Official Says Interreligious Dialogue "a Preventive Medicine"

Archbishop Fitzgerald Proposes It to Help Avoid Conflicts

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, MAY 17, 2004 ( In an increasingly pluralist world, dialogue should be regarded as a means to reinforce the bond between religions and to avoid conflicts, says a Vatican official.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, made that suggestion as the dicastery was beginning its plenary assembly. The assembly ends Wednesday.

«It was Paul VI who in Pentecost of 1964 announced the institution of this organization of the Holy See for relations with other religions,» the British archbishop told Vatican Radio last Friday. This move was «an expression of the new vision of the Church … which must be in dialogue with everyone.»

There is «a new awareness of the importance of this dialogue,» Archbishop Fitzgerald said. «The world has changed, especially the Western world has become pluralist, and this gives importance to these relations that must be established between Catholics — between Christians in general and persons of other religions, also to foster peace in the world.»

«And we have seen this with John Paul II, who, following the impetus of the Council, invited religious leaders to Assisi in October 1986 to pray for peace,» he said. That meeting «had a huge impact on the dialogue with other religions.»

In the international context and in the light of the «confrontations which are not necessarily of religious origin but which assume a religious hue,» the archbishop suggested that dialogue be regarded to a degree «as a preventive rather than curing medicine.»

Dialogue «should reinforce the bond between religious communities, so that they are able to resist elements that come from outside, which can put these communities in conflict with one another,» he explained.

The Vatican official pointed out that «politicians are now interested in religion, but I think more out of a need for control.» Although politicians’ interest «is, on one hand, positive,» it also represents «a danger,» he cautioned.

Regarding the question of harmonization between the need for dialogue and the duty to proclaim the Gospel, Archbishop Fitzgerald recalled that «the Pope has said that interreligious dialogue forms part of the evangelizing mission of the Church; therefore, it is a task of the Church.»

He added: «I would say that it is an expression of the love of God for persons and a form of respect for their freedom.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation