240 - may 2001

The Spirituality of Dialogue
Archbishop Marcello Zagoo.m.i.

[This text is a positionpaper presented by Archbishop Marcello Zago in 1998 at the Plenary Assemblyof the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.]

Dialogue is the great element of noveltypromoted by the Second Vatican Council. It helps us to understand andcarry out the mission in today’s world. The potential of this Councilvision has not been fully tappedprobably because the underlying spiritualityhas not been greatly developed. This paperwhich I have written in preparationfor the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religiousDialogueaims to reflect precisely on this underlying spirituality. Thereare five parts to it. In the first partthe terms are defined. Then referenceis made to two general aspects that promote dialoguenamely the commonspirituality inherent in human nature and the specific spiritualitiesof the religions of the people with whom we enter into dialogue. The twomain partsparts IV and Vexpound on Christian spirituality which isthe basis for dialogue.

1. Definitionof Terms

Spirituality anddialogue are realities that demand a specific definitionprecisely becauseboth terms enjoy great popularity today and are used in many differentways and fields.
1.1 The Concept of Dialogue

In the ecclesial fielddialogue may be understood in two ways. First of allit may be understoodas a spirit that can qualify any activity and thus become a method toaccomplish such an activity. It is a spirit which originates from respectfor others and for God’s active presence in them. In this senseit characterizes all forms of ecclesial activitynamely presenceevangelizationinculturation and witness. In his programmatic encyclicalPaul VI seesdialogue as the way of carrying out the mission in today’s world1.

In another sensedialoguemay be understood as a specific activity of missionfor it is directedto the members of non-Christian religions. This is inter-religious dialogue2.The term is used to refer not only to interpersonal conversationbutto every positive and constructive inter-religious relationship entertainedwith people and communities of other faithsfor the purpose of gainingmutual knowledge and enrichment (cf. DM 3). It is expressed in a varietyof wayssuch as through the dialogue of lifeworkstheological exchangeexperienceetc. (cf. DM 28-35; DA 42-45). Thanks to this type of dialoguethe very purposes of the mission are extended. Indeedthe purpose ofmissionary activity is not only the proclamation of the Gospel in viewof conversion and the founding of communities and churchesbut alsothe promotion of the Kingdom (cf. RM 20). Dialogue as a specific activitybecomes one of the forms of missionsometimes the only one that canbe accomplished (cf. RM 4155-57).

1.2 The Concept of Spirituality

Spirituality is used todesignate an interior way of being of the person and of the community.This way of being gives origin to a certain vision and attitudeswhichimpel one to act and to relate in a particular manner to Godto humanbeings and to cosmic realities. Using anthropological categoriesitmay be said that this way of being is fashioned by the values that makeup the inner structure of the person and of the communityand thatit conditions or facilitates action. It may thus be stated that everypersonal or social reality has a spirituality as the basis of its visionand action. According to the common perceptionspirituality is alwaysseen as an inwardly rooted positive dimension which promotes the growthof the individual or group. It is attributed to religions or to movementswhich are relgious in nature.

We may speak of genericand specific spirituality. Generic spirituality is shared by every humanbeing; it isas it werethe lowest common denominatorwith whicheveryone can identify. Specific spirituality is peculiar to each religionor spiritual movement.

The purpose of this paperis not to present generic or specific spirituality in its entiretyas was done in the PCID Plenary Assembly of 19953 but ratherto focus on the aspects of such spiritualities that promote especiallyinter-religious dialogue. Starting with this restrictive definitiontwo important truths should be recalled. The aspects that promote dialogueare always part of specific spiritualitiesand it is from such spiritualitiesthat they draw their dynamism. Furthermoreevery genuine spiritualityqualifies the dialogue that is established. Inter-religious dialoguethus reaches its peakwhen it perceives and communicates the deepestessence of the respective religionsnamely the spiritualities thatanimate them.

