Monday, 11 January 2016

What Pope Francis actually said ...... video on inter-religious dialogue

The introductory paragraphs of Dialogue and Proclamation, published by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in 1991, include the following (with my emphasis added):
Proclamation and dialogue are thus both viewed, each in its own place, as component elements and authentic forms of the one evangelizing mission of the Church. They are both oriented towards the communication of salvific truth.....
[addressing members of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue] Pope John Paul II declared: "Just as interreligious dialogue is one element in the mission of the Church, the proclamation of God's saving work in Our Lord Jesus Christ is another... There can be no question of choosing one and ignoring or rejecting the other."
The paragraphs also draw attention to Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, nn.55-57, which discuss the relationship between inter-religious dialogue and the proclamation of the Gospel.

In the video Pope Francis expresses himself in a situation where inter-religious dialogue has its place. In another situation it might well have been proclamation that had its place; but not here. The absence of proclamation when dialogue is the appropriate manner of communication does not manifest any denial of the role of proclamation on the part of Pope Francis.

At one point in the video, the representatives of the different religions express their belief in love. Those familiar with the spirituality of the Focolare, and the engagement of Focolare in inter-religious dialogue, will recognise in this the part played by the notion of God as love in that spirituality: see here, here and, for its relevance to inter-religious dialogue, here. This reference reflects a lived experience of dialogue on the part of a movement that has practised inter-religious dialogue over many years.

Likewise, the reference that Pope Francis makes to us all being "children of God" - and in the context this refers to our all being part of one human family in the order of creation - is to a principle recognised readily in understanding dialogue between the followers of different religions. A common recognition of the unity of the human family, in its origin and a shared destiny, is part of conversation between the religions that constitutes dialogue.

In the closing image of the video, objects representing the four religions shown in the video are brought together and offered to the viewer. It's early January, its Christmastide ..... the symbol of the infant with arms open in welcome .... what stronger representation of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh and Son of the Father, born for the salvation of the world and made manifest to the nations, can be offered at this particular time of the year?

But perhaps striking - and easy to miss - are the opening words of the video, in which Pope Francis' observes that the majority of people on the planet describe themselves as believers. This represents a clear testimony to the religious dimension of each and every human person, wherever they might be in the world. And, for those in the world who are not believers, that common testimony from a dialogue between the religions has a profoundly evangelising significance.

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