The religious and interreligious dialog

Source: FSSPX News


Gathered in Rome, the Union of Superiors General (USG) devoted its 63rd semi-annual assembly to interreligious dialog (see DICI no. 84: “To be religious means to be interreligious”). According to the new agency on religious life “Vidimus Dominum”, Fr. Michael McCabe remarked, during his intervention on relations with indigenous religions, that despite the overtures and progress made in the positive vision of traditional religions, there is still much to do from the point of view of the Catholic Church.

The “new aspects” are, according to him, the recognition of the “presence of the Spirit of God ‘outside’ the Church”, as well as the “recognition of cultural diversity”. Despite all that however, there is still a “dissonance” in the dialog, provoked by the fact that “in all parts of Africa, above all through the media, the secularized and materialist culture of the West is spread, with its problems and negative influence”, a situation “which is certainly an invitation to mission today”.

On the religious front in the strict sense, the dissonance remains, for there is hardly any recognition on the Catholic side of the symbolic richness of traditional religions. “The gulf between the Christian world and that of traditional religions has still not been filled and is even less understood”, and this for two reasons, according to Father McCabe:

• First of all, “because past and present methods of inculturation promoted by the Church are not sufficiently rooted in the daily life of the people”;

• In addition, “the process of inculturation has been and remains an exterior work or a Western product”. To succeed in making progress on this road and filling the gulf, what is needed is the “development of new rituals”: “This could become a very important challenge for the local church and at the same time, a challenge to which the religious missionary congregations can certainly offer an important contribution”.

During the course of this assembly, the participants learned that there are four pillars of interreligious dialog, according to Father Jose Rodriguez Carballo, Minister General of the Franciscans. And there are also four principal challenges, which must be taken up by formation when the consecrated life undertakes the way of dialog.

These four pillars are: the witness of life or dialog of life; listening and respect; the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life; and an adequate preparation because dialog is hardly easy.

The four challenges with which formation is confronted are: interreligious dialog and peace; dialog and Revelation; dialog and the maturation of identity; dialog and the self-emptying (kenosis) of the Christian God.

Interreligious dialog can contribute “toward a deepening of the content of the commitment to follow Christ”. Regarding Christian identity, it is evident to Fr. Carballo that “the person grows and transforms in his continuous relationship to the other, in the resurrection of his own history, in order to open himself to ever-new horizons”. Thus, the practice of dialog “can be a chapter of this integral development which is the objective of formation”.