Francis de Sales had a wonderful approach to holiness. He believed in the uniqueness of every person and recognized the variety of ways people can become holy. He also believed firmly in respect and dialogue, especially with someone who doesn’t think like you or is from another religious tradition.
Some years ago, I visited a church in Geneva, Switzerland, center of Calvinism in the 16th century, where Francis was the Catholic bishop. A statue in that church (above) pictures him holding a book and a pen in his hand – not a sword.
Geneva was a city of swords then, real and verbal; religious differences led toconflict and even bloodshed. Francis believed instead in peaceable dialogue.
Dialogue did not mean for him abandoning your own beliefs or being silent about them. It meant examining and measuring your own beliefs more deeply while listening carefully and respectfully to the beliefs…
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