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Believing in the reason common to all peoples

The key to understanding Benedict XVI's journey to the Holy Land is expressed by one word: pilgrimage. The Pope said this and repeated it several times in these past days, stressing that the sole political intention of this important itinerary is to contribute to peace. And flying over Greece, as he met with journalists, he specified very clearly that he wishes to contribute to peace not as an individual but in the name of the Catholic Church, which is not a political power but rather, a spiritual force.

But how can a spiritual force influence a complex and dramatic situation of persistent tension and conflict which for more than 60 years has weighed upon a land that is holy for the world's three great monotheistic religions? Because this spiritual force is a reality. In the same way, prayer, the formation of consciences, and the call to reason – the three aspects of this spiritual strength which the Bishop of Rome explained to journalists – are effective instruments for changing the state of affairs. Also essential is having faith in reason, common to every man, and which therefore is the basis for meeting and interacting with others, as Benedict XVI has patiently and clearly repeated for years.

And it became quite evident that this does not involve abstract theories  from the Address the Pope made at Amman Airport in front of a Sovereign and in a country where events show that a common journey between Muslims and Christians – a small minority in Jordan, as in nearly the whole of the Near and Middle East – may proceed. A pilgrim to the places which are sacred to the memory of Moses and of John the Baptist, Benedict XVI rejoiced that religious freedom is being respected. This is indeed an inalienable right of every man and woman, which must be respected throughout the world.

Before Abdullah ii, the Pope indicated the primary means for promoting human rights: an “alliance of civility” between the Western world and the Islamic world which can overcome the inauspicious dynamics of disagreement and conflict. In a dialogue which should not be limited to these two interlocutors but rather should include Judaism to become a true and proper “trilateral dialogue”. Indeed, Benedict XVI had already expressed this hope before journalists from all over the world. The common history of these three monotheistic religions, demands it, reason requires it. Reason that God has given to every man and every woman, without distinction.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 20, 2019

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