The tragic events of the last few days, which have targeted and shaken a great country that for months has been the scene of repeated episodes of intolerance and violence directed particularly against Christian minorities, once again confirm that dialogue among the world's cultures is the only possible solution for human coexistence.
Benedict xvi has said this repeatedly since the beginning of his Pontificate and has once again confirmed it in a Letter to Senator Marcello Pera which was part of the introduction to the recently published book by the Italian politician entitled: Perché dobbiamo dirci cristiani [Why we must call ourselves Christians].
Within the Pope's analysis is the assertion "that being rooted in the Christian image of God is part of the essence of liberalism: the Christian's relationship with God, in whose image man is made and from whom we have received the gift of freedom".
And the Pope clearly emphasizes that it is urgently necessary for dialogue, "to study the cultural consequences of the basic option for religion". In this way, Benedict xvi stresses once again the importance of intercultural dialogue, indicating that it is a matter of a more practicable way, susceptible to consequences which must be examined "in a public exchange". Indeed, precisely in the public exchange are "dialogue, mutual correction and reciprocal enrichment possible and necessary".
Thus, even in difficult times like the present the Catholic Church confirms her decision to open herself to dialogue with the world's cultures. And the Church desires that this "dialogue" a term dear to Paul vi who made this the theme of his programmatic Encyclical be authentic and bear fruit. Therefore, it must not be merely a superficial dialogue that affirms principles on paper but a real exchange. It must take place first of all within the Church, which must acquire "a deeper self-knowledge", exactly as Ecclesiam Suam says, to then open herself to "a changing world with sincere confidence and say to men: "here in my possession is what you are looking for, what you need'".
Benedict xvi's words have also been understood and appreciated beyond the boundaries of Catholicism, verifiable in his reaffirmed desire for dialogue and friendship with Judaism and Islam which is already bearing fruit. The Pope continues to appeal to the reason of all and tirelessly asks that this reason be open to an exchange with every conversation partner on reasonable, common topics, such as the dignity of every human person, a creature and image of God, and to religious freedom.
These are in fact some of the "cultural consequences" which are urgently necessary to discuss, and which took place, for example, after the Regensburg lecture.
"The Church's promise", Paul vi wrote further, "is not one of earthly happiness, but it does nevertheless provide the best means for the attainment of earthly happiness, namely, light and grace". And she "speaks to men about their future life which transcends nature", and carefully explains to them "truth, justice, freedom, progress, concord, civilization and peace. These are words whose secret is known to the Church, for Christ has entrusted it to her keeping".
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 17, 2020
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