From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):
In order to promote penance and reconciliation, the church has at her disposal two principal means which were entrusted to her by her founder himself: catechesis and the sacraments. Their use has always been considered by the church as fully in harmony with the requirements of her salvific mission and at the same time as corresponding to the requirements and spiritual needs of people in all ages. This use can be in forms and ways both old and new, among which it will be a good idea to remember in particular what we can call, in the expression of my predecessor Paul VI, the method of dialogue.
For the church, dialogue is in a certain sense a means and especially a way of carrying out her activity in the modern world.
The Second Vatican Council proclaims that “the church, by virtue of her mission to shed on the whole world the radiance of the gospel message, and to unify under one Spirit all people . . . stands forth as a sign of that fraternal solidarity which allows honest dialogue and invigorates it.” The council adds that the church should be capable of “establishing an ever more fruitful dialogue among all those who compose the one people of God” and also of “establishing a dialogue with human society.”122
My predecessor Paul VI devoted to dialogue a considerable part of his first encyclical, Ecclesism Suam, in which he describes it and significantly characterizes it as the dialogue of salvation.123
The church in fact uses the method of dialogue in order the better to lead people—both those who through baptism and the profession of faith acknowledge their membership of the Christian community and also those who are outside—to conversion and repentance, along the path of a profound renewal of their own consciences and lives in the light of the mystery of the redemption and salvation accomplished by Christ and entrusted to the ministry of his church. Authentic dialogue, therefore, is aimed above all at the rebirth of individuals through interior conversion and repentance, but always with profound respect for consciences and with patience and at the step-by-step pace indispensable for modern conditions.
122 Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 13; cf Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis, 8; Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, 11-12.
123 Cf Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, III: Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 56 (1964), 639-659.
— Reconciliatio et Pænitentia 25