Pope Calls Dialogue a Sacred Duty

Notes Advances in Jewish-Catholic Relations

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says interreligious dialogue is becoming more and more a sacred duty in a troubled world.



The Pope affirmed this today when he addressed the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, a group that has worked with the Holy See for more than 30 years, contributing to "greater understanding and acceptance between Catholics and Jews."

"Christians today are increasingly conscious of the spiritual patrimony they share with the people of the Torah, the people chosen by God in his inexpressible mercy, a patrimony that calls for greater mutual appreciation, respect and love," the Holy Father said. "Jews too are challenged to discover what they have in common with all who believe in the Lord, the God of Israel, who first revealed himself through his powerful and life-giving word."

That word, he continued, "spurs us to bear common witness to God’s love, mercy and truth. This is a vital service in our own time, threatened by the loss of the spiritual and moral values which guarantee human dignity, solidarity, justice and peace."

Benedict XVI encouraged the committee in their efforts to foster dialogue between religions.

"In our troubled world, so frequently marked by poverty, violence and exploitation, dialogue between cultures and religions must more and more be seen as a sacred duty incumbent upon all those who are committed to building a world worthy of man," he said. "The ability to accept and respect one another, and to speak the truth in love, is essential for overcoming differences, preventing misunderstandings and avoiding needless confrontations. […] A sincere dialogue needs both openness and a firm sense of identity on both sides, in order for each to be enriched by the gifts of the other."

The Holy Father said he thanks God for recent meetings he has had with Jewish communities in New York, Paris and the Vatican, "and for the progress in Catholic-Jewish relations which they reflect."

"In this spirit, then," he concluded, "I encourage you to persevere in your important work with patience and renewed commitment."

Next month in Hungary, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations will meet with the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews on the theme "Religion and Civil Society."