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Pope affirms value of inter-religious dialogue May 17, 2004

Pope John Paul II encouraged inter-religious dialogue as a "sure basis for peace," as he met on May 15 in a private audience with the members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who were gathered in Rome for their plenary meeting.

The Holy Father told the members that-- as they mark the 40th anniversary of the Pontifical Council's establishment-- that their work was a product of "the atmosphere of unity and hope that marked Vatican II so clearly." He predicted that the “coming years will see the Church even more committed to respond to the great challenges of inter-religious dialogue.”

Talks with representatives of different religious traditions, the Pope cautioned, must not lead to "any kind of relativism or religious indifference." Representatives of the Catholic Church must speak honestly and openly, he said, "seeking the truth courageously, while cultivating a prophetic thirst for justice and freedom."

The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue was founded by Pope Paul VI in May 1964. In this week's plenary meeting the group-- under the direction of Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, its president-- is discussing the prospects for more productive inter-religious dialogue in the contemporary world.

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