In Naples, Pope Francis calls for theological dialogue with Islam, Judaism

Naples, Italy, Jun 21, 2019 / 06:39 am (CNA).- In Naples Friday Pope Francis delivered a speech calling for theological dialogue with Islam and Judaism in pontifical universities as part of “a theology of dialogue and acceptance.”

“Theology students should be educated in dialogue with Judaism and Islam to understand the common roots and differences of our religious identities, and thus contribute more effectively to building a society that values ​​diversity and fosters respect, brotherhood and peaceful coexistence,” Pope Francis said June 21 in front of Naples’ Jesuit-run pontifical Catholic university.

“With Muslims we are called to dialogue to build the future of our societies and our cities; we are called to consider them partners to build a peaceful coexistence, even when there are shocking episodes by fanatical groups, who are enemies of dialogue, like the tragedy of last Easter in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Pope Francis’ 30-minute speech in Naples presented his vision of “theology in the context of the Mediterrarean,” an area, he said, of transit, exchange, and historic conflict that is now called to be a bridge between Europe, Africa, and Asia.

“The multicultural and multi-religious reality of the new Mediterranean is formed … in the dialogue that comes from listening to the people and texts of the great monotheistic religions, and especially in listening to young people,” Francis said.

The pope’s message focused on theological study within pontifical universities as outlined in the apostolic constitution Veritatis Gaudium published in January 2018. Veritatis Gaudium stipulated new norms of governance and education for all institutions that issue ecclesiastical degrees.

“In theological faculties and ecclesiastical universities, courses in Arabic and Hebrew language and culture are to be encouraged, as well as mutual understanding between Christian, Jewish and Muslim students,” he said.”

“I would say that theology, particularly in this context, is called to be a theology of acceptance,” Pope Francis said.

The pope’s one-day trip to Naples is his second visit to Italy’s third largest city as pope. On Francis’ first trip to Naples in March 2015, he denounced the city’s corruption and organized crime.

On this trip, Pope Francis praised Naples, as “a special laboratory” for a theology of discernment, mercy, and acceptance in dialogue with different cultures and religions.

Pope Francis said that the Church needs theologians open to the inexhaustible novelties of the Spirit, who can escape the self-referential and competitive environment of academia, and act as “men and women of compassion.”

The pope also said that the contribution that women are giving and can give to theology is indispensable and must be supported.

“Without communion and without compassion, constantly nourished by prayer, theology not only loses the soul, but loses … the ability to interpret reality in a Christian way,” he said.

“The first sources of theology, that is, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, are inexhaustible and always fruitful,” Pope Francis said.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


  1. If you had any doubt that Bergoglio is part of a well-funded movement towards a globalist, one world religion…have no more doubts.

  2. Pope Francis remarks that, “Theology students should be educated in dialogue with Judaism and Islam to understand the common roots and differences of our religious identities . . .” So far, so good, and in practice maybe so. To help, perhaps these five preliminary points:

    THE END GAME: The predisposition at the Second Vatican Council was to dialogue analogically, attending mostly to similarities between Faith in Christ and the beliefs of other religions. Pope Francis also mentions “differences” and appeals to “coexistence”, a policy already advanced by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

    Note, however, that under Islam strategic coexistence is always a pause in view of eventual domination, only AFTER WHICH does real peace (Islam) really begin. (The analogy in Western thought is the utopianism and globalism of totalitarian political ideologies which, like Islam, also deny original sin in human history.)

    BROADER DIALOGUE: Theology students (and more to the point: accommodationist academic administrators) must also attend to the distinct and universal NATURAL LAW which is accessible to reason (and then confirmed/elevated by revelation). Under Islam, a version of “natural law” is possibly evident, but not distinct and only as proto-Islam—-pertaining to only members of the intercultural Muslim community (the umma), and not as being universal to the nature of the human person as such (which is the core of Catholic Social Teaching).

    FROM HISTORY: A common saying of Mohammed, popular among Moslem intellectuals, was that the Old Testament, the Gospel and the Koran were THREE ASPECTS of the same word of God. (Not unlike the early heresy of “modalism”—another collapse of the Triune Oneness of three “persons”—-and which held that the one God simply had three faces). Under kitchen-blender interreligious theologies what would come of real humanism, diversity, respect and brotherhood?

    THE REAL COMPARISON: In 2007, Muslim intellectuals responded to Pope Benedict’s initiatives (and his Regensburg Address, 2006) with “A Common Word between Us.” But the complete verse reads, “O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word as between us and you: that we worship none but God AND that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than Allah.” (Q 3:64).

    As a proposed framework for dialogue, do we already CONCEDE (?) to no unique and uncommon WORD (the Incarnation made flesh in our midst), to no “partners” (as in the Triune Oneness?), and to no “patrons” (as in the Apostolic priesthood seated in “dialogue”)?

    THE NATURE OF ENDURING DIALOGUE: Considering Pope Francis’ “differences” between religions, the most useful dialogue is not between Christianity and Islam as such, but between the actual witnesses to Christ and the actual followers of Islam—-all first as “persons”, and sometimes additionally as ordained.

    Compatible with Pope Francis’ initiative, and perhaps too-implicit, is this precision: “Equality, which is a presupposition of interreligious dialogue, REFERS TO the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, NOT to doctrinal content, nor even less to the position of Jesus Christ—-who is God himself made man—-in relation to the founders of the other religions” (Benedict XVI, 2000).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.