Why is Interreligious Dialogue worthwhile?

The Catholic View on Dialogue between the Religion –
Theory and Practice
Teaching document 2010
“Meeting God in Friend and
Stranger. Fostering Respect
and Mutual Understanding
between the Religions”
(Bishops of England and
2) Practice:
• Resources and support for interreligious dialogue
• Practical tips and ideas
Meeting God in Friend and Stranger
“[As religion is so close to people’s
heart] any activity that promotes
respect and better understanding
among believers must contribute to
peace, at a time when justice and
peace are so threatened.”
o Interreligious dialogue as a real
o Church as the sign and instrument
of communication with God and one
o Importance of ecumenical work
Structure of the Document
1. What is Interreligious Dialogue?
2. The Changing Face of Britain
3. Dialogue in the Teaching of the Catholic Church
4. Prayer and Worship
5. Interreligious Marriage
6. (At the Local Level)
1. What is Interreligious Dialogue?
“…means not only discussion, but also includes all positive and
constructive interreligious relations with individuals and
communities of other faiths which are directed at mutual
understanding and enrichment” (Dialogue and Mission)
• Requires openness
• There are “rays” and “seeds” of truth
in other religions
2. The Changing Face of Britain
Chapter 3: Dialogue in the Teaching of the Catholic
“Interreligious dialogue, which is part of the Church’s
evangelising mission, requires an attitude of understanding
and a relationship of mutual knowledge and reciprocal
enrichment, in obedience to the truth and with respect for
freedom” (Dominus Iesus)
Benedict XVI: first priority dialogue with Christians, second
dialogue with other religions
Nostra aetate
• Firstly relationships with the Jews, in the light of the
Holocaust, but also as a celebration of connectedness (olive
tree image)
• “Our dearly beloved brothers” (John Paul II)
• Full acceptance of Judaism (Secretariat for Relations with the
Jews joined with Secretariat for Christian Unity)
3. Dialogue in the Teaching of the Catholic Church (2)
“In all its teaching, the Catholic Church keeps a careful balance
between insisting that God truly wills the eternal salvation of all
people, and insisting with equal force Christ is the one and only
means and mediator of salvation.”
 Unity of the human race
 The need to be open to all that is true and holy in other religions
 Call to dialogue
3. Dialogue in the Teaching of the Catholic Church (3)
“The differences are a less important element, when
confronted with the unity which is radical, fundamental and
decisive” (John Paul II)
• All people are created in the image of God, only one plan
for humankind
• All have equal rights and dignity
• Religious freedom: Right and obligation to pursue the
truth (Dignitatis Humanae)
• Equality as a precondition for dialogue
• Equal validity of participants, not of beliefs
• Shared questions
Openness to what is true and holy
o “a ray of the one truth”, “seeds of the word”
o No superiority of Christians: “What Christians have received is
totally unmerited on their part. It is an assertion rather of the
bountiful goodness of God”
o Presence of saving grace in other religions: Those who do not
know of the Church, but search for God and try to follow God
through their conscience, and those who “have not yet attained to the
express recognition of God yet who strive, not without divine grace,
to lead an upright life”
o The Spirit is at work in all
o Through the same spirit,
we are “deeply related” and
at the same time “sadly
o The Church has an active
role in the salvation of all
people, it is not just
passively related
o Special relationship to
each religion
o Dialogue with all religions
is “appropriate and fruitful”
Openness to what is true and
holy (continued)
Call to dialogue
o The call by the Church is a response to the call to the
o Signs of the times: modern communication and
o Dialogue is not optional, but intrinsic to the Church
Wide definition (Christ-like)
Christ has risen
Honest witnessing
and sincere listening
o Pope Paul VI: “Dialogue of salvation”, through Christ,
by the Holy Spirit active in the world
o Church’s task to carry this dialogue on and make it
accessible to all
o Loving your neighbour and interreligious dialogue
continues this
o Pragmatic motivation: Danger of terrorism, extremism
o Motivation of entering into God’s story with humankind
– Holy Spirit as motivator and common ground
Dialogue (continued)
oFirst step: convergences and divergences
o Second step: Recognising and confronting God’s Otherness
in the Otherness of other religions
o Can only take place between people who know about their
religions: “There must be no abandonment of principles or
false irenicism, but instead a witness given and received for
mutual advancement” (RM)
o It is an expression of Christian hope and needs to be carried
out with “prudence and charity” (NA)
o Should be ecumenical: ‘facing outwards together’
Forms of dialogue
Dialogue of
 Dialogue of Life
Theological Exchange
 Dialogue of Action
 Dialogue of Religious Experience
Dialogue (continued)
“includes all positive and
constructive interreligious
relations with individuals and
communities of other faiths
which are directed at mutual
understanding and
o Roots in scripture, although ‘defensive’ voices can be louder
o Old testament: Covenant with all survivors of the flood,
appreciation of ‘foreigners’ (e.g. Nineveh)
o New testament: Jesus’ inclusive work
Chapter 4: Prayer and worship
“Every authentic prayer is called forth by the holy spirit”
(John Paul II)
o Need for shared prayer – marriages, funerals, natural
disaster, human conflict, invitations to each other’s places
of worship
o Not Christian, but same movement: prompted by the
Spirit, through Christ to the Father
o Lex orandi, lex credendi: we cannot pray together as we
have different beliefs
o Praying for one another, in presence of and in solidarity
with each other: “We don’t come to pray together, but we
come together to pray”
Chapter 4: Prayer and worship (continued)
Opportunities for this:
 Visits to services of other religions, people of other religions in
Christian services (“respectful presence”)
“Multi-faith pilgrimage”
 Shared response to events (e.g. Holocaust remembrance)
o Respect for each other’s
religious identities, but
not necessarily
agreement through
o Danger of syncretism to
be avoided
o Shared symbolic
gestures can be powerful
Chapter 5: Interreligious Marriage
o All marriage: intended and blessed from the beginning,
lifelong and exclusive union with the orientation on the birth
and upbringing of children
o Christian marriage as a sacrament
o Other religions have marriage and family values at their
heart, which are threatened by values of our time
o Intercultural marriages can deepen faith and be an
o Respect for both partners’ religious feelings, openness,
adapted ceremonies, continued support for their married life
Opportunities for
o Vatican greetings/bidding
prayers/cards at religious
o Invitations to speakers after
o Parent/toddler groups,
Men’s/Women’s groups,
Groups for the elderly
o Preparation for
o Visits to places of worship
Opportunities for engagement (continued)
o Twinning” with places of worship
o Tackling problems together/exchanging volunteers (e.g.
food banks, “places of welcome”)
o Inviting religious leaders/members of nearby
congregations to parish events
o Catholic schools – staff and students from other religions
o Meeting God in Friend and Stranger – study groups and
o Series “Other religions” with speakers from each/podcasts