Ask a Priest

Non-christian religions

Apr 30, 2008

Is this thread also for non-Christian religions – more specifically how to engage those of other religions about Christianity?

Asked at 01:27 pm on April 30th 2008

About anything that falls into the broad areas regarding Religions other then Catholicism- no rules really 🙂

Replied at 12:16 am on May 01st 2008

What are some good approaches to sharing dialogue with Muslims about faith, considering they see their religion as an improvement on Christianity (and Judaism)? I have found that whatever I seem to say (which obviously could be a lot more) may be understood or even believed to be true, but is looked on as inferior.

Replied at 03:58 pm on May 07th 2008

There’s been quite a bit of activity on this matter recently, with a meeting between Vatican officials and Islamic scholars.

You can see the concluding statement here

One of the points is the following:

“5. Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs.”

I think it also helps to look at this article that reports what Jesuit Father Christian W. Troll, a professor of Islamic studies, said on May 6 at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

He looks at the positive aspects about the letter sent by Islamic leaders calling for Christian-Muslim dialogue, but he also points out some of the difficulties.

A further statement on dialogue worth reading is the one that followed the annual meeting of the joint committee for dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue Among the Monotheistic Religions in February.

One of the conclusions was:

“2. To foster true respect for religions, beliefs, religious symbols, holy Books and whatever is considered sacred: religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian, as well as intellectuals and educators, should make every effort to inculcate these values in their activities in places of learning and in all levels of society;”

Replied at 03:38 am on May 08th 2008

I think this is the Vatican, being nice to Islam, in order to promote tolerance of the Church in Islamic countries. You notice the emphasis of tolerance being a given, if only that were true in Islamic countries…

The history of Islam, is a history of military expansionism. That is irrefutable.

Few listened to Muhammed when he first preached in Mecca, it was only when he came back with an army that Islam was accepted.

The problem is, that Mohammed’s teaching became more aggressive after the Hejira, which is the date that Muslims start counting their years from.

After the Hejira, the concept of Jihad was introduced… Jihad was Mohammed’s later belief and if simple chronological advancement is how most people understand the formation of knowledge then Jihad is actually the more complete understanding of Islam.

Holy War, is not something Jesus preached Jesus was a pacifist to throughout, if Christians violently promoted their faith, they were not being obediant to God but being people of their time. That is the big difference between the two faiths.

We should not label Islamic extremists Islamic extremists, they have a very clear and valid understanding of Islam… the fact is benevolent Islam is a virtue of western Liberal Muslims. A liberalism that probably came from western values, which were formed partially and importantly by Christianity.

The origional religious toleration of early Islamic rulers, was abhorred by the more religious. Non-Muslims could be taxed more… that is why they were left to follow their own religions, as long as they never tried to convert any muslims of course and hid any external signs of their faith…

If people don’t like this or don’t think I’m right just read some mainstream history books.

I think it is perfectly possible for Muslims to have a strong relationship with God… but their religion denies Christ, the trinity and sacraments, its command to have a very conscious and active prayer life is its only strong point, and that is in no way unique to Islam.

Nevermind Islam’s treatment of women, an area where Jesus was far ahead of his time, Mohammed was very much a man of his own time on that front.

Replied at 04:44 pm on May 15th 2008

I really can’t agree with an interpretation of Vatican and Papal statements that reduces them to some kind of political exercise seeking benefits. If we go down the path of ascribing hidden and ulterior motives to Church messages then we place the Magisterium and the Pope on the same level as a political party or government – which is a pretty impoverished vision of things.

Moreover, I think it is also a mistake to speak of Islam as if it were some kind of monolithic entity. It’s certainly true that there are very troubling elements and some real problems. At the same time there are a variety of schools and interpretations of Islam and we should’t just write them all of as being extremists.

The Pope is certainly under no illusions about the problems, as you can see here in his address to Turkey’s new ambassador.

“In the contemporary world, where tensions seem exacerbated, the conviction of the Holy See, which agrees with the one you have just expressed, is that the faithful of different religions must strive to work together for peace.

They must start by denouncing violence, all too often used in the past under the pretext of religious motivations, and by learning to know and respect one another better in order to build an increasingly fraternal society.”

And Benedict XVI also repeated John Paul II’s call for greater respect for religious freedom, which you can see here in his speech to ambassadors from Muslim countries.

Also, it helps to keep in mind the Vatican II declaration on Church relations with non-Christian religions Nostra Aetate

The third number is particularly relevant.

“3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod 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.”

Replied at 03:42 am on May 16th 2008

I’m not saying it is even a hidden motive, to me it is plain and obvious. What is more the Vatican and the Church is a political entity and seeking toleration and mutual respect is a goal which betters the Vatican’s objectives… The Vatican’s objectives are moral and good so there is nothing wrong with this.

The phrase ‘forget the past’ worries me… I’m a historian by training. He who forget’s the past is doomed to repeat it…

Forget the past usually means, in political speak, forge a new identity and understanding. That is what the Church is encouraging liberal thinkers within Islam to do… to relegate Jihad to the past…

Interesting since Jihad is undoubtedly a teaching of Muhammad.

Mutual understanding is all well and good as far as I am concerned, since when someone explains to someone the Catholic faith, for the first time, it is the most powerful form of evangelism.

Evangelism of Muslims is almost universally banned, even in the Islamic communities in western countries.

Oh yes I agree with you an the schools of thought within Islam, and there are some which are better than others… the Sufi- mystical strain I have personal respect for, liberal western Islam has a lot of the good points, whilst it seems to be gradually weeding out the bad points, which is commendable.

But to say this IS mainstream Islam is to be arrogant and naive as to the importance of liberal interpretation of Islam within global islam.

It also seems to gloss over the fact that some of the problems Islam has, are not due to a small dissident group of muslim fundamentalists, but are due to problems written into the core of Islam itself.

Plus how can Muslims be worshipping the same God if they don’t believe in the trinity? That they don’t believe in the incarnation being the biggest bar to their understanding of God… You have to know what you mean by God when you say you believe in the same God, and what Christians and what Muslims mean by the word God is different, thus we believe in different God’s.

Replied at 04:27 am on May 19th 2008

I think there are some points to be clarified here, and in fact in some places David unfortunately you affirm I said things that I did not really say. I did not say that the more moderate Islam is the mainstream, just that there are many groups and schools of thought and that it is an error to write them all off as extremists, so please don’t put words in my mouth and construct a straw man to knock down.

Then as regards your expertise as an historian as opposed to the danger of the Vatican allegedly forgetting the past, well this is just a little too much to swallow.

Speaking as someone who has just come back to Sydney after having spend almost 19 years based in Rome (not in any official Vatican role), I can assure you that the Vatican is better informed about world events and the Muslim world than many governments.

The network of Vatican diplomats, the activity of many missionary and charitable groups, and widespread network of Catholic organizations gives the Vatican a huge number of people on the ground to keep it informed. In fact, it has a network that no doubt is the envy of many an intelligence agency.

The Pope and the Vatican officials who are trying to engage the Islamic world in some sort of dialogue are only too aware of the fierce persecution of Christians in many Islamic countries and of the dangers of some elements within Islam.

Nevertheless, the Church conducts its affairs not only with the help of human intelligence and prudence, but also according to the precepts of the Gospel. Sometimes this could seem to others to be naive, but the destructiveness of so much past and current violence and conflict will not be resolved or healed through an “eye for an eye” mentality.

So, while well aware of the past and of current dangers, the Vatican also offers to engage in talks with the hope of finding some areas of agreement with those who are open to such a dialogue.

Replied at 06:10 am on May 19th 2008

Sorry, I wasn’t saying that you did say that, I was saying that western views of Islam are often that liberal islam is mainstream, were that it was so. (namely the political establishment of Britain and America do mistakenly believe that, and that is why they are struggling to understand and interact with Islamic countries)

What I was saying about forgetting the past (which I directly quoted from the synod’s point 3), is that it is a gentle way of encouraging Islamic leaders today to encourage tolerance and peace and that this is not actually a matter purely of history but current events… which if you will forgive me, saying forget the past, suggests/leaves open to the interpretation/was very diplomatic, that intollerance and persecution are things of the past within Islamic countries.

