Theologians speculate on the orientation of Benedict XVI on interreligious dialogue

Source: FSSPX News

According to the review Church in  Asia, some Catholic theologians in India are wondering about the direction which Benedict XVI will take in his pontificate concerning interreligious dialogue. In fact, the new pope, while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was very attentive to the work of Indian researchers on interreligious dialogue, and disciplined them on several occasions.

Notably the Belgian Jesuit Jacques Dupuis, for a time resident in India, whose work entitled Towards a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, published in 1997, was subject in October 1998 to an inquiry by the Congregation, presided over by the future pope. A notification was subsequently published, noting “serious ambiguities and difficulties on important doctrinal points.”

Another affair concerned the Sri Lankan religious of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Tissa Balasuriya. Several propositions in one of his books entitled Mary and Human Liberation, were judged to be heretical by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Their author was even excommunicated on January 2, 1997. The sanction was lifted a year later by the archbishop of Colombo, after the priest had made a public profession of faith.

However, a religious from Goa, Fr. Seby Mascarenhas, of the Indian congregation of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, has declared that theologians have no reason to be worried by the election of the new pope. “The researchers will work in new directions,” he said, “and the Church will always view their work with a critical eye. Such is the work of a theologian. This tension will always exist.” He said that the new pope “was particularly clear in stating doctrine.”

 Others anticipate a change of intellectual attitude in the pope, with his new responsibility. Mgr. Alex Dias, of Port Blair, sees in the name Benedict XVI the announcement of this new orientation. According to him, Benedict XVI emphasized at the turn of the century that condemnation of modernism should not prevent theologians from exploring new directions.

 Other theologians, like the Jesuit T.K. John, a specialist in Indian culture, also insisted on a change in perspective, which the passage from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the government of the Church, would bring about. The pope will have to emerge from the interior intellectual world which he has been familiar with, to launch himself into the vast real world. According to this cleric, the practical questions with which the pope will be confronted will be first and foremost those of relations with other religions, of the position of the Church with regard to war, nationalism and globalization.