Saturday, March 10, 2007

Evangelization in the context of inter-religious dialogue: Cardinal Ivan Dias

Cardinal Dias, former Archbishop of Bombay and current prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, gave a talk at the Gregorian University in Rome, at a conference marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Faculty of Missiology. Some things that struck me:
However in modern times evangelisation poses a particular challenge since we live in an epoch in which persons of different religions meet and interact more than in any other period of human history”.
Recalling the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Church’s relations with non Christian religions, Cardinal Dias said that faced with the vast range of religious traditions present in the world “Christians must strive to discover in these traditions the working of the Holy Spirit- in other words the seeds of truth, as they were called by Vatican II - and, free of any superiority complex, lead these traditions to full knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ”. Christians too can find in non Christian religions certain values of their faith which they may have forgotten or neglected, such as rigorous fasting, frequent prayer, asceticism… nevertheless care must be taken: “under the pretext of not hindering interreligious dialogue some even put Jesus, true God and true Man, on the same level as the founders, some of them mythological, of these religions. This attitude is contrary to Our Lord’s mandate to preach the Gospel and make disciples throughout the world … our task is to help the seeds of the Word mature and come to completion in Christ”.
and that other religions are a positive challenge for the Church, prompting her to seek and recognise the signs of the presence of Christ and the working of the Spirit and thus become more aware of her own identity.
[Via Fides.] (Turns out that both Cardinals Dias and Kasper have been named by the Pope to serve on the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. I guess after the transfer of Archbishop Fitzgerald to Cairo, there was some concern that this designated a kind of "demotion" of this Council. Adding heavyweights such as Dias and Kasper to the membership should, it would seem to me (and I'm hardly a Vaticanista), to add heft to the Council, as well as highlight its importance. There's one American - Bishop Murphy of Rockville Center, NY. The Council, like so much of the Curia, has a truly international membership.)

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