I can agree with everything else you said in your last post though.

I also don’t see politics as a bad word, but as the interaction of people, and the political goals of the Church are very good in this case and are being promoted very cleverly by the Vatican.

Wasn’t the first Church to be built in Saadi Arabia recently, directly due to the very adept work of the Vatican?

Replied at 07:45 pm on May 19th 2008

I think you are referring to the church opened in Qatar. In fact, just recently there was an interesting article in the Catholic Herald on the Church in the Middle East. They interviewed Bishop Paul Hinder, the Vicar Apostolic of Arabia. The article refers to a church in Dubai, then mentions the opening of the one in Qatar, along with other news.

You can see a report on the opening of the Qatar church on Zenit.

Replied at 03:42 am on May 20th 2008

I sit next to a Muslim girl in school. She’s quite devout, and with me being a good Catholic, we immediately entered into discussion on the first Religion lesson we had sitting together. I slowly started out by mentioning that Christ was also considered a prophet in Islam. She nodded enthusiastically, and mentioned that in Islam, Christ was considered holy, and that it was the same with the Virgin Mary. Muhammad was their last prophet, just like Christ was ours. After a long discussion with her, I came to the conclusion that Islam and Catholicism…were alike in some ways. I think it’s a matter of “treat others as you would like to be treated”. I didn’t feel inferior at all talking to her.

I know I could be wrong here, but please bear with me. =]

Replied at 07:55 am on June 12th 2008

I agree. IT is a matter of ” “treat others as you would like to be treated”.”. The positive responses I have had with Muslims in general outweigh the negative experiences. I believe that whilst I do not accept our faiths as equal, I can apperciate each others’ differences.

It still makes me feel uneasy when people call Jesus a prophet, personally I believe it undermines Christianity, but again its about dialogue and learning about each other’s differing beliefs and learning more about the faiths that surround us in our world.

I might be wrong also, but I just wanted to say my two cents worth. 🙂

Replied at 07:45 am on June 12th 2008

One common point between Muslims and Christians is the Blessed Virgin Mary (Maryam).

She is the only woman named directly in the Qur’an and the prophet Jesus was the consequence of a virgin birth.

She is, for muslims, the most pious, chaste and blessed woman. She is given a lot of respect.

The Qur’an is, however, clear that Jesus is not divine but only a prophet. This error must be refuted.

We are called to LOVE Muslims. This means preaching Christ crucified to them, so that they may find their home in the one true fold under the Vicar of Christ.

Even, St. Paul used a common point to help try to evangelise in Athens, that the Greeks had the altar to an “Unknown God” who had not been revealed to them yet.

St Paul in Acts 17 uses this to declare that the unknown God has now revealed Himself and it is this God that St. Paul preaches.

Start from what we have in common – work from there.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God!


Replied at 09:53 am on June 12th 2008

I simply wish to reiterate what several other people have said and add a few of my own experiences.

First, just as there are many different branches of Christianity, there are many branches of Islam. Listening to what one branch says doesn’t give us the whole picture; that’s like saying we could listen to a Baptist minister and know everything about all of Christianity.

Also, like Christianity, there have been times where violence has been used under the guise of a perversion of the Muslim faith. Jihad, as I have learned in discussing with my Muslim friends, simply means to struggle for the furtherance of Islam. It can be a personal or public struggle, and could be nothing more than talking to one other person with an aim toward converting them. While Muhammad did speak about jihad, it must be remembered that there are many forms of jihad.

Through my time in university I have had the opportunity to meet and be friends with several Muslims of various backgrounds. To a man they have been thoughtful, caring people who represent the very best their faith has to offer.

One last thought I would like to share is something I heard my pastor say one day in his sermon. He said that if a person fully lived the first Four Pillars of Islam, they would make an excellent Roman Catholic. If that same person lived the Eightfold Path, they would make an excellent Roman Catholic. If they lived the Ten Commandments… Well, that should be pretty clear. His point was that all faiths have something to offer, and at their core the substance is surprisingly similar. Granted, there are differences in beliefs, but I have to ask how great those differences are in comparison to the similarities.

Post Script: I personally do not have any problem with calling Jesus a prophet so long as his divine nature is kept in mind. After all, we are called to be more Christ-like, and we are called to be a “priestly, kingly, and prophetic people.”

Replied at 07:10 pm on June 12th 2008

One last thought I would like to share is something I heard my pastor say one day in his sermon. He said that if a person fully lived the first Four Pillars of Islam, they would make an excellent Roman Catholic. If that same person lived the Eightfold Path, they would make an excellent Roman Catholic. If they lived the Ten Commandments… Well, that should be pretty clear. His point was that all faiths have something to offer, and at their core the substance is surprisingly similar. Granted, there are differences in beliefs, but I have to ask how great those differences are in comparison to the similarities.quot; – John Sparagowski

I think thats another important point too. I asked my RE teacher a question a few years ago on a similar train of thought to this. I asked him how would someone who hasn’t heard about Jesus and His word, how would they face judgement after death? He didn’t give me an answer straight away. But the next week he did a little bit of research and said “It all depends on how the individual lived his life. He said those who didn’t know the word could still live lives of honesty, selflessness, and love just the way Jesus did. Everyone has the will to good and the will to ignore it, a beautiful thing that God gave us, our own free wills. Its about how we choose to live our lives.”

Which I hope kind of reflects on John’s point. Again just my own personal views and experiences.

Replied at 12:08 am on June 13th 2008

There have been some interesting points in these last posts. I just saw a good interview with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The council just finished its meeting in Rome and in the interview he talks about a number of issues such as Islam and dialogue in general with other religions.

Replied at 12:03 am on June 13th 2008

I agree with John. It’s not about our differences, but our similarities. I think that when viewing another religion it is crucial to determine what has been made by man for man’s benefit and what is the true meaning. Like Jihad, obviously some human has misinterpreted the true meaning behind jihad and made something horrible out of it. I really dislike it when people proclaim that we must convert all ‘non-believers’. Our actions should be enough and Jesus should live through us.

I once heard a really good analogy to describe the different religions in the world. It’s like a house with different rooms. Each room has a window. In every room different people are looking outside. Each person sees different sights, different aspects of the landscape. Yet when you think about it, the light they all see comes from the one sun. The different religions just illuminate different aspects of their surroundings, not better or worse. Hopefully that makes sense. 🙂

I think that sometimes Christians think that only their religion is of any value. I used to completely discount eastern religions, thinking they were pagan, or somewhat new age. Upon looking at these religions i discovered they were full of great understandings about life. I guess it’s easy to stick to your own window sometimes, never glimpsing through those other windows.

These are a few of the aspects of world religions that I have been pondering on recently.

Replied at 09:27 am on June 13th 2008

Not to make light of the conversation, but this reminds me of a joke my pastor told one day after Mass which sort of made me step back and think about this.

So this guy dies, goes up to Heaven, and is met by St. Peter. After checking in, St. Peter walks him through the Pearly Gates, and he sees he’s in a garden, laid out rather similar to cubicles in an office, but they’re huge cubicles. He walks past one, and he hears gospel music and shouts of “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” He asks St. Peter who’s in that area, and St. Peter says it’s the Baptists. A little farther down the hall, he hears the Methodists, the evangelical Christians, all these different denominations. Finally he gets to a point in the hallway and St. Peter tells him to take off his shoes and be very quiet while walking. After walking past one room, St. Peter tells him he can put his shoes back on, but he’s curious, so he asks what the deal is. St. Peter replies…
“Oh, that’s the Catholics. They think they’re the only ones up here.”

