The contemporary official Catholic position on non-Christian religions
The Catholic Church, from the Second Vatican Council to the present, seeks friendship with non-Christian religions. Various factors helped the Church to adopt this positive attitude towards these religions. The three most important of them are: first, the realization that non-Christians make up the majority of the world population; second, the fact that Christians today inevitably have to live and work together with non-Christians and hence the need for inter-religious harmony; third, the pastoral influence of the Second Vatican Council. This council enabled the Church to have a better understanding of the unity of the human race, that is, that all human beings created in the image or likeness of God, have one and the same origin and destiny, namely, God. It was especially this understanding that made the Church resolve to seek friendly relations with non-Christian religions.^ Among its various efforts to promote these relations is the creation of institutions for dialogue. The two most important of these are the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and the Secretariat for Non-Christians. The former, as the name indicates, officially represents the Church in its religious relations with the Jews and Judaism; the latter is concerned with the official Catholic Church's dialogue with all other non-Christian religions. In addition to all these, the popes, especially through their visits or meetings with non-Christian religious leaders, promote dialogue.^ Despite this friendly attitude, the Church claims that it is the historical continuation or sacrament of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, and that as such a sacrament, it has to appear palpably as a saving sign everywhere in the world. This necessarily implies that it has to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and to everyone, in order to establish itself and appear thus. In other words, the Church considers it its duty to evangelize everywhere. This duty is made even more binding by the fact that Christ, its founder and master, commanded it to do so. This evangelization which is essentially the challenging of not only individual and collective consciences but also the culture or environment with the Gospel, must, however, take into consideration human freedom and dignity. ^
Kieran Chinenyeze Okoro,
"The contemporary official Catholic position on non-Christian religions"
(January 1, 1991).
ETD Collection for Fordham University.