Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue

Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue

Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue

Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue


How can the world's many religions overcome ideological differences and come together to promote understanding, justice and peace? In this groundbreaking volume, James L. Heft and fifteen other leading scholars of the world's major religions show how to answer this crucial question.

Structured as a scholarly dialogue, Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue contains essays by five Catholic scholars who have committed to extensive study of and dialogue with another world religion. Each scholar presents an assessment of the present state of interreligious dialogue between the Catholic Church and practitioners of a a particular faith, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. These assessments are followed by critical responses from two scholars of the tradition under discussion, as well as concluding comments from the Catholic scholar who offered the assessment.


For most of recorded human history, different religions remained geographically circumscribed, except when they expanded and came in conflict with other religions. the practice of peaceful dialogue for purposes of mutual understanding between members of different religions was rare, indeed, very rare. Instead, when people of different religions met each other, they tried either to destroy or to convert the other through intimidation.

Protestant efforts at reuniting their many competing traditions began in earnest at the beginning of the twentieth century. Catholics officially signed on with the movement through the document Unitatis redintergratio, published by the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). Since then, the Catholic Church has taken a leadership role in these ecumenical efforts, but not without controversies. Some leading proponents of these dialogues accuse the Vatican of dragging its feet. Others note that the results of these ecumenical efforts, carried on among academic theologians and historians, are not widely known in the churches. Remarkable degrees of consensus and even sometimes agreements achieved by theologians have yet to shape the thinking of the people in the pews.

Vatican ii not only opened doors officially for ecumenical conversations, that is, conversations with other Christians, it also opened the doors to interreligious dialogues, that is, dialogues between Catholics and members of other religions. Through its document, Nostra Aetate, and through brief statements in other council documents, the Catholic Church can now be said to have led the way in fostering conversations with other religions, beginning with Judaism. These conversations too have encountered difficulties, and most recently have been described as running the danger of fostering relativism.

The chapters of this book provide an overview by leading Catholic scholars of the current state of interreligious dialogue between the Catholic Church and five other world religions. None of these scholars supports relativism; all of them . . .

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