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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 104, August 2007



message to the international movement

of catholic students

(about Dialogue with Civilizations)


Vatican City, 8th June 2007

Prot. N. 3172/2007/M-St  

It is with great pleasure that I extend my heartfelt greetings to the participants in the IMCS International Committee Meeting that is taking place in Malaysia from 25th June to 6th July 2007. You have chosen a significant theme for your gathering at this crucial moment of the world’s history, “Empowering Catholic Student Action for Dialogue and Peace.”

The United Nations Organization declared the year 2001 the “International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations”. For the celebration of the World Day of Peace that year, Pope John Paul II wrote a very beautiful message in which he urgently invited “believers in Christ, together with all men and women of good will, to reflect on the theme of dialogue between cultures and traditions” (no. 3). This dialogue, he affirmed, “is the obligatory path to the building of a reconciled world, a world able to look with serenity to its own future ... [and is] crucial to the pursuit of peace” (ibid.). 

The Servant of God was in fact convinced that the only way to ensure stable peace is to share the ideal of a truly universal brotherhood. Indeed among the followers of the different religions, a greater sense of human brotherhood and a more fraternal life together is brought about by the awareness that God is the common Father of all (cf. ibid., no. 1).

Moreover, in the encyclical Redemptoris Missio, he clearly stated that “dialogue does not originate from tactical concerns or self-interest, but is an activity with its own guiding principles, requirements and dignity. It is demanded by deep respect for everything that has been brought about in human beings by the Spirit who blows where he wills. Through dialogue, the Church seeks to uncover the ‘seeds of the Word’, a ‘ray of that truth which enlightens all men’; these are found in individuals and in the religious traditions of mankind. Dialogue is based on hope and love, and will bear fruit in the Spirit” (RM 56). This theological vision can also be found in our Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi (no. 96).

The said encyclical also describes the spirit with which dialogue must be carried out, that is: “Those engaged in this dialogue must be consistent with their own religious traditions and convictions, and be open to understanding those of the other party without pretense or close-mindedness, but with truth, humility and frankness, knowing that dialogue can enrich each side” (ibid.). May I add as well that in our Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi, Numbers 2, 30, 34, 35, 36 and 60, we dealt with the same question.

Pope Benedict XVI describes true dialogue as “respectful of differences, courageous, patient and persevering, … finds its strength in prayer and is nourished by the hope that dwells in all who believe in God and put their trust in him” (Address to the Members of the Foundation for Inter-religious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, 1 February 2007).

Certainly, there are many forms of dialogue, but one which we can all engage in is the “so-called ‘dialogue of life’, through which believers of different religions bear witness before each other in daily life to their own human and spiritual values, and help each other to live according to those values in order to build a more just and fraternal society” (RM 57 and EMCC 8, 59, 88, 100 and JPR ch. 1, art. 2, § 2).

In this area, the contribution of the laity is indispensable, not only by means of their example but also through research and study that some will be able to do. Indeed Pope Benedict insisted that “interreligious and intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need for our time” (aforementioned Address).

This is the need that you, Catholic Students especially, the hope of the world and the Church, are called to fill and to act upon, if you are to be empowered for dialogue that brings peace.                                                                                 



X Archbishop Agostino Marchetto