By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis on Friday met with member of the Swedish Academy and opened his greetings by noting how the pandemic has "tested our capacity to dialogue with others."
This, continued the Pope, is no doubt due to the long periods of confinement and the fact that the entire experience of the pandemic has deeply affected people, often unconsciously.
The danger of distance
He noted that we find ourselves "a little more distant from others, a little more reserved, perhaps more guarded or simply less inclined to join with others, to work side by side, with the satisfaction and effort born of building something together."
The Pope stressed the importance of recognising this situation, which, he said, "threatens each of us as a person", as it diminishes our capacity for relationships, and impoverishes society and the world around us.
"It also risks playing unwittingly into the hands of the culture of indifference," he added.
The Pope went on to stress his certainty that this concern is shared by all the members of the Swedish Academy, whom he described as having "the pulse" of contemporary culture.
"I wish to share this theme of social dialogue as the royal road towards a new culture," said the Pope. "The pervasive growth of social media risks replacing dialogue with a welter of monologues, often aggressive in tone," said the Pope.
Social dialogue, instead, he continued, "involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view with sincerity and without deceit."
Dialogue and relativism
Pope Francis then explained that "dialogue is not synonymous with relativism." Indeed, he noted, "society is all the more noble whenever it cultivates the search for truth and is rooted in fundamental truths, and especially when it acknowledges that 'every human being possesses an inalienable dignity'." Believers and nonbelievers alike can agree on this principle, stressed the Pope.
Bringing his address to a close, the Pope noted that "on this basis, we are together called to promote the culture of encounter."
And, quoting his latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti, he stressed: “Let us arm our children with the weapons of dialogue! Let us teach them to fight the good fight of the culture of encounter!”
FInally, the Pope thanked all those present, saying "may God bless you and your work, your families and your country."