Affiriming what is true in other religions


In the other thread on modernism, that got derailed, there were a couple dangling issues. One was enunciated as so:

Show me in Nostra Aetate where there is a call to" free them from error and all contamination " and to perfect and complete them by Christian revelation.

And the other was that there is now a fear of calling to convert–given the implication that finding common ground and building from there is opposed to enunciating the need for conversion or that affirming what is good is done for its own end, as opposed to finding the fertile ground for the Gospel.

Nostra Aetate is not dealing with this issue, but rather with collaboration and interaction in pluralistic societies. As John Paul II said in his encyclical on the mssions (see below), inter-religious dialogue is not the same as evangelization, nor should it be a replacement for it. The Second Vatican Council’s decree on the Missions, Ad Gentes, deals with the topic at hand. Here are some examples:

"This missionary activity derives its reason from the will of God, “who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:45), “neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door.”

“They must be acquainted with this culture; they must heal it and preserve it; they must develop it in accordance with modern conditions, and finally perfect it in Christ, so that the Faith of Christ and the life of the Church are no longer foreign to the society in which they live, but begin to permeate and to transform it.”

“Missionary activity is nothing else and nothing less than an epiphany, or a manifesting of God’s decree, and its fulfillment in the world and in world history, in the course of which God, by means of mission, manifestly works out the history of salvation. By the preaching of the word and by the celebration of the sacraments, the center and summit of which is the most holy Eucharist, He brings about the presence of Christ, the author of salvation. But whatever truth and grace are to be found among the nations, as a sort of secret presence of God, He frees from all taint of evil and restores to Christ its maker, who overthrows the devil’s domain and wards off the manifold malice of vice. And so, whatever good is found to be sown in the hearts and minds of men, or in the rites and cultures peculiar to various peoples, not only is not lost, but is healed, uplifted, and perfected for the glory of God, the shame of the demon, and the bliss of men.”

And also Lumen Gentium

By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith. She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity they may grow up into full maturity in Christ. Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man.

Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”,(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.

And also Gaudium et Spes

This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions.[10] God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.[11]

But at the same time, the Church, sent to all peoples of every time andplace, is not bound exclusively and indissolubly to any race or nation,any particular way of life or any customary way of life recent orancient. Faithful to her own tradition and at the same time conscious of her universal mission, she can enter into communion with the various civilizations, to their enrichment and the enrichment of the Churchherself.The Gospel of Christ constantly renews the life and culture of fallenman; it combats and removes the errors and evils resulting from thepermanent allurement of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate themorality of peoples. By riches coming from above, it makes fruitful, asit were from within, the spiritual qualities and traditions of everypeople and of every age. It strengthens, perfects and restores[6] them in Christ.

And recent Pontiffs have said the same. I was going to provide more and more passages, but there were too many and they were too long, so I will provide links to the entirety of the texts here. All emphasize the need for preaching the Gospel and conversion as necessary for the salvation of souls, rejecting ideas that conversion and missionary activity are not necessary or encouraged and that the Gospel perfects other religions from their errors.

Pope Paul VI

Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World) December 8, 1975 [Apostolic Exhortation]

John Paul II
Redemptoris Missio (On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate) December 7, 1990
Ecclesia in Africa (On the Church in Africa) September 14, 1995 [Apostolic Exhortation]
Ecclesia in Asia (On the Church in Asia) November 6, 1999 [Apostolic Exhortation]
Dominus Iesus (On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church) - from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 6, 2000


I would agree with you that this is as Vatican II delineates things. And I have also found that until one gains credibility with someone by examining with loving concern where they are at, that one will have no basis for evangelization as they will not be heard.

One cannot coerce conversion. One may be able to enforce outward compliance, but conversion of the heart can only occur through coming to a knowledge of the Truth. That “coming to knowledge” will only come from one with credibility to the receiver. To have that credibility, the giver will need to not only show that loving concern for the welfare of the recipient, but will have to model the gospel being preached. Part and parcel of that is finding where someone is starting from and what the common ground is to begin discussions. Vatican II does a good job of emphasizing these things.

There are certainly those who object purely on the basis that they believe the Truth should stand on its own, regardless of how it is presented. And further, that if someone is unable to “receive” the Truth–even though that inability stems from the lack of credibility of the proclaimer–that they are still at fault. If they are able to bring someone to conversion on that basis, good for them, but I have not seen it happen yet.

There are also those, however, who just reject any and everything that came out of Vatican II, and for whom nothing it says will ever be acceptable or adequate. And for whom eternal contradictions will be found with earlier documents because they will not consider that it might be their interpretation that could be faulty.

