‘The conditions of the society in which we live oblige all of us therefore to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how we can bring the Christian message to modern man. For it is only in the Christian message that modern man can find the answer to his questions and the energy for his commitment of human solidarity’…It is absolutely necessary for us to take in to account a heritage of faith that the Church has the duty of preserving in its untouchable purity, and of presenting it to the people of our time, in a way that is as understandable and persuasive as possible.
Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 3
What is the value and aim of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue in the Church today? Can God be fully encountered in other non-Christian cultures and religions? If so, do the missions of the Church still have a purpose?
As the Pope whose pontificate began during the Second Vatican Council and extended for thirteen more years after the Council, Paul VI was given the vital task of interpreting and implementing the conclusions of the Council during a crucial period of time in the Church. He strove to use dialogue as a bridge to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ and encourage non-Christian religions to strive after the transcendental truth which every human being possesses the capacity of knowing.
In Missionary Pope, Carlos Walker illustrates how Pope Paul VI provides a clear and solid body of doctrine on inculturation which serves as an invaluable tool for missionary activity, an urgent vocation of the Church at every moment in history. These principles of evangelization are based on the “semina Verbi” (the seed of the Word) which may in fact be found in both religions and cultures. Hence, through dialogue the Church ought to deal with those seeds wherever God has planted them, and “uncover” them in the religious traditions of the peoples and among the nations.