Pope John Paul II asserts the importance of Dialogue. He cites three conciliar documents, seeing the importance of this discipline as rooted in the Church’s teaching in the 1960s.
25. For the church, dialogue is in a certain sense a means and especially a way of carrying out her activity in the modern world.
The Second Vatican Council proclaims that “the church, by virtue of her mission to shed on the whole world the radiance of the gospel message, and to unify under one Spirit all people… stands forth as a sign of that fraternal solidarity which allows honest dialogue and invigorates it.” The council adds that the church should be capable of “establishing an ever more fruitful dialogue among all those who compose the one people of God” and also of “establishing a dialogue with human society.”(Christus Dominus 13; cf Gravissimum Educationis 8; Ad Gentes 11-12)
One previous pope saw this activity as essential to the mission of the Lord and his Church:
My predecessor Paul VI devoted to dialogue a considerable part of his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, in which he describes it and significantly characterizes it as the dialogue of salvation.(Cf Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, III: AAS 56 (1964), 639-659)
And the author weighs in:
The church in fact uses the method of dialogue in order the better to lead people-both those who through baptism and the profession of faith acknowledge their membership of the Christian community and also those who are outside-to conversion and repentance, along the path of a profound renewal of their own consciences and lives in the light of the mystery of the redemption and salvation accomplished by Christ and entrusted to the ministry of his church. Authentic dialogue, therefore, is aimed above all at the rebirth of individuals through interior conversion and repentance, but always with profound respect for consciences and with patience and at the step-by-step pace indispensable for modern conditions.
Pastoral dialogue aimed at reconciliation continues to be today a fundamental task of the church in different spheres and at different levels.
John Paul II recognized the method of Jesus in each one of the Gospels. Disciples certainly have an ulterior motive when they engage with persons within and outside of the Church. Effective dialogue is always grounded in respect and patience. The latter is especially important. Any Christian must realize the seed of conversion is God’s responsibility. Not that of any mortal human being.
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