VATICAN (CWN) -- At his weekly general audience today, Pope John Paul II clarified the Church teaching on inter-religious dialogue. He pointed out that the Catholic Church offers the single effective means of salvation, but other faiths can contain "salvific elements."

      In his seventh talk on the them of Christ, the sole Savior of mankind, the Pope taught that there are no paths to salvation apart from the one offered by Jesus Christ through the Church. "One cannot put other sources or other independent paths to salvation beside Christ," he cautioned.

      However, citing the teachings of Vatican II, the Pope added that other religions may offer "salvific elements, which are effective, but dependent on the grace of Christ." The Holy Spirit -- the fruit of Christ's sacrifice-- helps men along the road to salvation according to the designs of Providence. The Catholic Church, the Holy Father continued, is (as Vatican II taught) "the sacrament of intimate union with God and the unity of all humanity."

      The theme of Christ's central and irreplaceable role in the economy of salvation was explored by a panel of theologians from several different countries, whose work culminated in the release of a 1996 document, approved by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, affirming that all hope for salvation comes from Christ-- through his sacrifice on Calvary and his ministry in the Church.

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February 5, 1998 volume 9, no. 26          DAILY CATHOLIC

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