WRITING in one of Italy’s major secular newspapers, Pope Francis called for a “sincere and rigorous dialogue” between the Church and non-believers as an “intimate and indispensable expression” of Christian love.
The pope’s words appeared in a 2600-word letter published in the September 11 edition of the Rome daily La Repubblica, in reply to recent columns by Eugenio Scalfari, a co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
An “open and unprejudiced dialogue” between Christians and those of no religious faith is “rightful and precious” today for at least two reasons, Pope Francis wrote.
Such a dialogue could “open doors for a serious and fertile encounter” between secular culture and Christian culture, which have lost the ability to communicate due largely to modern views of faith as the “darkness of superstition opposed to the light of reason.”
In fact, the pope wrote, the impulse toward communication springs out of the very nature of Christian faith.
“Since it is born of love,” he wrote, quoting his encyclical Lumen Fidei, “faith is not intransigent, but grows in respectful coexistence with others. … Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all.”
“This loving quality of faith offers a path of dialogue with skeptics, despite modern ideas of truth as “relative and subjective.”
“I would not speak, not even for a believer, of ‘absolute’ truth, in the sense of absolute as disconnected, lacking any relationship,” the pope wrote.
“Truth, according to Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore truth is a relationship.”
It is rare for a pope to contribute to a secular newspaper. In December 2012, Britain’s Financial Times published a column on the meaning of Christmas by Pope Benedict XVI.