A strange fruit of interreligious dialogue

Never felt the need of "common policies" with the Protestants: St Francis Xavier.

We are informed today that an inter-faith commission of no less than 40 members (Catholics among them) worked together for no less than five years before reaching an agreement as to how to evangelise.

One is a bit taken aback at such news, as it is not very clear what the real aim of the exercise should be.

Catholicism has a very long tradition of evangelisation. Actually, the Only Church is the only one that can say that her tradition of evangelisation is as old as Christianity and has been, well, rather successful these last 2000 or so years. It is, therefore, difficult to think that the Church should learn something from Protestants about how to be… the Church.

One might, then, say that the participation of the Church in such initiative might have been of some benefit to the others, non-Catholic communities. Which creates the impression that the Church is helping Protestant to convert more people to… a heresy, and whilst it might be, again, said that it is better for a soul to convert to Christianity through a Protestant community rather than to remain, say, a Muslim, I have some problems in imagining, say, Jesuits of the XIX century thinking in the same way and helping, say, Lutheran missionaries in their effort of converting non-Christians.

Besides, the entire initiative reeks a bit of Christian relativism: if you start to spread around the idea that Catholics and Protestants can agree on a common ground of action (the communique makes clear that this is not a theological statement, of course; but the practical effect is not very dissimilar), the step from there to a Catholic believing that, from a practical point of view, there’s no big deal in being Protestant or Catholic is not very far.

I am obviously not saying that Catholics should obstacle Protestants in their effort of evangelisation of non-Christians. But I wonder whether this is right. Would Pius IX agree to such an initiative, I wonder? Would S. Pius X think that a “common policy” with Protestants is of any importance? Would they not say, instead, that Protestants are, before every consideration on evangelisation, certainly not allied of Catholicism, but rather conversion material?

This impression becomes, in my eyes, stronger, if one looks at the terms of the “agreement”: platitudes like “do not put the potential convert under pressure” (you don’t say?) and “don’t approve the destruction of pagan temples”. But wait, there is something that is completely absent from the agreement… oh yes, it is the Blessed Virgin! Now obviously Catholic missionaries will continue to stress the Marian role. But once again, a picture is drawn in front of us where Mary finds no place, and this is sent to the press the world over as a kind of achievement.

So this is what we have at the end of the effort: the impression that Christian denominations have (on a practical, working level) the same importance, and a flattening on platitudes which leave out of the guidelines what is specifically “Catholic”.

Doesn’t seem a great achievement to me.



Posted on July 1, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A strange fruit of interreligious dialogue.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: