Dialogue breaks down walls of division and misunderstanding

by Elise Harris
Vatican City, Oct 22, 2016 / 03:53 am (CNA/EWTN News)

Dialogue is a key element of mercy, Pope Francis said Saturday, explaining that when we interrupt others in order to push our own opinions without truly listening, we risk ruining relationships.

Speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 22, the Pope pointed to “a very important aspect of mercy, which is precisely dialogue.”

We don’t dialogue when we don’t listen well or when we tend to interrupt the other in order to prove that we are right,” he said, noting that many times when we are listening to someone, “we stop them and say ‘it’s not like this!’”

By not letting people finish explaining what they want to say, “this impedes dialogue, this is aggression,” he said, adding that “if I don’t let others say everything they have in their heart, and if I start to scream – and today there is a lot of screaming – this relationship between us won’t have a good ending.”

Instead, “true dialogue needs moments of silence in order to welcome the extraordinary gift of the presence of God in our brother.”

Pope Francis spoke to the roughly 100,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Jubilee general audience, according to the Vatican Gendarmerie. The extra audience is held once a month in addition to the Pope’s weekly audience for the duration of the Jubilee of Mercy.

In his address, the Pope focused on the Gospel passage from John in which Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well who, after speaking with him, tells the entire region about her conversation with the Messiah.

One of the things that stands out most in the passage, Francis said, is the dialogue between the Jesus and the woman.

“Dialogue allows people to know and understand the needs of others,” he said, explaining that to dialogue is a sign of respect, because it puts people in “a position to listen” and to receive the best of others.

It’s also a sign of charity, because although dialogue doesn’t ignore differences, “it can help in searching for and sharing the common good,” he said.

“Many times we don’t encounter our brothers, despite living beside them, above all when we allow our position to dominate over that of the other,” Francis continued.

When we listen to what others are saying and then, “with meekness,” explain our own thoughts, “the family, the neighborhood and one’s place of work are better.” However, if we interrupt and start “to scream,” the relationship won’t end well.

Dialogue helps “to humanize relationships and to overcome misunderstandings,” he said, adding that there is a great need for dialogue within families.

How much easier questions are resolved if they learn to listen to each other,” he said, noting that this goes for every relationship, including husband and wife, parents and children, teachers and students, and managers and employees.

The Church is also in dialogue with the men and women of every age, in order to understand “the needs that are in the heart of every person and to contribute to the realization of the common good,” he said.

Pope Francis also pointed to the importance of dialogue with other religions and of caring for creation, saying that “dialogue on such an important theme is an unavoidable requirement.”

He concluded by emphasizing that all forms of dialogue “are an expression of the great need for the love of God,” because dialogue “breaks down walls of division and misunderstanding.”

Truly listening to others “creates bridges of communication and doesn’t allow anyone to be isolated, locking themselves inside their own little world.”

Jesus understood well what was in the Samaritan woman’s heart, but “nevertheless, he did not deny her the ability to express herself and he entered a little bit into the mystery of her life,” the Pope said, explaining that this teaching “also goes for us.”

Through dialogue, we can make signs of God’s mercy grow and render them an instrument of welcome and respect.”

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