In true interreligious dialogue, Christian participants will desire to make Jesus more and more known and loved, but “the proclamation of Jesus Christ must be made in the gospel spirit of dialogue.”
This was a reflection offered Monday at the opening address of the third meeting of bishops and delegates from Europe’s Bishops’ Conferences responsible for relations with Muslims.
They are meeting in London until Friday morning to discuss the relationship between dialogue and proclamation.
The introductory address was given by Don Andrea Pacini, secretary of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Piemonte-Valle d’Aosta regional episcopal conference.
He offered a re-reading of the 1991 document “Dialogue and Proclamation,” jointly published by two Vatican dicasteries, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Don Pacini noted there are various forms of interreligious dialogue: the “dialogue of daily life,” that of “works” through which there is collaboration with a view to the integral development of the human person, that of theological exchange, and finally the dialogue of religious experience “in which people rooted in their own religious experience share their spiritual riches.”
“Dialogue and proclamation are both legitimate and necessary,” he stated. “They are intimately linked but not inter-changeable: on the one hand, true inter-religious dialogue presupposes on the part of the Christian the desire to make known and loved Jesus Christ more and more; and on the other hand, the proclamation of Jesus Christ must be made in the gospel spirit of dialogue, without aggressiveness and without contempt.”
In short, for Don Pacini the supreme attitude which summarises dialogue and proclamation is witness.
Speaking in the opening session, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, recalled the importance, in dialogue between Christians and Muslims, of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon, and the meeting with Muslim religious leaders and the establishment of the Inter-faith Centre in Vienna, “which can be a new channel to be used to denounce the violation of religious freedom and at the same time to encourage and share positive experiences”.
“Believers”, Cardinal Tauran emphasised, “because they know that ‘man does not live on bread alone’, are conscious that they must make their own specific contribution in daily life and they must do it together, not as competitors, but as pilgrims towards the truth.”