The objectives of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Source: FSSPX News


On this occasion, its president, Msgr. Michael Fitzgerald, answered questions from the news agency APIC, on the objectives of the Secretariat for non-believers, which has become the Council for Interreligious Dialogue: "The first purpose was to spread in the Roman Catholic Church the spirit of Vatican II. It was necessary to show to ordinary Christians (sic) that this new attitude towards persons belonging to other religions has been in harmony with the doctrine of the Church for a long time (re - sic). The first years were thus the period of foundations.

"The years 1973 to 1980 were then a period of fermentation, and not only on the Vatican’s side. Cardinal Pignedoli, the president at that time, and well-traveled, made contacts with the people in charge of the various religions almost everywhere in the world. He notably went to Saudi Arabia and to Japan and received several Buddhist delegations. From 1980 till 1984, Msgr. Jadot underlined the role of the local Churches in the dialogue, the Secretariat needing to rely on them and help them to form themselves to this end, through institutes and commissions. The first official document of the dicastery was then released, urging the local Churches to pursue the four forms of dialogue with believers of the other religions. "

APIC: And what are these four forms of dialogue?

M.F.: The document tried to place interreligious dialogue within the mission of the Church. For the first time it distinguished four types of dialogue: the dialogue of life, works, conversation (or theological exchange) and of religious experience.

The dialogue of life means the implementation of initiatives favoring good relations between persons of various religions. The dialogue of works defines itself by concerted actions begun by the various religions in favor of the good of humanity. The formal dialogue (dialogue of theological exchange) represents all the discussions between the various religions about dogmatic subjects or the faith, and about social questions. The dialogue of religious experience consists in attendance at the worship of another religious group.

APIC: You speak about exchange of common points and underline a work towards unity. What are the aspirations, the objectives of the Council?

M.F.: I believe that the theological foundations that give inspiration to Christians, and to Catholics in particular, to make a commitment in this dialogue were especially indicated by John-Paul II in his speech to the Roman Curia in December 1986. There he spoke of the primary unity of humanity. If we have a common origin and destiny, we have regrettably become divided along the way. We are indeed divided by our religious adherence. The pope exhorts us to walk together.

APIC: You speak about God’s will, which is comprehensible for Christians and the monotheist. But what does that mean for non-believers?

M.F.: For non-believers, it is more difficult. But the dialogue must be based on humanity itself, which is for us a gift of God, and turn to initiatives in favor of the dignity of the human person. It is completely justifiable that we, Catholic Christians, have our theology which inspires us and that other persons have another way of seeing things.

On May 15th, the pope addressed the members of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue during their Plenary Meeting, marking the fortieth anniversary of the dicastery: "The years to come will see the Church ever more engaged in responding to the great challenge of interreligious dialogue. The millennium which has just begun is anchored in an evermore-pronounced perspective of cultural and religious pluralism. That is why dialogue is important and must continue". For the Supreme Pontiff, interreligious dialogue must be "a presupposition peace" and must make "of the name of the only God (...) A name and an imperative of peace ". And if it "becomes integrated into the evangelist mission of the Church", being closely linked with the announcement of the Christ", it must also "be differentiated from it, without confusion and without it being used as merely a means to an end".

"Any sort of indifference and religious relativism must be avoided in the promotion of dialogue with believers of other religions" he reminded them. "Christians know that they can contribute to the building of peace in the world, being animated by a love for all men and for every man, looking with courage for the truth, cultivating a prophetic thirst for justice and freedom".

- This indeed is the drama of these forty years of interreligious dialogue. In spite of all the statements of principle and proclamations of faith: they do not avoid indifference and religious relativism. This dialogue inevitably produces indifferentism, as a cause its effect. Forty years later, the facts are there: a state of "silent apostasy", as John-Paul II himself recognizes in Ecclesia in Europa.