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A legacy of truth-seeking: Pope Benedict XVI and interreligious dialogue

Contrary to widespread misunderstandings, Benedict’s pontificate made notable strides in dialoguing with other religious, especially Islam.

Pope Benedict XVI talks with Ali Dere, professor of Islamic theology at the University of Bonn, during a meeting with representatives of the Muslim community at the apostolic nunciature in Berlin Sept. 23. The German-born pontiff told the Muslim leaders that he convoked a large interreligious meeting for peace in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 27 to reiterate the important role religion can play in modern society. (CNS photo/Wolfgang Radtke/KNA pool via Reuters)

A press statement from Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, posted on the US Department of State page on December 31, 2022, was titled “The Passing of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus”:

The United States mourns the passing of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus – a holy man, witness to faith, and once Shepherd of the Catholic faithful. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a dedicated leader and was committed to interfaith dialogue. He was an advocate for vulnerable persons, including refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrants. He supported international legal measures to defend them. He was a renowned theologian within the Catholic Church for decades.

The statement emphasizes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s commitment to interfaith dialogue, which is one of the most debated facets of his pontificate. Think of the misunderstandings, misquotes, or quotes out context of Pope Benedict’s September 13, 2006, Regensburg lecture. The agitation that followed the Regensburg lecture, as Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, Pope Benedict XVI’s spokesperson, states in a recent article, was in the long run overcome thanks to a series of clarifying interventions and, finally, to the December 2006 visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

However, a month after the Regensburg lecture, on October 13, 2006, 38 international Islamic authorities and scholars, from all denominations and Islamic schools of thought, approached Pope Benedicts XVI, wishing to start a genuine inter-religious dialogue. This first approach was followed by an open letter, titled  “A Common Word between Us and You”, from 138 Islamic scholars addressed to Pope Benedict XVI in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding, proposing an interreligious dialogue based on the double commandment of love of God and neighbor. The letter was historic, in the words of Cardinal Touran in his October 18, 2007 interview with the French La Croix:

One aspect that particularly struck me is that, perhaps for the first time, a text signed by Muslims presents the Jesus of the Gospel with quotes from the New Testament, and not from quotes from the Koran.

The pope invited a delegation of Muslim scholars to Rome, which started an epochal theological dialogue with Islam. It was the first time in history that Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam, including Sunni and Shi’ites, spoke with one voice about the tenets of Islam. The correspondence between the pope and the Muslim scholars led to the creation of the Catholic-Muslim forum, which met in the Vatican for the first time on November 4-6, 2008. Twenty-four participants and five advisors from each religion took part in the meeting. The theme of the Seminar was “Love of God, Love of Neighbor.” Despite the negative attention it received from the media, the Regensburg lecture opened wide avenues for truth seeking through interfaith dialogue.

Moreover, Blinken’s statement on Pope Benedict XVI’s commitment to interfaith dialogue is a reminder of another landmark in Pope Benedict XVI’s thought on interreligious dialogue that materialized in his 2008 apostolic journey to the United States and his powerful address to the representatives of different religions in the Rotunda Hall of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. In my view, this is one of Benedict’s boldest statements on interreligious dialogue, which can be synthesized as “In Truth, Interreligious Dialogue,” similar to his message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace 2006, “In Truth, Peace.” This is what the pontiff stated about interreligious dialogue and truth seeking while answering life’s big questions:

The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for “wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace. We are living in an age when these questions are too often marginalized. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart. Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Psalms are full of such expressions: “My spirit is overwhelmed within me”; “why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?” The response is always one of faith: “Hope in God, I will praise him still; my Savior and my God” Spiritual leaders have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic world for reflection and prayer.

Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue.

