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Benedict XVI and inter religious dialogue 2015

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KURUVACHIRA JOSECourse Code or Name: THE-481 This paper uses UK standards for spelling and punctuation


Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, 1927-), whose papacy lasted eight years (2005-2013), is considered as one of the unparalleled intellectual forces in the Roman Catholic Church today. He has been described as an intellectual rooted in faith, a man with incomparable knowledge of the intellectual shifts and transformations in the Church, and an inviolable bulwark of Catholic orthodoxy in contemporary times. In fact, his numerous writings defend the traditional Catholic doctrines and values, and for this reason, some of his adversaries have called him conservative and a formidable opponent of reforms. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularization of many Western countries, and relativisms denial of objective truth, especially moral. He published three encyclicals and four Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations, in addition to his numerous homilies and discourses. As Pope, he also published a life of Christ in three parts. He is a prolific writer and author of numerous theological works. His main areas of interest in theology are: ecclesiology, liturgy and revelation. Some of his favourite theological themes are, witness to truth, relationship between faith and reason, Christianity as religion according to reason, religious liberty, radical secularism, dictatorship of relativism, etc. He has great interest in orthodox liturgy and patristic theology, and has actively promoted ecumenical relations. He is noted for his new emphasis on interreligious relations based on culture or intercultural dialogue. As Pope he travelled extensively, and in 2008 he addressed the United Nations Organisation, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. This paper discusses the dialogue of Benedict XVI with Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Traditional religions and others, with some critical observations. 2) Theological influences on Benedict XVIBasically, Benedict XVI is a decided Augustinian and to a certain extent Platonist. He was attracted to Bonaventures theology, which was very much in the Augustinian tradition. It is important to note that, Benedict XVI was not enchanted by pre-conciliar Thomism, though he admits that scholasticism has its greatness. Other significant influences on him are, the Sacred Scripture, Fathers of the Church, and the theology of the Vatican II. Among the lesser influences mention may be made of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), Romano Guardini (1885-1968), Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) and others. 3) Benedict XVI and interreligious dialogue

Benedict XVI was open to dialogue with followers of other religions, and sought to improve relations with them throughout his pontificate. He was convinced that a dialogue that is sincere and respectful between religions and cultures, is crucial for the future of human family. In his first homily as Pope, on 20 April 2005, he said that, the Church wants to engage in an open and sincere dialogue with followers of other religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole. On 25 April 2005, the day after his installation as Pope, he met with the 70 Christian representatives, 7 Muslim delegates and 17 Buddhist representatives who had attended his installation. Jewish representatives missed the meeting because it was held during their Passover observance. In this meeting he pledged that his pontificate would be marked by authentic and sincerer dialogue built upon respect for the dignity of every human person.

In promoting interreligious dialogue, Benedict XVI was greatly influenced by the theology of Vatican II, which placed special emphasis on the importance of dialogue and co-operation with the followers of other religions. He considered the Declaration Nostra aetate of the Vatican II as the magna charta of interreligious dialogue, and affirmed that, this document inaugurated a new season of dialogue and spiritual solidarity between Christians and followers of other great religions. He was also inspired to promote interreligious dialogue by the teachings and example of Pope Paul VI, and in a special way by Pope John Paul II, his immediate predecessor.

4) Dialogue with Jews

The papacy of Benedict XVI was marked by frequent and intense dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews. In many of his discourses, homilies, messages and writings one can find numerous references to Judaism. The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, which is attached to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is the most important structure within the Roman Catholic Church responsible for promoting dialogue with Jews. Similar commissions or councils exist within many episcopal conferences, and in dioceses, in different parts of the world. Their existence and activity demonstrate the Churchs desire to move forward by developing bilateral dialogue. It is also to be remembered that, Benedict XVI was the first person ever to invite Jewish leaders, both to the funeral of a Pope and, even more significantly, to the celebration of his own installation as Pope and to address synods of bishops.a) Factors responsible for dialogue with Jews There are a number of factors, historical, sociological and theological, responsible for dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews. Some of them are the following:

Nostra aetate

Benedict XVI considered the Declaration Nostra aetate no. 4 of the Vatican II as the most important factor responsible for the promotion of dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Jews in recent times. It provided a solid foundation for dialogue, and clearly outlined the principles that govern the Churchs approach to Christian-Jewish relations. On 14 February 2013 while addressing the clergy of the diocese of Rome, the Pope narrated how Nostra aetate decided to make a declaration on Jews. On 15 September 2005 while addressing the Chief Rabbis of Israel on their visit to Rome, Benedict XVI affirmed that, the process of building deeper religious relations between Catholics and Jews received new impulse and energy from Nostra Aetate; on 26 October 2005 the Pope in his message to Cardinal Walter Kasper, the President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, affirmed that, Nostra aetate opened up a new era of theological dialogue between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church. He also added that, Nostra aetate has been the occasion for greater mutual understanding and respect, co-operation, and friendship between Catholics and Jews, and that it also challenged them to recognise their shared spiritual roots, and to appreciate their rich heritage of faith. On 17 April 2008 the Pope in his the message to the Jewish people on the occasion of the feast of Pesah (Passover) reiterated that, since the Vatican II, the Catholic-Jewish relations has fundamentally changed for the better in the past forty years. The consequence of all this is that, the Catholic Churchs commitment to dialogue with Jews has become irrevocable and irreversible.

Example of Popes Paul VI and John Paul IIAnother factor that influenced Benedict XVI in promoting dialogue between Roman Catholic Church and Jews was the wonderful example of his predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. On 9 June 2005 he said: In the years following the Council, my predecessors Pope Paul VI and, in a particular way, Pope John Paul II, took significant steps towards improving relations with the Jewish people. It is my intention to continue on this path. But he did not hesitate to add that, it was his immediate predecessor Pope John Paul II who inspired him more than all others, and therefore, it was his firm decision to walk in his footsteps.

b) Rich common spiritual heritage Benedict XVI maintains that, Christians and Jews share in a big way, in a common spiritual patrimony, inherited through the Law and prophets. Such a rich common patrimony, in many ways, distinguishes their relationship as unique among the religions of the world. On 24 April 2005, Benedict XVI, in his first discourse as Pope said: [] and you, my brothers of the Jewish people, to whom we are bound by a great common spiritual patrimony, the roots of which are in Gods irrevocable promises; on 12 September 2008 at the Apostolic Nunciature in Paris he said: By her very nature the Catholic Church feels obliged to respect the covenant made by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; on 22 September 2011, in Berlin, while addressing the Jewish community he affirmed: For Christians, there can be no rupture in salvation history. Salvation comes from the Jews (cf. Jn 4:22). He also added that, the Sermon on the Mount does not abolish the Mosaic Law, but reveals its hidden possibilities and allows more radical demands to emerge. Christianity has an indissoluble bond with the Jews in the long story of the covenant. Christians gladly acknowledge that their own roots are found in the same self-revelation of God, in which the religious experience of the Jewish people is nourished. The Church recognises that, the beginnings of her faith are found in the historical divine intervention in the life of the Jewish people. Both Judaism and Christianity speak of one God, maker of heaven and earth, who established his covenant with the chosen people, revealed his commandments and taught to hope in those messianic promises which give confidence and comfort in the struggle of life.

Christians have the same books of the Old Testament as the Jews, which are revealed books. Benedict XVI said that, there is an inner unity between the Old an

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