January 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 21
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John Paul II Points Out Errors Rising in Certain Ecclesial Circles

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 28 (ZENIT).- The various religions are not equivalent, because Christ is the Savior of mankind. John Paul II was emphatic this morning, when he received the participants of the plenary session of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which today concluded the sessions begun on January 25.

    The Pontiff addressed certain ambiguities that have arisen in theological circles, which consider inter-religious dialogue as a justification for syncretism. The Holy Father said that "in some ecclesial environments, a mentality has arisen over the last few years that tends to relativize Christ's revelation and his unique and universal mediation in regard to salvation." If this is permitted, the Church would also lose her reason for existing because she would no longer be "the universal sacrament of salvation."

    "It is against the faith of the Church to hold the thesis on the limited character of Christ's revelation, which would find its complement in other religions." According to this theory, "the truth about God could not be accepted and manifested globally and completely by any historical religion, not even Christianity, nor by Christ himself."

    The Holy Father continued with an interesting clarification. The truth of Jesus, "full and complete revelation of the mystery of God," must be carefully distinguished from "the understanding of the infinite mystery" that must "always be studied and pondered in the light of the Spirit of truth."

    "The truth about God is neither abolished nor reduced because it is expressed in human language. On the contrary, it continues to be unique, full and complete, because he who speaks to us and acts is the incarnate Son of God," the Pope explained.

    Therefore, one cannot coherently accept Christ and reject the Church he founded. The Pope recalls that it was Jesus himself who established "his Church as a salvific reality: as his Body, through which he himself acts in the history of salvation." Vatican Council II itself, which opened the doors to dialogue with other religions, confirmed at the same time with total clarity, that "the pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation."

    "Therefore, it is an error to consider the Church as one more road to salvation together with that of other religions, which would be complementary to the Church, although converging with the it toward the eschatological Kingdom of God. Consequently, a certain mentality of indifference characterized by religious relativism that leads to believing that religions are equivalent among themselves, must be excluded," continued John Paul II.

    The Holy Father recalled the passage of the Council which states that "Christians can reach eternal life under the influence of grace, if they seek God with a sincere heart. But, in their sincere quest for the truth of God, they are in fact ordered to Christ and his Body, the Church. In any event, they are in a deficient situation, compared to those in the Church who have the fullness of the means of salvation." Because of this, the Church has been, is, and will be missionary, in the sense that she announces Christ -- "Way, Truth, Life." If in dialoguing with believers of other religions the Church were to renounce her message, the dialogue would no longer be such, as the Church would lose her identity.

    Finally, the Pope asked the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to continue to foster the ecumenical dialogue with other Christians. He congratulated them for the work carried out in preparation for the signing of the Joint Lutheran-Catholic Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, and he encouraged them to continue on this road, in spite of the difficulties. ZE00012807


January 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 21

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