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Reaching across religious lines: #WalkingTogether for the good of all

Julian Paparella

Monday, November 22, 2021

The whole Church is asking itself: how do we walk together? This is the fundamental question of the synodal process that the Catholic Church is currently embarking on. This worldwide journey is all about becoming a Church that is better able to walk together on the same path, united in our diversity. The point is not only to walk together as Catholics but to seize this moment as an amazing opportunity to embrace our fellow Christians of all denominations, believers of other religions, and all of our brothers and sisters in the human family. Listening to one another, we will be able to strengthen our communion with one another, hear how God is calling us today, and better live out our mission.
Now is the time to ask ourselves important questions: Have we ever visited places of worship in our neighbourhood, besides our own? Do we have friends who belong to other Christian churches and other faiths? Do we talk about what we believe with one another? Do we dialogue and work together for the common good of society? What are the fruits of walking together with each other? What difficulties do we face? Do we see those who are different from us as a gift or as a threat? Do we shy away from areas where we disagree, or do we let ourselves be enriched and learn from each other?
The Church has asked bishops to find ways of dialoguing with leaders of other Christian communities on the synodal path. Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, the head of the Vatican department for Christian Unity, recently wrote a joint letter, offering practical suggestions for how to foster dialogue among Christians of different denominations in order to listen to one another, deepen the bonds that unite us, and walk forward together.
What is our part to play in this search for unity on our path together in the world today? We know that our society is deathly allergic to religion that is inauthentic or hypocritical. What if we tried to offer the world a credible witness, putting what we believe into action? What can we do to join together as people of faith, to build bridges and spread ripples of fraternity, compassion, and solidarity across the ocean of humanity?
Three pathways open before us:
1) ENCOUNTER ONE ANOTHER: Walking together starts with getting to know each other. Organizing an event together, visiting each other, taking an interest in each other... there are so many ways of encountering each other and opening ourselves to one another.
2) LISTEN TO EACH OTHER: Taking the time to listen to one another. Not to convert each other but to receive something good, beautiful, and true from one another. Listening to each other shows that we care and are willing to welcome the other as a gift from God.
3) SERVE TOGETHER: Joint initiatives that care for those in need are an ideal way of putting what we believe into practice in a way that speaks to everyone and puts us all on common ground. Responding to the needs of our fellow human beings with concrete acts of service is a powerful magnet that draws us together. Being united for a common cause – fighting injustice, promoting peace, safeguarding the environment, caring for those in need – puts us on the same path, walking forward in the same direction for the good of all.
Let us dare to get in touch with the other churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples in our neighbourhood and find ways of coming together. There is so much that we can receive from one another and offer to others together. There’s no better time than now.
#Synod #WalkingTogether #ListeningChurch

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