Dilatato Corde 3:1
January - June, 2013


 This article first appeared in the April, 2013, issue of Vies Consacrées. The original French version, « Un demi-siècle depuis Nostra Aetate, Perspectives sur les relations interreligieuses, » is available on-line. The translation was made by William Skudlarek and is published here with the  permission of  Vies Consacrées.

The time is November 1964. Cardinal Bea is speaking to the bishops gathered in ecumenical council in Saint Peter's Basilica. His presentation is a progress report on the drafting of a declaration regarding the relationship of the Catholic Church to other religious communities. Bea is a biblical scholar, so it is not surprising that he makes use of an image from the Gospels to give an idea of the way the document was evolving:

We might very well apply the biblical image of the mustard seed to this Declaration. In the beginning, it was intended to be a short statement on the attitude of Christians towards the Jewish people. Over time, thanks especially to the interventions that were made by the council fathers, this grain has all but become a tree, and many birds are now nesting in it. By that I mean that all non-Christian religions now have a place in it, at least to some degree.

In passing, we should take note of the diplomatic and fraternal way Cardinal Bea acknowledges the contribution of the Council fathers to the development of this document. A little farther on he emphasizes the uniqueness of this Declaration that is still in committee:

Let me emphasize the importance of this Declaration as it relates to non-Christian religions. This is the first time in the history of the Church that a Council so solemnly  lays out some principles regarding this matter. It is important that we be fully aware of the scope of our undertaking.[1]

One might well question the fittingness of comparing a text that is only about four or five pages long to a tree. However, If you consider—as we shall do shortly—the more than modest beginnings of this document (the little seed), and then compare it to the surprising developments that have taken place—thanks to this text—over the past half century with regard to the thinking and the practice of Catholic Christians, then the image of a large tree is really quite apt.

A rather slow start
Even for people who do not feel very directly involved, it has become clear that religions are an important factor in the evolution of societies throughout the world. It has also become equally clear that the plurality and vitality of religions—at least of some of them—raises questions for Christian faith, theology, and practice. But if you look back a good half-century to try to understand what happened at Vatican II, you may be surprised. During the preparatory period following Pope John XXIII’s sudden announcement that he was convening an ecumenical council (January 1959), the question of “non-Christian” religions was virtually ignored. It was not part of the agenda of the groups who began the work of preparing for the council, and it was rarely alluded to in the wishes and suggestions that bishops and theological faculties forwarded to Rome.

In the period following the end of the Second World War—which in the early 1960s was not all that far back—large Asian nations had gained their political independence. At the time the council was announced, the decolonization of Africa was well underway. In addition, Vatican II will be the first time Christian communities of Asia and Africa have a significant presence in a council of the universal Church. One would therefore expect that the different religions, often closely linked to the history, cultures and societies of these continents, would be included in the agenda of a council that was intended to be concrete and pastoral.

What are we to make of this virtual silence about religions? No doubt the times invited greater attention to modernity, societal transformation, the challenges of atheism, or the dialogue with Marxism. Perhaps the bishops felt the need to be more immediately concerned with pastoral problems internal to the Christian communities. It is also possible that bishops and theologians who knew from experience what it was like to be a tiny minority in a non-Christian region (in the Islamic world, for example) concluded that discretion and silence would do more good than official statements. And finally, many regarded other religions as little more than obstacles to evangelization. If one were to show an interest in them, perhaps even recognize that they had something of value to offer, would not that be tantamount to undermining the missionary effort?

Christians and Jews
The issue of the Church’s relation to other religions was slowly brought to the attention of the Council Fathers in unexpected ways and, so to speak, by the back door. Once again, it was Pope John XXIII who took the initiative. The rise of anti-Semitism, the extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazi regime, and the creation of the State of Israel were a summons to Christians to come to grips with the devious ways anti-Semitism had infested their own communities and their theologies, and to join with Jews in finding a basis for establishing new relationships. Cardinal Bea and the new Secretariat for Unity were charged by the Pope to prepare a paper on these issues.