Why is this address important? Pope Benedict overtly affirms the purpose of interreligious dialogue as a theological and truth-seeking measure, exploring life’s big questions including the origin and destiny of humankind, good and evil, and eternal destiny. The pontiff is promoting a theological dialogue in search of truth, making a convincing argument that although the theologies and the ways of approaching truth might be different for different religions, the process of truth seeking via interfaith, interreligious dialogue, and exploring life’s deeper theological questions from the point of view of one’s own faith tradition, can build a solid foundation for peace and security. Truth and peace are two sides of the same coin; the splendor of truth leads to peace and peaceful coexistence. Benedict XVI argued that peace cannot be reduced to the naive absence of armed conflict; instead, it needs to be understood as the fruit of an order which has been planted in human society by its divine Founder.

It is important to note that Benedict XVI’s model of interreligious dialogue does not shy away from discussing the theological differences among Christianity and Islam. This is how he explains the Christian mystery of Incarnation and Redemption:

The Christian tradition proclaims that God is Love. It was out of love that he created the whole universe, and by his love he becomes present in human history. The love of God became visible, manifested fully and definitively in Jesus Christ. He thus came down to meet man and, while remaining God, took on our nature. He gave himself in order to restore full dignity to each person and to bring us salvation. How could we ever explain the mystery of the incarnation and the redemption except by Love? This infinite and eternal love enables us to respond by giving all our love in return: love for God and love for neighbor. This truth, which we consider foundational, was what I wished to emphasize in my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, since this is a central teaching of the Christian faith. Our calling and mission is to share freely with others the love which God lavishes upon us without any merit of our own.

Discussing religious differences is a way of approaching truth, or is part of the journey to truth. Benedict XVI recognizes the differences between Muslim and Christians regarding God. But yet, they can unite on the same front promoting respect for the dignity of the human person and fundamental human rights. As Benedict XVI stated:

There is a great and vast field in which we can act together in defending and promoting the moral values which are part of our common heritage. Only by starting with the recognition of the centrality of the person and the dignity of each human being, respecting and defending life which is the gift of God, and is thus sacred for Christians and for Muslims alike – only on the basis of this recognition, can we find a common ground for building a more fraternal world, a world in which confrontations and differences are peacefully settled, and the devastating power of ideologies is neutralized.

The pontiff is mapping a vast area of common ground between Christians and Muslims, promoting moral values – including defense of life – as a gift of God. For Benedict XVI, interreligious dialogue – besides being an inviting, candid, and truth-seeking dialogue – is also a dialogue of understanding. The truth seeking from different religions relieves participants of fear of the risk of losing their religious identity when entering into dialogue. As he states in his 2012 Christmas address to the Roman Curia:

Two rules are generally regarded nowadays as fundamental for interreligious dialogue: 1. Dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at understanding. In this respect it differs from evangelization, from mission; 2. Accordingly, both parties to the dialogue remain consciously within their identity, which the dialogue does not place in question either for themselves or for the other.

While these “rules are correct,” Benedict explained, they are also “too superficial”. Why?

True, dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding – that is correct. But all the same, the search for knowledge and understanding always has to involve drawing closer to the truth. Both sides in this piece-by-piece approach to truth are therefore on the path that leads forward and towards greater commonality, brought about by the oneness of the truth. As far as preserving identity is concerned, it would be too little for the Christian, so to speak, to assert his identity in a such a way that he effectively blocks the path to truth. Then his Christianity would appear as something arbitrary, merely propositional. He would seem not to reckon with the possibility that religion has to do with truth. On the contrary, I would say that the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes, fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity.

Pope Benedict XVI also called upon universities and study centers to take the lead and become places for a candid exchange of religious ideas. For Benedict XVI, the university, has always been the house where one seeks the truth proper to the human person.

In sum, for Benedict XVI, truth is one and truth unites; the piece-by-piece approach to truth seeking leads to finding commonalities among different religions. His approach to proclamation or evangelization is an evangelization by witness, “Come and see!” as Jesus addressed the two seeker-disciples. This is, in a nutshell, Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy: interreligious dialogue where truth seeking, listening, and understanding take absolute priority.


