DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY November 18, 1999 vol. 10, no. 219
NEWS & VIEWS
POPE REFLECTS ON VISIT TO GEORGIA AND INDIA, INSISTING DIALOGUE, EVANGELIZATION GO TOGETHER
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- At his weekly public audience on November 17, Pope John Paul II said that his visit to the former Soviet republic of Georgia had been an opportunity to "pay homage to the witness that the Church in Georgia has performed through the centuries, and to build new bridges of contact among Christians."
The Pope observed that Georgia is now "living through a very important period," in the rebirth of freedom after years of Communist rule. He reported that the Georgian people seemed "determined to confront their future with courage and to become a confident member of a united Europe." The Holy Father also commented on his "cordial meeting" with the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II and the country's President Eduoard Shevardnadze.
Finally, the Pope paid tribute to the "small but fervent Catholic community in the Caucasus, which he saw as a "sign of hope for the future of the Church in that region."
During his audience the Pope appeared to be suffering from a slight cold, and he kept on his red cloak over his white cassock. But he spoke without apparent effort, in a strong and clear voice.
Commenting on his trip to India during a public audience on November 17, Pope John Paul II said: "It was important to reaffirm the lively desire of the Church for a fruitful dialogue among believers of all religions, which can lead to renewed understanding and solidarity, in service to the entire human family."
The Holy Father briefly alluded to the protests that had been staged by some militant Hindu groups prior to his arrival in India, commenting that the "reciprocal respect" among religious groups in that country "is today in difficulty from certain quarters."
But the Pope also emphasized that "inter-religious dialogue does not exclude
the mission of the Church to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, but
on the contrary completes it." Referring to his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia
in Asia, which he released during his stay in India, the Holy Father affirmed:
"The proclamation of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ must
always be done with profound respect for the consciences of those who hear
it." He went on to say that missionary workers should show respect for the
culture and the religious traditions of the people with whom they work.
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NEWS & VIEWS