Pope Benedict XVI

Dialogika Resources

Address to the Catholic Bishops of France (excerpt)

Lourdes, France

Excerpt on Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue

As you know, my predecessors—Blessed John XXIII, who was once Nuncio in Paris, and Pope Paul VI—decided to establish Secretariats which, in 1988, became the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Quickly added to these were the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims. These structures in some sense constitute the institutional and conciliar recognition of countless earlier initiatives and accomplishments. Similar commissions or councils exist within your Episcopal Conference and your dioceses. Their existence and activity demonstrate the Church's desire to move forward by developing bilateral dialogue. The recent Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has highlighted the fact that authentic dialogue requires, as fundamental conditions, good formation for those who promote it, and enlightened discernment in order to advance step by step in discovering the Truth. The goal of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, which naturally differ in their respective nature and finality, is to seek and deepen a knowledge of the Truth. It is therefore a noble and obligatory task for every believer, since Christ himself is the Truth. The building of bridges between the great ecclesial Christian traditions, and dialogue with other religious traditions, demand a real striving for mutual understanding, because ignorance destroys more than it builds. Moreover, only the Truth makes it possible to live authentically the dual commandment of Love which our Saviour left us. To be sure, one must follow closely the various initiatives that are undertaken, so as to discern which ones favour reciprocal knowledge and respect, as well as the promotion of dialogue, and so as to avoid those which lead to impasses. Good will is not enough. I believe it is good to begin by listening, then moving on to theological discussion, so as to arrive finally at witness and proclamation of the faith itself (cf. Doctrinal Note on certain aspects of Evangelization, no. 12, 3 December 2007). May the Holy Spirit grant you the discernment which must characterize every Pastor. As Saint Paul recommends: "Test everything; hold fast what is good!" (1 Th 5:21). The globalized, multicultural and multireligious society in which we live is a God-given opportunity to proclaim Truth and practice Love so as to reach out to every human being without distinction, even beyond the limits of the visible Church.