Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The fruits of dialogue?

The USCCB has reaffirmed its intention to continue to dialogue with particular Muslim organizations in the spirit of interreligious dialogue. While the bishops are certainly allowed to do that, I sometimes wonder what good is coming out of it. We have had said dialogue for 50 some years now. A lot has changed from 1964 to 2014. Yet it seems that the uprisings of Islamic Jihadists is growing while Christianity is diminishing. The reason I question the benefit of said dialogues are as follows:

1) The purpose- We are called the share the Gospel towards all four corners of the globe. We are to sow the seeds of the good news and allow the Holy Spirit to implant said seeds as He may. Dialoguing is not necessarily sharing the Gospel. We do not have a mandate to dialogue. If the dialogues were for the purpose of being the means of proclaiming the Gospel, well then I could understand the reason for it. Yet, even the statement by the bishops remark that the purpose of dialoguing is to understand each other and make friends with other religions. I find this difficult because Our Lord pointed out that living out the gospel will not have a result of making friends with other religions. In fact, Jesus himself said "16 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes." Matthew 10:16-23 RSVCE.

2) Losing boldness- We find ourselves in a time where religious leaders have to worry so much about what they say or do not say in order to keep from offending so many people outside our own faith. Cardinal Bergoglio, in his book dialoguing with Rabbi Skorka, remarked of his disappointment in Pope Benedict XVI, for expressing a bold opinion as to the nature of Islam. He was upset because of it's ramifications to interreligious dialogues with the Muslims since Vatican II. He felt that the Pope made an error. One may see the context when Pope Francis currently is careful in the words he chooses to use regarding the crucifiction, rape, torture, beheadings, and persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria at the current time. It is easy to see the restraint the Pope is using anytime he makes a comment about Islamic occurences, and maybe less restriction regarding other things. This is one example of how our worrying of the state of a religious dialogue may prevent our leaders from speaking the truth boldly. There are other examples from a parish level to even upper Church leadership (Dolan?) where such dialogues have become a circus in the eyes of faithful Catholics trying to live out their faith.

So, before someone accuses me, I don't support the abolition of interreligious dialogue. What I do support, is finally seeing the fruit of it. If relationships have been built over the past 50 years and friendships have been established, it is time for the real talking to begin. Proclaiming the truth of all things to those we engage with in dialogue. Proclaiming things in charity and love, but with boldness.

"Charity without truth is an illusion." -Pope Benedict XVI


UPDATE 10/30/2014:

It looks like the good Pope Emeritus Benedict feels the same way as well.

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