True, authentic dialogue must avoid relativism, says Holy Father


The Pope today reminded both the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Culture that in order for dialogue to be authentic, it must avoid relativism and “be animated by sincere respect for others.”  The two dicasteries met today at the Vatican to discuss the theme, “Dialogue between Cultures and Religions.”


In the Holy Father’s written message to the pontifical councils, he discussed the importance of Christianity’s role in the building of Europe and emphasized the necessity of reflecting on the ancient Christian traditions that have permeated Western society for centuries.


Though Europeans today “seem to ignore Europe’s Christian roots,” the Pope said, “these roots remain alive and should show the way and nourish the hope of millions of citizens who share the same values."


The Holy Father also invited believers to promote inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue to work toward the common good. 


In this way, cultures and religions can collaborate “on subjects of mutual interest, such as the dignity of human beings, the search for the common good, the creation of peace, and development,” he explained.


In order for this dialogue to be authentic, the Pontiff emphasized, “it must avoid falling into relativism and syncretism.”  Instead, it must be animated by sincere respect for others and by a generous spirit of reconciliation and fraternity,” he wrote.


Syncretism involves the merging of different beliefs or worship practices in order to accommodate various cultural and religious backgrounds.


"I encourage,” he concluded, "all those who dedicate their efforts to building a welcoming, united Europe, one ever more faithful to its roots. In particular I exhort believers to contribute not only to safeguarding the cultural and spiritual heritage that distinguishes them and that is an integral part of their history, but to show increasing commitment to seeking new ways to face the great challenges of the post-modern age.”


“Among these I limit myself to mentioning the defense of human life at every stage, the protection of the rights of the individual and the family, the creating of a more just and united word, respect for creation, and inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.”

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