While I can respect their devotion and their honest attempts, I do take issue with their attempts to convince those of us who do accept what the Church is teaching that either we don’t really understand what the Church is teaching or that the Church is teaching error. There are those here who identify themselves as “Catholic” while rejecting the post-Conciliar Church, and then attempt to “re-teach” people what they claim the Church teaches. If one wants to make such claims, it would be only fair and honest to identify that they are outside of communion with the post-conciliar Church so people can make an honest judgment on what weight to give those claims.

The Bible makes clear that the Law of God is to some extent “written on our hearts”. If that is true, then there is absolutely no reason to not expect that all religions and all people will have some grasp of the Truths of God. To try to hold that anyone who doesn’t grasp all Truth is incapable of any Truth is sheer foolishness, and the exact kind of Triumphalism that Vatican II addressed.



It depends on where a person is in their walk with the Lord? The farther we travel down our path in life, the more grace we require from God. In return, we are able to return that grace to our fellow man and his strange beliefs.

Another method to obtain God’s grace is through mortification. Saint Margaret Mary cried out to God, “Have pity on my weakness.”

Hope this helps



You are absolutely right - Nostra Aetate (and ecumenism in general I’ll add) is not dealing with the issue of conversion - and therein lies the problem, therein lies the contradiction, and therein lies the crisis and the confusion.

Despite this, the constant defence is made that such things as called for in Nostra Aetate (and ecumenism in general) - such things as the praise and reverence given to false religions - are specifically there to convert. But this is not listed as one of it’s goals. It’s goal is ecumenism itself…the “dialoging” itself.

Yet, it seems - with all due respect - Pope John Paul II may have confused the two himself…In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of St. Paul. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have chosen to travel to the ends of the earth in order to show this missionary concern. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity, a subject to which I am devoting the present encyclical.

Redemptoris missio, Sec.1, p.2
But in all his travels - how often did he preach the necessity of conversion for the eternal salvation of souls? I’m asking this seriously because I want to know and read the words myself if they exist. Or was he dialoguing and engaging in ecumenism (which is what I always saw and heard) which by it’s very nature, is not to be confused with attempts at conversion?

This is confusing and ambiguous, because we engage in ecumenism which by it’s very outline and stated goals does not involve a call to conversion, yet this call to conversion is the very reason and defense for its existance. A less charitable person might call this doublespeak.

Now quoting from AD GENTES: Therefore those men cannot be saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it."(17) Therefore though God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6), yet a necessity lies upon the Church (1 Cor. 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel.
So isn’t this ecumenism Nostra Aetate speaks of - which is silent in its call to conversion - by its very nature a rejection of that sacred duty to preach the Gospel - which by it’s very nature is the urgent call to conversion to Christ and His Church for the salvation of souls?

As you admit, Nostra Aetate (and ecumenism in general) is not concerned with conversion. It’s about collaboration and interaction with (what we used to call) false religions - working together with them, respecting each other’s religions, building a better world with them, working together for “peace”, becoming “mutually enriched”, etc. All these efforts - when not placed in the context of converting people to Christ in the Church He established - aren’t they futile and contradictory to the traditions that Church He established and the Great Commission He gave it?

Further - in the above paraphrasing what I think was one of my posts from the other thread, you stated the the other dangling issue was “that there is now a fear of calling to convert–given the implication that finding common ground and building from there is opposed to enunciating the need for conversion”…not exactly what I was saying.

I am saying that “enunciating the need for conversionis the “going from there” that you speak of. It’s part and parcel and central to the efforts of “finding common ground” in the first place. You can’t have one without the other. Yet the problem is, the “going from there” is not there. It is specifically removed from the equation - efforts at conversion are not to be included in ecuemism. We are not even to confuse the two concepts according to these documents and many others!

Now - I’m not saying the impossible happened, that the Church “broke” the infallibility rule here. I’m saying either these things are in general not under the umbrella of infallibility (i.e. are prudential matters not involving faith and morals and hence, can change), or they do involve faith and morals but this charism was not invoked for some reason or another in either the preceding centuries of the Church or at and after VII. What I struggle with when folks saying nothing has changed and all is in complete harmony.

