Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for January

I can’t remember a time when I’ve gone this many days without blogging! But I’m teaching two “J-term” courses – January term courses, each of which meets for six hours a week for the four weeks of January – an undergraduate honors seminar called Heroes and Heroism at University of St. Thomas and a graduate Theology course in World Spiritualities at St. Catherine University. Suffice it to say that 12 hours of teaching and the related course preparation are taking a lot of my energy!

I’ve managed to pay enough attention to things outside of my two courses to watch Pope Francis’ first video message for the traditional papal prayer intention for the month, in which he calls on people of different faiths around the world to work together for peace and justice. The reaction to the video has been sharp and varied, with some expressing joy and admiration for the Pope’s words, and others questioning the Pope’s catholicity.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to interfaith dialogue is how to reconcile Christianity’s faith in Jesus Christ as the universal Savior with the positive meaning in God’s plan of salvation of the other religious traditions and their saving value for their adherents. To quote one commentator “How to make sense of the universal mission of Christianity for the whole world without having thereby to depreciate and undervalue the significance of other religious faiths for their adherents?”

It is not a small challenge.

Here is the video, which I plan to show to my World Spiritualities class this evening before we begin our discussion of Judaiam: