Interfaith & Interreligious Dialogue

First comes the fact that the whole of humankind forms one family, due to the common origin of all men and women, created by God in his own image. Correspondingly, all are called to a common destiny, the fullness of life in God. Moreover, there is but one plan of salvation for humankind, with its centre in Jesus Christ, who in his incarnation "has united himself in a certain manner to every person (Dialogue and Proclamation, no. 28).

 

The ecumenical movement seeks to be a response to the gift of God's grace which calls all Christians to faith in the mystery

of the Church according to the design of God who wishes to bring humanity to salvation and unity in Christ through the Holy Spirit. This movement calls them to the hope that the prayer of Jesus "that they all may be one" will be fully realized.9 It calls them to that charity which is the new commandment of Christ and the gift by which the Holy Spirit unites all believers. The Second Vatican Council clearly asked Catholics to reach out in love to all other Christians with a charity that desires and works actively to overcome in truth whatever divides them from one another. For the Council, Catholics are to act in hope and in prayer to promote Christian unity. They will be prompted and instructed by their faith in the mystery of the Church, and their ecumenical activity will be inspired and guided by a true understanding of the Church as "a sacrament or instrumental sign of intimate union with God, and of unity of the whole human race ( Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, no. 9) .

The attainment of union is the concern of the whole Church, faithful and shepherds alike. This concern extends to everyone, according to his talent, whether it be exercised in his daily Christian life or in his theological and historical research. This concern itself reveals already to some extent the bond of brotherhood between all Christians and it helps toward that full

and perfect unity which God in His kindness wills (Unitatis Redintegratio, no. 5). 

Christians and others are called to collaborate with the Spirit of the Risen Lord who is universally present and active. Interreligious dialogue does not merely aim at mutual understanding and friendly relations.

It reaches a much deeper level, that of the spirit, where exchange and sharing consist in a mutual witness to one's beliefs and a common exploration of one's respective religious convictions. In dialogue, Christians and others are invited to deepen their religious commitment, to respond with increasing sincerity to God's personal call, and gracious self-gift, as our faith tells us, always passes through the mediation of Jesus Christ and the work of his Spirit. A sincere dialogue implies, on the one hand, mutual acceptance of differences, or even of contradictions, and on the other, respect for the free decision of persons taken according to the dictates of their conscience (Dialogue and Proclamation, no. 40 & 41).

A special place of encounter is offered by new Aeropagi such as Court of the Gentiles, where "believers and non-believers are able to engage in dialogue about fundamental issues of ethics, art and science, and about the search for transcendence. This too is a path to peace in our troubled world" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 257).

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Forms of dialogue

There exist different forms of interreligious dialogue. It may be useful to recall those mentioned by the 1984 document of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (17). It spoke of four forms, without claiming to establish among them any order of priority:

a) The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighbourly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations.

b) The dialogue of action, in which Christians and others collaborate for the integral development and liberation of people.

c) The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other's spiritual values.

d) The dialogue of religious experience, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God or the Absolute (Dialogue and Proclamation, no. 42).

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