Dialogue Is a Way of Evangelizing, Says John Paul II

Addresses Challenges of Migration in an Age of Globalization

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The dialogue and fraternal welcome that Catholics must offer migrants of other religions in times of globalization are ways to proclaim the Gospel, says John Paul II.

«Fraternal dialogue and mutual respect will never be a limitation or impediment to the proclamation of the Gospel,» the Pope said. «Moreover, love and acceptance are the first and most effective way of evangelizing.»

The Holy Father made that point today when addressing the participants in the three-day plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, being held in Rome through Wednesday.

The theme of the event is «Intercultural, Interreligious and Ecumenical Dialogue in the Context of Present-day Migrations.»

The Pope dedicated his address to clarify a widespread misunderstanding: that of confusing interreligious dialogue with the loss of identity and convictions of those who believe in the Church.

«The present-day reality of migrations urgently requires of the Christian communities a renewed evangelical proclamation,» he said. «It challenges the pastoral commitment and witness of all: clergy, religious and laity.»

«If ‘globalization’ is the term that best describes the present historical evolution, the word ‘dialogue’ must also characterize the mental and pastoral attitude that we must all assume in face of a new world balance. The consistent number of some 200 million migrants makes it more urgent,» the Pope continued.

«Each culture is an approach to the mystery of man, also to his religious dimension, and this explains — as the Second Vatican Council affirms — why some elements of truth are also outside the revealed message, including among nonbelievers, who cultivate lofty human values, despite the fact that they do not recognize their source,» the Holy Father added.

«Therefore, it is necessary to approach all cultures with the respectful attitude of the one who is aware that not only does he have something to say and to give, but also much to listen to and to receive,» John Paul II said.

This attitude, the Holy Father said, «is necessary so that the proclamation of the Gospel may reach all. Hence, the need for intercultural dialogue: It is an open process which, assuming all that is good and true in the different cultures, seeks to remove obstacles in the path of faith.»

«This dialogue implies rather a profound change of mentality and of pastoral structures, so that all that pastors invest in spiritual and cultural formation, including cultural meetings, points toward the future, and is an element of the new evangelization,» the Pope said.

«It is necessary, therefore, that the local Churches be open to acceptance, with pastoral initiatives of meeting and dialogue, but above all that they help the faithful to overcome prejudices and educate them to become missionaries ‘ad gentes’ in our lands,» he contended.

The Holy Father said that such meetings could offer «new possibilities for fraternity and ecumenical dialogue, far from easy syncretism and proselytism, and for greater mutual understanding between Churches and ecclesial communities.»

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