“We are brothers,” Pope Francis affirmed while reflecting today on the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions.
The Holy Father expressed this during his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, where he welcomed followers of different religions who were present, especially those who traveled a great distance to be with him.
Nostra Aetate was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on this date in 1965.
At the start of the “Interreligious Audience,” Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran and Kurt Koch, presidents of the Pontifical Councils for Interreligous Dialogue and Promoting Christian Unity, greeted the Holy Father, giving some remarks on the importance of Nostra Aetate.
This declaration promulgated 50 years ago, Cardinal Tauran noted, demonstrated the Church promoting relations of respect, friendship, and dialogue with persons of other religions. He also noted how participants in an international conference on Nostra Aetate being held at Rome’s Gregorian University, including representatives of various religions, were present at the audience.
In the Pope’s address, he expressed that the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration was “an expression of the Church’s esteem for the followers of other religious traditions, and her openness to dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship.”
In this regard, he stressed, we have seen much progress over the past 50 years. In a special way, he noted, we give thanks to God for the significant advances made in relations between Christians and Jews, and between Christians and Muslims.
“Prayer, for us believers, is our treasure,” the Pope said, emphasizing that the message of Nostra Aetate is current today.
“The world rightly expects believers to work together with all people of good will in confronting the many problems affecting our human family,” he observed.
The Holy Father also expressed his hope that the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and ends Nov. 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King, will be an occasion for even greater interreligious cooperation, especially through charitable works, caring for the environment and reconciliation.
The Pope concluded his address, calling for those gathered in the Square to pray that, in accordance with God’s will, all men and women see themselves as brothers and sisters “in the great human family, peacefully united in and through our diversities.”
At the conclusion of the Audience, Pope Francis made an appeal for the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan, calling for aid and assistance. Pope Francis called for a moment of silence, in which each prays, “according to their own religion,” for brotherhood and for those most in need.
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