Being faithful to God’s Word, appreciate others’ viewpoints even if you do not agree, and using these elements to show solidarity with and accompany others….
These three elements, Pope Francis stressed are essential, in a message he sent today, July 27, for the opening of the III International Conference of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 26-29, 2018 on theme “A Critical Time for Bridge-Building: Catholic Theological Ethics Today.”
In the message, he observed that the worldwide conference on theological ethics taking place in Sarajevo is significant because it is a city of great symbolic value for the journey of reconciliation and peacemaking after the horrors of a recent war that brought so much suffering to the people of that region.
“Sarajevo is a city of bridges. Your meeting is inspired by this dominant motif, which warns of the need to build, in an environment of tension and division, new paths of closeness between peoples, cultures, religions, visions of life and political orientations,” he said, “I have appreciated this effort of yours from the beginning, when the members of your planning committee visited me in the Vatican last March.”
The theme of their meeting–focused on the need to build bridges, not walls–Francis said is one which he has had at heart and to which he often calls attention.
“Without renouncing prudence, we are called to recognize every sign and mobilize all our energy in order to remove the walls of division and to build bridges of fraternity everywhere in the world.”
In this complex and demanding scenario, the Pope said there is need for individuals and institutions capable of assuming a renewed leadership. “There is no need, on the other hand,” he pointed out, “for hurling slogans that often remain empty, or for antagonism between parties jockeying for the front position. We require a leadership that can help to find and put into practice a more just way for all of us to live in this world as sharers in a common destiny.”
With regard to the question of how theological ethics can make its own specific contribution, I find insightful your proposal to create a network between persons on the various continents who, with different modalities and expressions, can devote themselves to ethical reflection in a theological key in an effort to find therein new and effective resources.
With such resources, suitable analyses can be carried out, but more importantly, energies can be mobilized for a praxis that is compassionate and attentive to tragic human situations, and concerned with accompanying them with merciful care. To create such a network, it is urgent first to build bridges among yourselves, to share ideas and programmes, and to develop forms of closeness.
“Needless to say, this does not mean striving for uniformity of viewpoints, but rather seeking with sincerity and good will a convergence of purposes, in dialogical openness and the discussion of differing perspectives.”
Pope Francis encouraged men and women working in the field of theological ethics, to be passionate for such dialogue and networking. This approach, he noted, can inspire analyses that will be all the more insightful and attentive to the complexity of human reality.
“You yourselves will learn ever better how to be faithful to the word of God which challenges us in history, and to show solidarity with the world, which you are not called to judge but rather to offer new paths, accompany journeys, bind hurts and shore up weakness.”
Pope Francis concluded, imparting his Apostolic Blessing and ask those present to pray for him.
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