It appears that Pope Benedict XVI's communication with Christian leaders and representatives from other faiths will be decidedly one-way when he visits the U.S. next month. Benedict will hold a meeting with interfaith leaders at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. on April 17. And he will hold a prayer service with 300 leaders from other Christian denominations at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, in Manhattan the next day.
In a briefing today at the U.S. Conference of Bishops' headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Rev. Ronald Roberson, associate director of ecumenical and interrreligious affairs, and the Rev. Dennis McManus, the conference's liaison to the Jewish faith, predicted strong, "substantial" speeches from the pontiff aimed at promoting the use of religion as an instrument of peace throughout the world. They say Benedict has made it clear that improving relations with non-Catholic faiths and with other religions lies at the center of his papacy.
But both made clear that it will be Benedict who will do the talking.
At the interfaith meeting with representatives from the Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu faiths, Benedict will be presented with gifts from each religion and then will greet the 10 representatives of the faith.
But Benedict will depart right after the event, said McManus. "I think, given everything of that day, unfortunately there is no personal time in this visit."
The meeting with Christian leaders will include a vespers service and address by the pope. Fifteen will be personally introduced to the pope. But "there will be no reply or particular exchange of remarks," said McManus.
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