A child’s depiction of interreligious dialogue

By Devin Watkins

Nov 26 2020

The Holy See’s representative at the UN in Geneva attends the launch of a book on interreligious dialogue, and says peace and true freedom are only possible when based on dialogue.

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič recently took part in the presentation of a book entitled “The promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue as an instrument of peace and fraternity”.

The event took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and was organized by the World Muslim League and the United Nations University for Peace.

The Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN organizations in Geneva explored three “golden threads” running through the book: human fraternity, justice, and dialogue as a tool for peace.

Fraternity opens non-conflictual path

Human fraternity, said Archbishop Jurkovič, is an idea which has the capacity to urge nations to overcome all forms of ideology, national self-interest, and racism.

He recalled Pope Francis’ signing of the Document on Human Fraternity last year, and its focus on “reconciliation and fraternity” among peoples.

Noting that no society is completely religiously homogenous, Archbishop Jurkovič said religions emit a “polychromatic light” which illumines each “in a non-conflictual vision.”

He pointed to a sharp contrast between a “civilization of encounter” and an “incivility of conflict”, which present no middle path.

“In order to avoid conflict,” he said, “it is imperative to develop a fraternal culture of sincere exchange and open dialogue.”

Justice requires tolerance and freedom

Turning to the theme of justice, Archbishop Jurkovič said, “When justice triumphs, peace reigns.”

Peace and justice, he added, go hand in hand, and require each person’s human rights and equal dignity to be safeguarded.

“When human dignity is protected, men and women are at liberty to devote themselves with an unhindered conscience to seek the Truth.”

Religious freedom, said Archbishop Jurkovič, tops the list of inviolable human rights, because it is based on people’s “inherent necessity” to nourish their spirit.

He also spoke about the distinction between religious tolerance and religious freedom. Tolerance, noted the Vatican representative, has a negative connotation of “putting up with” others’ differences, rather than appreciating them in mutual respect.

“It may be more fruitful to facilitate better relationships among religious traditions on the more dynamic concept of mutual brotherhood,” he said, “because this affords the ability to render an account not only for actions made, but also for those omitted.”

Dialogue makes peace possible

Archbishop Jurkovič then described how dialogue provides the basis for the pursuit of peace.

Mutually-enriching dialogue, he said, means all parties have the right to speak and the duty to listen.

“These essential components of any authentic dialogue arise from two intrinsic characteristics that every human being possesses, namely, that each person is the bearer of human dignity and shines with “a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men’.”

He said Christians ascribe this universal reality to the fact that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Human dignity permits dialogue, while the pursuit of Truth makes way for “an authentic encounter between various religious confessions.”

Dialogue, said Archbishop Jurkovič, is therefore the main instrument for achieving peace and fraternity, and ultimately makes God present in any human encounter. – Vatican News