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About Ines Angeli Murzaku 27 Articles
Ines Angeli Murzaku (http://academic.shu.edu/orientalia/) is Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Director of Catholic Studies Program and the Founding Chair of the Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University. She earned a doctorate of research from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome part of the Pontifical Gregorian University Consortium and has held visiting positions at the Universities of Bologna and Calabria in Italy and University of Münster in Germany. She is a regular commentator to media outlets on religious matters. She has worked for or collaborated with the Associated Press, CNN, Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Voice of America, Relevant Radio, The Catholic Thing, Crux, The Record, The Stream, Vatican Radio (Vatican City), and EWTN (Rome). Dr. Murzaku is currently writing a book on St. Mother Teresa entitled Mother Teresa: The Saint of the Peripheries who Became Catholicism’s Center Piece to be published by Paulist Press in 2020.

29 Comments

  1. We want to dialogue with people and yet, the value of ones eternal soul is of utmost importance. To find forgiveness and eternal life thorough belief in Jesus Christ is incomparable and its significance must be stated. What God has freely given to the believer in Jesus Christ, demands to be given openly to somebody else. The other person needs to hear it and accept it or reject it according to who they are. Our duty is to give hope and share the “Good News” proclaimed by and God through Jesus Christ.

    Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

    James 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

    Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    1 Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

    If a Muslim would like to discuss Jesus or perhaps Islam, it would be an honour.

  2. An added nuance in Benedict’s valuable opening toward interreligious dialogue clarifies the equality of persons in the dialogue, rather than any equality or pluralism of the religions as such. While he was Prefect to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the CDF addressed this point:

    “Equality, which is a presupposition of interreligious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content [or pluralism?], nor even less to the position of Jesus Christ—who is God himself made man—in relation to the founders of the other religions” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, 2000, n. 22).

    Still, I have wondered whether in my own writing, even as an admittedly uncredentialed writer, whether I might have done a disservice to Benedict’s initiative? (https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/04/29/the-mosque-the-manger-and-modernity/) Was I too distracted by the fact that the symmetrical comparison between Christianity and Islam is not between the two scriptures, but between Christ as “the Word made flesh” and the Qur’an as “the word made book”?

    I ask now whether I mistrusted too much the constructive response of the Muslim world to the Regensburg Address, entitle “A Common Word between Us and You…”? Did I squint too much by noting the complete line from the Qur’an: “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)?

    How, in dialogue, to un-link (?) this 7th-century preconception that Christ as the Second Person is only a pagan-like a “partner” to God, and, that there is no place for a Church as a “hierarchical communion” (Lumen Gentium) as established by the incarnate Christ: “the Word made flesh”? In dialogue, today, how to present the Triune One as not simply another pagan triad as from the “days of ignorance” prior to Muhammad’s affirmation of (undifferentiated) monotheism?

    How, except as Benedict modeled and proposed–through Christ’s concrete, one-on-one mutual esteem and love, in genuine dialogue among persons? We should at least notice, as Cardinal Touran is quoted in 2007 (above), that it is unprecedented and significant whenever Islamic scholars respond by quoting the Bible directly, rather than indirectly as it is parsed in the Qur’an. Not a small thing…

    • The questions you pose are essential. We feel deficient and yet, where we fall short God’s word has the power to get the job done.

      2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

      1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

      Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

      Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

      Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

      Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

      Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

      We rejoice because His sheep hear His voice and come to the Good Shepard. Our role is to do as God has equipped us and He does the important work.

  3. The fact that other religions, along with Catholicism, agree upon truth and peace being dependent upon one another shows that no matter there being differences in opinion, the foundation and fundamentals of religion are very common. Overall, we as people seek both aspects, and because of this, we are able to join and agree on certain things. This not only brings peace amongst the followers of those chosen religions, but it also bring peace and understanding between other religions and allows those who are not a part of those religions to be more understanding and receptive of the beliefs of others. It brings unity which is, ultimately, written in God’s plan for us.

