Witness through Encounter

978-1-58731-916-7
Forthcoming Books
Cloth $45
444 pages, 6" x 9", pub date: December 10, 2020

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Witness through Encounter

The Diplomacy of Benedict XVI

O'Connor, Bernard J.

Appealing to dialogue is often just a safe way of referring to something negative, or at best blandly neutral: The avoidance of conflict, the denial of similarity, not stirring deep-seated disagreement, etc. When Bernard O’Connor says Pope Benedict XVI facilitated dialogue, however, he means something quite positive, very much tangible and certainly transformative. In providing an account of the pope’s interactions with various groups of the international community, O’Connor attempts to convey Benedict XVI’s diplomacy as encounter, where even in the sphere of international relations exhortations to “dialogue” are invitations to see more clearly and be moved as much as move. 

To dialogue is to embrace, revise perception such that our approaches to the great questions of our day are not simply shared but correct. As O’Connor writes, “Pope Benedict attempts to promote the outlook that a renewed emphasis upon objective, critical and structured philosophical reasoning positions practice, diplomatic and otherwise, to regain its lost foundation and framework.  The quest for integrity, if nothing else, should motivate our fidelity to academic pursuit, to intellectual investigation, and to rigorous interdisciplinary inquiry. So influenced, practice will then reject what is arbitrary and be guided by what is time-tested and enduring.”

O’Connor illustrates true dialogue emerging from the encounter, and in turn provides scores of characteristics of this encounter as it unfolds in papal diplomacy. In providing scores of addresses and speeches to various bodies, O’Connor presents Pope Benedict XVI as an example of effective diplomacy that treats the meetings on the world stage as engaging in true dialogue. Encounter is the true basis of dialogue and one that allows it to open to what is truly a catalyst for change toward cooperation––witness, both personal and collective. As O’Connor shows, “where there is authentic encounter, as meeting in mutual trust, what arises is context for witness.” If authentic even the diplomatic encounter has the means to deepen and transform one’s being.

Witness Through Encounter intends to fulfill multiple needs. The diplomatic approach exemplified herein is singular and worthy of study among political scientists, sociologists, philosophers and diplomats eager to embrace a worldview that is more personal than simply humanistic. This work will also be useful in inter-religious settings. An additional advantage of O’Connor’s presentation of Benedict XVI’s diplomatic approach, his witness through encounter, is that it contains insight valuable to the scholar alongside the resources used.