Pope Calls For Religious Tolerance, But Also Evangelization

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI on Friday called for “tolerance and mutual respect” among religions while stressing that the Roman Catholic Church should push forward in its battle to win souls.

“Is it still permissible to evangelize today? Shouldn’t religions and conceptions of the world instead cohabit peacefully and seek to work together for what is best for humanity?” the pope asked in his year-end speech to cardinals and members of the Roman curia, or church government.

“It is indisputable that we should all cohabit and cooperate in tolerance and mutual respect,” he said. “The Church is energetically involved in this area.”

Then he added: “But does this willingness for dialogue and collaboration also mean that in parallel we can no longer convey the message of Jesus Christ, or propose to people and the world this call and the hope that comes from it?

“Those who have discovered a great truth, a great joy, should communicate it,” the pope concluded.

The pontiff also referred to a call for dialogue contained in an October letter from 138 Muslim leaders and intellectuals from around the world to the Catholic Church and other Christian faiths.

“I replied to it with joy, expressing my full agreement with such noble intentions, and stressing the urgency of a commitment to the safeguarding of values and mutual respect, to dialogue and collaboration,” said the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics.

“The shared recognition of the existence of a single God is the precursor to shared action to defend respect for the dignity of each human being,” he said.