Both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are investigating a book by a prominent American Catholic theologian, Vietnam-born Fr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University. The book raises issues about the uniqueness of Christ and the church, issues that were also behind recent censures of other high-profile theologians, as well as a recent Vatican declaration that the fullness of the Christian church resides in Catholicism alone.Here's a link to a Commonweal article by Fr. Phan that gives a sense of his thought - Praying to the Buddha: Living amid religious pluralism. (It's an interesting article, and I'll probably put down some thoughts later.)
The case confirms that no subject is of greater doctrinal concern for church authorities, including Pope Benedict XVI, than what they see as “religious relativism,” meaning the impression that Christ is analogous to other religious figures such as the Buddha, or that Christianity is one valid spiritual path among others.
Critics of writers such as Phan, who offer a positive theological evaluation of non-Christian religions, assert that their work courts confusion on these points, while others believe church authorities are drawing the borders of theological discussion too narrowly.
Phan, a priest of the Dallas diocese, is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The book in question is Phan’s 2004 Being Religious Interreligiously, published by Orbis.
More links and commentary at American Papist (including a response form Sherry Wedell at Intentional Disciples. She's written an interesting piece, to be added to the "to read" list: The Challenge of Independent Christianity.)
[I've just started a second reading of Changing Gods -- I inserted a second reading of Pope Benedict's Truth and Tolerance: Christian Beliefs and World Religion in between -- all this is to help me write a proper response which just might end up getting published in a missionary journal in India. Or, it might not.]