Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR

Article excerpt

Fr. Tissa Balasuriya is clearly onto something when he says there is a debate within Catholicism about how to respond to the world's religious diversity (see page 23).

One approach, embodied in the recent Vatican document Dominus Iesus, is to assert in the clearest possible terms the superiority of Christianity to other religions, and of Catholicism to other Christian churches. The other is to allow that God is infinitely greater than any particular creed or cult, and thus to accept that pluralism may indeed be the divine plan. John Allen's story on page 6 clearly illustrates the gulf between the theological line of Dominus Iesus and what the church's dialogue partners are hearing when they sit down with Catholics to talk.

That gulf, by the way, which might well be ignored by ordinary Catholics and those engaged in official dialogue, has consequences at another level. It is one more illustration of church leaders leaning heavily on an authoritarian approach to a complex reality. The result is a further diminishing of real authority. That quality, as Eugene Kennedy and Sara Charles point out in their book, Authority, the Most Misunderstood Idea in America, nurtures and gives power to grow and create. The authoritarian acts of the Vatican in recent years, in contrast, have cut down and silenced. Little has been nurtured.

However, if Balasuriya, insightful as he is about the growing gulf between words and practice, is suggesting that Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is aligned with the more affirming view, he gives credit where it isn't due. …

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