Pope Benedict XVI told a gathering of representatives from other religions tonight that the “higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective tenets.”
“Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God."
And he explained what Christians brought to the dialogue table:
"Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue."
During the meeting at the John Paul II Cultural Center near The Catholic University of America, the pope met with about 220 people representing five religions: Judaism, Buddhism, Hindu, Islam and Jainism (an Indian religion dating back to the 9th century B.C.).
He had another speech for a meeting with the Jews, who are preparing to celebrate Passover on April 20. He said Christians and Jews celebrate a common hope rooted in the Covenant:
"We are in fact, as the prophets say, "prisoners of hope" (Zachariah 9:12). This bond permits us Christians to celebrate alongside you, though in our own way, the Passover of Christ's death and resurrection, which we see as inseparable from your own, for Jesus himself said: "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22). Our Easter and your Pesah, while distinct and different, unite us in our common hope centered on God and his mercy. They urge us to cooperate with each other and with all men and women of goodwill to make this a better world for all as we await the fulfillment of God's promises."