In an otherwise balanced article in this morning’s Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein writes, “and Pope Benedict XVI has stressed the sole truth of Catholicism over other faiths, even declining this month to pray with Hindus, Jews and others at an interreligious [sic] event.” That’s not quite right.
It is true that when Pope John Paul II held the first inter-religious encounter at Assisi 25 years ago, part of the program included a “common prayer” to which many conservatives took umbrage. I did not. John Paul II, always aware of the drama of events, was willing to set aside any theological concerns about “communicatio in sacris” in order to send a powerful visual message: Whatever our differences, we religious leaders seek peace and brotherhood. John Paul II had a second inter-religious meeting in 2002 at Assisi which, in the wake of 9/11, was especially poignant.