Inter-religious dialogue 'a grace or a risk?' asks Vatican official

Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran
Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran


The president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, said this week that the predominance of religion in today’s world means inter-religious dialogue is at once a grace and a risk, which must be assumed coherently by Christians, without renouncing or covering up their faith in the search for the common good.


During his remarks at the opening of the academic year at the Pontifical Theological Department of Southern Italy in Naples, the cardinal pointed out that “in inter-religious dialogue I take a risk. I accept, obviously, not to renounce my faith, but to allow myself to be questioned by the convictions of others.  I accept to take into account arguments different from my own or from those of my community.  The idea is to get to know each other, to view another’s religion with kindness and to allow oneself to be enriched by the positive aspects of his religion.”


“Each religion,” he continued, “has its own identity, but I accept to consider if God is also working in everyone, in the soul of the one who seeks him with sincerity.”


“The first condition for inter-religious dialogue to be of benefit is clarity: each believer should be conscious of his or her own spiritual identity.  Religious leaders should strive [to ensure] that the genius proper to each religion is properly understood,” the cardinal said.


Inter-religious dialogue, Cardinal Tauran argued, “mobilizes then all those who journey towards God and towards the Absolute. All believers and seekers of God have the same dignity.  For a Catholic, dialoguing with other believers is, first of all, a spiritual experience, and therefore a grace.  It is a basically religious attitude, animated not only by intellectual knowledge or friendship but also by prayer.  It leads me to deepen my faith and bear witness to my faith.  Therefore I should not hide my specificity,” the cardinal stressed.


Cardinal Tauran went on to warn that inter-religious dialogue also carries with it the risk of melding beliefs together, but this “becomes relative if, as I said before, each believer that is dialoguing exercises his reason and under its light is encouraged to deepen their own faith.”

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