Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 25: Dialogue, Part 4, Reconciliation In The World

Division among Christians, and even within churches, is ugly and antigospel, but it is far worse in the world. No less a challenge for the followers of the Lord. We have to set the example:

To the extent to which the church is capable of generating active harmony-unity in variety-within herself and of offering herself as a witness to and humble servant of reconciliation with the other churches and ecclesial communities and the other religions, she becomes, in the expressive definition of St. Augustine, a “reconciled world.”(St. Augustine, Sermo 96, 7: PL 38, 588) Then she will be able to be a sign of reconciliation in the world and for the world.

I think the diagnosis is accurate here:

The church is aware of the extreme seriousness of the situation created by the forces of division and war, which today constitute a grave threat not only to the balance and harmony of nations but to the very survival of humanity, and she feels it her duty to offer and suggest her own unique collaboration for the overcoming of conflicts and the restoration of concord.

It was certainly true during the dregs of the Cold War, and hopefully people today realize that planet-destroying technology mixed with the occasional human blindness makes it dangerously possible today.

It is a complex and delicate dialogue of reconciliation in which the church is engaged, especially through the work of the Holy See and its different organisms. The Holy See already endeavors to intervene with the leaders of nations and the heads of the various international bodies or seeks to associate itself with them, conduct a dialogue with them and encourage them to dialogue with one another for the sake of reconciliation in the midst of the many conflicts. It does this not for ulterior motives or hidden interests. since it has none-but “out of a humanitarian concern,”(Pope John Paul II, Speech to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See January 15, 1983), 4, 6, 1 1: AAS 75 (1983), 376, 378f, 381) placing its institutional structure and moral authority, which are altogether unique, at the service of concord and peace. It does this in the conviction that as “in war two parties rise against one another” so “in the question of peace there are also necessarily two parties which must know how to commit themselves,” and in this “one finds the true meaning of a dialogue for peace.”(Pope John Paul II, Homily at the Mass for the 16th World Day of Peace (January 1, 1983), 6: Insegnamenti VI, 1 (1983), 7)

More and more, world leaders appear under the influence of things like money, power, ideology especially. Religion, more and more, takes a back seat. I think the only way forward is to work in smaller ways with fewer people, and build credibility from ordinary lay people. Not pope and bishops.

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.

About catholicsensibility

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