“The continued global health crisis has painfully highlighted the urgent need to promote a culture of encounter for the whole human family, and for all men and women to be ‘passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone.”

Pope Francis made the remark to a 13-member delegation from the European Institute for International Studies (EIIS), a centre for research and education in diplomacy, global governance, sustainable development and economic growth.

The institute, with centres in Salamanca, Spain, and Stockholm, Sweden, prepares leaders with a positive action to make a difference in building a better world.

The occasion of the group’s visit was to present to the Pope a copy of the volume entitled, “The Culture of Encounter: International Relations, Interreligious Dialogue and Peace”, which includes the fruit of the Stockholm Meeting of October 2019.  The Pope thanked the leader of the delegation, Cardinal Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm, for the support that the Church in Sweden has given to “this initiative in favour of promoting dialogue between the religions in service of the unity of our human family.”

World’s religions and the culture of encounter

Welcoming the efforts of the EIIS in responding to the opportunities and challenges that this poses for the world’s religions, the Holy Father underscored the importance of the role of its academics, diplomats and their colleagues in promoting the culture of encounter.

“By its very nature,” he said, “your contribution must be grounded both in reasoned analysis and an orientation to practical and relational applications and outcomes, with particular concern for the rights of the poorest and most marginalized.”

Minds and hearts, he said, “need to be in harmony in pursuing the universal common good and in seeking the integral development of every man and woman, with no exception or unjust discrimination.”

Defending human rights of all

The Holy Father stressed that such an “integrated approach to defending and promoting the rights of all is incumbent upon both political and religious leaders, for it is precisely a culture of encounter that can provide a basis to a more united and reconciled world.

“Only this culture, moreover, can lead to sustainable justice and peace for all, as well as genuine care for our common home.”

Pope Francis thus encouraged them to remain committed to the search for new and creative paths leading to the growth of this culture of encounter, for the sake also of the concord and wellbeing of future generations.