    • Briana, at a certain level it’s certainly true what you say, and we are reminded to practice such fraternity under the universal natural law. But, regarding the “foundation and fundamentals of religion[s],” there remain irreducible differences which are not “common.”

      One religion points toward self-annihilation as the path to escaping fallenness and pain; another points toward some 300 million deities because their God is inarticulate; and another defines peace as what is at hand only when all of humanity on earth is assimilated into its followers.

      And then, apart from such always-human expressions, there is also the self-disclosed (!) God as Father, the Triune God who has spoken definitively in the Word among us.

      Natural religion and its expressions reach toward, but fall short of the Faith–Faith in incarnate person of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, both in an elevated unity. Christ, the founder and head of His Church extended through space and time, and with the sure promise of redemption and eternal salvation…So, yes, fraternity, but categorically and foundationally more as well.

      Faith, Charity and Hope, then, are theological virtues; and of Hope, a very good read is St. John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” (1994).

      • Well said and appreciated.

        Christianity differs from all religions in that they try to reach up to God thru various ways and means. Where Christianity excels is that God reaches down to humanity through Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, we see the promises fulfilled in Christ.

        Of course there are still prophesies to be accomplished. One of the most important, is that the Jews finally recognize their Messiah. The Tanakh is a glorious book of promises, guidance, understanding and knowledge that
        God loves His creation and wishes that none perish.

    • Briana I agree. It is amazing how there are many similarities between different religions, yet they also vary drastically. It is exploring these similarities that open up the door for great relationships and understandings between different groups. The unification between religions and understanding thy neighbor is what God wanted us to do.

    • Hi Briana, I really enjoyed your response and thought it was very well thought out. I agree with what you said about how truth and peace are dependent on one another. The point you made about how at the core of all religions, there is this want for understanding the truth of the universe at the core of nearly all religions. Even though each religion is unique in its own right, a dialogue can be made for understanding through the common ground they share at the fundamental level.

  4. Interreligious dialogue means that members of different religions meet and exchange ideas. The word “dialogue” in this context refers first and foremost to the conversation between religions. Where people don’t talk to each other, there is a lot of room for misconceptions and stereotypes.
    In conversation, people get to know each other and can ask: What do you believe in? How do you pray? And what are the rules of your religion? In this way, you learn something about the other person’s faith and can understand their behavior. This is important for peaceful coexistence.
    In conversation, one can help the other to better understand one’s religion without trying to convince the other of one’s religion. At the same time, the differences between the religions are not forgotten.
    Since peaceful coexistence and solidarity with our neighbors are the most important aspects of Christianity, interfaith dialogue is essential. All people are equal, no matter what religion they belong to. One must not close oneself off to other views but should be open-minded to differing opinions.

  5. Although Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s commitment to interfaith dialogue, is one of the most debated facets of his pontificate, inter-religious dialogue is important as we are taught to accept everyone as our “brothers and sisters” and practice “human solidarity” as noted in page 57 of Catholic Christianity. Many main concepts and ideas of the Catholic faith share synchronicities with Islam, such as belief in one God. There is also mention of Jesus (the Messiah or Isa) and Mother Mary (Maryam) in the Quran.

    • Dear Alicia Sardar:

      When someone is our brother or sister in humanity, we as Christians, are obliged to share the Gospel message with them. We need to cherish the eternal core of someone who does not know Jesus as the redeemer of ones soul.

      The Koran confuses Mary the mother of Jesus with Miriam the sister of Moses. Isa of the Koran is not Jesus of the Bible. There is perplexity about Isa that does not align with Jesus of Holy Scripture. Yet, a point of interest is that Isa is mentioned more in the Koran than Muhammad.

