In the last four decades, Catholics and Protestants have been seriously rethinking their attitudes towards non-Christian religions. And the Second Vatican Council is now seen as a watershed event in this new openness toward Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Aboriginals and others. Indeed, the Church has come to recognize and respect the presence of grace, truth and holiness in other religions. But more than this, the Church realizes it stands to benefit from dialogue with other spiritual traditions. This conviction is best capsulized in the words of John Paul II: “By dialogue, we let God be present in our midst, for as we open ourselves to one another, we open ourselves to God.”
The Council produced ground-breaking documents on religious pluralism, interfaith dialogue and religious liberty. The key Council documents relevant to interfaith are:
This article profiles the courageous interfaith initiatives of the last four popes as the Church journeys through the uncharted territory of interfaith dialogue. What is particularly striking here are the interfaith breakthroughs engineered by Pope John Paul II. Read this article from the Jan-Feb 2007 issue “Popes lead the way”
John Paul II was one of the most influential interfaith figures of the twentieth century. His commitment to dialogue, his extensive global travel and his acute awareness of our interdependent lives in the global village made him a significant force in the international interfaith movement. This article offers a chronological profile of the interfaith journey of Pope John Paul II from his election to the papacy in 1978 until his death in 2005. To read article, click here.
Since Vatican II, an explosion of interfaith activity has occurred within the international Catholic community and at all levels of Church, including lay people, teachers, academics, social activists, monks, missioners, priests, bishops and popes. In 1964, Pope Paul VI began building a Catholic infrastructure to nourish his dream of a Church in conversation with other religions and cultures. This organization, known as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is active on an international level and has the following goals:
To visit the Council’s website, click here.
"It [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 identifies four levels of inter-religious dialogue: