Friday, April 25, 2008

Francis X. Clooney, SJ: "Interreligious dialogue is here to stay"

"The Pope Speaks - As If Dialogue is Here to Stay", by Francis X. Clooney, SJ. America April 25, 2008:

There are many good things and interesting things to reflect on after the Pope's visit to the Washington and New York, but here I pick up on only one: Benedict's April 17th visit with representatives of various religions, at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. Benedict's remarks to the gathered religious leaders made a multi-layered and firm case for interreligious dialogue, putting to rest, permanently I hope, the notion that this Pope wishes somehow to halt the inexorable move toward dialogue that has characterized the post-Vatican II Church.
Of course to the discerning, even as prefect Joseph Ratzinger was never opposed to interreligious dialogue -- his concern was those exceptional cases were a zeal for "dialogue" suppressed and even subverted the mission of the Church, by appeals to religious syncretism and a "watering down" of the claim to truth concerning the salvific unity of Christ and his Church. (Dominus Iesus was chiefly offered as a corrective to erroneous or ambiguous positions; see also 2004's collection of essays: Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions Ignatius Press).

On a parellel note, it can likewise be said that the Holy Father is firmly committed to ecumenism -- in 2006, he plainly stated ""The Second Vatican Council considered as one of its main objectives the re-establishment of full Christian unity -- this is also my objective". But one can tell simply by reading his address during the ecumenical prayer service at St. Joseph's in New York, ecumenism is not a goal to be pursued at the cost of truth, referring with regret to Christian communities who adopted positions motivated by "a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition", adopting "a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine":

For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living.


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