Rumors quickly spread, both in Jewish circles and in the Muslim world, especially among Arabs. Few conciliar debates would be followed with as much attention by outside observers; few would give rise to as much diplomatic pressure and all manner of interventions. Some were alarmed by the possibility of any mitigation of the condemnation of anti-Semitism in the texts under development. Others feared that a gesture of the Catholic world to the Jewish people would be seen as political and diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people. The bishops of the Middle East warned of the dire consequences to the Christian communities in their region if the Council approved such a document. Immense reserves of patience and diplomacy would be necessary to insure that the texts being prepared would be recognized as uniquely religious rather than political statements.

Among the Council Fathers, an idea was slowly developing: if we speak about the Jewish people and Judaism, we should also say something about Islam. But if we say something about Islam, how can we not say anything about other religious traditions, including those of India, the Far East and Africa?  This thinking led to a series of drafts whose content was continually evolving during the four sessions of the Council, Furthermore, as drafts were formulated, they were initially proposed as a section of or an appendix to one or the other document  before they finally took the form of a distinct “declaration.”[2]

A text to be placed in context
The reason the process of drafting Nostra Aetate was so complex and its path so tortuous becomes clear when we take into account the delicate nature of the topic being addressed, the pressures that came from the outside, as well as the internal crises that affected the overall orientation and organization of the Council's work. On the other hand, this document benefited from the gradual maturation of the thinking of the Council Fathers over the course of its four sessions. To give just one or two examples—but very decisive ones—the advances in theological reflection on the Church as the People of God and on revelation had a positive impact on the development of Nostra Aetate.

In order to arrive at a good understanding of this declaration, it needs to be placed in relation to the entire conciliar corpus. In addition to those documents that treat of the history of salvation, revelation, and the vocation of the Church in the world, we can mention two others. First of all, Dignitatis humanae.  How can one speak of interreligious encounter and other forms of relationships between believers if there is no clear recognition of the principle of freedom of religion? Secondly, Ad Gentes, on the missionary nature and responsibility of the Christian community. By promoting dialogue, the Council Fathers had no intention of undermining the proclamation of the Gospel.

A five-point Declaration
The title of the document already provides some clarification on its purpose and status: “Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions.” The declaration is, of course, speaking of the Catholic Church, although many other Christians can identify with what is said in the text. As for the religions, they see themselves here referred to in a negative way (i.e., as non-Christian), which may not be very satisfying. On the other hand, in addition to the advantage of being concise, the title makes clear that the document will deal with the Christian way of looking at other religions. The council does not purport to define how each religion understands itself (although it takes that into account as much as possible). The perspective of the document is primarily that of faith rather than that of a comparative history of religions. Finally, while the text does sketch out  a theological perspective on the place of other religions in the history of salvation, it does not offer a systematic treatise on this topic. Rather, its use of the word habitudo (way of life, attitude, behavior) indicates that its primary intention is to urge Christians to adopt a new attitude in their relation to other religious communities and their spiritual heritage .

This positive and even resolutely optimistic attitude is expressed in the preamble. Commonly used as the title of this declaration, the first two Latin words, “Nostra aetate” (“in our time”), draw attention to the timeliness and the novelty of this issue “in our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together“ (§ 1). With God as the same origin and as the sole ultimate end, “one is the community of all peoples.” In this perspective, which can be found in other conciliar texts as well, it is not surprising that the Declaration would highlight “what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.” Although religions are different, they can be seen as many (attempted) responses to “unsolved riddles of the human condition”: What does it mean to be human? What is the meaning of life? What are we to think about evil, death, the mystery of our origin and of our ultimate destiny?

Sections 2-4 then review “other religions.” The first to be considered are what might be called the primary traditions (the text refers to them without naming them, and avoids using the term “animism”), then Hinduism and Buddhism (briefly described), and finally “other religions found everywhere” (§ 2). While theologians are always tempted to be interested only in doctrines, Nostra Aetate, in accordance with its objectives and also taking advantage of the achievements of the human sciences, discusses more generally and more concretely religions as “proposing ‘ways,’ comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites.”

“A ray of that truth which enlightens . . . “
Before referring specifically to Islam and Judaism, the Declaration briefly lays out the faith perspective that invites Christians to become involved in relations with peoples of other religious traditions:

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 which enlightens all men. (§ 2)

The attitude is positive and contrasts sharply with what countless theologians and missionaries thought, wrote, and taught throughout the centuries. It is not surprising that this new perspective encountered some resistance. A small minority of bishops voted against the document (for various—and sometimes even contradictory —reasons) while later, some Catholic groups who resisted Vatican II expressed their particularly strong disapproval of passages in Nostra Aetate as well as of the Declaration on Religious Freedom.

While the viewpoint of the Declaration is positive, the wording remains vague. There is no mention of who will  determine what is “true and holy” in these religions. Nor does it say anything about how or on what basis such a determination is to be made. Will the Church or Christians be the judge? Also, while the text is bold in recognizing a relationship between other religions and Christ, the Christ “in whom God has reconciled all things” and who is “the fullness of religious life,” this relationship is evoked with the richness, but also the imprecision, of an image: in their diversity, other religions show “a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men,” while Christ is “the way, the truth and the life.”

It is conceivable that the council deliberately refrained from giving more precise and binding definitions, and it probably did so for two reasons. A Christian/Catholic “Theology of Religions” was still in its infancy. Widening of perspectives was needed, not prematurely closing off debate, which, as we know from experience, has continued unabated for fifty years and is still continuing.[3]  Furthermore, putting forth more precise definitions ran the risk of  reinforcing the reluctance and opposition of those who felt that the text was overly generous—or not generous enough.

Whatever the case, and without in any way calling into question that the Church “ever must proclaim Christ” and bear witness to him, the Declaration goes on to say,

The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue (colloquia) and collaboration with the followers of other religions . . . they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men. (§ 2)

Islam and Judaism
The sections on Islam (§ 3) and Judaism (§ 4) would require a lengthy and detailed commentary. Given what I have already said about the genesis of the Declaration, I will make only a few general observations.

The section on Islam begins with the statement, “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims.” The text highlights important points we have in common: the worship of the one God, living, merciful and almighty, creator of the world, who has also “spoken to men.” The Qur'an, however, is not mentioned, nor is Mohammed, so as not to have to state whether or not he is recognized as a prophet. Abraham, a model of submission to God, as well as Jesus and “His virgin Mother” are mentioned. Openly recognizing the quarrels and hostilities that have arisen between Christians and Muslims over the centuries, the Council

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. (§3)

As might be expected, this expression of openness to Islam is not entirely convincing to Muslims. While they recognize Jesus as one of the prophets, they find it difficult to understand why Christians are reluctant or even refuse to do the same for Mohammed. They also lament the lack of symmetry between the relationship of Christians to Islam and their relationship to Judaism.

Such regret is understandable from a Muslim point of view. From a Christian perspective, the relationship to the people of the First Covenant is an integral part of Christian identity, or, to put it another way, an integral part of the mystery of the Church. This position is strongly emphasized in the first lines of the section devoted to Judaism, by far the longest section of the document:

As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock. Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets.

Referring to the relationship between the olive tree and wild olive tree (Romans 11:17-24), the text proclaims that the Church “believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself” (see Ephesians 2:14-16).

The gifts of God are without repentance. It is in the light of this conviction that we must to examine the rupture between the two peoples, the question of Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ and the claim that they were therefore cursed by God, and finally the age-old history of hatred, anti-Semitism and persecution, “at any time and by anyone”—often by Christians. In this work of  memory, repentance, and reconciliation, the Christian Church—and this is very clearly stated—is “moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love.”

In its general conclusion (§ 5), the Declaration strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and calls on all who have the same Father to live together as brothers. The bishops

ardently implore the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship [conversatio] among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.

Reception and implementation of Nostra Aetate
At this point we can only give a general idea how Nostra Aetate has been received in Catholic communities and in other Christian churches, and how the followers of other religions have responded to it. A more precise report on the reception of this Declaration would require extensive and detailed research, and that has not yet been undertaken.

