If ‘dialogue’ means ‘meeting through the word’ (‘dia-logos’), dialogue is necessary to walk together, to live, that is, that style of ‘synodality’ (‘synod’ means ‘journey made together’), with which Pope Francis is calling the Church to face the challenges and promises of our times.
To experience an authentic synodal process, the Church must increasingly be a people in dialogue, within herself and with others. The path of synodality asks us all to verify ourselves on the ability to dialogue in truth. I invite you to do so by examining ourselves on this decalogue, which I elaborated several years ago and put to the test on many occasions to educate us in dialogue:
1. There is no dialogue without humility. By accepting to listen to the other, by renouncing all claims on them, the way is opened to the truth, to which we all owe obedience.
2. There is no dialogue without listening. It is necessary to silence prejudices and fears, to be open to the new, respectful of the foreignness of the other, welcoming them with trust as an inner guest, eager to live the common belonging to the truth and
to the love that saves.
3. There is no dialogue without amazement. Being amazed, seeing the world with different eyes, feeling part and not all, getting involved and taking risks, disorients, but frees from false resistance and makes one capable of welcoming the truth from wherever it comes.
4. There is no dialogue without a common language. To understand the words of the others, one must listen to their hearts and respect the vital situation from which they come. Only in this way can dialogue be an ‘encounter
in the word’ (‘dia-logos’).
5.There is no dialogue without silence. Silence is necessary both to listen and reflect on what is being proposed by the other, and to express authentic closeness, often conveyed by gestures rather than many words. We will not speak true words if we have not first walked the paths of silence for a long time!
6.There is no dialogue without freedom. To open up to dialogue and live it, you need to be: free from yourself, willing to question yourself; free from others, rejecting the conditionings and fears that they sometimes impose; and free to obey only the truth,
which sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).
7.There is no dialogue without mutual forgiveness. Anyone who wants to dialogue must clear his mind and heart of any resentment or wound of wrongs suffered. By remembering, the heart must be purified with the request and offer of forgiveness.
8.There is no dialogue without mutual knowledge. Ignorance of the other, of his culture, of his vital world, is at the basis of misunderstandings and closures. To dialogue it is necessary to know the other and to be known by them.
9.There is no dialogue without responsibility. Whoever dialogues must never forget the network of human relationships from which he comes and towards which he is responsible. Dialogue does not eliminate, rather it increases, the sense of responsibility that each one must have
towards the good of all.
10.There is no dialogue without truth. Anyone who has no passion for the truth will not be able to dialogue. In dialogue the heart opens to the one who is the truth, the living God, who comes to dwell in whoever – in dialogue with him – welcomes his love for him.
Therefore, dialogue requires humility, listening, the ability to be amazed, understanding, silence, freedom from oneself, from others and from things, reciprocity in forgiving and knowing one another, responsibility in wanting the good, and obedience to the truth.(Illustrations: Luis Henrique Alves Pinto)
Mons. Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto (Italy).