No offense intended, and I apologize most sincerely if I did offend anyone, but I think we can learn even from levity. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Replied at 11:43 am on June 14th 2008

wow allot of good stuff here I just wanted to say something in reference to David Booth’s comment about havening to know what your worshiping. I think that in some instances it is possible for a Muslim or a Jewish person to pray to the same God as a Christian.
Yes we have to have an idea of who God is in order to direct our prayer towards him but since God is eternal omnipotent omniscient without boundaries or restrictions we can never know God completely.

This leaves us with a relationship in which we never stop getting closer to God. So if some one starts out with there is one God he created all things he interacts with Man he is truth eternal life proceeds from him he encourages loving behavior to other and Himself (almsgiving , caring for widows, orphans, fasting, prayer) then they have started however modestly down the path to knowing God.

This point of view is I think acceptable to all three faiths? However it is contingent on progression towards God who is truth and each group would claim to know the truth more than the other.

Yes violence in Islam is not extremism it is fundamentalism. Islam being tolerant of other faiths and entering into Dialogue is extremism meaning those who do so focus on some doctrine’s encouraging peace to the neglect of other doctrines that clearly put Islam on a foundation of the sword. There founder Slaughtered people A baptist minister says different things than a Catholic priest but neither can say Jesus was violent if there is dispute about how to interpret his teachings you can look to the way he acted and how his closest followers acted they let themselves be killed without physical retaliation. Islam stands in stark contrast to that. Muhammad spread Islam by the sword so did his closest followers. suffering is not looked upon in the same way at all. Part of having meaningful Dialouge is accepting the other for what they really are and moving from there.
I still have great respect for Islam though. In our increasingly secularizing world Muslims and Christians have many of the same problems to face in trying to remain practitioners of their faith. There are also many practical lifestyle similarities between Muslims and Christians, and most all the Muslims I have interacted with are extremely devout good people.

Again referring to David’s comments I refuse to say the Vatican was acting purely in a political maneuver. No there is nothing wrong with the country of the Vatican acting in a political way however it was not in my view being primarily political and can never in an well ordered way do so. What the Vatican was doing was reaching out to human beings the focus of Gods love and mercy and trying to promote loving respectful relationships as Christ did. The political entity that is the smallest nation on earth we refer to as the Vatican must at all times be at once political and Christ like. It is a grave accusation to say it was simply politically motivated because if it were there would be things we needed to fix and the Holy Father would need to step in and rearrange the political branch of the Vatican.

Replied at 08:48 pm on June 14th 2008

No religion is completely evil. Every religion has some good in it.

However, God didn’t give us 1,000 truths – he gave us one truth.

As most of us here would agree – not all religions are equal. Various religions contradict each other in many places, therefore, they can’t all be true.

Jesus Christ has given us one Church. One Church that is infallible in faith and morals. One Church that has the authority of Jesus Christ that “the gates of hell will never prevail against” (Matthew 16:18).

And that, ladies and gentlemen is the Catholic Church.

Jesus loves us infinitely and wants us to know the truth – and know it certainly. We don’t have to go fumbling around every religion in the world looking for our own “individual truths”

It is from this standpoint that all religious dialogue must take place. Catholics can learn a lot from how some Muslims behave, but we must remember that Christ has given us the Truth that cannot be wrong.

Jesus Christ wants all to know Him through the Church He has founded. The Gospel this Sunday is about evangelisation. Helping the lost sheep (Which we all are) find the shepherd, that is Jesus. It’s a tough message, but it’s something we’re all called to do.

In Christ,


Replied at 09:05 pm on June 14th 2008

Pope JP II reminded us that we can’t convert people- only the Parakletos converts people. Our duty is not to get people out of the world, but to protect them from the Adversary until they return to Christ.
Remember that over and over again the Scripture narrates the story of ‘The Two Brothers’. May the
older brother always serve the younger brother. May the older brother offer a new dress, sandals, and the fatted calf to his younger brother before they both return to the house of the Father.

In his peace

Replied at 01:12 am on June 15th 2008

I agree, of course. Thank you very much for bringing the power of the Holy Spirit to the forefront of the discussion.

One of the ways that the Holy Spirit effects conversion is through us . Through our talking to people, our teaching and most importantly, our actions.

Some people use the fact that “only the Holy Spirit converts people” as an excuse for why they don’t have to evangelise because the Holy Spirit will do it for them. This is clearly false because Jesus sends us out as disciples to the world. (Obviously, I’m not saying you’re one these people.)

If we love Christ then a natural consequence of this is wanting to share Him with others.

In love,


Replied at 12:56 am on June 16th 2008

Hi all, just going to add my little piece in here.

In my year 11 SOR class we were posed 3 statements and asked to tell the class which we thought was the right one.

The statements were these
1. there is only one true religion and no others have value

2.There is only one true religion and all others have value

3.All religions are true and equal

I’d just like your opinions on which one you all think is right… I thought it was number 2 being the faithful Catholic i am…

Incidently, even though it was a Catholic school we were told number three was the right answer and I subsequently failed the subject for being the only one in the class who disagreed.

Is it just me or is modern society getting to such a point that we avoid stepping on one anothers toes so much that our religion is left to the way side to political correctness…

I for one honestly think that we can not truely profess that Christ is Lord unless we activly proclaim that He is the Truth and the Light. yes all other religions have at somepoint some parts of the truth to them, but Christ has revealed Gods full truth in Himself. In His crucifiction and ressurection. To deny the Truth is to deny Christ…

Yes i’m all for inter-faith dialouge, but should we also be focusing on what we are educating the masses of our own flocks?

God bless all.



Replied at 06:30 pm on June 16th 2008

there is one truth if there are two truths neither really fits the definition of truth therefore neither is truth.
So undertaking to know the truth is sometimes but not always the objective of religions. If a religion reaches out and grasps a peace of the truth that religion has truth in it. if a religion recognizes the truth when it sees it then it will upon introduction know the whole truth. If the Truth happens to be alive and aware and it seeks you out and you receive it its not exactly religion its active receptivity, but not havening a real understanding for it the world refers to that group as Universals’ or Catholics.

Religion as a word might at this point be beat to death. Truth has been thrown out the window by naive relativists. Allot if not most Christians have lost track of the fact that “Religion is man’s search for God and Christianity is God’s search for man”(unknown). If Christians quarrel on the significance of Mary they should all agree on one thing. That through receptivity to the Spirit of God working through us we are universally recognized.”all generations shall call me blessed for the Lord has done great things For me”. Through receiving The entity that is truth all generations can see and understand truth in me. All religions do not recognize the living and True God they do not all recognize that his spirit can move within people and so they do not all have universal recognition. Truth can not be derived from all religions. Those that do not have truth are not equal to those who do.

I don’t even like how the question is put forth. In its formulation Christianity was either not considered or not understood. the fact that this is put forth and answered in the way that it is in a catholic Education setting is sad. Catholic Universities are not Universities first Catholic second the landOlakes document is weak and has been overturned by Church authority. What is a Catholic University? it is a response from the body of Christ ,Christ’s hands and feet on earth, to a need within the Church ,the bride of Christ. That is to say Members of the Catholic Church need education. Education is seen by the Church as a fundamental need. So the Catholic Church ,the hands and feet of Christ, moves to supply the fundamental need within the Body of Christ. At all levels of its formation and execution it remains a facet of the One Holy Catholic and apostolic Church. An interplay between receptivity and Christlike activity It cannot separate itself from Christs mission or teachings as presented to us by his Church.

Replied at 07:59 pm on June 16th 2008

In relation to the points raised by Thomas and John I would like to refer you to a document published a few years ago by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Dominus Iesus.

