July 08, 2012

Interreligious Dialogue

In the final section of Verbum Domini, the Holy Father writes about "The Word of God and Interreligious Dialogue". "Nowadays," he tells us, "the quickened pace of globalization makes it possible for people of different cultures and religions to be in closer contact." We live closer, travel farther, and communicate faster.

Therefore, "it is very important that the religions be capable of fostering a mentality that sees Almighty God as the foundation of all good, the inexhaustible source of the moral life, and the bulwark of a profound sense of universal brotherhood." There are three things almost all peoples seek, in any time and place: the good, the true, and the beautiful.
  • As Dr. Kreeft says, "when wolves are at the door, feuding brothers reconcile".  Whether those wolves are political bullies, terrorists, or any other evil, people that sincerely desire goodness must resist together.
  • There are some today that ask Quid est veritas, as Pilate did. (Jn 18:38) In a time when truth itself is questioned, those who believe in a truth - objective, knowable reality - must stand together.
  • Against the ugliness of meaningless, nihilistic art; needlessly violent images; sexualized music; those who promote or create beauty must stand together.
Broadly, the Holy Father notes that "(e)vidence of a close connection between a relationship with God and the ethics of love for everyone is found in many great religious traditions." He then identifies specific points in common with world religions, such as:
  • With Muslims: "prayer, almsgiving and fasting... countless biblical figures, symbols and themes."
  • With Buddhists: "respect for life, contemplation, silence, simplicity"
  • With Hindus: "the sense of the sacred, sacrifice and fasting
  • With Confucians: "family and social values"
All religions are not the same, and they do not share equal measures of the truth. A droplet, a puddle, a lake, and an ocean do not contain the same amount of water, yet they all contain water. That does not mean you should settle for a puddle when you're really seeking the ocean, but when you only know the puddle, it may seen as large as the Atlantic. While these points in common do not make our religions equivalent, they give us starting points for dialogue - common ground on which we can stand together..

These are not our enemies; these are our brothers and sisters, also made in the image of God; children, as we are, of God the Father. Whether the relationship is recognized or appreciated does not change the fact of it. We are called to love all and to lead others to Christ. We are called to save our brothers and sisters, not destroy them. Yes, we must protect ourselves, our families, and our Church; but we must recognize, too, that if it comes to fighting between us, we are fighting with brothers.

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