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Pope Benedict: dialogue is no substitute for mission

October 24, 2014

As the Pontifical Urbaniana University, which educates missionaries, dedicated a lecture hall in honor of Benedict XVI on October 21, the prefect of the papal household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, read out a message from the Pope Emeritus.

“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people," he wrote, according to a Catholic News Service report.

The Pope Emeritus added:

‘But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the Church ask themselves today. ‘Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’ The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?’

In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality. The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.

It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine … We proclaim Jesus Christ not to procure as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power. We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us


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  • Posted by: lak321 - Oct. 26, 2014 12:02 PM ET USA

    In reply to the veiled barbs aimed at Pope Francis: the Holy Spirit speaks in as many way as there are types of souls. You cannot expect God to speak only in language that you personally can relate to and accept. You have to let Him go after the lost sheep without losing your faith, praying for His success. Regarding Pope Benedict's words - Amen! The privileges of the divine indwelling at Baptism, the Eucharist, Mary as mother, how can we not want everyone to share these joys?

  • Posted by: feedback - Oct. 25, 2014 12:42 AM ET USA

    Wow! Even from that short text one can see that this Pope's decision to resign did not come lightly. Our Popes - from St. Peter to Francis - stand against the gates of hell and they do need our fervent prayers and our sacrifices.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Oct. 24, 2014 8:20 PM ET USA

    What a breath of fresh air. No need here for "correction", "explanation", "clarification". Some now say "intellectuals" are somehow out of style. Personally, I pray they make a comeback in the Church, sooner rather than later.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 24, 2014 3:23 PM ET USA

    This reminds me of St. Thomas Aquinas. He starts by stating his opponents' position, clearly and fairly, and proceeds to shoot it out of the water. As always, great stuff.

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Oct. 24, 2014 2:13 PM ET USA

    No one has ever been more of a pastor to me. Just this morning I was flipping through this again: .

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 24, 2014 7:17 AM ET USA

    Clear and consistent teaching by a counter-revolutionary pope. What could be more pastorally relevant and effective?