“In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), the full revelation of divine truth is given.” says no. 5

Regarding other religions no. 8 says:

“8. The hypothesis of the inspired value of the sacred writings of other religions is also put forward. Certainly, it must be recognized that there are some elements in these texts which may be de facto instruments by which countless people throughout the centuries have been and still are able today to nourish and maintain their life-relationship with God. Thus, as noted above, the Second Vatican Council, in considering the customs, precepts, and teachings of the other religions, teaches that “although differing in many ways from her own teaching, these nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men”.23

Paragraph no. 20 also points out:

“For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit”;81 it has a relationship with the Church, which “according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.82

Replied at 11:26 pm on June 16th 2008

Thanks for the link to ‘Dominus Iesus’.

I often feel that some of us get confused about the truth of the Gospel. Most of my friends think that it could not be possible that the ‘Catholic way’ is the ‘only way’ because so many tribes and natives groups live lives in isolation and never hear of the Gospel. My friends and relative argue that such people could not automatically be ‘going to hell’ when they die because they never knew Christ or because they were born and remained immersed in a different faith.
I do not think that their arguments are valid. Being part of the Catholic Church is a grace and a mystery. If someone asks me what’s difference between Catholicism and other Christian groups and even other religions- I simply respond that Catholicism is a System of Faith, and a System of Grace. We have no merit but we are granted faith in Christ and from there we are absorbed by the transforming love of God that is present in the Sacraments. Eternal life starts at the moment that
we hold the chalice and we drink up to eternal life in solidarity with all men. We become all things for all men!
As Catholics, we can’t change ourselves- Christ redeems us. Everything happens in our internal life. One can’t take the Scripture and try to ‘improve’ by absorbing the wisdom of the Scripture alone. The Spirit **always** gives testimony of Jesus Christ, all that He witnessed,and how He had given His conviction on the world. The Spirit will always say that Christ is One with the Father, and there is only One Spirit.
Other systems of drawing closer to God are valid as they inquire into the hope of returning to God while in communion with others. Finding the loving embrace of God is certainly humanity’s goal.
This looks long enough…I am really enjoying this discussion.
In his peace,

Replied at 12:57 am on June 17th 2008


Unfortunately Australia has change over the years that I’ve lived here. It seems that the media and government treat (u)Political Correctness(/u) as a one way street.
We are at a point where our religion is being held hostage by the next new thing; Islam in Australia. One thing that got to me was when celebrating Christmas one of the greatest Catholic holidays (after Easter of course) was the media interviewing a Muslim couple talking about how Jesus is a prophet and even though we don’t believe in him the same way we still admire him.
When the media decides to publish something about Christianity it is usually done in a tone of cynicism. (E.g. Pope Announcement of WYD, and the 14 deadly sins.)
I do feel bad you failed your test, those 3 remarks are very subjective and to be failed for picking the wrong one is really harsh.
I also remember Peter Costello (our former Treasurer) appearing on some news show about the topic Islam in Australia stating: “Australia is a Secular country…” renouncing our roots to Christianity.
It’s going to take us and our actions in life to show Jesus’ message of Love and Compassion and reinvigorate a sense of morality and love back into this country which at the moment is heading down an unknown path.

P.S- As you’ve seen in previous posts I’m not anti-Islam just pro Catholic and Justness.
Oh and these are just my views btw 🙂 – Love & Peace

Replied at 12:54 am on June 17th 2008

I think it is amazing, how Islam has such a “devestating” effect on Christian countries. I myself are from Germany and we have a similar “problem”. We had a charter which was supposed to be agreed on by all of Europe, completely renouncing Christian origin of our countries.
I think it is a very good thing to be tolerant, and this is what sets us apart from other parts of the world. but too much political corectness destroys some things.

I am sad to hear that you can fail a subject at a catholic school for stating what is the truth. What is happening in this world?
I think it is really time, that Christians should start being more pasionate about their faith and stop worrying about Islam, not to upset them.
We have the most wonderfull message to deliver on this earth. Why don’t we just tell the world?

God bless

Replied at 01:56 am on June 17th 2008

We tell them with our hearts, not with our words.

Replied at 01:06 am on June 17th 2008

I really apreciate the dialogues on the site. The reason I chose to browse there is because i recently received a graphic email about a small boy receiving justice for stealing by having a car roll over his arm. It upset me so much i couldn’t function at work. I am a mum of a boy the same age. Anyway, clearly, it was a propaganda piece with the purpose of stiring up HATE. I very conciously decided not to buy into it and i looked up some translations on the Koran. It was helpful. I also joined amnesty. I apreciate the posts and also your links. Can i also add. if ever i am challenged about Jesus being the son of God, i remember this. I once had trouble preparing a scripture class for seven year olds on the Holy Trinity. How was I going to explain this? A visiting priest at our Parish suggested that we can’t possibly understand everything. That is why it is a mystery. I used word like AWE and WONDER on my kids and they really responded. I played for them the hillsong song ” Our God is an Awesome God” I found great peace just accepting that i will never understand it but i believe it all the same!

Replied at 04:06 am on June 17th 2008

Your reply and anecdote are very sweet.
I feel that our Father is a mystery but his heart is not a mystery: He loves us. Everything comes from his loving hand because He wills it or allows it to be.
I understand AWE and WONDER :). It is better to trust our Father blindly and lovingly, with humility.
We ought to become childlike to enter his Kingdom- there must be a reason. It is not a ’cause and effect’ life once the Spirit dwells in us. We ought to trust his love.
He allows Islam to grow- it is for a reason. We are a small Church and we might remain being a small flock, we ought to accept it.
We ought to accept reality- and continue growing in Charity and Diligence to our Father. There are no external struggles. The struggles seemed very internal to me as far as people complaining on the evolution of culture and nationalism. Of course there is a shift in the global mentality and in the most basic precepts of moral.This is dangerous for souls. The world and the nations won’t understand our ‘language’.
Our own initiatives are fruitless- we have to discern what is that our Lord is asking us to do- putting our own opinions aside and becoming obedient to him only.


Replied at 04:51 am on June 17th 2008

The horriffic image that was shown is sad and true, This sort of thing has been going on in many places for maybe thousands of years (just not with cars). People torture children all over the world, such as raping babies in africa, little girls suffer and die from female genital mutilation and child prostituition is rampant. These things people do. Not religions. The awful image was supposed to upset the viewer (believe me, i cried uncontrollably for days and nights) to invoke an emotional response and to hate. In other words it was propaganda.

Replied at 01:23 pm on June 17th 2008

It is different. Spiritual desolation purifies the soul- so I assume that souls in purgatory are not angry at God or anyone. I also think that purgatory help souls grow in meekness.
Hell is different. Hell is for those who want to be lost- I think.
The heart of Christ can’t be separated from his body. Once you understand that someones arm is also your arm, and Jesus’ arm, and therefore the arm that our Blessed Mother cherishes, you understand that physical punishment is evil.


Replied at 02:57 pm on June 17th 2008

The truth never comes from history books- the truth is something that when you hear, it resonates in your soul, not in your mind.
There is no history- there is only consciousness.

In his peace,

Replied at 05:30 pm on June 17th 2008

Your point is made and unmade with the way you phrased it. If you read a history book you can get one point. Read two or three you’ll get two or three more. You write one you’ll get what ever you want.

Replied at 07:56 pm on June 17th 2008

If anyone took the sum effect and influence of the Roman Catholic Church could they really see it justified to come to a conclusion on the Roman Catholic Church by looking at one dark period of time? The Church has had its own problems of evil that the Church has had to face but you have to view these situations in the proper context, and in the grand scope of things.
Even if you’re not a spiritual person, the Roman Catholic Church advanced society after the dark ages, monasteries being the repository of knowledge. The Roman Catholic Church has helped to build a strong moral code in condemning murder and other injustices. (Yes I know other religions have moral codes but the subject at the moment is the Roman Catholic Church.) They have provided education and health to the poorest and most improvised people. This includes the days of Australia’s foundation. The works of Mary Mackillop have had a deep and profound effect for Australia.
These works of charity continue in Africa and South America today. Not to forget Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Saint Vincent de Pauls society…
And if you are a spiritual person, well then I could tell you my own personal struggles and how my faith and the Roman Catholic Church has helped me and I’m probably not alone in the respect.