2.The Common Spirituality of Dialogue
2.1Values and motives

Every person has valuesways of being and motives that can foster attitudes of dialogue towardsothers. There is a common human foundation that is conducive to dialogue.The declaration of the Second Vatican Council on the Church’s relationswith non-Christian religions reads as follows:

“Ever aware of herduty to foster unity and charity among individualsand even among nationsshe reflects at the outset on what men have in common and what tendsto promote fellowship among them. All men form but one community. Thisis so because all stem from the one stock which God created to peoplethe entire earthand also because all share a common destinynamelyGod. His providenceevident goodnessand saving designs extend toall men against the day when the elect are gathered together in theholy city which is illumined by the glory of Godand in whose splendourall peoples will walk. Men look to their different religions for ananswer to the unsolved riddles of human existence. The problems thatweigh heavily on the hearts of men are the same today as in ages past.What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is uprightbehaviourand what is sinful? Where does suffering originateand whatend does it serve? How can genuine happiness be found? What happensat death? What is judgement? What reward follows death? And finallywhat is the ultimate mysterybeyond human explanationwhich embracesour entire existencefrom which we take our origin and towards whichwe tend?” (NA1).

This Council text indicatestwo series of motivationsone of an ontological type based on a theisticvisionand the other of an existential type based on human questionsand on the innate quest of the human being.

2.2 Ontological Foundations

The ontological foundationsset forth in Nostra Aetate are inspired by the Word of God andtherefore by the vision of God as the Creatorprovidence and commondestinywhich most religions acknowledge. The theistic vision of asingle Godfrom whom all human beings stem and who is the ultimatedestiny of alldefinitely strengthens the bonds between human beingsand fosters attitudes of dialogue. That is trueof courseprovidedthat God is not considered as one’s exclusive property. The deeperthe experience of God in the agents of the dialoguethe more fruitfulthe dialogue and the coming together of the different religious traditions.

Howevernot everyoneshares the ontological motivations based on a theistic vision. Thereare religious movements that are not founded upon faith in a personalGod. Buddhism4 and some religious or humanist movements likeNew Age and Scientologyfor instanceare not centered around a personalGod. Howeverthey accept that there is one human nature common to allwhich allows for but one community. They too have and nurture a spiritualityand a morality which can foster dialogue.

For all religious movementswhether theistic or notthe human person is a relational being thatprogresses towards his maturity through exchanges. The person then becomespart of the wholeso that the quest for harmony becomes fundamental.The foundation of a universal spirituality for dialogue may thus havetwo points of reference: the human person and the quest for harmonybetween beings. The emphasis placed on these components may vary accordingto culture and religion. This dual sensitivity is a prevailing attitudein the religiosity and cultures of the various peoples of Asia. Thehuman person and global harmony are open valueswhich are rooted intheistic religions and are fully expressed in Christianity. It is forthis reason that harmony is proposed as a qualifying category of Asiantheology.5 It is thus necessary to develop the anthropologicalrequirements in order for dialogue to become an operating reality acceptedand promoted by all. This wayall human movements may be involved inthe dialogue.

2.3 Existential Foundations
The existentialargument for the human problem is more universally accepted. It dealsnot only with theoretical questions but with the more fundamental humanproblem which concerns not just believers but all human beings (cf. GS1018). It thus becomes a readiness to engage in an exchange with othersa source and object of dialogueand a quest for spirituality.6Inspired by the Constitution on the Church in the Modern Worldthe missionary encyclical states that “The Church is aware that humanityis being continually stirred by the Spirit of God and can therefore neverbe completely indifferent to the problems of religion and people willalways want to know what meaning to give their lifetheir activity andtheir death. The Spiritthereforeis at the very source of humanity’sexistential and religious questioninga questioning which is occasionednot only by contingent situations but by the very structure of its being”(RM 28).
3.Specific Spiritualities and Dialogue

The spirituality of everyreligion has aspects and values that are capable of fostering attitudesand initiatives of respectdialogue and cooperation. By the same tokenthere may also be elements in a religion which run counter to such attitudes.It is therefore important to know what it isin others and in ourselvesthat is capable of promoting dialogue and to cultivate this element.

The aspects of the specificspirituality of the different religions which foster dialogue may beconsidered from a two-fold perspective:

– from the pointof view of the members of those religionswho find in such aspectsthe dynamismmotivation and paths towards inter-religious dialogue.This dialogue may be side-tracked by the very members of that religion.

