Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue

Ecumenism is an attitude about relationships with other Christians - Orthodox, Anglican or various branches of Protestantism. In turn, interreligious dialogue takes place between representatives of other religions, i.e. between Christians and Muslims, Buddhists and Jews.
Interreligious dialogue

John Paul II invited representatives of other Christian denominations and other religions to pray for peace together as part of the World Days of Prayer for Peace. The Pope had the opportunity to meet representatives of other Christian Churches and religions, often during his pilgrimages to various countries; he visited temples of various denominations and religions; he conducted talks and signed declarations regarding dialogue. Here are some selected events from his pontificate:

Interreligious dialogue
The Pope held meetings with leaders of other religions. He also visited: a synagogue, a Buddhist temple and a mosque. During a pilgrimage to Morocco in 1985, he spoke to Muslim youth.
Here are some selected events from this period:
• 1981 - he met with the main rabbi of Rome, prof. Elio Toaff.
• 1984 – he visited a Buddhist temple in Bangkok (Thailand).
• 1985 – he gave a speech to Muslim youth in Casablanca (Morocco).
• 1986 – he visited the Roman Synagogue.
• 1993 - he met during the audience the chief rabbi of Israel, Meir Lau.
• 2000 - he prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
• 2001- he visited the place commemorating St. John the Baptist in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and met with Muslim leaders; this is the pope's first visit to the mosque.
• 2003 - received a delegation from the World Jewish Congress during the audience.

In Casablanca John Paul II said to young muslims: "Christians and Muslims, we have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a very model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection".

Here are some selected events:
  • 1979 - during the pilgrimage to Turkey - announcement of a joint declaration on the establishment of a Catholic-Orthodox mixed commission for theological dialogue.
  • 1989 - during a visit to Rome at the invitation of Archbishop Canterbury Robert Runcie, the announcement of a joint declaration on the will to cooperate in restoring full communion between Catholics and Anglicans.
  • 1995 – visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I to the Vatican; announcement of a joint declaration summarizing the achievements of the ecumenical dialogue to date. 
  • 1995 - the encyclical Ut unum sint devoted to ecumenical activity 
  • 2000 – the Ecumenical Commemoration of the Witnesses to the Faith in the 20th century takes place in the Roman Colosseum.
As for the dialogue with the Eastern Church, relations with the Orthodox hierarchs in Russia were the most difficult. John Paul II had a great desire to visit this country, but the Pope never managed to make a pilgrimage to Russia. An important gesture was the gift of the icon of the Kazan Mother of God in Moscow in 2004 - valuable to the Orthodox – for the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia - Patriarch Alexius II. The gift was passed by the delegation of the Holy See, headed by the papal envoy, Cardinal Walter Kasper.

Meeting with Pope
Shevah Weiss, Jewish politician and diplomat, ambassador to Poland from 2000 to 2003 and achairman of the Yad Vashem Institute Council, had the opportunity to meet at John Paul II in Yad Vashem. What was his impression?