The end doesn’t justify the means but the Roman Catholic Church has turned away from much of the darkest that it has faced.

In the end we must remember we are human. Sin is born into us. If we are to believe that any Religion is perfect then it only takes us the time to see the human element and know this isn’t true. But it doesn’t mean we will stop trying to do our best to teach about Love, Compassion and forgiveness and Jesus’ message.

Just my views –
David 🙂

Replied at 11:47 pm on June 17th 2008

I think you missed Katies point. She said, “These things people do. Not religions.”

When looking at the horrible things that have happened in the church it is easy to say that it is as a result of the religion. It is more likely that it is a result of people on their own selfish vendettas. People are the cause of evil, not institutions. We can not ignore the past, but we must understand that bad things were a result of the people.

Wars in the name of Religions, ie The Crusades, Catholics vs Protestants in Ireland. When you get to the core of these wars, you will find that the real means, is not at all religion, but rather people’s need for power and money and revenge. Christ taught us to reach out to the oppressed, sit with the helpless, and I think in a sense to become selfless.

Joe, you say that “the Catholic History book is the perfect most unbiased history book in existance…” I don’t think you understand. A Catholic history book would be biased. All history books are biased as they are written by people who live in a particular culture, context and society. All history books are biased.. By the way I know you were being sarcastic.

I think when looking at religion it is crucial to find what is the human, cultural aspect, and what is the deeper meaning.

I’m interested to know Joe why you dislike the church? Do you understand who Jesus was and what his message was?

Replied at 06:57 am on June 18th 2008

Dear StHilarious: The Pope and the Church are not saying Jesus and Allah are the same and I have never said this. I really do think you should reflect a bit more on what you are saying, instead of distorting what others say and coming out with all kinds of false accusations. How can we possibly have a decent dialogue if you insist on inventing things in this manner?

Replied at 07:15 am on June 19th 2008

I am studying Religion in my senior year. I have learned that Jesus was a religious Jew who was also a teacher. He and his disciples who were also practising Jews travelled Palestine preaching from the Torah and trying to get the Jewish people away from Roman beliefs and practises such as trading in the temple on the Sabbath.

So my question is, why are the people who follow the teachings of Jesus not also Jewish. Judaism was his religion so why aren’t his followers Jewish? The word Christian comes from the word Cristos meaning Our Lord and is Greek. Jesus never heard the word Christian and was not called Jesus Christ in his lifetime.

So why have Christians so deviated from the religion of Jesus of Nazareth?

Replied at 09:01 am on June 23rd 2008

I don’t have a full answer, but this is what I can remember from my religion classes:

First, the primary difference between Christians and Jews is that we believe that the Messiah has come. Granted, there are a few Messianic Jews, but the greater portion of Judaism does not see Jesus as the Messiah. That’s the first difference.

Second, the teaching of SS. Peter and Paul both emphasized that both Jews and Gentiles were welcome in the Church, and that it was not necessary to follow, for example, the kosher food laws in order to attain salvation. This part is specifically recorded in Scripture, and if you’d like I can find the exact passage for you.

Third, Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the fulfillment of everything the Jews had been waiting for. The old law and the old commandments reached fruition in Him.

In a slightly different point, if you look closely at the origins of many Christian practices, they are a continuation or evolution of an earlier Jewish practice. The unleavened bread of the Communion wafer, for example, is an evolution of the Passover meal, which Jesus was eating at the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist. There are countless other aspects of Christian practice which are derived from Judaism, even if the connection is not immediately apparent.

I hope this helps, Shoshana.

Joe Rogers, I am truly sorry you feel the way you do about the Church. To be sure, the institution has committed errors, but that is because it is a human institution. We seek the perfection of God, but we all too often fall from that search. I pray that you can recognize that and see the good that the Church has brought to the world. I also pray that you can recognize that the people posting in this thread are not the same people you cite as examples from history of error, and that you do not hold the one accountable for the sins of the other.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, we’re all trying to figure out the same thing. It’s a hugely important thing, to be sure, but before anyone posts angrily or sarcastically, please ask yourself: What does this do? Does it help me to partake in the creative mission I share with God? Or does it merely destroy what could have been a friendship?

Replied at 03:25 pm on June 23rd 2008

Shoshana, in addition to the useful reply already given by John to your question I think that for a start the Church does value the important role of the Jewish world and beliefs. When John Paul II visited Rome’s synogogue in 1986 he said they were our “elder brothers in faith.” There are many common elements in what Catholics and Jews believe.

The Jews did not accept Christ and it is not the case that Christians deviated from the teachings of Jesus, rather that they are called Christians precisely because they follow them.

I think it might help you if you read a declaration made by the second Vatican Council on the relation of the Catholic Church to other religions. It is called Nostra Aetate and you can read it here.

If you go to paragraph 4 of the document it deals with the points you raise.

Replied at 11:37 pm on June 23rd 2008

‘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. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham’s sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch’s call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people’s exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8) ‘

OK so I read this but it still doesn’t address why people who were not Jews, following the Jewish teachings of Jesus, did not become Jews, the same religion as their Lord. And if Christians believe the above ties with Judaism, why the hundreds if not housands of years of persecution of Jews by Christians eg the Crusades ( which saw the deaths of thousands of Jews and Muslims ) expulsion of Jews from Middle Ages England, the Spanish Inquisition tortures and murders and then expulsions, the pograms of Russia ( which were government more than church sponsered but perpetrated by the Christian population ) and of course the Holocaust in Protestant Germany among just some. Why therefore do Christians seek to destroy the ‘ olive tree?’ If Jesus had returned as much doctrine states he will in times such as the Spanish Inquisition or the Holocaust and more, he would have been slaughtered by people who were killing Jews just like Jesus in the name of Christianity.

Please help me to understand the contradictions in all this as Anti Semitism continues in America through the Klu Klux Klan and Europe and Australia ( among other countries ) with the rise and rise of Neo Nazism ?

Replied at 07:51 am on June 24th 2008

There is no justyfying of Antisemitism in Christianity.
Christ has started a new era. He says that the law that was before is not “valid” anymore. This is mainly found in Matthew where Jesus sais, that you heard it is said to the elders… but I tell you.. he starts making food clean (something that is not allowed in Judaism) and so on. Although he was a Jew, Jesus was the fullfillment of the old law and has brought us his message. This is why we are not Jews. But just because we are not Jews does not mean we have the right to hate everyone else who is not Christian, because this would not make us Christian anymore

god bless


P.S. Germany is half half… it breaks my heart when you say, that Germany is Protestant (I am German)

Replied at 08:58 am on June 24th 2008

Shosana, unfortunately there has been a lot of anti-Semitism over past centuries. Some of this was carried out by Christians, but not exclusively. You refer, for example, to the Holocaust in Germany. This was not carried out by Christians, but by a government that was also very hostile to Christianity and which persecuted and put to death Christians as well. Neither is Christianity supporting any neo-Nazi groups or activity.

In more recent decades there has been a great improvement in relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish world, although much remains to be done.

Replied at 11:41 am on June 24th 2008

“5. Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs.”

Father, I cannot help but notice that there is a problem with these words.

“…should go beyond tolorance, accepting differences….”

Accepting differences? If you mean “accept that those differences are all right” or “accept those differences as also truths” … there is a big problem! How can any Catholic accept, for instance, the differences of a sect that says, Christ was not God? We can surely recognize and admit there ARE differences. But we certainly cannot accept them, or say that those differences are all right. Denial of the divinity of Christ, for example, is certainly NOT all right, because it is a denial of truth and reality. A Catholic who says, “the religion that says Christ is not God is just fine” says indirectly “Christ is not God.” Certainly a Catholic cannot accept Buddha in place of Christ, or that a satanic mass is equal to the Holy Sacrifice. It’s impossible to hold error and truth on equal footing. And if we know these things are false, is it really charity to pretend they are true? If we know that God has said, “these are the conditions necessary to salvation” and someone else says they are different, is it charity to remain silent, or even to encourage them to break or deny those conditions, so that they go to hell? It is quite false charity to not care whether a soul falls into hell because of what they think. It’s betrayal akin to murder to allow or encourage that soul willfully to go to hell, knowing that’s where they will go. It’s worse than murder, in fact, since murder only deals with the death of the body, whereas error brings about the eternal damnation of the soul. Physical death is at least temporary!

