Build bridges of hope, show empathy in dialogue urges Pope

bridges of hope

The example of St Paul and his mission to Greece is a reminder to Christians to approach those of other cultures as people who know the love of God not as non-believers worthy of hostility and contempt.

He is encouraging Christians to create bridges of hope rather than hostility.

The comments were made by Pope Francis during his weekly general audience on November 6.

“Paul does not look at the city of Athens and the pagan world with hostility but with the eyes of faith,” he said.

“And this makes us question our way of looking at our cities: Do we observe them with indifference? With contempt? Or with the faith that recognizes children of God in the midst of the anonymous crowds?”

Francis said the paganism of the Greeks did not cause St Paul to flee.

Instead, “Paul observes the culture and environment of Athens from a contemplative gaze that sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares.”

“In the heart of one of the most famous institutions of the ancient world, the Areopagus, he realizes an extraordinary example of inculturation of the message of the faith,” the pope said.

“He proclaims Jesus Christ to idol worshippers and doesn’t do it by attacking them, but by making himself a ‘pontiff,’ a builder of bridges.”

Francis said St Paul engages with empathy and it is in this way that he builds bridges of hope with culture, with those who do not believe or with those who have a different creed from ours.

Calling on tradition, Francis, cited Pope Benedict XVI, saying that acting with empathy is not proclaiming the unknown god, but rather “proclaiming him whom people do not know and yet do know – the unknown-known”.

According to tradition, St. Paul preached to the Athenians at the Areopagus, an area that was not only a symbol of Greek political and cultural life but also the location of an altar to the “unknown god.”


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