On Pentecost, 1964, between the second and the third sessions of the Council, Paul VI established the “Secretariat for Non-Christians,” which later became the “Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.” Over the past half century, it has  played a significant role, providing guidance and support for the initiatives of local churches and developing friendly relationships and dialogue with representatives of many spiritual traditions. Its journal, Pro Dialogo, publishes studies on specific topics and provides reports on seminars and events of dialogue or interfaith cooperation around the world.[4]  At the diocesan, national, and continental levels, commissions or secretariats for dialogue have been officially established and given the means to make known the teachings of the council, promulgate Roman guidelines, and engage in countless initiatives, sometimes in collaboration with other Christian churches. The wealth of research and theological debate that has taken place has already been briefly alluded to. Several papal initiatives have confirmed and strengthened the dynamism that has spanned the past half century. Already during the intervals between Conciliar sessions, the visits of Paul VI to Jerusalem (January 1964) and India (December 1964) were highly significant because of the spirit of openness and dialogue they manifested. The same can be said of the meeting of John Paul II with Moroccan youth (Casablanca, August 1985) and his visit to the Synagogue of Rome (April 1986). But it is undoubtedly the gathering at Assisi (October 1986) that was most inspiring and memorable. In response to the Pope's invitation, representatives of many spiritual traditions came together in pilgrimage to fast and pray for peace.

Events like these have given powerful visual expression to the teachings  that have multiplied and deepened over the years.  Worthy of special mention is the encyclical of Paul VI,  Ecclesiam suam (August 1964), which is in large measure devoted to dialogue, as well as the countless messages and speeches of John Paul II in Rome and during his travels around the world.[5] 

A multifaceted dialogue
The practice of encounter and dialogue in a variety of settings and with different partners has enriched our experience and understanding. It has become increasingly clear that the spirit of dialogue takes shape in distinct and complementary dimensions of personal and community life. Several documents of the Magisterium have identified and developed four of these dimensions, and because they have been presented so clearly, these four dimensions of dialogue have also been adopted on occasion by groups outside the Catholic community: dialogue of everyday life; dialogue of collaboration for the good of society; dialogue of theological reflection; dialogue of spiritual experience.[6]

If all Christians are called, whether in response to particular circumstances or because of a specific mission, to take part in interreligious dialogue, it is clear that religious people are invited to be particularly attentive to this dimension of the Church’s life. Many have been engaged in interreligious dialogue for a long time; others have resolutely committed themselves to it in response to the teaching of the Council. Opting for a lifestyle that promotes contacts outside the Christian community, looking for ways to engage with strangers, migrants and refugees, or simply choosing to live in another part of the city: all this promotes an informal give-and-take and the sharing of everyday life. Many religious around the world also participate in the life of the local community by working in or sponsoring schools, clinics, hospitals, or development projects. Their presence provides numerous opportunities to meet other believers, to compare values, to reflect on how to deal with new problems, and to learn from one another in ways that go beyond purely professional collaboration.

Dialogue at the level of doctrine is not always the easiest or most successful dimension of interreligious dialogue. But it is essential, both for getting to know the other and for coming to a clearer understanding of how our religious tradition relates to that of our partner in dialogue. It requires serious theological formation, a deep commitment to one’s own faith, and much patience. The goal is to understand and be understood rather than to convince. It is most unlikely that such dialogue will lead to a convergence of doctrines, but it can certainly be a way to clarify misunderstandings, to do away with clichés, and to arrive at a more accurate and profound understanding of the reason to believe in and put into practice fundamental values and commendable behavior.

Spiritual exchanges
Here we come to the fourth dimension of dialogue, that of spiritual experience and the sharing of this experience with simplicity and modesty. Without claiming any monopoly, monks in particular have played and are playing an important role in encounter, hospitality ,and dialogue of this kind. Within the organization known as “Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue” (DIMMID), Catholic monks and  nuns began “spiritual exchanges.”  These essentially involve sharing the life of a (usually monastic) community rooted in another tradition, not as a tourist, journalist or anthropologist, but as a person engaged in a different and yet similar spiritual quest. Silence (monastic silence—but also the silence resulting from a language barrier) and the simple fact of participating in the life of another religious community is often a much better teacher than doctrinal explanations or commentaries—although time is provided to help the participants understand the meaning of what they have done or seen.