      Romans 10:14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

      2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

      Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

      1 Peter 2:1-25 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. …

      Many blessings,

      Brian Young

    • Your points have merit, but let’s have another look..

      Yes, the Qur’an borrows much from both Judaism (the Pentateuch) and Christianity. Christ is reported dozens of times, often at length, but rather than remaining the incarnate Christ we know, He is reduced to a prophet foretelling the coming of Muhammad. And, yes, Mary is highly and genuinely regarded. Muhammad regarded most highly four women—Mary, Sarah (the wife of Abraham), Khadijha (his first wife, and his only wife for 28 years!), and Fatima (his most prized daughter). But in a confused and lingering, post-pagan fog, Muhammad defined the Christian Trinity as consisting of God, Christ, and Mary (a consort). No Holy Spirit! (Your congruent “belief in one God”?)

      And, where the Bible has Christ promising the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete: Jn 14:15-17, 14:26, and 16:12, 13, 17), the Qur’an discovers (!) that this is an error in Greek translation, and that the correct term is “Pariclyte”—which is the Greek form of Ahmed or Muhammad. The foretelling of Muhammad! (Source: Abdullah Yusuf Ali, “The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary,” Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1983/1938, Q 7:157, fn. 1127, p. 388).

      The point being that apparent points of interreligious convergence are often, but not always, decisive points of divergence–and not “synchronicities.”

      We agree that nterreligious dialogue is essential, but even the terms “brothers and sisters” can have different meaning, as with “solidarity” which can mean either “human solidarity” (as under the universal “natural law” articulated in the West), or can be restricted (as under much of Islam) to members of the “umma”—the mystical, transnational, and assimilating (!) family of Islam.

      Yes, Pope Benedict was a leader in encouraging interreligious dialogue, but he also specified that when done well, it leads to greater and needed clarification, and not only or inevitably to convergence or synchronous pluralism, as many assume. But, can continue under the equality of those persons (!) engaged in such dialogue…

      • Dear Peter:

        The Koran paraphrases Holy Scripture in some part, yet it weakens what God has said to us in the Bible. It does not have the authority that God alone brings to the seeker of truth. What the Koran does bring to the reader is inconsistency and a marked conflict between the words of the God of Jacob and Allah of the Koran. Confusion and trepidation is left on the plate of the explorer of the Koran.

        Jesus is referred to nine dozen times in the Koran, the prophet of Islam is only mentioned four or five times. If Islam is correct and Muhammad is the final and most important prophet, why such a paucity of information in Islam’s holiest book?

        “The Holy Spirit—because He is, after all, Christ’s Spirit—is also a paraclete, a helper. Literally, the Greek word paraklētos means “someone who is called to come alongside someone else.” In Greek culture, a paraclete was like a family attorney.”

        Islam has been straining on this subject for some time. I once heard a talk given on the subject by a noted Islamic scholar. Though intelligent, on this topic it was not convincing.

        We have to remember that Islam came centuries after the advent of Christ. There are over three hundred Old Testament prophecies regarding Jesus. No mention of Muhammad in scripture. Established principles in architecture can not be overturned by some polemic that is after the fact. Jesus is tried tested and true. What is a new revelation or something better from the Koran?

        Thank you for raising these points. A Muslim is kindly invited to explore Jesus or address thoughts in the Koran.

        Yours in Christ,

        Brian

    • Hi Alicia, I think you made a very interesting point when talking about how the Catholic faith stresses this idea of accepting people as our “brothers and sisters.” I myself am not aware of many of the tenants of Islam but the idea of this interreligious dialogue again is to not try and convert others to a specific religion but to find a common ground. I feel in your response you displayed this idea by saying how although the religions are different there are some means to a common ground between them

      • To avoid being misunderstood, yours truly offers two different responses to the search for “common ground.” When is this common ground simply the lowest common denominator…

        FIRST, in his writings (somewhere), Benedict notes that all religions have some notion of the natural law, but that there are also still differences, as in Islam. What did he mean by this? My personal conclusion is that Islam tends to confuse universal natural law with membership in the House of Islam. And, too, that while the Qur’an very often keys back to the Law of Moses, it does not mention (omits) specifically the prohibitive commandments (six through ten). Yes, it does key off of Genesis “to do good and avoid evil,” but In early Islam there was room for a very common culture of booty, for example, and of course Islamic polygamy and jihad.

