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Pope Paul Invites the Jewish People to a ‘dialogue’ on Common Ideals

August 11, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Pope Paul VI today invited the “Jewish people, faithful to the religion which we call that of the Old Testament,” to join the Catholic Church in discussing “common ideals.”

In the first encyclical he has issued since he ascended to the Pontificate 13 months ago. Pope Paul extended a similar invitation to Moslems and to “followers of the great Afro-Asiatic religions.” But he made a point of highlighting his appeal for “promoting and defending common ideals” as directed to the Jews.

Addressing the bishops of the Catholic Church, to whom the encyclical was directed primarily, the Pope stated: “I think that, by opening our heart to you (the bishops), we are opening it not only to all the faithful of the Church of God but, especially, to those whom our voice can reach beyond the limits of the flock of Christ.”

The Pontiff underscored the need to discuss relations between the Catholic Church and the non-Christian religions in the fourth and last chapter of the 15,000-word document. Here he noted that, around the Catholic Church, there is a circle, vast in extent, yet not far away from the Catholics.

This circle, he stated, “is made up of the men who above all adore the One Supreme God Whom we too adore. We refer to the children, worthy of our affectionate respect, of the Jewish people, faithful to the religion which we call that of the Old Testament. Then to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Moslem religion especially, deserving our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God, and also to the followers of the great Afro-Asiatic religions.

“Obviously, we cannot share these various forms of religion, nor can we remain indifferent to the fact that each of them, in its own way, should regard itself as being equal of any other and could authorize its followers not to try to discover the perfect and definitive form, free of all error, which God has revealed as that in which He wishes to be known, loved and served. Indeed, loyalty requests us to declare openly our conviction that there is only one true religion–that of Christianity. It is our hope that all who seek God and adore Him may come to acknowledge its truth.

“But we do nevertheless recognize and respect the moral and spiritual values of the various non-Christian religions, and we desire to join with them in promoting and defending common ideals of religious liberty, human brotherhood, good culture, social welfare and civil order. For our part, we are ready to enter into discussion on these common ideals, and will not fail to take the initiative where our offer of discussion in genuine mutual respect would be well received.”

Referring to the need for a dialogue between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions, and asserting that is a role which the Church “must take up with renewed fervor today,” the Pope quoted from two books of the Old Testament–Jeremiah and Psalms–to the effect that “we must beg the Lord for the great and uplifting gift of speech” and “to enable our words to reach out to the ends of the earth.” “The Church,” he affirmed, “must be ever ready to carry on the dialogue with all men of good will, within and without its own sphere.”

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