Pope: Interreligious dialogue 'a providential sign of our times'
By Christopher Wells
“Interreligious dialogue is a sign of the times,” Pope Francis says, adding that he considers it “a providential sign, in the sense that God Himself, in His wise plan, has inspired, in religious leaders and in many others, the desire to encounter and come to know one another in a way respectful of religious differences.”
Called to bear witness together
The Pope’s remarks come in a text prepared for his meeting with the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. The Holy Father was unable to deliver his greetings in person, as worsening pain in his knee forced the cancellation of the audience.
His printed remarks were formally conveyed to the Committee by Cardinal Kurt Koch in the Pope's name.
“It is critical," says Pope Francis, "that Jews and Christians encounter one another more frequently and work together in an effort to counter certain negative trends found in our western societies,” noting that Jews and Christians “are called to bear witness together to the God of mercy and justice, who loves and cares for all persons.”
Violence and hatred incompatible with faith
The Pope also affirmed, “Our religious traditions bid us address disagreements, differences and conflicts not in a confrontational way, but without prejudice, with peaceful intentions and with the aim of finding areas of agreement acceptable to all.”
He insists that hatred and violence “are incompatible with our faith” in a merciful and gracious God, and renewed once again the Church’s commitment “to oppose every form of antisemitism.”
Interreligious dialogue, the Pope says in conclusion, “is a privileged path to the growth of fraternity and peace in our world,” which can help combat extremism, including religious extremism. He called for prayer “that the Lord will continue to guide us on this path of dialogue and fraternity.”