Pope Francis: Listening is Essential in Effective Interreligious Dialogue

2015-01-26 Vatican Radio

“If it is assumed that we all belong to human nature, prejudices and falsehoods can be overcome and an understanding of the other according to a new perspective can begin.”

These were the words said by Pope Francis to the members of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies today. The audience coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Institute’s opening.

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In his address, the Pope noted the progress that has been made in interreligious dialogue. He also reflected on the exercise of listening to one another as not only a condition but a duty in acknowledging the values of others and in shedding a light on shared beliefs.

“At the heart of everything is the need for an adequate formation so that, steadfast in one’s own identity, we can grow in mutual knowledge,” he said.

The Holy Father cautioned those present on the danger of falling into a “facile syncretism”, which leads to a convenient, yet false, approach to dialogue. He explained the consequences of such an approach that “says yes to everything in order to avoid problems.”

“It would end up becoming ‘a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others,’” the Pope said.

Regarding the Institute’s 50th anniversary, the Pope praised their work and dedication in paving the way for dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Their work, he stressed, is crucial in combating violence.

“Perhaps now more than ever such a need is felt, because the most effective antidote against all forms of violence is education towards the discovery and acceptance of differences,” he said.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the Pontifical Institute will continue to become a central place of formation for Christians working in the area of interreligious dialogue. 

(from Vatican Radio)