Posted April 21, 2008
Pope Says Dialogue Has a Purpose: Finding Truth
Greets Jews for Feast of Passover
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 18, 2008 .- Benedict XVI says that interreligious dialogue has a purpose beyond establishing a peaceful society: The point of this dialogue is to find the truth.
The Pope affirmed this Thursday in a meeting at the U.S. capital with interreligious leaders. The theme of the meeting was “Peace Our Hope,” and it was held at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
The Holy Father spoke to the religious leaders about religious freedom, lauding the United States for the way in which people of many religions co-exist there.
"May others take heart from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples -- 'E pluribus unum': 'out of many, one' -- provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right," he said.
The Pontiff also emphasized the value of faith-based education: "These institutions enrich children both intellectually and spiritually," he affirmed.
Benedict XVI then noted, "There is a further point I wish to touch upon here."
He expressed his approval for a "growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace."
He continued: "The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth."
And the Pope went on to mention the questions interreligious dialogue should engage: "What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence?"
"Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for 'wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace,'" he said.
The Christian proposal
The Bishop of Rome described what the Catholic Church offers to interreligious dialogue.
"Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth," the Pope said. "He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue."
He added: "Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth.
"In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God.
"As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums for a candid exchange of religious ideas."
"Dear friends," the Holy Father concluded, "let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task -- through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion -- we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family."
After his meeting with interreligious leaders, Benedict XVI had a special address for the Jewish people for their feast of Passover, which begins Saturday.
"Christians and Jews," the Pope said, "are in fact, as the prophets say, 'prisoners of hope.' This bond permits us Christians to celebrate alongside you, though in our own way, the Passover of Christ's death and resurrection, which we see as inseparable from your own, for Jesus himself said: 'Salvation is from the Jews.'
"Our Easter and your Pesah, while distinct and different, unite us in our common hope centered on God and his mercy. They urge us to cooperate with each other and with all men and women of goodwill to make this a better world for all as we await the fulfillment of God's promises."
The Holy Father continued: "With respect and friendship, I therefore ask the Jewish community to accept my Pesah greeting in a spirit of openness to the real possibilities of cooperation which we see before us as we contemplate the urgent needs of our world, and as we look with compassion upon the sufferings of millions of our brothers and sisters everywhere.
"Naturally, our shared hope for peace in the world embraces the Middle East and the Holy Land in particular. May the memory of God's mercies, which Jews and Christians celebrate at this festive time, inspire all those responsible for the future of that region-where the events surrounding God's revelation actually took place-to new efforts, and especially to new attitudes and a new purification of hearts!"