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Review article

The Pastoral Worker in the Service of Dialogue and Reconciliation

Josip Baloban ; Catholic Faculty of Theology, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

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page 635-658

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In the article the author analyses and reflects, in four Biblical‑theological and theological‑pastoral points, three historically specific and, at the same time, relevant factors of advocacy for and promotion of dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation withinthe historical Church of Christ and the history of humanity as such. The author focuses on religious‑ Christian, on Catholic, and on specifically Croatian factor. In the centre of his attention or study is the pastoral worker or the one who takes care of souls as an exceptional advocate and promoter of dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the Church and in society in general. Therefore, the author speaks first about Jesus of Nazareth as the true promoter of dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation (1st point). He points out that Jesus used two pastoral models: the first in immediate encounters with concrete persons and the second in his parables based on the concrete human life. Hence, the author pays special attention to the parable on the lost and found son (cf. Lk 15:11-32). He points towards Jesus who, through his activity, remains until today imprescriptible pastoral paradigm for the Church and pastoral workers, especially in relation to dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation within the historical Jesus´ Church, within every society, and in the whole world. The author recognises the Nazarene´s pastoral paradigm in the Second Vatican Council (2nd point) that abandons the apologetic attitude and opens up towards separated Christians (ecumenism), towards other religions and those who do not believe (dialogue), while promoting dialogue, reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace locally and globally from the highest Catholic instances. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church continues in this conciliar spirit; for instance, pope Paul VI speaks about the »dialogue of salvation« and pope John Paul II on »pastoral dialogue«. This conciliar spirit is evident also in writings of two Croatian theologians, T. J. Šagi‑Bunić and V. Bajsić. During the first post‑conciliar years and within ideologically closed and uniform Communist system, these two theologians promoted dialogue and reconciliation. Their understanding of dialogue and their distinction between dialogue and polemics is as important today as it was in their time.By relentlessly advocating dialogue, reconciliation, and forgiveness ad intra and ad extra, pope Francis is especially treading in the footsteps of the Nazarene (3rd point). The Pope is advocating and promoting, for instance, dialogue in the Catholic Church on four levels: with the whole world, with other religions, with separated Christians, and among the People of God. He is warning members of the Church that he leads, and especially pastoral workers of all offices and positions, that the Catholic Church, on the one hand, always starts with the concrete historical human being on this earth and the merciful Father in heaven. On the other hand, the Church is called to console, encourage, and heal, and not to moralise and condemn. In Pope´s pastoral paradigm, forgiveness and reconciliation are conditio sine qua non of today´s pastoral work. Finally, in the 4th point the author critically reflects on how Croatian pastoral workers practice or do not practice dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation in their manifold pastoral‑ecclesial everyday practice. He points out that the Nazarene is still the pastoral imperative and unsurpassable role model for every pastoral worker; that the Second Vatican council and post‑conciliar Magisterium is their guide and that the Roman Bishop, Pope Francis, ought to be their inspiration. At the end, the author speaks about various addressees with whom a current pastoral worker comes in contact. At the same time, the author offers some concrete pastoral principles for the pastoral worker in the service of dialogue and reconciliation.


pastoral worker; dialogue; reconciliation; forgiveness; the Catholic Church; Croatian theologians on dialogue

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