– from the pointof view of Christianswho find in these aspects of another religionthe motives and paths for their own dialogue with others. It may generallybe said that Christians are moved to establish a dialogue with otherbelievers in order to understand themto contribute to a mutual enrichmentand to find paths of inculturation for the ecclesial presence.7

Dialoguein its variousformsis above all bilateralthat isit is between two people ortwo groups. It is thus useful to start with the spiritual dimensionswith which both parties have an affinity. In this paperI shall onlysuggest a few starting points.

Dialogue with the membersof traditional religions may originate from the desire to penetratethe vital integration stemming from that religionthe search for harmonybetween the living and the deceasedbetween people and the cosmosand the social agreement accomplished through wordsfamilycommunityand life values.

Christians are moved bymany motives to seek a dialogue with the members of the Hindu religionwhich accepts that there are different paths to reach God and respectsthose who practice them. Some of these motives are the desire to discoverthe sense of the sacred and of the divinethe priority of experienceand witnessthe quest for the real selfwhich is interiorthe virtuesof equanimity towards everyone and everythingand of ahimsaor universal love.

In the dialogue with BuddhismChristians may be moved by the search for final liberation in an apophaticAbsolutecalled the Voidand the development of the inner life throughthe many forms of meditation. In the Buddhist perspectiveinner attitudesare more important than external actions; the point of departure andarrival is inward perfectionwhich determines external behaviour. Ethicsand asceticismand especially altruismmay become grounds for cooperationand exchange.

The basis for a dialoguewith Confucianism may stem from the importance attributed to interpersonalrelations and social cohesion.

In the dialogue with Islamthe Christian may be attracted by faith in the one same Godwho isthe creator and judge of allby the very universalist claim to havingreceived revelation and conveyed salvationand by its practical coherence.Belonging to the Islamic community (Umma) creates special bonds.The members of the religions of Judeo-Christian Scriptures are heldin esteemwhile polytheistic pagans or atheists seem to lose theirright to respect.

4.A Specific Christian Spirituality for Dialogue
In Christian spiritualitydialogue stems from its most essential elementsnamely participationin the Trinitarian lifethe insertion in Christ and ecclesial belonging.It is not only a tacticor respect for othersor the expression of charity.It is based on the very elements that qualify the Christian identity.It is a spirituality based on the Trinity and communion.
4.1 The Trinity

The God in whom we believeis not an isolated and incommunicable transcendent being: He is Trinityby His very nature He is mutual relationshipwho also communicatesHimself to His creatures. Christian life is not just the intellectualacceptance of God’s nature and the fulfillment of His will; itis especially participation in the intimate life of the Three Personswhich is love and relationship. One’s very relationship with Godbecomes dialogue through prayerand the fundamental law towards othersis charity. Christian spirituality finds its source and modalities inthe Trinityboth in its overall expression and in the animation ofthe various Christian activities. Thereforethe spirituality of Christiandialogue draws its originmotivation and modalities from the Trinityitself.

God’s relationshipswith us have taken place in the form of a dialogue. The divine offerof salvation to humankind is always made in the form of dialoguethatisin respect of the person and on the basis of the concrete situation.“Revelationthat isthe supernatural relationship which God Himselfon His own initiativehas established with the human racecan be representedas a dialogue in which the Word of God is expressed in the Incarnationand therefore in the Gospel. . . The history of salvationin factnarrates this long and changing dialogue which begins with God and involvesman in a many-splendored conversation. It is in this conversation ofChrist among men that God allows us to understand something of Himselfthe mystery of His lifeunique in its essenceTrinitarian in its persons;and He tells us finally how He wishes to be known: He is Love; and howHe wishes to be honored and served by us: Love is our supreme commandment.The dialogue thus takes on its full meaning and offers grounds for confidence.The child is invited to it; the mystic finds a full outlet in it.”8This divine dialogue is at work not only in the history of salvationand in the progressive revelation of Godbut also in the depths ofeach man“Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary ofa man. There he is alone with Godwhose voice echoes in his depths”(GS 16).

4.2 The Father and the Kingdom

The Father is the originof universal intra-Trinitarian and extra-Trinitarian love. It is fromthis font of love that stems God’s plan for humankindwhich isHis kingdom.9 Christ has revealed this plan to uswhichis fulfilled in him and through him and of which the Church is “theseedsign and instrument” (RM 18). “It is true that the inchoatereality of the kingdom can also be found beyond the confines of theChurch among peoples everywhereto the extent that they live gospelvalues and are open to the working of the Spirit who breathes when andwhere he wills” (RM 20)…“The Church is the sacramentof salvation for all humankindand her activity is not limited onlyto those who accept her message. She is a dynamic force in humankind’sjourney towards the eschatological kingdomand is the sign and promoterof gospel valuesThe Church contributes to humankind’s pilgrimageof conversion to God’s plan through her witness and through suchactivities as dialoguehuman promotioncommitment to justice and peaceeducation and the care of the sickand aid to the poor and children.In carrying on these activitieshowevershe never loses sight of thepriority of the transcendent and spiritual realities which are premisesof eschatological salvation” (RM 20). This vision enables us toshare the love of the Father in an active waycontributing to the fulfillmentof His plan of salvation in Christ through the Spirit.

The vision of the missionaryencyclical may be said to be deductivefor it begins with the Father.But an inductive method could also be usedstarting from the way inwhich persons and groups participate in this divine plan. If we acceptthat divine providence guides history in spite of human weaknessesit seems normal to recognize that religions are part of the divine planof which Christ is the center and complete fulfillment. Otherwisetoolarge a portion of humankind would have escaped his merciful action.

The vision of the kingdom is also thebackground of the Church’s action towards non-Christians.10 The fulfillment of the kingdom could then become a point ofcomparison for all religionsincluding Christianitydespite “theChurch’s special connection with the kingdom of God and of Christwhich she has the mission of announcing and inaugurating among all peoples”(RM 18).

4.3 The Word Made Flesh forthe Salvation of All

The Word of the Fatherbecame incarnate in Jesus of Nazareththe only savior of all humankindthe definitive and complete revelation of Godthe only mediator betweenGod and men.” Going back to the Council texts and especially tothe Constitutions on the Church and on the Church in the ModernWorld (cf. LG 13-17; GS 22)John Paul II stresses that Christ’ssalvific work reaches all humankind. “Just as by his incarnationthe Son of God united himself in some sense with every human beingso too we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone thepossibility of sharing in the Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God”(RM 6). “This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of hisSacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each personto attain salvation through his or her free cooperation” (RM 10).Neither mediations nor salvific means outside the Church are excludedbut they have to be understood as being in connection with the one salvationof Christ. “Although participated forms of mediation of differentkinds and degrees are not excludedthey acquire meaning and value onlyfrom Christ’s mediationand they cannot be understood as parallelor complementary to his” (RM 5).

Howeverthis divine gratuitousnessdoes not leave us inactiveas if all of the work were up to God alone.“Salvationwhich always remains a gift of the Holy Spiritrequiresman’s cooperationboth to save himself and to save others. Thisis God’s willand this is why he established the Church and madeher a part of his plan of salvation” (RM 9). This participationin the salvific plan is not limited to those who share in or are calledto the same faithbut to all of mankind (cf. RM 9). That messianicpeople“established by Christ as a fellowship of lifecharityand truthis also used by Him as an instrument for the redemption ofalland is sent forth into the whole world as the light of the worldand the salt of the earth” (LG 9). Dialogue is one of the waysof exercising such influence (cf. RM 20)and even more sosanctityor living union in Christ (cf. RM 7790).

4.4 The Spirit as the Agentof Salvation

The Holy Spirit is theagent of missionin all of its formsand he is also its coordinator.12 The Spirit works in a special way within the Church and in itsmissionarieswithout limiting his action to themhoweverbecausehe is also present and at work in every time and place. “The Spirit’spresence and activity affect not only individuals but also society andhistorypeoplescultures and religions. Indeedthe Spirit is at theorigin of the noble ideals and undertakings which benefit humanity onits journey through history: the Spirit of God with marvelous foresightdirects the course of the ages and renews the face of the earth. Therisen Christ is now at work in human hearts through the strength ofhis Spirit” (RM 28). “The Church’s relationship withother religions is dictated by a two-fold respect: respect for man inhis quest for answers to the deepest questions of his lifeand respectfor the action of the Spirit in man” (RM 29) . “Moreoverthe universal activity of the Spirit is not to be separated from hisparticular activity within the body of Christwhich is the Church.Indeedit is always the Spirit who is at workboth when he gives lifeto the Church and impels her to proclaim Christand when he implantsand develops his gifts in all individuals and peoplesguiding the Churchto discover these giftsto foster them and to receive them throughdialogue. Every form of the Spirit’s presence is to be welcomedwith respect and gratitude” (RM 29).

