Interreligious Dialogue a Key to Peace, Says Pope

Calls for Its Exercise While Avoiding Relativism

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2004 ( John Paul II stressed the importance of interreligious dialogue in the building of peace, as he met the participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The dicastery, which is marking its 40th anniversary, has carried out its «ecclesial service» with «diligent determination,» the Pope said Saturday.

The importance of the dicastery’s work has been «perceived by the not few organizations of other religions, which have had in the past and continue to have profitable contacts with your pontifical council and with you share various dialogue initiatives,» he told the participants of the plenary assembly at an audience.

The Holy Father encouraged them to «intensify this fruitful cooperation, directing your attention to topics of common interest.»

«Interreligious dialogue is also important to propose a firm base of peace and to make the name of the only God ever more, as it already is, a name of peace, an imperative of peace,» the Pope said, recalling the content of his apostolic letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte.»

«In virtue of the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ entrusted to them by God, Christians know that they can contribute to the building of peace in the world, allowing themselves to be animated by the love of each and all men, seeking the truth with courage, and cultivating a prophetic thirst for justice and freedom,» he added.

John Paul II emphasized that this effort must be combined with «a persevering, humble and confident prayer to God» because peace «is above all a divine gift that must be prayed for incessantly.»

In an age of marked cultural and religious pluralism, «the coming years will see the Church even more committed to responding to the great challenge of interreligious dialogue,» the Pope said.

The dialogue must continue as «it is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church, a profound connection with the proclamation of Christ and, at the same time, different from it, free of confusions or orchestrations,» he added.

John Paul II noted that in promoting such dialogue with the followers of other religions, one must avoid «all relativism and religious indifference,» making an effort to «offer all with respect the joyful testimony of our hope.»

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