Even the Catholic hierarchy would, I think, at times admit this is not the case…“If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text [of Gaudium et Spes] as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of* counter syllabus**…the one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X in response to the situation created by the new phase of history inaugurated by the French Revolution was, to a large extent, corrected via facti, especially in Central Europe, but there was still no basic statement of the relationship that should exist between the Church and the world that had come into existence after 1789.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, 1982, p. 381:San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1982)
The Catholic Church abstained at the beginning. The encyclical letters Satis cognitum of Leo XIII (1896) and Mortalium animos of Pius XI (1928) even condemned the ecumenical dialogue which seemed to relativise the claim of the Catholic Church to be the true Church of Jesus Christ. Yet Pius XII already paved the way to a more open attitude, albeit with caution, in an Instruction of the Holy Office of 1949. However, only the initiative of Pope John XXIII (+1963) and the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) brought a shift. The conciliar Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio stated that the ecumenical movement was a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our time (Unitatis redintegratio, 1), opening the way for the ecumenical movement and highlighting the importance of dialogue with separated brothers and sisters and with separated churches and church communities (Unitatis redintegratio, 4; 9; 11; 14; 18; 19; 21-23). (Cardinal Walter Kasper, Nature and Purpose of Ecumenical Dialogue, I, pp 3)

  1. The goal of ecumenical dialogue. The ultimate goal of ecumenical dialogue is the same as the goal of the ecumenical movement itself: not only the spiritual but the visible unity of the Church. On this, all Churches engaged in the ecumenical movement agree. Since the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church has understood this visible unity not as uniformity but as unity in plurality and as communion of Churches. The term communion, in the tradition of the patristic age and as the central ecclesiological concept of the Second Vatican Council, has increasingly substituted the term unity; or, better, unity is increasingly interpreted as communion. According to a famous formula of the then professor Joseph Ratzinger: the Churches must become one Church while at the same time remaining Churches. (Cardinal Walter Kasper, Nature and Purpose of Ecumenical Dialogue, IV, pp 1)

From the quotes you provided in the rest of your post, it looks like the Church still believes in the need to convert (in some way). But just “not yet”. Kind of like there’s been a moratorium on calls to conversion to Christ and His Church while we build the world into a better better place. Sometime, somewhere, we’ll get back to it. That’s just the impression that kind of comes off.

Show me where I’m wrong.

Peace in Christ,



How in the world can you demonstrate loving concern for the welfare of the recipient - if you are not demonstrating loving concern about his immortal soul? Any way you slice it, you are either changing Church dogma or placing the temporal above the eternal in matters of importance (or shall I say, “orientation”).

Either you no longer believe his immortal soul is at risk outside of Holy Mother Church, or you are feeding the guy a line of gobblitygook and “feelgoodisms” in order to keep him from getting upset with you. In the former case, you would be changing two millenia of defined Church dogma. In the latter case, you are placing your own and his own “uncomfortableness” above the value of his immortal soul.

This isn’t fair. The Truth should always be presented with charity. But the* whole* Truth. The problem is so much is left out of the Truth in ecumanism’s efforts, that it’s hardly recognizeable any more.

That isn’t fair either, The most die-hard tradionalists I’ve met all admit that much of Vatican II is in line with the tradition of the Church. Their problem is not with everything that came out of it, it’s with those aspects of it that were not consistant with the traditions of the Church.

The fact that these inconsistancies exist are evident to all. Either they are non-infallble matters (prudential judements or disciplines and practices, etc.) or for some reason the Church did not invoke the charism of infallibility with them (such as if they were merely offering pastoral advice, which could again be a prudential thing and not infallible).

Peace in Christ,



You guys have finally seen the light: The Christian Faith is non-denominational. Period!


You, my friend, are a glaring example of how ecumenism and muffling the call to conversion can lead to religious indifferenism. My apologies.

Come home.

And peace in Christ,



There is no need to apologize, because tunnel-vision and indifference are both allowed by Vatican II. Praise God!



Dearest holy_roamer,

I must ask, and be assured that I do ask this question not with the intention of insulting you, but do you envision the Council Fathers sitting around a big table writing up these documents on Ecumenism with the intention of allowing both tunnel-vision and indifference, and taking care to couch this in terms so that only the most intelligent of the lay people would get it? Were you proud of yourself when you got it?

Or do you think maybe that it is you who misunderstand and misinterpret the Fathers’ words?

Is this latter at all a possibility in your mind?


Or perhaps doing some third thing, completely different from what you describe. Believe it or not there is more than “your way”. Your implication that someone doesn’t care about someone’s immortal soul because they don’t jump in their face and demand immediate conversion is laughable and totally out of line with any example given by Jesus himself who never once demandeed that anyone convert to any faith. In fact, there are numerous examples of making statements to non-Jews to “go, your faith has saved you” without any further command.

In saying that I am not saying that Catholicism is NOT the true faith or that it isn’t important to bring people to it. It is a simple recognition that that is a journey that takes time and has to have trust on the part of the recipient before one can make any useful statement.

This isn’t fair. The Truth should always be presented with charity. But the* whole* Truth. The problem is so much is left out of the Truth in ecumanism’s efforts, that it’s hardly recognizeable any more.

In your opinion. Broad-brushed statements without factual documentation have no credibility, especially when the term is misdefined and the interpretation of the documents skewed.