        SECOND, however, here’s remarkable testimony regarding Muslims from the beaten Crusader, Oliverisu Scholasticus, who writes of his Muslim adversaries, during an interlude in battle:

        “Who could doubt that such goodness, friendship and charity came from God. Men whose parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters had died in agony at our hands, whose lands we took, whom we drove naked from their homes, revived us with their own food when we were dying of hunger, and showered us with kindness even while we were in their power” (Friedrich Heer, The Medieval World, 1963, p. 144).

        Do we see the same inspiring but incomplete tendency among Christian theologians, to replace God’s irreducible commandments with His expansive beatitudes, rather than obeying and affirming both?

        • Dear Peter:

          After much reflection and stops and starts, plus taking the Koran off the shelf (Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall is perhaps the best English translation) here is my response.

          The world is in a chaotic state and the church is struggling too. If we care for the spiritual wellbeing of Muslims, we will speak of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. There is much to say, yet God always says it best.

          Acts 16:30-33 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

          Psalm 37:39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.

          John 15:1-“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …

          John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

          John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

          John 10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

          Blessings to all who read the words of the Lord,

          Brian

  6. The steps that Pope Benedict XVI has taken towards opening communication between religions is an important step in helping individuals realize there is not as many differences in religions as we may think. Fundamentally, Christianity and Islam may be different but they provide similar guidance for those who choose to follow either religion.

    • Hi Ankush,
      I agree with your comment wholeheartedly. Christianity and Islam are not all that different. Essentially, both religions encourage their followers to live virtuous lives. Each religion encourages those to live with similar ideals and values, but the main difference can be different customs and traditions. My question for you is why are older generations seem so worried about the youth questioning their own faith? Why was this topic so taboo in prior generations?

  7. Pope Benedict XVI displays many of the characteristics of a true leader in the Catholic faith that we have discussed thus far in this course. His ability to unite different peoples via interreligious dialogue paved the way for peace, unity, and understanding. He was able to use his position for good, striving to find a common ground between Christians and Muslims. This all stems from concepts of a theological perspective questioning good, evil, and everything in between. Pope Benedict did not strive for conversion, instead, he wanted to create a safe place for those to speak their beliefs in hopes of creating an environment for peace and understanding. His determination to create this peaceful world and leave it a better place than when he came into it are characteristics of a strong religious leader.

  8. This was a very insightful article, as it helped me see things from a different perspective. I never understood the value of learning the complexities of other faiths. Quite the contrary, I have found that the older generation frowns upon the younger questioning their faith. Such behavior was considered taboo in their time. Pope Benedict understood the value of these questions because questioning is a path to growth.
    Pope Benedict was a pioneer of interreligious communication. His goal was to better understand other faiths and to present a better understanding of Catholicism to those faiths. When reading this article, it reminded me of Nostra Aetate, the 1965 document that focused on the relationship Catholics should have with those of other religions. It discussed how the most important aspect of interaction is learning why others have their beliefs. Hopefully, this can lead to a greater level of understanding universally while also growing in your own faith.
    Pope Benedict wanted to be a voice for those who could not speak for themselves and did all he could to enable them. An example of this is that he was a voice of acceptance regarding immigrants, just like St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who helped Italian immigrants settle in the United States.
    One can wonder in what ways can productive discussion be generated. Some options that come to mind include analyzing why we have certain beliefs. Another thought that I have could involve sitting through a worship service of another faith. At points, observing can be more beneficial than asking questions. Watching others profess their faith can answer questions that we may not even realize we have. It is important to be true to one’s religion, but in order to do this the ability to facilitate discussion is crucial.

