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Interreligious dialogue an urgent need, Pope Francis says at close of Kazakhstan congress

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Pope Francis speaking at the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sept. 15, 2022. Vatican media

Rome Newsroom, Sep 15, 2022 / 04:41 am (CNA).

In his final remarks in Kazakhstan on Thursday, Pope Francis said interreligious dialogue is an urgently needed path to peace.

“The path of interreligious dialogue is a shared path to peace and for peace; as such, it is necessary and irrevocable,” he said Sept. 15 at the closing ceremony of the Seventh Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the capital city of Nur-Sultan.

“Interreligious dialogue is no longer merely something expedient,” he continued, “it is an urgently-needed and incomparable service to humanity, to the praise and glory of the Creator of all.”

Pope Francis spoke at the Palace of Independence following the announcement of the final document of the three-day interreligious summit, a declaration. The next congress will take place in Kazakhstan in 2025.

The pope said in his remarks that the world’s great religious traditions should give witness to the shared spiritual and moral patrimony of transcendence and fraternity.

“Transcendence, the Beyond, worship. It is impressive that each day millions and millions of men and women, of different ages, cultures and social conditions, join together in prayer in countless places of worship. This is the hidden force that makes our world move forward,” he said.

“And then fraternity, the other, proximity,” he added. “For one cannot profess genuine fidelity to the Creator without showing love for his creatures. This is the spirit that pervades the Declaration of our Congress.”

During his Sept. 13-15 visit to the Central Asian country, Francis met with political and civil leaders of Kazakhstan, religious leaders, Jesuits of the province of Russia, and Catholic priests, religious sisters, and missionaries living in Kazakhstan.

He also celebrated Mass for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on Sept. 14 for the country’s small Catholic community, which makes up less than 1% of the population.

Kazakhstan is a majority-Muslim country home to an ethnically diverse minority of Catholics — an estimated 125,000 out of the Central Asian country’s population of 19 million.

On Sept. 15, Pope Francis also blessed an icon depicting Mary and the Child Jesus as native Kazakhs, entrusting the Church in Kazakhstan and all of Central Asia to Our Lady.

The triptych — or three-part artwork — depicting the Kazakh-faced Mother of God and Child is known as “The Mother of the Great Steppe.”

In his final speech of the trip on Thursday, Pope Francis said the good of humanity needs to come before other political, economic, and military objectives.

“Pope John Paul II, who visited Kazakhstan 21 years ago this very month, stated that ‘for the Church all ways lead to man’ and that man is ‘the way for the Church,’” Francis said, quoting paragraph 14 of Redemptor Hominis.

“I would like to say that today man is also the way for all the religions,” he said. “Yes, man, men and women, concrete human beings, weakened by the pandemic, worn out by war, wounded by indifference. Human beings, frail and marvelous creatures, who, ‘once God is forgotten, are left in darkness’ and apart from others cannot survive.”

“The good of humanity should be taken into consideration ahead of strategic and economic objectives, national, energy and military interests, and in advance of crucial decisions,” he said.

The pope noted that the Catholic Church, “which tirelessly proclaims the inviolable dignity of each person, created ‘in the image of God’ also believes in the unity of the human family.”

Quoting from Nostra aetate, a declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Francis said: “The Church believes that all ‘humanity forms but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock that God created to people the entire earth, and because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness and saving designs extend to all mankind.’”

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  1. Human beings are searching for a glue that can bind and heal them. Religions are relevant and important. Interreligious dialogue has the power to build bridges.

    • What is relevant is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Religions are man made and an attempt to reach upward to God.
      Christianity, on the other hand is God reaching down to mankind through the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

      Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

      1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

      Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

      Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

      God bless you as you walk with Jesus.

      • Many years ago, I read an opinion article on the “elephant in the living room” problem with the pro-life community: basically, if you are pro-life and struggle with various gov’t agencies and NGOs at the UN over the issues or abortion and the family, GREAT! We’re allies and friends.
        People very quickly forget that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” isn’t always true.

        • It isn’t always true but sometimes it applies. There have been recent cases of Muslims & Jews coming together in Europe to protest proposed laws to outlaw circumcision.
          Tens of thousands of Jews persecuted & expelled from Spain & Portugal were given a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire.
          Muslims & Christians have united in the UK to protest mandatory sex ed. in schools, etc.

      • William Kilpatrick is an excellent Islamologist, and I always appreciate his articles, as well as his excellent books. It is too bad that the link you give has, in its comments section, such vicious diatribes and lies about the Catholic Church.

  2. Quoting from Nostra aetate, a declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Francis said: “The Church believes that all ‘humanity forms but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock that God created to people the entire earth, and because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness and saving designs extend to all mankind.’”

    Likewise, this from the Second Vatican Council: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light . . .Christ the Lord…by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to himself [!] and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 22).

    Somewhere later in the dialogue, then, the “transcendent” “proximity,” both, that “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14)–the self-disclosed and concrete universal of the otherwise unknowable and inarticulate “Beyond.”

  3. Is there any word on Pope Francis ‘dialoging’ with Muslim religious leaders to stop their religious genocide on Christians in Africa and around the world?

