Closing Remarks: Nostra aetate and creating a “Culture of Inclusion”

19 November 2015

His Eminence Cardinal Ayuso

KAICIID’s, Commemorative Event on the occasion of  50° ANNIVERSARY OF THE “NOSTRA AETATE” Declaration

Closing Remarks

Nostra aetate and creating a “Culture of Inclusion”

Rev. Fr. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

19 November 2015

Your Eminence, Excellencies, dear friends,

It is my pleasure to share with you as we conclude our time together, a brief reflection on the significance of the final Conciliar document Nostra aetate, which, in my opinion, witnesses to the opening and, to use a term dear to Pope Francis, to the mercy with which the Catholic Church has looked and continues to look at life in our world.

I thank all of you who are here and who have shared this day moments of reflection that were, I believe, a tangible sign of the willingness of the Catholic Church to dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other religions, as advocated by Nostra aetate .

It is true that in these fifty years much has been accomplished, but much still remains to be done. Although many words have been said, there also have been too many silences. The path indicated by Nostra aetate is still today a demanding one and, as we read in the Declaration, we continue to be urged to recognize, preserve and advance all the spiritual, moral and socio-cultural values found in religions.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, of which I am the Secretary, is aware of its debt to all those Council Fathers, to be exact 2221 of them, who on 28 October fifty years ago, with great courage and foresight, approved the declaration Nostra aetate. We are also indebted to all those who in the past 50 years, from whatever religion to which they belonged, have promoted interreligious dialogue. Let me also thank the International Dialogue Center (KAICIID), for all the efforts made towards the promotion of interreligious dialogue and for the many different initiatives that support people of different religions to come together, to get to know each other and to learn to work together for the good of humanity.

Nostra aetate urged that encounters between believers, like this one today, have a clear identity and a spirit of respect, esteem and collaboration. In this regard I would like to recall here what was said by His Eminence Cardinal Tauran, at the inauguration of the International Dialogue Center (KAICIID), when he expressed the hope that our initiatives would be conducted with "Vision, Honesty and Credibility" (Vienna, 26 November 2012 ).

         In these times, for many reasons dark and difficult, I believe that the purpose of interreligious dialogue is to take a common path "towards the truth." This journey needs to take into account these aspects: the identity of the person who is dialoguing, that one can not talk out of ambiguity; that each must pay attention to the other: that those who pray and think differently from me are not an enemy; and that the intentions of each must be sincere.

We must undoubtedly strengthen the fruitful cooperation among us believers of different religions on issues of common interest for the good of the human family and of our common home.

 It is necessary to preserve the universal spirit with which Pope Francis speaks in his encyclical Laudato Sì: " The majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers. This should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity”  (Laudato Si’, n. 201).

I think I can say that the years ahead will see the Catholic Church even more committed to respond to the great challenge of interreligious dialogue. 50 years ago Nostra aetate opened a door that, clearly, has not been closed. Indeed, the Council document is still an encouragement for all of us to never close the door. Its message is timeless; let me reiterate some points contained in it:

the growing interdependence of peoples (cfr. N. 1);
the human search for meaning to life, to suffering, and to death;
the profound human questions which remain valid because of their permanence (see. no. 1);
the common origin and the only destiny of humanity (cfr. n. 1);
unicity of the human family (cfr. n. 1);
that religions are a search for God or the Absolute, within the various ethnic groups and cultures (cfr. n. 1).

We know now more than ever, that interreligious dialogue is significant and irreplaceable. It is, among other things, a prerequisite for that peace which is a vital condition for everyone, as well as a longing of every human being, which every religion, with its religious and human heritage, can greatly help to achieve.

Let me conclude with the words that Pope Francis addressed to the participants at the recent General Interreligious Audience, held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate: "We can walk together taking care of one another and of creation. All believers of every religion. Together we can praise the Creator for giving us the garden of the world to till and keep as a common good, and we can achieve shared plans to overcome poverty and to ensure to every man and woman the conditions for a dignified life"(General Interreligious Audience, October 28, 2015).

Thank you for your kind attention.