  9. Pope Benedict XVI passing away was something that affected the religious community very much. While reading this I was able to learn more about Pope Benedict XVI, but I feel that if others read this article they would learn more about him as well, and learn more about what faith really is. Pope Benedict XVI wanted everyone to be accepting of other Religions. He talked about how truth is one of the most important things- and it is. Truth is important and every day life and it is very important. I think my main take-away from this article was that Pope Benedict XVI wanted people to understand that it is okay for everyone to speak about their religions.

  10. Pope Benedict XVI’s ability to unite different religions is important to note. Through his interreligious dialogue he was able to unify people of different communities, catholics and muslims. This ultimately will bring peace and understanding among people. I think it is crucial that he made a point to say that while we are all seeking for the truth, nothing shall interfere or question a faiths practice or teachings. I think this was an accomplishment to have been able to come together and join ideas to seek the truth on the beliefs within the communities. Overall it is amazing what Pope Benedict XVI was able to accomplish and contribute to the religious communities.

  11. Hi Alicia, I think you made a very interesting point when talking about how the Catholic faith stresses this idea of accepting people as our “brothers and sisters.” I myself am not aware of many of the tenants of Islam but the idea of this interreligious dialogue again is to not try and convert others to a specific religion but to find a common ground. I feel in your response you displayed this idea by saying how although the religions are different there are some means to a common ground between them.

  12. I think interfaith dialogue is both, important and necessary to assist people to obtain mutual respect for one another. Today, we do not agree to disagree. It is very difficult to talk about politics or religion without the fear of stepping on someone’s toes. Interfaith dialogue allows us to believe freely in what we believe in. If God created everyone then, people of various faiths are still created by God. Ultimately, that is what is important.

    • Yes, about all being “created by God.” But, the about religions and creation, Christianity has something more and important to add:
      “The responses of the Old Testament and a fortiori of Islam (which remains essentially in the enclosure of the religion of Israel) are incapable of giving a satisfactory answer to the question of WHY Yahweh, why Allah, created a world of which he did not have need in order to be God. Only the fact is affirmed in the two religions, not the why. The Christian response is contained in these two fundamental dogmas: that of the Trinity and that of the Incarnation” (My Work in Retrospect, Ignatius Press, 1993).

      Triune and self-donating love, rather than arbitrary power, or necessity, or even Quantum Mechanics.

  13. The actions taken by Pope Benedict XVI to promote dialogue between those of different religious backgrounds, are crucial in assisting people in realizing that there are less disparities across religions than we may believe.
    Although religions may vary fundamentally, there are some similarities. It is important for interfaith dialogue to occur in a respectful way that allows people to feel open enough to share their beliefs and perspectives.

  14. Benedict’s premise for interfaith dialogue reveals how closely linked philosophy is with religion, and to wit theology.
    True philosophy is the love of wisdom, as such, a pursuit of truth. Natural law, that prescient knowledge of justice inherent to man as ordained by the Creator Word is the entree that links all world religions. As a Muslim scholar quoted in Ms Murzaku’s essay says we’re all made by the same God. As such we all possess the basis for justice, although within different cultures and religions there are differences in assimilation. That’s why Aquinas ST 1a2ae 94 4 explains that while the natural law of itself does not change, there are accidental changes made due to misinterpretation, misappropriation of what’s interiorly revealed.
    Appeal to universal agreement on the principles of natural law, for example what all men [at least a majority] consider their natural rights is then a pathway to gainful dialogue. The other is love as revealed in the person of the Word.

  15. I think it’s important that the Pope invited Muslim scholars to Rome because it’s a step in the right direction where everyone can learn how to get along. History was made by having Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam in the same place. I’m glad people can put their differences aside to come together for a great cause!

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