VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI praised collaboration with other faiths in pursuit of common social goals but cautioned against dialogue that could lead to blurring of religious differences.
Benedict’s statement, released on Tuesday (Dec. 9), was addressed to participants in a Vatican-sponsored academic event connected to the current European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
“Let believers always be ready to promote initiatives of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, in order to stimulate collaboration in areas of common interest, such as the dignity of the human person, the search for the common good, peace-building, and development,” he wrote.

Benedict added that “to be authentic, such dialogue must avoid yielding to relativism and syncretism,” which is the blending of elements from different religious traditions.
The pope has often emphasized the limits of interreligious dialogue, which he recently described as “not possible in the strict sense of the term,” even as he has supported “intercultural dialogue” among different faith communities.
In Tuesday’s message, Benedict also described the “principles and values springing from the Gospel” as the basis for contemporary European culture, and repeated earlier calls for recognition of the “Christian roots of Europe.”
Like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Benedict has been a consistent supporter of the 27-member European Union, but the Vatican has failed in attempts to include any reference to the continent’s Christian heritage in the proposed (and still unratified) European Constitution.
By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.
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