Dialogue and the "culture of encounter" as the part to the peace in the modern world (in the light of Pope Francis course)

  • Dariusz Tulowiecki


Summary. Religious differences may rise and actually historically rose tensions and even wars. In the history, Christians also caused wars and were a threat to social integration and peace, despite the fact that Christianity is a religion of peace. God in Christians’ vision is a God of peace, and the birth of Son of God was to give peace «among men in whom he is well pleased»  (Lk 2,14b). Although Christians themselves caused wars, died in them, were murdered and had to fight, the social doctrine of Christianity is focused on peace. Also the social thought of the Roman Catholic Church strives to build peace.

Over the years, the social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church was formed, which sees the conditions and foundations for peace. These are: the dignity of the human person, the natural law, human rights, common good, truth, freedom, love and social justice. The development of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on peace was contributed by popes of XX century: Pius XI (1922–1939), Pius XII (1939–1958), with high impact – John XXIII (1958–1963), Paul VI (1963–1978), Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013). After Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the most important role of the preceptor in the Church of Rome fulfills Francis – the pope from Argentina. Although his pontificate is not long, and teaching is not complete, but you can tell that he continues to build the social doctrine of the Roman Church in matters of peace through the development of so-called «culture of encounter». Based on selected speeches and letters of two years’ pontificate of Francis, the first figure of «culture of encounter» can be lined out as a way of preventing and resolving tensions in the contemporary world. 

Fundamentals of the concept of dialogue Francis created in the days of being a Jesuit priest and professor at Jesuit universities. He based it on the concept of Romano Guardini’s dialogue. Foundations of the look at the dialogue – in terms of Jorge Mario Bergoglio are strictly theological: God enters into dialogue with man, what enables man to «leaving himself» and enter into dialogue with others. Bergoglio dealt with various aspects of the dialogue: the Church and the world, culture and faith, dialogue between religions and cultures, dialogue inter-social and inter-national, dialogue rising solidarity and co-creating the common good. According to him the dialogue is a continuous task, not a single event; is overcoming widespread «culture of effacement» and  «culture of fight» towards a «culture of encounter»; it releases from autism, isolation, gives strength and meaning of life, renews the ability to listen, lets looking at community in the perspective of the whole and not just selected units. As Bishop of Rome Jorge Mario Bergoglio continues and develops his idea of «a culture of dialogue and encounter». In promoting dialogue, he sees his own mission and permanent commitment imposed on him. He promotes the atmosphere – a kind of «music» – of dialogue, by basing it on emotions, respect, intuition, lack of threat and on trust. The dialogue in this sense sees a partner in each person, values the exchange always positively, and as a result it leads to making life ethical, bringing back respect for life and rights of every human being, granting the world a more human face. «Culture of encounter» has the power of social integration: it removes marginalization, the man is the goal not the means of actions, it does not allow a man to be reduced to a mere object, tools for profit or authority, but includes him into a community that is created by people and for their benefit. Society integrated in this way, constantly following «culture of encounter» rule, renews itself all the time and continually builds peace. All people are called to such building: believers and those who do not believe, all of good will. Also, the heads of state have in this effort of breaking the spiral of violence and a «culture of conflict» – both in economic and political dimension – big task and responsibility. Pope Francis reminded about this in a special letter to president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on September 14, 2014 year. In the letter he wrote: «it is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development». On thebasis of the current teaching of PopeFrancisthe following conclusion can be drawn, thatthe key topeace in the worldin many dimensions- evenbetweenreligions–isadialoguedeveloped under «cultureof encounter».