The Catholic Church's views of other faith groups
Reactions to Dominus Iesus (2000)
About Dominus Iesus:
This is a document written by Cardinal Ratzinger who was at the time
the Prefect of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith. It was
ratified and confirmed by Pope John Paul II. It deals with the Roman Catholic
Church's (RCCs) beliefs concerning other Christian denominations, and
non-Christian religions. Of particular interest is the Church's views on the
possibility of salvation for members of these other faith groups.
More information on Dominus Iesus.
Reactions from Protestant denominations
The RCC considers that these are not "churches in the proper sense."
The Religious News Service reported reaction to Dominus Iesus:
||Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, spiritual leader of the
worldwide Anglican Communion, called Cardinal Ratzinger's statements
"unjustified." He said that they did:
"... not reflect the deep comprehension that has been reached
through ecumenical dialogue and cooperation [between Catholics and
Anglicans] during the past 30 years...the Church of England and the
worldwide Anglican Communion does not for one moment accept that its orders
of ministry and Eucharist are deficient in any way. It believes itself to be
a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, in whose
name it serves and bears witness, here and round the world."
||The World Council of Churches warned that progress in
ecumenical dialogue could be "hindered -- or even damaged"
by what it called "language which precludes further discussion
of the issues."
Reactions to Dominus Iesus from within the Roman Catholic Church:
There were no public negative comments from officials within the
church; they are prohibited from openly criticizing any church statement
or doctrine. Some reactions were:
Further comments on Dominus Iesus:
On 2000-OCT-2, at his regular Sunday address, Pope John Paul II said
that the document Dominus Iesus had been misinterpreted. The Roman
Catholic position did not display arrogance towards other faiths, as many
non-Catholics had asserted. The pope said that other Christian churches
contain "precious elements of salvation." He also said
"... salvation is not denied to non-Christians." The
pope indicated that the purpose of the document was to "clarify
the essential Christian elements, which don't block dialogue, but
demonstrate its basis, because a dialogue without foundation is destined
to degenerate into empty verbosity." He said that he hoped that
"this declaration, which is close to my heart, will act as a
clarification and as an opening."
According to the Washington Post, "...many Jewish, Protestant
and Muslim leaders took offense at a seemingly categorical presumption of
inferiority of other faiths."
A symposium on the dialog between Christians and Jews had been
scheduled to begin on 2000-OCT-3 at the Vatican. It was cancelled because
two Jewish leaders had dropped out as a protest against the document.
Almost five years later, on 2005-APR-20, Navya Shastra, a global
Hindu organization of scholars, practitioners and priests, congratulated the
Church for selecting Joseph Ratzinger to be its new Pope. However, the
organization expressed concern over Ratzinger's stance towards Hinduism.
Vikram Masson is a co-chairperson of Navya Shastra. He wrote:
has described Hindu meditative practices as 'auto-erotic' and has stated
that the Hindu doctrine of karma is 'morally cruel.' Clearly he is
misinformed about the central practices and tenets which bind the world's
800 million Hindus." 3
The news release continued:
"At a time when
religions must work together to spiritually regenerate an increasingly
secular planet, such doctrinal narrowness and lack of understanding of other
traditions will only serve a divisive function." 3
Dr. Jaishree Gopal, is
co-chairperson of Navya Shastra. She wrote:
"What is needed now is
ecumenism and mutual trust. We hope that the new Pope comes to understand
this, because religious difference and competition is causing mounting
global conflict." 3
Comment by a Catholic Monsignor in Australia about Wicca:
The information service "This is True" posted the following
information about Wicca and Roman Catholicism in Australia:
"The fastest-growing religion in Australia is
Witchcraft, census officials say, and the state of Victoria is
considering repealing a 1966 law banning the practice of it and similar
religions, such as Paganism. Census figures indicate that in the last six
years, the number of witches has more than quadrupled to 9,000, and the
number of pagans has more than doubled to 10,632, while most Christian
denominations have seen decreases in followers. 'I'd be appalled if
[repealing the law] implies some sort of approval,' says Monsignor Peter
J. Elliot of the local Catholic Archdiocese. 'I think it reflects the
collapse of values and sanity in our society that this mishmash of
superstition and fraud is to be recognized.' (Melbourne Herald Sun) 4
"This is True" commented: "Funny, that's just what the witches say about Catholicism."
At first glance, this would appear to be a statement of intolerance by a
Catholic leader against the religion of Wicca. However, deeper analysis shows
that the state of Victoria, the census office, and the monsignor
appear to be using the same word, "witchcraft" to refer to three very
different and unrelated activities:
||The state of Victoria is apparently referring to an ancient
law prohibiting fortune telling and the use of magic to recover lost items for
||The census office is referring to Wicca,
an earth-centered religion which prohibits its followers from harming others.
||The Monsignor is
apparently referring to two practices often translated as "witchcraft" in the Bible: women
issuing spoken curses to harm others and murderers who use poison.
Needless to say, the three activities are unrelated. The solution to this
type of problem is for the media to abandon the word "witchcraft" where there is any chance of
confusion, and use unambiguous terms.
||The law could refer specifically to fortune telling and magick.
||The census office could refer to Wicca, rather than witchcraft.
||Christians could refer to evil sorcerers and murderers when talking
about "witchcraft" in the Bible.
To do so would avoid a lot of confusion.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Peggy Polk, "Vatican declares only the Roman Catholic Church
brings salvation," Religious News Service. Distributed by pcusaNews
mailing list as Note #6183. Issued 2000-SEP-7
- "Cardinal Tomko says Dominus Iesus opens dialog," CWNews,
- Gautham Rao, "Hindu Organization Welcomes New Pope. Questions His
Stance on Hinduism," Information release, 2005-APR-20. The Navya
Shastra web site is at http://www.shastras.org
- "This is True" mailing for 2002-AUG-3.
Copyright © 2000 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-SEP-12
Latest update: 2007-JUL-17
Author: B.A. Robinson