This faith in the workof the Spirit moves one to discover his work and to cooperate in it.It is a true spirituality. “This spirituality is expressed firstof all by a life of complete docility to the Spirit. It commits us tobeing molded from within by the Spiritso that we may become ever morelike Christ. It is not possible to bear witness to Christ without reflectinghis imagewhich is made alive in us by grace and the power of the Spirit.This docility then commits us to receive the gifts of fortitude anddiscernmentwhich are essential elements of missionary spirituality”(RM 87). Fortitude is at the root of the proclamation (parresiacf. RM 24)and discernment is at the root of dialogue so as to graspthe provident workings of the Spirit (cf. RM 2960).

4.5 Christ as an Example ofRelationships

The way of acting of ChristGod who has become manis a paradigm for the way of acting of the Churchand thus of every Christian. Not only does he reveal that God lovesthe worldbut he gives himself entirely out of love. This love is expressedthroughout his entire lifein his words and in his actions especiallyin favor of the poor (cf. RM 13-15).In his contacts with othershe engages in controversy only with the members of his own religion;he only turns against the Pharisees and the Scribes. He never engagesin controversy about the religious traditions present in Palestinewhich he knew and with which he came into contact: RomanCanaaniteand Samaritan. Not only did he arouse faithbut he was also able tofind it in pagans like the centurion or the Canaanite woman. In admirationof the soldier’s wordsJesus holds that he has never found a similarfaith in any Israelite (cf. Matthew 85-13). In the same way he admiresthe faith of the Canaanite woman (cf. Matthew 1521-28).

In his relationships withothersthe characteristics that stand out in Jesus are respectlisteningadmirationhelpencouragement and dialogue. Some Gospel stories developedin greater depth by the evangelists are emblematic of a maieutic anddialogical method. Consider Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus (cf.John 3)with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4)with the disciples ofEmmaus (cf. Luke 2413-33). For the first communitiesthese eventswere exemplary in terms of relations with one’s neighbors and ofthe witness that they bore. The method of questioning that Jesus frequentlyuses with his disciplesespecially in the most critical timesrevealsthat his relationship with them was based on dialogue.

Our way of acting mustbe fashioned after that of Jesus himself who “proclaims the GoodNews not just by what he says or doesbut by what he is” (RM 13).It is a requirement for holinesswhich means unity in Christ (cf. RM77)sharing his feelings (cf. RM 88) and his methods (cf. RM 89).13

Christ’s kenoticdimension takes on a special meaning for a spirituality of dialogue.It is not a matter of losing one’s own identitybut of takingthe form and likeness of the other. John Paul II refers to the textof the Philippians 25-8as the essential characteristic of missionaryspirituality (cf. RM 88). It is a humble love that fosters dialogue.

4.6 The Church as Communion
Dialogue also findsits roots in the nature and mission of the Church. The 1985 ExtraordinarySynod emphasized that communion is the main notion contained in the documentsof the Second Vatican Counciland the motivation for consequent renewal.14Ecclesial communion is founded on Trinitarian communion. It is a signand instrument of communion between God and menboth within the Divinityitself and vis à vis humankind. The Second Vatican Council endedits last document inviting human beings to fraternity and dialoguebothwithin the Church and with other Christianswith all religious peopleand with all mankind. “By virtue of her mission to shed on the wholeworld the radiance of the Gospel messageand to unify under one Spiritall men of whatever nationrace or culturethe Church stands forth asa sign of that brotherhood which allows honest dialogue and gives it vigor.”And it concluded: “Since God the Father is the origin and purposeof all menwe are called to be brothers. Thereforeif we have been summonedto the same destinywhich is both human and divinewe can and we shouldwork together without violence and deceit in order to build up the worldin genuine peace” (GS 92).
5.Attitudes for a Christian Spirituality of Dialogue

Dialogue is encouragedby certain spiritual attitudeswhich foster positive and constructiverelations and activities vis à vis the members of other religions.

