Pope Francis, Culture of Encounter, the Common Good, and Dharma: Public Theological Conversations Today
Pope Francis is able to communicate common values across borders of religion, regions, and sociopolitical systems. Catholic social teaching on the common good, particularly as articulated and promoted by him as part of a culture of encounter, conveys a relevant message for our times. Approaching the pope’s initiative from a South Asian context, I argue that an engagement with dharma, a religioethical vision, can be part of this culture of encounter, especially in public theological conversations about the common good. Specifically, the themes of the common good, like integral ecology and care for the vulnerable, as earnestly promoted by Pope Francis, can converse with dharma for mutual enrichment, even while the basic teachings on human dignity, freedom, and inalienable rights can usefully enrich the latter.