If I have a friend of another religion, and I pretend that their religion is “just as good” or “just fine” and that it will “get them to heaven the same as mine” … knowing all the while that they hold opinions, philosophies, doctrines and worship that is contrary to that given to us by God Himself (who cannot err), and knowing that it means that person is in danger of hell by not obeying God and following His true religion, I consent by an act of omission to that person going to hell. I want my friends to go to heaven, and I cannot deny anything God has revealed or taught through the Catholic Church. And so I believe that only that Church which God Himself has founded can be perfect, and the means to salvation (otherwise the merciful God would have surely told us so!). So if I love my friends really, I will try at every opportunity to tell them the truth that will save their souls, not hide it from them, or pretend the wrong way is the right way.

How can any Catholic accept contradiction or difference with God, His real law and His True Church? God is perfect, and His religion is perfect. Therefore anything that contradicts it, is automatically in error. If we know this, how can it be all right with us if those not of the truth simply fall into hell? If we know there is only one God, and one heaven, and one real set of conditions by which, on God’s terms, we will either get there or not, how can we simply accept and watch those around us go blindly into hell? Or worse still, help lead them there by telling them anything else but the truth?

If there is a road, and on that road, the bridge is out, it is my understanding according to reason, that you do not tell those who are coming down the road, “oh yes, you can go this way!” It is my understanding that charity is to say, “Stop! Turn back! The bridge is out, and you will fall into the ravine and die!”

I just cannot comprehend this manner of thinking, by which this statement says essentially, “accept the errors, and do not mind them” … Well, if we do not mind them, those around us who are not obeying God and adhering to the reality of His law, will go to hell. If I love God, I must wish everyone to go to heaven. To do that, they must know the real way. To tell them that wrong ways are just as good cannot be charity.

The statement also says, “they are called to mutual respect…”

So by this should we Catholics understand, that although we have the truth, we must respect lies or errors or falsehood? Can a Catholic who loves Jesus Christ, respect a religion that curses him daily? Can we say with the same mouth that receives His precious body and blood, “it is all right if you deny the true God for a false one”?

I am sorry, father, but these statements cannot be correct. The heart that loves God and Our Lord Jesus Christ, cannot respect and praise and encourage… or even accept… religions that deny and curse Him. Even those who hold one single error, deny God and His truth, and call Him a liar. Can anyone who loves Christ, who knows anything of what He suffered upon the cross for the love of souls, really say, “It’s perfectly fine with me if those souls go to hell in error. I don’t care if the souls He loved that much are lost. Instead, I respect the paths they take that will lead them to hell, and wound all the way the Sacred Heart that bled to the last drop of It’s precious blood for them.” Father, how can any Catholic hold this belief? Our Lord Jesus Christ took flesh to give the light of truth and His Church, the true path to heaven. He suffered and died in most bitter torments to rescue souls from hell. Are we to respect the paths they take to go to hell? Are we to pretend indifference to that love Christ bore them upon the cross? Are we to respect those who scourged and crucified Him (who, I might add, were of other religions, too)? What love is this for Christ, or other souls, that we don’t care whether others possess the means to obtain eternal life? It seems rather the cruelest indifference to Our Lord’s sufferings on the Cross, to His heart wounded at the thought of lost souls, and to our neighbor, who may loose Him forever. Will we say with Peter, “I know not the man!”? (Deny Our Lord and His truth?) Judas betrayed Christ for silver. Will we do it for less still… for the esteem and friendliness of our neighbor?

Broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many are they who go in threat, but NARROW is the path that leads to heaven, and few there are who find it! There is only one path that leads to heaven. The true path. God’s divinely revealed path. The path that began in a manger, and at a divine Supper, and upon a cross… a house upon a rock that will not fall. All other paths lead to the same place: hell. It is a sin to murder a man’s body. How much greater a sin to murder, or indirectly lead to death, a man’s soul! To do so is to crown the Sacred Heart with thorns, for He loved all souls, and died to show them the One Path (Catholicism). It is to inflict the sufferings of Our Lords agony upon Him again, wherein He wept thinking of those who would not follow Him and obey.

As a Catholic who loves Our Lord, I cannot be indifferent to what He suffered, or the purpose of His divine life on earth. I cannot be indifferent to His love for souls, and His desire that they hear, accept and live the truth that alone will lead them to heaven. If I love Him, I MUST tell the truth, that there is only one way, God’s True Church… and I cannot respect any way that leads His loved ones into hell. I cannot respect the beliefs which pierce His Sacred Heart by causing those He loves to reject His sacrifice to save souls, and that condemn them to hell. Ecumenism… saying that all religions are equal, or lead to the same place, or acting as if they do… is false, and false charity. It is to deny Christ and the truth and the reality of all He taught and died for. It is no charity toward our neighbor, and even less towards God Himself Who loves them.

Replied at 05:31 am on June 25th 2008

Dear AM: When the statement talks about accepting differences or mutual respect this does not mean the Church is denying the truth of our faith. I think it might help you to have a careful read of the document Dominus Iesus published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Among other points they say:

– “it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), the full revelation of divine truth is given.” (Par. 5)

Later on the same paragraph clearly states:

“the Encyclical Redemptoris missio calls the Church once again to the task of announcing the Gospel as the fullness of truth: “In this definitive Word of his revelation, God has made himself known in the fullest possible way. He has revealed to mankind who he is. This definitive self-revelation of God is the fundamental reason why the Church is missionary by her very nature. She cannot do other than proclaim the Gospel, that is, the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself”.

Then, in paragraph 8 the document cites Vatican II: “…the Second Vatican Council, in considering the customs, precepts, and teachings of the other religions, teaches that “although differing in many ways from her own teaching, these nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men”

Then, further on the document sets out how to balance the belief in the truth revealed in the Church and our respect for those elements of truth present in other religions and faiths.

“22. With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31).90 This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another’”.91 If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.”

It also carefully stipulates:

“Equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content, nor even less to the position of Jesus Christ — who is God himself made man — in relation to the founders of the other religions.”

So I think your worries are founded. The Church in engaging in this dialogue has not abandoned its mission of preaching the truth. Dialogue does not mean betraying your faith if it is carried out with care, as the Church is doing.

Replied at 06:48 am on June 25th 2008

All religions besides Christianity are frowned upon by god therefore no considerations or space in this network or in the world should be given to them.

Replied at 07:36 am on June 25th 2008

Hello Robbie. I know you have some pretty firm opinions on this, but why don’t you take a bit of time and read through the Church document I referred to in my previous post, Dominus Iesus. I think you might find it worthwhile reading.

Replied at 08:52 am on June 25th 2008

” “although differing in many ways from her own teaching, these nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men”

“Then, further on the document sets out how to balance the belief in the truth revealed in the Church and our respect for those elements of truth present in other religions and faiths.”

Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ founded one Church, and gave to that Church the whole picture of salvation, you might say. It has all of the truth, and all of the tools necessary for our salvation. Our Lord entrusted that deposit of truth to His Church only. Therefore, the truth and right way of worshiping and living is Catholic. Of course we admire our own Church! But those things do not belong to the other religions, and it is wrong to say so! Only what is NOT Catholic belongs to those other religions and sects. But if anything is different from the truth, or what is right, then it is automatically error and wrong. And so everything that IS protestant, baptist, episcopalian, etc… are ONLY the errors in which they differ from the Catholic faith. As errors, we cannot learn from, admit to or admire them!

