It is often assumed that when members of two different religions engage in dialogue about doctrinal matters, the necessary prerequisite for fruitful dialogue is that neither religion claim to possess absolute truth. But Dominus Iesus (DI), recently issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reiterates that Catholicism possesses absolute truth (#4).
DI also says that the Churchs proclamation of Jesus Christ makes use of the practice of interreligious dialogue . Interreligious dialogue, which is part of the Churchs evangelizing mission, requires obedience to the truth (#2, italics added). Well then, its obvious that the Church is using or is supposed to be using dialogue as a means of evangelizing. And thats fine with us.
Surely then, the Church has nothing to learn from other religions doctrinally though presumably there might be some give-and-take on minor matters and the resolution of misunderstandings, notably with the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants.
It appears, however, that many of the dialogues between Catholics and (especially) non-Christians have been taking place under false pretenses false, that is, to the doctrinal claims of Catholicism. John L. Allen Jr., the National Catholic Reporters Rome correspondent (an ace reporter, by the way, in spite of his biases) reveals this clearly in that papers September 22 issue. He quotes Arvind Sharma, a Hindu, who said, Ive never met a Catholic who approaches dialogue from the point of view articulated in DI. Allen quotes Rabbi Jonathan Romain of England, who said, Ive yet to encounter an English Catholic who takes this [DIs] position in real life. Allen also cites Rita Gross (Buddhist), Kurt Krammer (Buddhist), and Farid Esack (Muslim) as telling him that their Catholic dialogue partners dont operate from the Catholic principles reiterated in DI.
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