The spirit of hospitality obviously requires some reciprocity. Thus, before receiving Japanese monks and nuns in their communities, Catholic monks and nuns, who have mainly been European, have spent time in Japanese Buddhist monasteries. Buddhism, where the monastic way is older and more central than in Christianity, is ideal for such exchanges. But in many parts of the world appropriate forms of encounter are also being developed with Hindu and Muslim spiritual groups.[7]

Christians discover and learn about other spiritual paths and find help there for their own spiritual journey. This is happening at the very time these other spiritual communities are rediscovering the spiritual riches of their own traditions that had sometimes been neglected, for example mystical movements within Judaism and Islam, or the spiritual practices of India and the Far East,[8]  or even the less well-known and less formalized heritage of so-called traditional (e. g., African or Amerindian) religions. Whether it be monks or lay people who discover and  value practices of prayer and contemplation as well as knowledge of the texts that inspire them, inevitably the issue of shared prayer or other forms of ritual participation rises to the surface. At Assisi in 1986, as will be recalled, it was agreed right from the start that the participants would come together to pray, but not pray together. To have gone further than that would have likely resulted in some of the participants refusing to participate. Moreover, the mere fact of being a respectful witness of the prayer of other believers is not a neutral and indifferent act: we are, after all,  joining together in a spiritual quest for the peace and joy of all. Is it possible and desirable to pray together without betraying one’s own faith? Can one do so without pretending to eliminate the differences that keep our dialogue from becoming banal and uninteresting? If so, under what conditions and in what circumstances? These are still open questions, and it will take time—and a great deal of patience—for the answers to emerge.

Towards a more sober optimism?
Nostra Aetate, especially in its introductory (§1) and concluding (§5) subsections exudes an air of optimism that can be found in many other conciliar documents. Forgetting the past—or rather, drawing lessons from an often painful past—we are invited to direct our gaze forward and to engage in dialogue and open-hearted collaboration. Besides being a genuine witness to Christian hope, was this vision also influenced by the “liberal” outlook of certain Westerners? Or might we be seeing here an expression of the euphoria that followed decolonization? Whatever the case, we are today, half a century later, probably less optimistic. Virtually all religious communities have had to contend with much conflict and turmoil; relations between religions are far from being in good shape; an emphasis on self- identity, even if it does not always give in to the temptation of exclusivity, weakens interest in encounter and dialogue. Hope, it appears, is being summoned to present itself with greater reserve.

In addition, some religious communities are declining and aging. That is the case for Christians in much of Europe, and the same is probably true for traditional forms of Buddhism in Japan as well. Most traditions and communities are bearing the brunt of the shock of modernity, though obviously in different ways depending on local circumstances: massive urbanization, disintegration of traditional family and social structures, the impact of the scientific mentality, the insecurity caused by the historical-critical method of interpreting sacred texts, the secularity of institutions and the secularization of values, etc., etc.

These traditions and communities are tempted to take refuge in immutable identities of a fundamentalist or integralist nature. In such precarious times, it can easily happen that small and sometimes militant extremist minorities present themselves as the official representatives of a religious community  and become so omnipresent in the media that they appear to be its only authorized spokespersons. Islam, for example, can then be perceived by Christians (and others) as a homogeneous and alarming religious body, while in the eyes of many Muslims, the image of the Christian world is not all that different. In such contexts, anything that can mitigate or correct the impression of a monolithic institution is welcome.

In the face of modernity and secularism, Christians like to think that they are the beneficiaries of a long history, and that what they have dealt with and learned over the centuries would be useful to others. However, there are some hindrances standing in the way of this usefulness. For one thing, the fear of losing face and the lack of humility can get in the way of our willingness to learn from others. Furthermore—as legitimate and even beneficial as this desire may be—everyone wants to tap into the resources of their own faith to find an adequate response to these challenges. Then too, the situations that religious communities face vary considerably.

Thus, the historical-critical method, with the suggestion of relativity it entails, will not affect all religions in the same way or to the same extent. Some religious traditions are founded on the word of prophets sent by God at particular points in times, or on a single Incarnation considered as bringing about fullness of time and constituting the center of history. Other religious traditions, however, present themselves as the bearers of an eternal and immutable wisdom that is made manifest in countless avatars, sages, and saints.

Similarly, the process of secularization does not unfold in the same way and does not everywhere present the same challenge. In a Western world that has been shaped by centuries of competition and tensions between Church and state the challenge is different from that in an Islamic world, where religion can hardly be said to be a power distinct from politics, or from that in a Chinese world, where imperial authority guaranteed harmony between Heaven and Earth and was not so concerned about orthodoxy or doctrinal debates; rather, it made sure that religions or cults, officially recognized, sponsored, and duly cleansed of any trace of disobedience or revolt, would put their wisdom to work for the common good. Yet another situation exists in those societies that, until very recently—for example, prior to European colonialization—had very little sense of a strong central governing power.