Baptism, for instance, is NOT protestant. The protestants were not given that sacrament by Our Lord, because that sect did not even exist. Baptism was given to the Catholic Church. So it is Catholic. Now look at what is protestant. Scripture alone? A condemned ERROR. No prayer to Mary? It is CATHOLIC to pray to Mary. Mary not a virgin? A condemned error. No purgatory… a condemned error. Protestantism is in content, precisely those errors which separate it from the Catholic Church. Therefore, I cannot approve of, admire it, learn from it, or anything. It is error. As a Catholic, I can only reject it completely and contradict it.

If a protestant saves his soul, it is not BECAUSE he is protestant. It is in SPITE of it! It is only incidentally, and only because of the graces of the Catholic Church that prays for sinners! What is protestant is error, and can only lead him to hell. The same is true of all the other religions and sects.

Now you may possess documents which tell you what ecumenism is SUPPOSED to mean, but the world has, in fact and in deed, taken it quite differently. Most people (especially Catholics) take it precisely as religious indifference. They think of it as “all religions are equal, and lead to heaven.” And they act accordingly! Even if they took it to mean, “admire what is good in false religions” … it would be an error. There can exist no good in the content of a false religion. What is Catholic doesn’t belong to it!

The devil gets quite far anywhere there is ambiguity! Give him an inch of it, and he will drag a soul a mile towards hell. This ecumenism is very dangerous to the faith of Catholics, and appears to the rest of the world as if we no longer believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church. Our overtures of friendship to other religions are taken to mean, “your religion is equally true and good to our own.”

I have met the reality face to face, in a woman professing to be Catholic, who attends a Baptist Church. She is very happy there, which means, she no longer cares that she is worshiping, not the Body and Blood of Christ, which only an ordained Catholic priest can consecrate, but a piece of bread! (They occasionally have “communion,” and my friend who belongs to that church where she goes, says they do adore it as the body of Christ) She no longer minds hearing all sorts of things which are errors, and totally contrary to the Catholic faith. In fact, who knows how many she herself has adopted. And why not? Have not the very priests been telling people, “go out and experience other religions’ services! It will be a positive learning experience for you!” The implication is, “they’re good too!”

Father, this is the result of how Catholics take ecumenism. Catholics LEAVE the Church. Regardless of the definition you may have, nearly everyone has taken it in this light. And if people take it this way seriously, why stay in the Catholic Church? There are many religions or sects much easier and more fun! It’s false, and will lead only to hell, but… it’s so much nicer!

This is the reality of ecumenism in the church. The EMPTYING of the Catholic churches. Catholic churches are closing today, one after another because they are empty. Everyone has found a better social club… what they think is an easier, more fun road to heaven. Another faith, if they keep any at all. And this is only one part of what ecumenism has done to the Church!

The other part, is that the doors of the Church have been effectively closed. I heard a true story of a young woman who wanted to convert. She went to the local Catholic Church, and spoke to the priest, who told her, “Why would you want to do that? What were you before?” She said, “Protestant.” And he said, “Don’t worry about converting! Just be the best protestant you can be!” This is the ecumenism that many priests and bishops are practicing. “All religions are equal, so stay in your own church!” This story is not an isolated incident.

A schismatic or heritic “bishop” recently wanted to convert, and was told he could not, because it would be against ecumenism. The Church literally told him (true story), to “go join this group of other well known heretics or schismatics over here.” They would not let him convert, in the name of ecumenism.

Recently, something like 700 protestants (I think that was their former religion), including ministers, I believe, appealed to the Catholic Church to convert. Do you know what the Catholic Church told them, father? “No! Don’t do that! Stay where you are! You don’t NEED to come into the church!” Why not? Well, father, I just suppose that it is because we now have ECUMENISM! And it’s much more ECUMENICAL, if the 700 stay in the wrong church, and just go to hell. It’s much more politically correct. It might hurt someones feelings if they converted!

I am reminded of this quote from the Bible, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter.”

Lost souls, you might say, are going to the Church, pounding on the doors, shouting, “let us in! we want to go to heaven!” And they are hearing from within, “no! Go to hell!” Catholic priests have been literally REFUSING to accept souls into the Church, because “it would contradict the spirit of ecumenism.” To say nothing of the Catholic alters being offered for defilement in services of false religions in the name of the same ecumenism!

It is heartbreaking as a Catholic to watch this. Do we no longer esteem the truth as anything? Or God’s law as anything? The Church has shut all of the doors, and barred them, in the name of ecumenism. We must just hope that at least a few priests still leave a window open!

Whatever the texts SAY it means, or however we are SUPPOSED to take it… that is how the Church, clergy and laypeople alike ARE taking it. We are lambs among wolves, and the shepherds have now made it their chief business to make friends with the wolves, and to tell all of the sheep how nice they are!

Replied at 07:15 pm on June 25th 2008

Dear AM, You are quite right in saying that we must not adopt a position of indifference because of ecumenism. And naturally not wanting to accept converts in the name of ecumenism is clearly wrong.

What I would ask to do, however, is to not reject ecumenism or interreligious dialogue 100% just because some people who commit errors in the name of ecumenism or dialogue. There are, unfortunately, some people who do wrong things and they invoke the name of the Church, but that does not mean we throw the Church away. Rather, we adhere to what we know is true and point out what is true to others.

Ecumenism and dialogue done in the correct spirit is not only legitimate, but is also necessary.

In a recent address Benedict XVI said:

“At the inauguration of my Pontificate I affirmed that “the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole”

The Pope also explained:

“It is important to emphasize the need for formation for those who promote interreligious dialogue. If it is to be authentic, this dialogue must be a journey of faith. How necessary it is for its promoters to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed about those of others.”

So you can see the Pope does see the need for us to be firm and well-informed about our own faith, but this does not exclude dialogue with others.

Replied at 10:32 pm on June 25th 2008

To Daphne

Please send the number and line of the verse in Matthew that you refer to and please not my reference to Germany was Nazi Germany and Modern History texts refer to the national religion in the first half of the 20th Century in Germany to be Protestant. It is also well documented that although the Pope of the 1940’s did not come out and condemn the persecution of Jews, many Catholics, especially priests were put into concentration camps for objecting to what was happening.

Thankyou Shoshana

Replied at 11:46 pm on June 25th 2008

Hi Shoshana
the scriptures I was referring to were in Matthew 5:

21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherwill be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,[c]’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

27″You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.'[e] 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

31″It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'[f] 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

33″Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I remember an Enzyclica from the pope, (i Just know the German name of it: Mit brennender Sorge) which completely condmens the Nazii regime. The fact was that in Gemrany you had to be in the Hitler Jugend, not to be threatend or in danger of deportation. The Catholic youth was the only other place where free-thinkig poeple could come togehter, and this also was a main source of resistance. This catholic youth could never have been established if it had not been for the Reichkonkordat.
So in fact, the Pope definately did NOT support Hitler or anything he did. As I see this it was actually a smart move to give some poeple room to oppose the Regime (as done by the catholic youth)

I hope that helps


Replied at 12:42 am on June 26th 2008

Fr Flynn,

I think I understand what you’re talking about now (as being the proper sense of the new word.) Perhaps it is easier for me to call this concept and process by it’s old name: evangelizing. In this word it is much clearer to me what the objective is: to convert, to share the truth and guide away from error.

Indeed, evangelizing is very necessary, though most lay people (since many of us are quite ignorant on many topics) should probably leave it to those ordained to that purpose. However, of course, one can never ignore that which each of us is called to in our daily interactions with non-catholics. That is one form of evangelizing which we all must do: to always tell and adhere to the truth, and counsel in truth, and guide in truth those around us when the occasion arises.

If only the Church today were more like Our Lord in speech… speaking so that both the very learned and the simple alike can understand exactly what is meant, and so that there is not much room for twisting the words or for abuses.

Ah well, I suppose we Catholics must wear out our beads a little before such abuses and confusion are finally stopped. However wayward her children may go, Mary can set them right again if we ask her.

Replied at 03:21 am on June 26th 2008

Your questions on Jewish practice are well put and I don’t know that I can give a satisfactory answer but I would like to try if for no other reason than to prompt more of your line of questioning.
Jesus was a devout Jew yet he continually came into conflict with the religious authorities for not being compliant enough in their eyes. He regularly broke ritual purity laws and preached controversial messages about how the laws should be applied.

The idea if my understanding is correct is that Jesus was the one who gave the law to the people of God in the first place before his incarnation. He was the author of the law he knew it intimately. The laws he gave to his people had purposes behind them some for spiritual health some physical health some were to prepare his people for his coming in the flesh. At any rate Christ knew the purpose of the laws. the Jews had become hung up on the mechanics.

The followers of Christ were not required to meet the specific ethics of the law but to live by the ethos of the law this is accomplished by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As I said in my estimation some laws were intended to prepare a nation for messiah so they would not be employed in the same manner after the messiahs coming as after such is not a destruction of the law but a climax a fulfillment(a law that says you pay a fine for jay walking is fullfiled when you pay the fine). This would be why we don’t sacrifice animals and so forth.

Many of the ethics of the old testament still apply to Christians we find them through out Church teachings. Sadly from time to time large sections of the population ignore the Church’s teachings just as from time to time large sections of Jews ignore Mosaic law. this is not the fault of the teachings but the refusal of individuals to receive the Spirit’s Message in their heart.

that antisemitism has been prevalent through out Christian history is profoundly sad. It is a testament to peoples tendency to self destruct. To hate your own roots will undoubtedly lead to hating one’s self and destruction. Not to mention that Christ taught to love everyone and to hate only sin. So to spread hate in the name of Christ is ridiculous.

As for American sentiments? The Klu Klux Klan is a perfect example of how large sections of Americans engage in their “faith” more of a social activity than an actual faith. If applied not as a way of life or ethos but more as a social activity there is room left to disconnect with those who are not in your social group. these contradictions are not found in Dogma or doctrine but in personal abuses. They can not be truly explained because they are contradictions thus not logical. They say their christian then they don’t live a Christian lifestyle such is sin.

Replied at 12:44 am on June 30th 2008

Father what is the point of dialogue with islam they revere someone that denies the divinity of  christ,  lets for a moment say that this prohet was sent by God, why would God allow us to crucify his son, and then send a prohpet to say he was not my son, it really bewilders me becasue they will never convert just like the jews not unless God intervienes,  I am sure he will in his own time, just like the jews we know a good jews or musilm who follows their religous laws in a christ like way will be saved but my questionis how close to God can you get in heaven without Christ and the Holy Spirit,  I am sure the great sains like St Joseph and our Lady are very close to God in heaven….Henry

Replied at 01:32 pm on July 14th 2008

i don’t belive that a religion such as islam, which is quiet clearly a religion that acknowledges violence and murder to those not of the same faith, can be said to worship the same God of chritianity, there is a grave difference in religion, and i believe the moderate muslims have read the koran and interpreted it into what they wanted it to mean, because they couldn’t handle the severity of most of what they read  

Replied at 07:40 am on July 23rd 2008

father what is our belief, when it comes to people leading good lives but don’t belive in Jesus Christ, is there salvation for them if the die with that same conviction?

Replied at 07:16 am on July 23rd 2008

Ladies and gents, I just got one question for all of you:
Where’s the incentive to condemn these people for not being Roman-rite Catholics?  Jesus died first and foremost for human beings, which I’m relatively certain everyone on the planet is, regardless of creed or color.  What do you gain by denigrating Islam or its practitioners, especially those who seek to reconcile their differences with the world in a peaceful way?

Replied at 07:46 pm on July 23rd 2008

Dear John: I think this is well dealt with in the declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The document considers your question in chapter VI. It says, among other points: “21.  With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83 “

Replied at 11:55 pm on July 23rd 2008

shosana i dont know what history books ur reading, buti strongly disagree with some of the comments u r saying, for example there were almost as much catholics murdered by the nazis as there were  jews, some of our greatest church heroes came out of concentration camps, such as St Maximillian Kolbe who sacrificed his own life for another prison inmate and many more. I also strongly defend the crusades which were established as a defence against muslim invasion, although many PEOPLE used it as an excuse for there atrocious actions, u cant blame Christ, Christianity or the Catholic church for the actions of mere men, our message is well known world wide, it is about Peace, Love and Human dignity, u seem to know a lot about the wrong things people inside the church have committed, but u dont seem to mention the greater good christianity, has done for the world, if it wasnt for christianity the world would be a sad place!!!!!

Replied at 08:36 am on July 24th 2008

Just remember that real charity means caring about the souls of our neighbors before their feelings or respect or love for us. FIRST we have to want them to get to heaven, and they will not get there without the truth.

God gave each of us a free will to choose: heaven or hell. He then showed us, through Christ, how He wanted us to get there. Part of the immense mystery and profoundness of our humanity, is this choice. This power to choose between the one and the other. Power to choose eternal life with God, or to reject Him for all eternity. WIth this incredible power, this incredible choice, comes the responsibility of that choice. We cannot escape that responsibility. Even if we say, “I refuse to choose” … we have already chosen. If you decide anything other than to choose God, and to save your soul in the way He required (not in the way we WANT), then you have already chosen by your actions something other than Him.To “not choose”  or to choose wrongly, is automatically to “not choose Him”.

This is the profound reality of human life. This is why we exist, why we are here on this Earth. To make this choice. All of the members of other religions, or those who don’t believe in God, are making a choice by their beliefs and actions, whether or not their intentions are actually malicious toward God. Many even THINK they are going the right way. Part of Catholic charity for our neighbor, is to help them understand what the one, true way is: the Catholic Faith.

We cannot choose for our neighbor. We cannot choose heaven FOR them. Nor can we change God’s mind or His religion just because those who choose hell are sometimes very nice, well-intentioned people. We CAN try to save them from that fate by telling them the truth… even if they are hurt by it, or end up hating us for it. (Of course we must try to be kind, but the truth can only be so kind. It simply is what it is.)

But the worst thing we can do, is to pretend like it doesn’t matter (as if it’s okay with us if they go to hell) or act as though, or think that, it doesn’t matter what they believe. The reality is the same for everyone, regardless of how nice they are: God made the rules. We can choose to follow them or not, but they won’t change for anyone. We will be judged by God’s criteria, whether or not we believed in them.

Real charity is finding gentle and kind ways of telling our neighbors the truth, both by example and words, to lead them toward the light. Even if we just point out little things here and there, it can, over time, make an impact. One day, a light may go on in their heads, and they might actually realize how much sense all this truth makes together as one, coherent, whole picture that is the Catholic Faith. It may take years of dropping little points of the truth to them here and there, but that is the end that we must want, and work for, for our neighbors. That is REAL charity.

Being nice has nothing to do with letting your loved ones go to hell as easily as possible (eg, without your saying anything that might contradict their errors). Being nice in God’s eyes means doing everything you can to help them get to heaven, to help them save their souls. Of course we must be careful not to just blast someone… there’s always a nice way to put things, and a nasty way… but we can at point out the truth as different matters come up, and help them discover it here and there in a kind, respectful way.

And of course, we must always pray for the conversion of those outside of the faith! Sometimes God moves hearts where our words fail, by the grace of our prayers!

Replied at 01:43 am on September 07th 2008

Dear Fater Flynn,

 I have this friend who is friends with a satanic person every time I’m around this person i get uncomfortable. The first time I met him he told me to flip my crucifix that was on my necklace and I told him no. I don’t know how to deal with it.

Replied at 04:09 am on March 27th 2009

Dear Jonathan: Perhaps the best thing to do is simply not to spend time with this person. You could explain to your friend you do not feel comfortable with his other friend ask him to let you know if he will be around when you are going to visit.

Replied at 04:43 am on March 27th 2009