Querida Amazonia 106-108: Ecumenical and Interreligious Coexistence

In  his post-synodal exhortation Pope Francis turns to one final topic, ecumenical and interreligious coexistence. Catholics were first to South America more than five centuries ago. But now other subdivisions and religions old and new share the region.

106. In an Amazonian region characterized by many religions, we believers need to find occasions to speak to one another and to act together for the common good and the promotion of the poor. This has nothing to do with watering down or concealing our deepest convictions when we encounter others who think differently than ourselves. If we believe that the Holy Spirit can work amid differences, then we will try to let ourselves be enriched by that insight, while embracing it from the core of our own convictions and our own identity. For the deeper, stronger and richer that identity is, the more we will be capable of enriching others with our own proper contribution.

We don’t need to minimize our beliefs. But we can recognize and affirm when we are in agreement on the substance of Word of God:

107. We Catholics possess in sacred Scripture a treasure that other religions do not accept, even though at times they may read it with interest and even esteem some of its teachings.

Vatican II helped us a great deal:

We attempt to do something similar with the sacred texts of other religions and religious communities, which contain “precepts and doctrines that… often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men and women”.[Nostra Aetate 2]

Catholics and some (though not all) Christians embrace a sacramental orientation:

We also possess a great treasure in the seven sacraments, which some Christian communities do not accept in their totality or in the same sense. At the same time that we believe firmly in Jesus as the sole Redeemer of the world, we cultivate a deep devotion to his Mother. Even though we know that this is not the case with all Christian confessions, we feel it our duty to share with the Amazon region the treasure of that warm, maternal love which we ourselves have received. In fact, I will conclude this Exhortation with a few words addressed to Mary.

A conclusion of sorts:

108. None of this needs to create enmity between us. In a true spirit of dialogue, we grow in our ability to grasp the significance of what others say and do, even if we cannot accept it as our own conviction.

If nothing else, we model what we would wish to see in those who do not believe or practice as we do.

In this way, it becomes possible to be frank and open about our beliefs, while continuing to discuss, to seek points of contact, and above all, to work and struggle together for the good of the Amazon region. The strength of what unites all of us as Christians is supremely important. We can be so attentive to what divides us that at times we no longer appreciate or value what unites us. And what unites us is what lets us remain in this world without being swallowed up by its immanence, its spiritual emptiness, its complacent selfishness, its consumerist and self-destructive individualism.

If our dialogue only affirms our unity against some immoral or unethical aspect of human life, that is a sound beginning and a source of important commonality.

This document is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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