5.1 Renewed Awareness

The first attitude isthe awareness of the foundations of Christian spirituality. It is notjust a matter of having a correct and theoretical vision of spiritualitybut of accepting itof experiencing and internalizing it. Of coursethe Church has always believed in the Trinityand has found in it thewell-spring of its life. Christians have always been baptizedthatisimmersed in the Trinity. Howeverit must be recognized that intoday’s Church there is a renewed awareness of the Trinity. Sufficeit to recall the Second Vatican Councilwhich deepened the life andmission of the Church starting from the Trinity (cf. LG 1-9AG 1-5GS 1)the three Trinitarian encyclicals by John Paul II taken upagain by Redemptoris Missiothe Trinitarian three years in preparationfor the third millennium. There is a new consciousness of the centralrole of the Trinity. And it is a Trinitarian vision which is at thebasis of the Church seen as communion. Contemporary spirituality ismarked by this vision. In a Church called to dialogue this is providentialbecause such a spirituality can promote dialogue on a sound basis andwith genuine methods.

5.2 Identity and Openness
Dialogue requiresboth acceptance of one’s own identity and openness to others. Thisholds true for all those who accept to relate to others in a constructivemanner. It applies especially to Christians.15 A spiritualitybased on the Trinity and on communion encourages both attitudes. It callsfor an ever deeper experience of identity which does not close up withinitself in any form of fundamentalismbut opens itself up to others withoutany separatist divisions. God is for everyone. The Church is for everyone.In its interior life and external missionthe Trinity provides the basisfor attitudes and works of dialogue with everyonewhile always retainingone’s own identity which is the full acceptance of God’s giftwith a universal openness adopting God’s very manner with everyone.In talking about dialoguePaul VI writes “Only the man who is completelyfaithful to the teaching of Christ can be an apostle. And only he wholives his Christian life to the full can remain uncontaminated by theerrors with which he comes into contact” (ES 88). It is from thistwo-fold attitude of identity and openness that the need arises to relatedialogue to proclamation just as they are mutually associated in the Councildocuments in in the magisterium in general.1 6
5.3 The Central Role of Charity

The fundamental virtueof dialogue is charity. Of courseevery form of dialogue demands respectand love for the other. Howeverfor Christians charity towards othersstems from that of Godwho shares his love with us. It is a divinelove that has entered the world and that has been incarnated throughChrist (cf. John 316; 131). Dialogue toothereforereaches andtakes account of the real manalthough its source is in divine charity.Dialogue thus takes on the very qualities of charity: it is universalgradualsolicitousfervent and disinterestedwithout limits and calculationsunderstanding and adapted to everyone (cf. ES 40-48).

In referring to the differentpossible activitiesthe missionary encyclical concluded that “thesoul of all missionary activity is lovewhich has been and remainsthe driving force of missionand is also the sole criterion for judgingwhat is to be done or not donechanged or not changed. It is the principlewhich must direct every actionand the end to which that action mustbe directed” (RM 60). In discussing spiritualityit concludedthat the missionary must love the Church and men as Jesus loved them;he must be the universal brother (cf. RM 89). This charity for all “whichis inspired by Jesus’ own charitywhich takes the form of concerntendernesscompassionopennessavailabilityand interest in people’sproblems” is the source of zeal and of all the expressions of themissionincluding dialogue (cf. RM 89).

5.4 Discernment

Discernmentwhich mustnot be separated from zeal as “parresia”is a necessary attitudetoday to live out the mission in general and dialogue in particular.How to concretely love non-Christians for whom Christ died demands discernmentthat isthe discovery of how the Spirit works in them and calls themto become involved as cooperating agents in his salvific action. Indeedmissionand dialogue in the context of missionis not primarily ahuman workin other wordsthe result of our strategies; ratheritis the work of the Spiritthe agent and main force of salvific work.17

How to foster andeducate people to practice a genuine dialogue is the task of pastors atall levels. It is comforting to note that it is not a matter of devisingnew visions and strategiesbut of going back to the essential core ofour Christian being. In this perspectivedialogue is not only the broadeningof the horizons and purposes of mission (cf. RM 2057)but it is alsothe deepening of Christian spirituality.
– PontificalCouncil for Interreligious Dialogue: Il dialogo interreligioso delMagistero Pontificio (1963-1993 papers) edited by Francesco Gioia.Libreria Editrice VaticanaRome 1994.