After the thrill of novelty, will interest fade? Has “dialogue” been so overused that its meaning has become trivialized? Perhaps we are now being asked to pass beyond words and enter a phase of patience and growth. What is especially needed is that we become more attentive to mutual perceptions, including the way  our partners in dialogue perceive and interpret how we think and talk about dialogue. We also need to be mindful of reciprocity. If we Christians often feel that we are always the ones taking the initiative in dialogue, is it not, at least in part, because we fail to recognize our partners’ initiatives for the simple reason they are not expressed in the way we assume they should be? In theory, everyone indeed recognizes that the themes or content of dialogue will vary with different traditions. However, it is more difficult to recognize that our particular partners in dialogue do not necessarily share a common understanding of the nature of the dialogue, its scope and its goals. Nothing but a tentative and persevering practice of meeting together will bring about a clearer perception of what, on both sides, often remains implicit and perhaps even unconscious.

[1] These excerpts are taken from the collaborative work edited by A.-M. Henry  Les relations de l’Église avec les religions non chrétiennes : Déclaration « Nostra Aetate », Paris, Cerf, coll. Unam Sanctam 61, 1966, p. 37. Several of the authors who contributed to this book had been associated in one way or another in the work of the Council, The book continues to be a valuable source of information, analysis and commentary.

[2] This is not the place to enter into the details of this “obstacle course.” In the collaborative work referred to above, on can consult the chapter of Father G. M.-M. Cottier on “The history of the Declaration” (p. 35-78). The private diaries of some bishops and theologians that were published well after the Council ended, as well as recent studies on the development and interpretation of the conciliar process, allow us to arrive at a more complete and nuanced understanding of all that went into the drafting of an official Church document that was the first of its kind.

[3] This enormous output, in which the Catholic theologians generally occupy positions near the center of a wide range of views, cannot be discussed here. One can refer to J. Dupuis, La rencontre du christianisme et des religions : de l’affrontement au dialogue, Paris, Cerf, coll. Théologies, 2002, especially pp. 77-153. [English: Christianity and the Religions: from confrontation to dialogue, trans. Phillip Berryman (Maryknoll NY: Orbis, 2002)] See also the research document of the International Theological Commission,  Le christianisme et les religions, Paris, Cerf, coll. Documents des Églises, 1997, which summarizes the main theses (§ § 8-26) before taking a position (§ § 27-117). Links to this document in eleven different languages are available on the Vatican website.

[4]  On the Protestant side, the Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Philadelphia)  attends to interfaith relations and the theological issues they raise, while Current Dialogue is the specialized newsletter published by the World Council of Churches in Geneva. Several new journals were created to cover this area, including Chemins de dialogue  (Marseille) and Studies in Interreligious Dialogue (Amsterdam / Leuven). We should add those devoted to a particular subsection, for example Sens : juifs et chrétiens dans le monde d’aujourd’hui (Paris), Islamochristiana(Rome), or Buddhist-Christian Studies (Honolulu).

[5] The teachings, speeches and messages of Paul VI and John Paul II take up most of the voluminous collection edited by Francesco Gioia, Le dialogue interreligieux dans l’enseignement officiel catholique (1963-2005), Solesmes, 2006. English Translation: Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teaching of the Catholic Church (Documents 1963-1995), edited by Francesco Gioia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1997).

[6] See for example “The Attitude of the Church toward Followers of Other Religions: Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission (1984), § § 28-35; “Dialogue and Proclamation: Reflection and Orientations on Interreligious Dialogue and the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (1991), § § 42-46. Developed by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (in collaboration, for the second, with the Congregation for the Evangelization), these two documents deserve a careful reading They offer penetrating theological, spiritual and pastoral reflections on the distinction and intimate complementarity between two dimensions of church life.

[7] In January 2011, DIMMID began publishing on its website (www.dimmid.org) a biannual journal in several languages called Dilatato Corde.

[8] J. Scheuer, « L’attention à la profondeur : le chrétien et les traditions spirituelles de l’Orient » dans Qu’est-ce qu’une spiritualité chrétienne ?, Paris, Éd. Facultés jésuites de Paris, 2012, p. 41-61.


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