Chapter 8, the last chapter looks at the topic ‘Religions at the Service of Fraternity in our World’. Pope Francis begins the chapter by saying in n.271 “The different religions, based on their respect for each human person as a creature called to be a child of God, contribute significantly to building fraternity and defending justice in society. Dialogue between the followers of different religions does not take place simply for the sake of diplomacy, consideration or tolerance. In the words of the Bishops of India, ‘the goal of dialogue is to establish friendship, peace and harmony, and to share spiritual an moral values and experiences in a spirit of truth and love’.” Through paragraphs 272 to 280 he discusses the role that religions can play in the task of bringing peace and justice to all. He recognises that one way we can help is through the experiences and the wisdom that we have built up over centuries as well as lessons we have learned from mistakes made through weakness and failure. We don’t ‘partake in the party politics that are the domain of the laity’ but what Pope Francis acknowledges is that we cannot ‘renounce the political dimension of life itself, which involves a constant attention to the common good and a concern for integral human development.’
As he continues through this section, he goes on to acknowledge the reality of other religions and quotes from the Second Vatican Council document on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions: ‘The Church esteems the ways in which God works in other religions, and “rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines which…often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men and women.” We are always aware that as Christians the Gospel is paramount for how we live our lives. He says, “Others drink from other sources. For us the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (n.277).
In nn.279 and 280 he draws attention to the importance of religious freedom for believers of all religion and also highlights the importance of unity within the Church a unity that is ‘enriched by differences reconciled by the working of the Spirit’ and also the desire of Christ ‘that they may all be one’ and in the light of that statement of Christ ‘we bear witness to the journey of encounter between the different Christian confessions.’