11/08/2006, 00.00
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Pope: Christ's unicity decisive even in inter-faith dialogue

Benedict XVI recalled the 20th anniversary of the Assisi meeting, underlining the importance of prayer that transforms hearts and opens up to dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Christ's unicity, "apex of salvific history", is "the true decisive point also in dialogue with other faiths", said Benedict XVI today. The pope was addressing around 20,000 people present for the Wednesday general audience. He reiterated a concept that as prefect cardinal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had placed at the centre of a declaration "Dominus Iesus" on 6 August 2000, "about the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church".

During the audience, while greeting in English participants of an inter-faith meeting under way in Assisi, Benedict XVI talked about the "need to build peace... a great gift of God". Recalling the twentieth anniversary of the 1986 meeting willed by John Paul II, the pope underlined the "urgent need of peace and prayers to build peace, to transform hearts, to open dialogue and to shatter walls of violence, hatred and revenge."

The centrality and the inevitability of reference to Jesus was made today by illustrating the figure of Paul, who was already the subject of the reflection of Benedict XVI in the last general audience. The apostle "helps us to understand the absolutely fundamental and irreplaceable value of faith". In fact he "is not justified by works of the law, but by works of faith. Being justified means being just, being welcomed by the merciful justice of God that leads us to build authentic relationships with our brothers".

The Christian identity, "described by St Paul in his life", continued the pope, "is composed of two elements: not seeking but receiving from Christ and giving oneself to Christ" and "personal participation in the life of Christ, because it is not enough for Christians to be baptized or believers, it is important that they are in Christ Jesus" until "they are immersed in him and share with him his death and his life."

Benedict XVI said: "Faith unites us with Christ, but underscores the distinction between Him and us. We owe what we are as Christians to Jesus and to his grace. Our devotion is not attributable to anything and anyone else."

He warned: "No idol must contaminate us because otherwise we would fall into a form of humiliating slavery. This state of life does not depend on any good works we may do, but on the grace of God."

The example of St Paul, continued the Pontiff, tells us precisely this: "In the light of his encounter with Christ, St Paul understood that a new direction of his life was necessary. Paul no longer lives for himself, but from Christ and with Christ." It is a matter of finding the courage to "apply all this to daily life".

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