The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue met for its tenth full assembly this past week to focus on the theme: “Dialogue in truth and love. Pastoral orientations.” On Saturday, Pope Benedict spoke to group about the importance of truth being the goal of all dialogue and charity being the motivation behind all dialogue.
Over 60 participants were led in their discussions throughout the session by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the council.
The Pope began his speech to the council by expressing his happiness that, “during these days you have sought to arrive at a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church's approach to people of other religious traditions. You have considered the broader purpose of dialogue - to discover the truth - and the motivation for it, which is charity, in obedience to the divine mission entrusted to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ."
This context of searching for the truth should impact the exchanges that the Church has with followers of other religions, the Pontiff explained. "In the words of my venerable predecessor, Pope Paul VI, the Church's principal responsibility is service to the Truth - 'truth about God, truth about man and his hidden destiny, truth about the world, truth which we discover in the Word of God'."
"It is the love of Christ which impels the Church to reach out to every human being without distinction, beyond the borders of the visible Church. The source of the Church's mission is Divine Love. ... Thus, it is love that urges every believer to listen to the other and seek areas of collaboration," the Pope reminded the council.
If love is the motivation behind inter-religious dialogue, Christians are able to propose “but not impose, faith in Christ Who is 'the way, the truth, and the life',” the Holy Father said.
“The Christian faith has shown us that 'truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities.' For the Church, 'charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being'."
Other practical issues that arise from dialoguing with members of other faiths such as: "the identity of the partners in dialogue, religious education in schools, conversion, proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom, and the role of religious leaders in society” were also raised. “These are important issues," Benedict said, "to which religious leaders living and working in pluralistic societies must pay close attention."
Benedict XVI also underlined the need for the promoters of inter-religious dialogue "to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed about those of others," highlighting how "inter-religious collaboration provides opportunities to express the highest ideals of each religious tradition."
In closing, the Holy Father encouraged the council to collaborating with other people of faith by, "Helping the sick, bringing relief to the victims of natural disasters or violence, caring for the aged and the poor.”