The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions

The next document I would like to comment on is the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965, this document deals with what “all men have in common”, despite the difference of religious affiliation among us.

In Article 2, the Declaration briefly mentions both the thinking of Buddhism, and also that of Hinduism. After stating some chief beliefs of these religions, the Declaration states:

“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth that enlightens all men.”

These religions do not worship the Trinity or Jesus Christ as God, or hold to Christian doctrine. Other than possible positive moral standpoints, what can be “true and holy” in these religions? They are certainly farther from the truth than the Protestants, as the Protestants at least accept Christ as God. Buddhists and Hindus do not. Essentially, they are pagans.

The next part is a knee slapper. in Article 3, the Declaration says:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”

Long exhale)…okay…This part of the Declaration was the most stunning to me. The Church regards Muslims with esteem…They adore the true God…submit to God’s commands…Don’t worship Jesus as God, but at the same time they adore the same God as Christians…and value the moral life. Okay. I am still recuperating from falling out of my chair after reading those two paragraphs.

Muslims worship the god Allah, who is bent on total submissiveness to his will, not regarded as a “heavenly father”, and also does not love his Muslim worshippers as we would children. Muslims do not regard Christ as God, but a mere prophet, inferior to the likes of Mohammed. Catholics worship the Holy Trinity, three Persons in one God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is worshipped as the Savior of the human race, equal to the Father and Holy Ghost. Does anyone see a difference between the God Catholics worship, and the god Muslims worship??

Then the Declaration says that Muslims “value” the moral life. Okay, this is an interesting issue. Historically, Muslims have “converted by the sword” murdering Christians who have not become Muslims. The Koran tells Muslim men to beat their wives into submission, and, if Muslim men suspect that their wives are cheating on them, then they are also to beat them. Historically, Muslims have not “valued” the moral life, and they are not taught to do so by their “holy” book. Their are of course Muslims in today’s world that are moral, kind people. In reality, these people are not living out their religion to its full extent, as they are told to perform immoral acts, such as beating their wives, converting the infidel by the sword, etc…

On top of this, Vatican II expects that all past offences be forgotten?? History cannot be erased. While the religious principles of Islam are in practice anywhere on the globe, there will always be reason for caution.

The Declaration closes by speaking about the Jews. I can agree with much of this part of the Declaration, as it speaks about how the Jews of today cannot be treated as if they themselves murdered Christ; but only the Jews of that generation. However, the Declaration does not speak of the need to convert the Jews, which of course is a must. The Mosaic Law is invalid now that the New Covenant is in place. This was explicitly taught by both the Council of Florence and Pope Benedict XIV.

“All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors.” (Council of Florence)

“The first consideration is that the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law were abrogated by the coming of Christ and that they can no longer be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel. ” (Pope Benedict XIV in Ex Quo)

In short, the Jews must be regarded as any other non-Catholic group: in need of conversion to the Catholic Faith. Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus alike must convert to Christ’s Church for any hope of salvation.

 


 

We must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety…”

Pope Pius IX

 

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9 thoughts on “The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions

  1. I don’t exactly see it that way. You can’t reason with them, and you can’t just order them to accept Christ . So what you have to do is be all things to all people and lead with love. The main problem with the Middle East is that the main religions there do not have an adequate concept of forgiveness. So that is our job.

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  2. As a Catholic, I understand your position. The gate is narrow.

    I do know some Muslim people who are good citizens and naturally virtuous. I think the point of the Vatican II document is to build bridges, to love one’s enemy, and to give Muslims a welcoming path rather than a violent fight.

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    • Thanks for commenting Burke. I agree and understand the fact that a lot of Muslims people are kind, good, etc. Building bridges would be perfectly fine if there was the goal of conversion to the Catholic Faith. But instead, it seems that Vatican II leaned towards acceptance of Islam instead of converting it.

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  3. The problem with this approach to ecumenism is that it rejects the original and true purpose of ecumenism for the Catholic Church. The Church’s mission is to evangelize the world. And, as to a blanket respect for other religions, I would caution Catholics (and all Christians) concerning interactions with Jews. Many Jews are atheists who have a contempt for Christianity. For those Jews who are religious, they follow the Talmud, not the Torah. The Talmud is the governing document for modern Judaism. The Talmud contains many viciously anti-Christ and anti-Christian verses and passages. Finding so-called common ground with people who hold to such views is a vain hope.

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    • Thanks for commenting here larryzb! That is exactly what is wrong with Vatican 2’s idea on Ecumenism. We cannot just ignore preaching and working to convert the pagans and heretics! Feel free to look through my other articles on Vatican 2.

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