The Culture of Encounter: An Imperative for a Divided World

Through the COVID-19 pandemic Pope Francis has powerfully advocated for a culture of encounter to help bridge the divisions that increasingly plague our world. Only when we fully recognize our shared humanity and engage one another with humility, generosity, and patience—from the local to the international level—will we be able to address global challenges together. The ongoing Russian war against Ukraine underscores the importance of a culture of encounter as the most appropriate and legitimate means of addressing international conflicts. War is always a negation of encounter and of dialogue, but this war in particular is rooted in the failure to recognize the right of the other to its own name, its own identity, its own history, and its right to determine its own future in peaceful interaction with its neighbors.

At this critical global moment the conference will convene scholars and practitioners to explore Pope Francis’ idea of the culture of encounter and its practical relevance across three different areas: global governance, interfaith collaboration, and digital connectivity. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states, and Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus, will provide keynote addresses.

The conference is part of the Culture of Encounter and the Global Agenda project, a collaboration between Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and three Vatican partners—the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for Education and Culture. The project, made possible through the generosity of the GHR Foundation, was announced at a November 2021 conference in partnership La Civiltà Cattolica on “The Culture of Encounter: The Future of Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue.”

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