Benedict XVI receives members of different religions

Source: FSSPX News

Benedict XVI has reaffirmed his wish to pursue dialogue with different Churches and Christian communities, as well as with other religions. On Sunday April 24, he received representatives of different religions, present in Rome for the inaugural mass of his pontificate. In a speech which he made in Italian, French and English, the pope thanked them for their presence. He insisted on the search for unity and peace.

 The sovereign pontiff first of all recalled the inheritance of Paul VI and John Paul II expressing once more his commitment in line with Vatican II. An irreversible commitment to the search towards the unity with other Christian confessions. “Beyond what divides us and casts shadows on our full and visible communion, your presence, dear Brothers in Christ, is a sign of sharing and of support for the bishop of Rome. He can count on you to follow the road with hope,” said the pope to delegates from the Orthodox churches, the Eastern Orthodox churches and Western ecclesial communities. He also highlighted the friendly sentiments generated during the last few years between the different confessions, the easing of discords and a greater disposition to dialogue, demonstrated particularly by the presence of these delegations at the Vatican.

 “On this particular occasion,  which sees us gathered together (…), I ask you all to give with me an example of this spiritual ecumenism which in prayer, makes our communion real, without impediment,” went on the pope. Calling on them to announce Christ to a world “troubled, anxious, crazy and indifferent,” he also shared with them “these intentions and reflections,” asking them to pass them on to their Churches and ecclesial communities.

 “Particularly grateful for the presence of members of the Muslim Community,” Benedict XVI then addressed in English, “the brothers of different religious traditions” present in Rome. He assured them that “the Church wishes to continue building bridges with members of all religions, in order to seek the real good for each person and for society as a whole.”

 Noting that “the world in which we live is often marked by conflict, violence and war,” he added that “peace is a duty to which all people must be committed, especially those who belong to religious traditions.” “At the start of my pontificate, I extend to you, and to all the believers of the religious traditions you represent, as people who seek the Truth with a sincere heart, an invitation to become together artisans of peace, in a mutual commitment of understanding, respect and love,” said the pope.

 Speaking about this, Cardinal Bernard Panafieu, archbishop of Marseilles, told the agency I-MEDIA that he had been impressed that interreligious dialogue was one of the first concerns of Benedict XVI. The French prelate, a member of the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue, said he was convinced that the new pope would continue “in the steps” of his predecessor, but with “different emphases” being careful never to fall into “doctrinal relativism.” “I think that there will be an accent on respect for diversity,” he said, adding that Benedict XVI “will refuse to accept and expressions we often hear, such as: ‘all religions are equal’… ‘the religions of the Bible’…” According to him, the pope “will reiterate forcefully the distinctive character of Christianity, at the same time acknowledging what the Council called the ‘seeds of the word’ which are at the very heart of other religions.”

 Furthermore, Benedict XVI said that he wished to strengthen relations with the Jews. He sent a friendly telegram to the Jewish community of Rome, in reply to a message of congratulations. “I trust to the help of God the Almighty in order to continue the dialogue and to intensify collaboration with the sons and daughters of the Jewish people,” he told the Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo De Segni. During the sermon of the inaugural mass of his pontificate, on April 24, he greeted, especially the “dear brethren of the Jewish people, to whom we are bound by a great spiritual patrimony which goes back to the irrevocable promises of God.” He also greeted “all men of our time, believers and non-believers.”