Dialogue is the Key

Benedict XVI and others in the Vatican have gone to great lengths in recent days to respond to the unexpected criticism and even violence that the Pope’s speech at the University of Regensberg elicited from Muslims around the world. This speech, which was an academic presentation in an academic setting, attempted to identify what Benedict sees as a split between faith and reason in recent centuries and the modern world as root cause for so many of the troubles we see around us. Speaking not just for Christianity, Benedict asserts that “the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.”

In listening to and reading the varous responses, clarifications, and even apologies that have come from from the Church, one word is repeated over and over: dialogue. Benedict claims to be promoting more and more dialogue, which — by definition — is a two way street. Dialogue requires the ability to articulate clearly one’s own view, and to listen actively to the view of the other. The pope wants there to be dialogue betweeen the great religions of the world, between the cultures of East and West, between religion and secular society.

I couldn’t agree more that dialogue — conversation, discussion, open communication — is what we need to address so many challenges. Communication — whether it be between two people or among “cultures” — is the sine qua non that lays the foundation and provides the context for all human progress and happiness. That being said, how sad I am to know that Benedict and many Catholic church leaders are not so committed to dialogue within the Church as well as outside the Church. Why is the Pope not calling for “greater dialogue” with those inside the Church who feel unheard, unlistened to, and even attacked or unwelcome??

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