An open letter to the Pope from a Catholic priest in India; excerpts below:
We in India (as also in other parts of Asia), born and brought up in a religious pluralistic environment and who were beginning to rejoice with the Second Vatican Council’s views in the document Nostra Aetate about non-Christian religions, are confused about certain contents of Dominus Jesus, published from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2000 when you were its prefect.
Dominus Jesus states: “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.” (no. 22) Such a position can surely be detrimental for dialogue with other religions to reach a common meeting ground, and gives Christians a superior place vis-à-vis their counterparts in society.
It is true that we should avoid any suggestion of syncretism or relativism that some Asian theologians seem to have strayed into, but the problem of living alongside people of other religions and sharing humanity is constantly problematic. It should be recognized that there are very many enlightened, God-fearing and morally upright individuals among people of other religions as well as Christianity.
The most difficult part comes when, unlike Christians who refuse to have anything to do with others’ religious beliefs, Hindus and Sikhs are ready to accept Christ as one of the incarnations of God, and willing to worship him and abide by his teaching without giving up faith in their traditional beliefs.
How can we continue to build bridges with them and share a common humanity so as to build a peaceful and harmonious society without compromising our own identity?