XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 5-26 October 2008 - C. Dialogue with nations and religions

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Ouellet, Marc

Città del Vaticano       06/10/2008

C. Dialogue with nations and religions

1. At the service of man

The missionary activity of the Church is rooted, as we have said, in the mission of Christ and the Spirit that reveals and spreads the Trinitarian communion to all cultures in the world. The universal salvific breadth of the Paschal Mystery of Christ calls the announcement of the Good News to all nations and also to all religions. The Word of God invites all men in Jesus Christ, the only mediator (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 8:6, 9:5, 12:24). The missionary activity of the Church testifies Her love for the whole Christ which includes all cultures. In Her efforts for evangelization of cultures, this activity aims towards the unity of humanity in Jesus Christ, but all in respect and integration of all human values.[76] "Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honorable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire - with whatever is good and praiseworthy" (Phil 4:8).
In Her liturgical dialogue with God, the Church intercedes for all humans and especially for the poorest ones. Her passion for the Word of God draws Her to the footsteps of the poor, chaste and obedient Jesus, to bring hope, reconciliation and peace to all situations of injustice, oppression and war. Like the "Good Samaritan", this care for man, however he may be, expresses the Church's compassion for all human suffering and Her availability to help the poor and afflicted. Conscious of the presence of Jesus by Her side, as on the road to Emmaus, She interprets Scriptures, as He does, "beginning with Moses and all the prophets" and explaining the mystery of Jesus the Savior to all men. "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into his glory?" (Lk 24:26).
This exegesis of Jesus, continuously taken up by the Church, authenticates the Christological interpretation of the First Testament, which the Fathers, after Origen and Irenaeus, have largely developed. Today, bearing in mind the tragic history of the relations between Israel and the Church, we are invited not only to repair any injustice committed against the Jews, but also to a "new respect towards the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament"[77]. Respectful and constructive dialogue with Judaism may also be useful, on both sides, in studying the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures[78] .

2. Inter-religious dialogue

Among the partners of the different dialogues of the Church with nations, the Jewish people occupy a unique place as the heir of the first Covenant, whose Holy Scriptures we share. This common heritage invites us to hope, for "there is no change of mind on God's part about the gifts he has made or of his choice" (Rom 11:29), as passionately testified by Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans. "This is the truth and I am speaking in Christ, without pretense, as my conscience testifies for me in the Holy Spirit; there is great sorrow and unremitting agony in my heart: I could pray that I myself might be accursed and cut off from Christ, if this could benefit the brothers who are my own flesh and blood. They are Israelites; it was they who were adopted as children, the glory was theirs and the covenants; to them were given the Law and the worship of God and the promises. To them belong the fathers and out of them, so far as physical descent is concerned, came Christ who is above all, God, blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom 9:1-5), "I want you to be quite certain, brothers, of this mystery, to save you from congratulating yourselves on your own good sense: part of Israel had its mind hardened, but only until the gentiles have wholly come in; and this is how all Israel will be saved. As scripture says" (Rom 11:25-26).
Then come the faithful to the Muslim faith, they too rooted in the Biblical tradition, believers in the one God. Faced with secularization and liberalism, they are allies in the defense of human life and in the assertion of the social importance of religion. Dialogue with them is more important than ever in today's circumstances "to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" (NA 3). The testimony of the martyrs of Tibhirin in Algeria in 1996 raise this dialogue to a level never reached before in history, regarding the service of man and reconciliation of people. The audacious initiatives of Pope Benedict XVI plead for the persevering pursuit of dialogue with Islam.
Then finally come the humans "from every race, language, people and nation" (Rev 5:9), that are under the heavens, because the immolated Lamb shed his blood for all. The Word of God is especially destined to those who have never heard him, because, in God's heart and in the missionary conscience of the Church, the last have the grace of being the first.[79]
In a world on the path to globalization, with the new means of communication, the field of mission is open to new initiatives of evangelization with a spirit of authentic inculturation. We are in the era of Internet and the possibilities of access to the Holy Scriptures have multiplied[80]. The Synod must listen, discern and encourage the projects for the transmission and transposition of the Holy Scriptures in all these new languages that await serving the Word of God.

[76] AG 11 ; EN 20 ; RM 3.
[77] Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and the Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible, 2001 : J. Ratzinger, Préface, p. 12.
[78] Ibid., nos 9, 11, 21-22,85-86.
[79] AG 10.
[80]As an example, the Biblia Clerus of the Congregation for the Clergy furnishes tools for the consultation that are truly precious, which are indebted to the Christian Bible written by Dom Claude-Jean Nesmy and Mother Élisabeth de Solms, Bénédictines de La Pierre qui Vire et Solesmes, published by Éditions Anne Sigier.

[Source: Synodus episcoporum - Bulletin Xii ordinary general assembly of the synod of bishops
5-26 october 2008
The word of god in the life and mission of the church
English edition
04 - 06.10.2008]

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