Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Inter-religious dialogue, "open and respectful" of life, freedom of conscience and religion, "can bring good seeds which in turn become shoots of friendship and cooperation in many fields, and especially in service to the poor, the young, the elderly, in the reception of migrants, attention to those who are excluded”.
This was Francis message today at a general audience dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate on non-Christian religions, remembered primarily for promoting a new vision of the "very particular" relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism , testified today by the presence of a delegation of the World Jewish Congress.
The special audience, started with an address by Cardinals Jean Louis Tauran and Kurt Koch, respectively Presidents of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue and for the Unity of Christians and ended with a silent prayer "each according to one’s own traditions," instead of the usual Our Father.
To the 20 thousand people in St. Peter's Square, including representatives of many religions in the world, the Pope then spoke of the dialogue between religions by stating that believers - "who are all brothers and sisters- can give the world" real answers "on issues such as peace, hunger, environmental crisis, corruption and the crisis of the family, the economy, finance. And noting that "the dialogue must be open and respectful, and then it proves fruitful. Mutual respect is the condition and, at the same time, the end goal of inter-religious dialogue: respect for the right of others to life, physical integrity, fundamental freedoms, namely freedom of conscience, of thought, of expression and of religion".
"In general audiences - he said - there are often people or groups belonging to other religions; but today this presence is very special to remember together the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate Declaration on the relations of the Catholic Church with non-Christian religions. Blessed Pope Paul VI held this theme at heart. Already on the feast of Pentecost in the year preceding the end of the Council, he has established the Secretariat for Non-Christians, today the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Therefore I express my gratitude and my warm welcome to people and groups of different religions, who wished to be present today, especially those who came from afar. "
"The Second Vatican Council was an extraordinary moment of reflection, dialogue and prayer to renew the Catholic Churches’ vision of herself and the world. A reading of the signs of the times and ‘updating’ according to a dual fidelity: fidelity to the tradition of the Church and fidelity to the history of the men and women of our time. For God, who revealed himself in creation and history, who has spoken through the prophets and fully in his Son made man (cf. Heb 1.1), speaks to the heart and spirit of every human being who seeks the truth and ways to practice it. "
"The message of the Declaration Nostra Aetate is ever valid. I would recall briefly a few points:
- The growing interdependence of peoples (cf. n. 1);
- The human search for meaning of life, suffering, death, questions that always accompany our path (cf. n. 1);
- The common origin and common destiny of humanity (cf. n. 1);
- The oneness of the human family (cf. n. 1);
- Religions as a search for God or the Absolute, within the various ethnic groups and cultures (cf. n. 1);
- The benevolent gaze of the Church and attentive on religions: she rejects nothing in them which is beautiful and true (cf. n. 2);
- The Church also regards the believers of all religions with esteem, appreciating their spiritual and moral commitment (cf. n. 3);
- The Church, open to dialogue with all, is at once faithful to the truths she believes, beginning with the salvation offered to all has its origin in Jesus, the only Savior, and that the Holy Spirit is at work as a source of peace and love.
There have been many events, initiatives, institutional or persona in developing l relationships with non-Christian religions over the past fifty years, and it would be difficult recall them all. A particularly significant event was the meeting in Assisi on October 27, 1986. It was wanted and promoted by St. John Paul II, who a year before, then thirty years ago, turning to young Muslims in Casablanca wished that all believers in God would promote friendship and unity between individuals and peoples (19 August 1985). The flame, lit in Assisi, has spread around the world and is a permanent sign of hope".
“God deserves our special gratitude for the real transformation that has taken over the last 50 years the relationship between Christians and Jews. Indifference and opposition have been transformed into cooperation and goodwill. Enemies and strangers, have become friends and brothers. The Council, with the Nostra Aetate Declaration, paved the way: 'yes' to the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity; 'No' to every form of anti-Semitism and condemnation of all insults, discrimination and persecution that come with it. Knowledge, respect and mutual esteem are the path that, if that is so peculiar to the relationship with the Jews, also applies to relations with other religions. Here, I think particularly of Muslims, who - as the Council reminds us - "worship the one living and subsistent God, merciful and almighty, creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men" (Nostra Aetate, 5). They refer to the paternity of Abraham, venerate Jesus as a prophet, honor his virgin mother, Mary, they await the day of judgment, and practice prayer, almsgiving and fasting (cf. ibid.). "
"The dialogue we need must be open and respectful, and then it will prove fruitful. Mutual respect is the condition and, at the same time, the end goal of inter-religious dialogue: respect for the right of others to life, physical integrity, fundamental freedoms, namely freedom of conscience, thought, expression and religion. The world looks to us believers, invites us to cooperate with each other and with the men and women of good will who do not profess any religion, it asks us for real answers to many issues: peace, hunger, poverty which are affecting millions of people, the environmental crisis, violence, especially violence committed in the name of religion, corruption, moral decay, the crisis of the family, the economy, finance, and above all hope. We believe we have no quick fix for these problems, but we have a great resource: prayer. And we believers pray, we pray! Prayer is our treasure, from which we draw in accordance with our traditions, for the gifts to which humanity yearns. "
"Because of violence and terrorism an attitude of suspicion or even condemnation of religions has spread. In fact, although no religion is immune from the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations in individuals or groups (cf. Address to the US Congress, September 24, 2015), we must look at the positive values that we live and propose, and which are sources of hope”.
"We must go even further. Dialogue based on trust than can sow good seeds which in turn become shoots of friendship and cooperation in many fields, especially in service to the poor, the young, the elderly, in the reception of migrants, attention to those who are excluded. We can journey together taking care of each other and of creation. All believers, of all religions! Together we praise the Creator for giving us the garden of the world to grow and keep as a common good, and we can realize joint projects to combat poverty and ensure decent living conditions for every man and woman".
"The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, now before us, is a good opportunity to work together in the field of charity. And in this field, where compassion counts above all else, so many people who do not feel or believe that they are looking for God and the truth can join us, people who look at the other's face, particularly the face of his brother or sister in need. Mercy calls us to embrace the whole of creation, that God has entrusted to us so that we be its stewards, not exploiters or, even worse, destroyer. We should always propose to leave the world a better place than we found it (cf.. Laudato sì '194), in the communities we live in, from little gestures of our daily lives".
"Dear brothers and sisters - concluded the Pope - as to the future of interreligious dialogue, the first thing we must do is pray and pray for each other, we are brothers! Without the Lord, nothing is possible; with Him, everything is possible! May our prayer, each according to our own tradition, adhere fully to the will of God, who desires that all men recognize themselves brothers and live as such, forming the human family in harmony of diversity".
Finally, the Pope launched an appeal for “concrete solidarity" to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan "affected by a strong earthquake that has caused many casualties and extensive damage."