Pope sees Pseudo-Dionysius as model for dialogue

Vatican, May. 14, 2008 (CWNews.com) – Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) resumed his series of talks on the early Church Fathers at his weekly public audience on May 14, introducing the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, explaining how that 6th-century scholar anticipated the demands of inter-faith dialogue today.

The actual author of the works written by the Pseudo-Dionysius (also sometimes known as Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) is unknown. He took his pseudonym from the Athenian named Dionysius, a prominent figure at the Areopagus, whose conversion by St. Paul is described in the Acts of the Apostles. The goal of the Pseudo-Dionysius, Pope Benedict explained to his Wednesday audience, was “to place Greek wisdom at the service of the Gospel.”

The Pseudo-Dionysius firmly believed that truth “eradicates error and brings the good to shine forth,” the Holy Father said. Since the truth is found in God, the scholar’s work provided the Church with the first “great mystical theology,” in which he “expresses the soul’s journey toward God.” With that mystical theology, the Pseudo-Dionysius acted as a bridge between Christian thought and the mystical faiths of Asia, Pope Benedict said. Today that work “assumes fresh relevance,” the Pontiff continued, as the Church seeks broader dialogue with the Asian world.

At the same time, Pope Benedict observed, the Pseudo-Dionysius provides a model for effective dialogue because he “does not accept superficiality.” He insisted, in his work, on proclaiming the truth as he knew it, confident that light of truth will illuminate everyone. In that light, the Pope said, “disputes disappear and it becomes possible to understand one another– or at least to speak to and approach one another.”

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