,” and at the same time “it is necessary that the promoters be well-formed in their faith and well-informed about the beliefs of others.”

In light of these necessities and of the challenges posed by an ever more pluralistic society, the Pontiff said that he “had encouraged the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in organizing formation courses and programs for interreligious dialogue on behalf of different groups, especially for young seminarians and people who run institutes of tertiary education.”

“Religious collaboration offers the opportunity of expressing the highest ideals of every religious tradition,” said the Holy Father. “Helping the sick, giving succor to victims of natural disasters and violence, care of the elderly and the poor: These are some of the sectors in which persons of different religions can work together.”