Cardinal Arizmendi: Crush or Dialogue

Let’s learn to dialogue, starting with our family, with openness of heart


Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and responsible for the Doctrine of Faith at the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate (CEM), offers Exaudi readers his weekly article titled “Crush or Dialogue.”



It is common that, in married life, spouses do not dialogue, but instead one tries to impose himself on the other, usually the man over the woman, and they become more and more distant. When they were dating, love made them agree on almost everything, without arguments, although it could be more out of interest in not losing the other than out of mature love. For example, if she went to Sunday Mass and asked her boyfriend, who was not a believer in her, to go with her, he would accompany her, perhaps not out of faith, but to be on good terms with her. Once married, that interest is lost and the moment comes when each person tries to impose their reason, his point of view, his decision, above everything and everyone. They no longer dialogue to find what is best for both of them and for the family, but instead try to impose themselves and crush the other, sometimes with verbal and even physical violence, even with offenses and negative allusions towards the other party’s family. Because they don’t know how to dialogue, many marriages break up, even if they don’t separate.

The same thing happens in groups, schools, organizations, including ecclesiastical ones. Matters of common interest are discussed, but some do not know how to dialogue; they force themselves to be right about everything, and they boast that they know everything. Even on the sports field, there are fans who do not know how to accept the defeat of their team, they throw all kinds of objects at the opposing players on the field, and outside the stadiums they would like to disappear those who defend different colors.

As a result of the last elections in the country, the so-called opposition was almost crushed by the party in power. The winners would like to finish off what’s left of their opponents. However, absolute power is not the healthiest thing for a democratic country. The millions who did not vote for those who now triumphed are as Mexican as the others, as worthy people as the others, and their point of view cannot be ignored and crushed. The country needs dialogue, openness to listen to other voices, wisdom to find the truth in those who think differently. But there are those who do not know how to dialogue; they do not listen to or value others; they feel they are the sole and absolute possessors of the truth and try to crush others. How we in the country need openness from each other to listen to each other, to dialogue!


Pope Francis, in his exhortation Amoris laetitia, addresses the issue of dialogue as a means to preserve love and family peace; what he says also applies to other environments, such as politics.

“It is always necessary to develop some attitudes that make authentic dialogue possible. Give yourself time, quality time, which consists of listening with patience and attention, until the other has expressed everything he needed. This requires the asceticism of not starting to speak before the appropriate time. Instead of starting to give opinions or advice, make sure you have heard everything the other person needs to say. This involves making an inner silence to listen without noise in the heart or mind: getting rid of yourself in a hurry, putting aside your own needs and urgencies, making space. Many times one does not need a solution to their problems, but rather to be listened to. He has to feel that his pain, his disappointment, his fear, his anger, his hope, his dream have been perceived.

Develop the habit of giving real importance to others. It is about valuing his person, recognizing that he has the right to exist, to think autonomously and to be happy. You should never downplay what you say or claim, even if it is necessary to express your own point of view. Underlying here is the conviction that everyone has something to contribute, because they have another experience of life, because they look from another point of view, because they have developed other concerns and have other abilities and intuitions. It is possible to recognize the truth of the other, the value of his deepest concerns and the background of what he says, even behind aggressive words. To do this, you have to try to put yourself in his place and interpret the depths of his heart, detect what he is passionate about, and take that passion as a starting point to deepen the dialogue.

Mental breadth, so as not to obsessively lock oneself into a few ideas, and flexibility to be able to modify or complete one’s own opinions. It is possible that, from my thoughts and the thoughts of others, a new synthesis may emerge that enriches both of us. The unity to which we must aspire is not uniformity, but rather a “unity in diversity,” or a “reconciled diversity.” In this enriching style of fraternal communion, those who are different meet, respect and value each other, but maintaining diverse nuances and accents that enrich the common good. It is necessary to free oneself from the obligation to be equal.

The ability to express what one feels without hurting is important; use a language and a way of speaking that can be more easily accepted or tolerated by the other, even if the content is demanding; raise one’s own claims but without releasing anger as a form of revenge, and avoid moralizing language that only seeks to attack, ironize, blame, hurt. Sometimes it is about small, inconsequential things, but what alters spirits is the way of saying them or the attitude assumed in the dialogue. It is very important to base one’s security on deep choices, convictions or values, and not on winning an argument or being proven right” (136-140).


Let’s learn to dialogue, starting with our family, with openness of heart. Demagogues and violent people do not listen. Wise rulers value and need those who have other points of view to make good decisions.