2013-11-28 Vatican - Pope Francis on Thursday met with participants from the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who are exploring the theme, “Members of different religious traditions in civil society”.

Speaking to the participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pope Francis underlined the importance of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions.He noted that due to increasing movement of peoples because of phenomena such as migration, Christians are being challenged to be more open to different cultures, religions and traditions.

Quoting from his recently published Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, the Pope said "an attitude of openness in truth and love must prevail in dialogue with believers of non-Christian religions, despite the various obstacles and difficulties, particularly fundamentalism on both sides "Recognizing the fact that there are situations in the world where coexistence is difficult due to fear, the Holy Father underlined that the one way to overcome this fear, was to foster dialogue.

Dialogue, he went on to say, does not mean giving up your identity as a Christian. On the contrary, the Pope stressed "true openness means remaining firm in ones deepest convictions, and therefore being open to understanding others.

Constructive dialogue between people of different religious traditions, Pope Francis continued, also serves to overcome another fear, which, unfortunately we find on the increase in a more heavily secularized society. It is, he said, the fear of different religious traditions and as such the religious dimension. In his concluding comments, the Holy Father said the future for interreligious dialogue lies in the coexistence of respectful diversity, and the fundamental right to religious freedom, in all its dimensions.

The Plenary Assembly concludes November 28th