– FABC: For Allthe Peoples of Asia. “The Church in Asia: Asian Bishops’Statements on Mission Community and Ministry”.Manila vol.I1984; vol. II1997.


AG = Ad GentesVaticanCouncil II1965
DP =Dialogue and ProclamationPontifical Council for Dialogue1991
DM = Dialogue and MissionSecretariat for non-Christians1984
ES = Ecclesiam SuamEncyclical letter of Paul VI1964
GS = Gaudium et SpesVatican Council II1965
LG = Lumen GentiumVatican Council II1965
NA =Nostra AetateVatican Council II1965
RM =Redemptoris Missiomissionary encyclical of John Paul II1990


1 Paul VIEcclesiam Suam 1964Nos. 34-68.
2 Secretariat fornon-Christians 1984 : Dialogo e Missione in Gioia Il dialogointerreligiosop. 642-659.
3 Pontifical Councilfor Interreligious Dialogue : Plenary Assembly20-24 November 1995inPro DialogoBulletin 92. 1996/2.
4 Here we will notgo into the existential search for the Absolute in Buddhismnor shallwe discuss the popular religiosity of Buddhists who honor various deities.
5 A document ofthe Theological Advisory Commission of FABC: Asian Christian perspectiveson HarmonyApril 1995 in For all the Peoples of Asiavol 2.pp. 229-298.In several international meetings the FABC’ssection for dialogue considered harmony in the different religions inAsia: BuddhismHinduismIslamConfucianism and Taoism (cf. BIRA V/1ibid. pp. 143-177). I also think it is necessary to underscore the needsfor dialogue of the human personwhich was done by the Judeo-Christianwestern tradition.
6 Paul VIGeneralAudience of 12 Januaryin GioiaIl dialogo interreligiosopp.191-195;Evangelii Nuntiandi53. ibid. 70-77.
7 The aspects indicatedin this part were highlighted in some meetings of the Pontifical Councilfor Interreligious Dialogue with its Roman consultors. The basic documentswere presented by F. Machado for HinduismD. Isizoh for African traditionalreligionsand E. Renaud for Islam.
8 Paul VIEcclesiamSuamNo. 70.
9 John Paul IIRedemptorisMissio. The third chapter is devoted to the Father and thus to theKingdom of God.Nos. 12-20.
10 It is preciselyfor this reason that the FABC developed the kingdom theologythus makinga considerable contribution to the understanding of the ecclesial mission.It is the FABC’s Institute for Religious DialogueBIRAwhich exploredthis aspect in greater depth. John Paul II's missionary encyclical tookfull account of thisintegrating the notion of kingdom into the understandingof the Church and of its mission. It then went on to develop all of thedimensions or meanings of the kingdomwithout limiting itself to thekingdom as a reality outside the Church. Redemptoris Missio thusprovides five ways of perceiving the kingdom: the kingdom as the planof the Fatheras an eschatological realityas complete fulfillment inChristas fulfillment of the Churchand as an extraecclesial extension.It then recalled the bonds between the kingdom and the Church. I thinkthat this broader understanding of the kingdom has a positive impact ondialogueshowing its relationship not only with its positive social andreligious contributions but also with eschatological salvation. The dialogueof the Church becomes a driving force towards the eschatological kingdom.This way one can see how the Church is a sacrament of salvation for alland how interreligious dialogue can become a dialogue of salvation.
11 John Paul IIRedemptorisMissio.The first chapter is devoted to Jesus Christ the onlySaviorNos. 4-11.
12 John Paul IIRedemptoris Missio. This is the title and subject of the thirdchapterNos. 21-30.
13 The FABC recallsJesus’ paradigmatic example. Cf. Final Statement of the SixthFABC Plenary Session in Manila 1996in vol. II. pp. 6-10.
14 Second ExtraordinarySpecial Assembly. Final Report II. C.2.
15 The FABC documentsrecall this twofold need. Cf. OESCDialogue between Faith and Culturesin Asia in vol. II. pp. 23-24.
16 Cf. RedemptorisMissioNos. 55-57; Pontifical Council for Inter-religious DialogueDialogue and Proclamation1991in Gioiapp. 696-741.
17 A recent studyby FABC theologians is an example of discernment. (Cf. The Spirit atwork in Asia Today in FABC papersNo. 81p. 96.)

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