That isn’t fair either, The most die-hard tradionalists I’ve met all admit that much of Vatican II is in line with the tradition of the Church. Their problem is not with everything that came out of it, it’s with those aspects of it that were not consistant with the traditions of the Church.

And the very reason for much of Vatican II is that many of the “small t” traditions had become skewed and counter-productive.

The fact that these inconsistancies exist are evident to all. Either they are non-infallble matters (prudential judements or disciplines and practices, etc.) or for some reason the Church did not invoke the charism of infallibility with them (such as if they were merely offering pastoral advice, which could again be a prudential thing and not infallible).

No, obviously they aren’t “evident to all”. If they are disciplines or non-infallible matters, then they aren’t inconsistencies but a change of direction that the Church is allowed to make. You may not like them, but that doesn’t make them inconsistent, just different.

Ecumenism and missionary activity, while related, are not the same thing. The fact that the documents on ecumenism deal with that aspect don’t mean that the call to conversion doesn’t exist. The document on missionary activity makes it very clear that that call DOES exist, and puts the ecumenical effort (along with work with non-Christian religions) into its missionary context. And *Ad Gentes *does specifically address those issues, with a specific comment decrying any sense of indifferentism.

Apparently you feel that the two documents should have been combined to be clearer or that more language on missionary activity should have been included in the document on ecumenism. Some of us don’t need that to be the case since each has its own statements and the correlations are made appropriately, with footnotes referencing back and forth. Either way, they exist and the information is there. You can think it inconsistent. The Church disagrees. From my reading, I’ll side with the Church, and where I find apparent inconsistencies, I’ll continue to look to dispel them as we are called to do.



Everyone knows that some Catholics hate Protestants. Do you think that the Council Fathers didn’t take that hate in consideration? We can thank God that the Council didn’t feed that hate.



For me ecumenism always smacked of worldliness?
If spiritual teachers kicked over a few more tables in a few more temples I would be a happier man.
What strikes me about the conundrum facing the Catholic church is the unhappy marriage between honest godlike/spiritual bloodymindedness and the previous truce with Rome?
The kingdom of heaven is not here!!!
cheers Stu


Both my wife and I came out of extremely large Catholic families, so we know the average Catholic. It appears to us, that there is only a hand full of Catholics, and they seem to be focused on this forum, who are spreading the propaganda.

While looking into this computer screen, this is how we see the guys who are posting the propaganda. They are sitting in comfortable office chairs in front a computer screen. On their desk there are Catholic Legal Books stacked high with other propped up so these politicians can type with both hands.

All I can say is, have fun.:slight_smile:



I never suggested that one “jumps in their face and demand immediate conversion”, An invitation to conversion for the salvation of their immortal souls is not a “demand” - it’s the Gospel and its an act of charity.

To cite just a few…Mark 16:15-16 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

That’s why the relgion is called catholic - the invitation to the one true faith is offered to all. In the example you cite, the person in question would have already demonstrated that faith.

I can appreciate this to some extent, but exactly how much time are we talking about? And how do you measure how much trust needs to manifest itself before we dare make an explicit call to conversion? How many “Happy Diwali’'s” shall we issue before the call to conversion is made? And where was such things as “time” and “trust” presented as necessities prior to a call to conversion - and where was this demonstrated on the day of Penticost?Acts 2:38-41
And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Or in Paul’s discourse to the AtheniansActs 17:30-31
And God indeed having winked at the times of this ignorance, now declareth unto men, that all should every where do penance. Because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in equity, by the man whom he hath appointed; giving faith to all, by raising him up from the dead.

You condemn “broad-brushed statements wihtout factual documentation” and make them in the same sentance.

Aha! Could you please list these.

And if, within the busom of Holy Mother Church, small “t” traditions as you call them, can become skewed and counter productive, couldn’t the same be said of these “new” small “t” traidions? Or have previous small "t"s been changed to new capital “T”'s that can no longer be debated, questioned, or examined?

Not inconsistant, but just different. Hmmmmm. That’s an interesting statement.

In any case, if they are “disciplinary and non-infallible”, and if they are “different”, then we as the faithful are within our rights to voice concerns here and point them out. Especially when such changes have been accompanied by a crisis in the Church such as we are now living in. It is not being disobediant to the Church or to the Council to do such things, it is out of love for Her and our obediance to God that we have to.

I see, it just means the call to conversion doesn’t exist in ecumenism. This is why this new ecumenism is just that - something “new”. A “change in direction” as you said before. As such, it can be questioned as a prudential and discipliinary matter as to whether it is helping build up the Kindom of God or is causing harm to it. And we can hold this new thing up to the beliefs and practices of the Church over the previous centuries and see if it is conisistant with it, or if we were warned specifically about such endevours.

Peace in Christ,



This thread is closed.

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