    If the ‘Seventh Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions’ did not ‘dialog” with the Muslim religion, about the Muslim religion Jhad massacres against all other religions, then I don’t think we need an ‘Eighth Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions’. We can simply tell our Catholic brothers and sisters in Africa, who are being martyred by the masses by the Muslim religion, that Pope Francis just plain does not care about them at all.

  4. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16 16). Christ’s mystical body, the Church in the world has as its mission to spread the Gospel to all men. There’s a tendency among Catholics to presume an antagonistic dividing line between the Christian, and the non believing world, which to an extent is true, although not to the extent that we neglect Christ’s last commandment, Go out to all the world and teach the Gospel to every person (Mk 16:15).
    All Francis’ words in Kazakhstan are good words that address the reality of Man’s search for God in myriad forms or worship, “Interreligious dialogue is no longer merely something expedient. It is an urgently needed and incomparable service to humanity, to the praise and glory of the Creator of all”. His mention of transcendence, the Beyond, brotherhood touch a disputed entry in dogmatic Lumen Gentium.
    “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God” (LG 16). Controversy occurred along these lines at Abu Dhabi, Francis later qualified his words that were parallel to LG 16. Nevertheless, we have Saint Pope John Paul II kissing the Koran at the Vatican when presented to him by an Imam. We can excuse both Francis and John Paul as acts of good will toward perennial adversaries, a good thing, or perceive these acts as obscuring the vital difference, that “All men are called to belong to the new people of God” (LG 13).
    It inevitably works out for the better when Catholics retain their faithful conviction of the singular and necessary truth of the revelation of Christ. Inevitably since adherence to the exclusivity of the truth of our faith in Christ, the Son of God, elicits grace, and it’s grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit that inspires good will and peace, and conversion to a far better vision of brotherhood.

    • Additionally, the following is worthy of submission as related to where we stand regarding Catholic belief on receiving the Holy Eucharist, and as it relates to pluralism, and now [doctrine on the Eucharist] undermined by the German Synodalweg, and reconsidered by a number of high ranking prelates assigned to the Synod on Synodality.
      Pope Francis issued a letter Desiderio desideravi in June weeks after Cardinal Cordileone prohibited the Eucharist for Nancy Pelosi in May. His Holiness says in Desiderio, “To be admitted to the feast all that is required is the wedding garment of faith which comes from the hearing of his Word”. A number of notable signatories issued a statement this September in response to Desiderio desideravi:
      “On the day that Desiderio desideravi was issued, Pope Francis received in audience Nancy Pelosi, and on that day, she received Holy Communion at a papal Mass. Francis responded to the Press, ‘When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem. That’s all I can say.’ This response rebukes Archbishop Cordileone for his justified application of Canon 915 causing scandal to Catholics over all the world” (Maike Hickson for LifeSite News).
      Signatories include a large list of eminent prelates and scholars some mentioned here: Most Rev Joseph Strickland Bishop Tyler TX, Most Rev René Henry Gracida Bishop Emeritus Corpus Christi, Most Rev Robert Mutsaerts Aux Bishop S’Hertogenbosch Netherlands, Most Rev Athanasius Schneider Aux Bishop Astana Kazakhstan, Anthony Esolen PhD, Fr Gerald E Murray JCD, Dr Claudio Pierantoni Universidad de Chile, Dr John Rist emeritus professor U of Toronto, Edward Schaefer president The Collegium, Wolfram Schrems Mag theol Mag phil, Eric Sammons Editor Crisis Magazine, John-Henry Westen Co-Founder Editor in Chief of

  5. Perhaps Francis once he finished with his trip to Khazakistan can now find the time to meet with the four “Dubai Cardinals” who requested a meeting with him some 4-5 years ago. (Oh, I just remembered that two of them have since died.)

    • Even when Francis tackles a valid subject, as Father Morello’s comments make clear, it’s always hard to take Francis seriously given his history. I just can’t believe he approaches any subject from much greater concern than personal vanity.
      Dialogue has its place clearly, but it’s hard to accept it in a meaningful way from a Pope who will not dialogue with his own Cardinals on whether there are God given moral absolutes embedded in the negative prescripts to the natural law, who calls attempts to convert others a sinful act, and who has equated sketchy reports in secular Italian newspapers of domestic violence, assuming the protagonists are Catholic, as the moral equivalency to Islamic acts of beheading Christians and therefore a justified basis for not speaking out against the beheading.

  6. There is ONE WAY TO THE FATHER. To deny that or spin it in any way is to call Jesus a liar—exactly what Vatican II did and its “spirit” does. Whether or not pagans or Protestants go to hell is up to God. And we should work with men of good will to further the ends of Jesus Christ. But to claim God wills or desires any religion other than the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is heresy. It’s time to admit Vatican II was an abject failure and consign it and all its rotten fruit to the fire to be burned to ash.

    • “In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim. 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself. This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.” (Dei Verbum, 1)

      “Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature,(1) to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church. … Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all.” (Lumen Gentium)

      “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.

      “He Who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice(23) and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.

      “As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own blood. In Him God reconciled us(25) to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God “loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). By suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation, He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.” (Gaudium et spes)

  7. “Interreligious dialogue”… Pope Francis has such charmingly quaint outlooks and expressions. With him, it always full-steam ahead to the 1970s.

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