Interreligious Dialogue  by Pope John Paul II


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          Salvation is offered to all nations, as was already shown by the covenant with testifying to the universality of God’s manifestation and the human response in faith.  In Abraham, then, “all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (Gn 12: 3).  They are on the way to the holy city in order to enjoy that peace which will change the face of the world, when swords are beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. 
            Saint Irenaeus recalls that God established four covenants with humanity:  in Adam, Noah, Moses and Christ.  The first three aim in spirit at the fullness of Christ and mark the stages of God’s dialogue with his creatures, an encounter of disclosure and love, of enlightenment and grace, which the Son gathers in unity, seals in truth and brings to perfection.
            In this light the faith of all peoples blossoms in hope.  It is not yet enlightened by the fullness of revelation, which relates it to the divine promises and makes it a “theological” virtue.  The sacred books of other religions, however, are open to hope to the extent that they disclose a horizon of divine communion, point to a goal of purification and salvation for history, encourage the search for truth and defend the values of life, holiness, justice, peace and freedom.  With this profound striving, which withstands even human contradictions; religious experience opens people to the divine gift of charity and its demands.
            The interreligious dialogue, which the Second Vatican Council encouraged, should be seen in this perspective.  This dialogue is expressed in the common efforts of all believers for justice, solidarity and peace. It is also expressed in cultural relations, which sow the seed of idealism and transcendence on the often-arid ground of politics, the economy and social welfare.  It has a significant role in the religious dialogue in which Christians bear complete witness to their faith in Christ, the only Savior of the world.  By this same faith they realize that the way to the fullness of truth calls for humble listening, in order to discover and appreciate every ray of light, which is always the fruit of Christ’s Spirit, from wherever it comes. 

           The Church’s mission is to foster the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ at whose service she is placed.  Part of her role consists in recognizing that the inchoate reality of this kingdom can be found also beyond the confines of the Church.  For example, in the hearts of the followers of other religious traditions, insofar as they live evangelical values and are open to the action of the Spirit.  This applies especially to the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Islam.              May the Jubilee serve to advance mutual dialogue until the day when all of us together—Jews, Christians and Moslems—will exchange the greeting of peace in Jerusalem. 

Condensed from and L’Osservatore Romano– 6 December 2000


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