How can the Church make definitive statements about OTHER religions?

This is a question that has puzzled me for a while now. This link catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/do-muslims-worship-the-same-god-catholics-do
is an article written by Tim Staples citing the Catechism’s declaration that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics. Now I’m not disputing this specific point, but I’m just puzzled as to how the Church presumes to make definitive statements about OTHER religions such as Islam in this example.

I just don’t see how this falls under the faith and morals criteria of infallibility when it comes to Church doctrines considering it is a declaration about a *different *religion is it not?

I’m sure there are Muslims out there who will insist that they do not worship the same God as Christians mistakenly thinking that God as trinity is some form of polytheism which they reject. So why and on what basis does the Church presume to speak for Muslims (many of whom might disagree with the Church’s stance) about their own religion?

I just don’t understand how the Church can make binding declarations or something of that sort about other religions in something as central as the catechism.

Can someone shed some light on this/clear up any confusion?

The Church does not presume to speak about religions ,the Church speaks ,dialogues with other religious leaders.
This does not imply renouncing to her identity nor any compromise on faith and morals.

 You can find many resources here

usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/index.cfm

But in the article I linked there is a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself declaring that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics, is this not a statement about the religion Muslims adhere to in Islam? This occurs in CCC 841 and references Lumen Gentium that contains the same declaration.

I’m not seeing the distinction you seem to be trying to make.

Again, I’m not disputing the specific point, it’s just the basis on which the point (about Muslims and Catholic worshipping the same God) seems extremely perplexing to me because it seems to rest on the Church presuming to make definitive statements about the doctrines of a different religion.

Good question insofar that I do have similar thought myself on this subject. I believe this teaching does not fall under the infallible category and probably will change or be modified in time. This century such teaching seems to be more an effort to be politically correct. I personally thought the Church needs not make that statement but she did.

Having said that, the Church has firm ground in coming out with that statement which basically she is saying that Muslims worship the one Creator God. Catholicism holds that there being only one God, therefore if Muslims claim that they worship this God, then they must be, as there is no other God, no matter how flawed is their understanding of this God.

Perhaps there is an element of reciprocation on the part of the Church, since Muslims do believe that Christians are ‘people of the Book’, meaning that we were given authentic scripture from God albeit in their understanding that scripture had somewhat lost its originality. This nevertheless did not negate them (Christians) worshipping the same God.

It is a matter of how one likes to see the argument on this subject. As it is, both arguments, for and against, seem to have strong points as to whether Muslims worship the same God as Christians or not.

I am just pointing out to their ongoing dialogue.
There are.many documents ,letters ,conferences we may read to sort things out together.
I do not know Mr Staples really ,sorry about that…

This is like the objection some people make, that the Church has no authority to speak about the legalization of abortion or gay marriage because it’s “political.” But the Church’s competence extends to the social sphere insofar as it involves morals, and to religion generally insofar as it involves theology. The Magisterium has the competence and the authority to define what she believes, and therefore, what she does not believe. This necessarily entails the beliefs and practices of other religions, which make truth claims about the spiritual realm, which claims the Catholic Church either accepts or rejects, in whole or in part.

As to the teaching in question, Lumen Gentium 16 refers to “the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.” The document doesn’t say that all Muslim beliefs about God are the same as the Catholic faith, or that Muslims worship God in the same manner that we do, or that they do not need Christ. The document is merely outlining what we hold in common.

***Moved to Apologetics since this is not an Non-Catholic religion topic but an apologetics one based on an article by a CA apologist.

Please carry on…


Personally I think it was going too far to make any comment on anyone claiming to worship a creator or look to a judgment or a person called Abraham or the existence or non-existence of different kinds of scriptures. “Monotheism” is a non-question based on being over-literal.

By all means dialogue and by all means warmly appreciate others’ good actions.

When persons who were married in Protestant ceremonies seek marriage to someone else in a Catholic Church, the Catholic Church presumes to decide if that earlier marriage, which may have involved years of belonging to a Protestant congregation before and after the wedding, was valid, or should be annulled. The Church also determines which baptisms are “valid” - Lutheran ones are, Mormon ones apparently not. The Church even makes decisions about validity of earlier marriages of persons who had no Christian upbringing, no religious ceremony at all, or those with a non Christian religion. Doesn’t the Church, in mixed marriage situations, grant annullments to members of churches that don’t recognize annulment, and refuse to recognize divorces to members of churches that do recognize them?

All religions at least implicitly make “definitive statements” about the nature of reality applying to all persons, including other religions. Don’t Methodists or HIndus make statements about the value or evil or impact of wars, for instance, that only involve other religions? Don’t Protestants make statements about religion and domestic violence, or religion and sex abuse, including persons beyond their own communion?

The difference is that the Catholic Church’s definitive statements are often explicit. They are out where anyone can see them. But every other Christian denomination or non Christian religion is also making statements all the time about universal realities, which include persons of all or no religion. They are usually implicit.

Because the Rc Church is.the True Only Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself at the Last Supper 2015 years ago :slight_smile:

The True Church has.the Truth, and can speak out about religions.that do not have the Truth, or only have partial truths.

Jesus said it in the Bible; “How can a blind man lead a blind man, will.they both not fall into a pit?”

“Anyone who keeps My commands, and does what I say, I abide in Him, and he abides in Me, and I will raise him up on the Last Day.”
“I AM The Way, the Truth, and The Life, no one comes to the Father except by Me.”

The reason the Church can make such a declaration is that there is only one true religion. Everything else is a flaw shell, rewrapping the Holy Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is not a human institution, but Divine. Jesus himself is at its head. It is Jesus who mediates between Man and God the Father. Thus it is Jesus, speaking through the church’s authority, stating that Muslim prayers are reaching God the Father.

Muslims claim to worship the God of Abraham, the same God the Jews and Christians worship.

If this claim is true, then we worship the same God.

Christians saying Muslims don’t worship the same God as us is like Jews saying Christians don’t worship the same God as them.

We all worship the same God, but the Jews and esp the Muslims don’t know God as well as we do.

Hi Barricade,

The statements are using Catholic theology in order to make a determination on how other faiths relate to the Church. Islam is an Abrahamic faith and along these lines it has determined that Muslims worship the same God as Christians (it basically is just an extension of the acknowledgement that Jews worship the same God).

It does this frequently also, when for example, determining valid Holy Orders, or valid Baptisms among other Christians faiths.

A particular Muslim Imam might conclude that Christians do not worship the same God, while the vast majority of them would, but this would not alter the Church’s conclusions.

The Magisterium is the safeguard of the Deposit of Faith, and the Holy Spirit protects the Magisterium from ever teaching errors about the Deposit of Faith. The Church cannot make a definitive, magisterial statement that contradicts the Deposit of Faith. However, individuals and groups of individuals within the Magisterium (bishops, popes, councils) can err in their teaching, as we see in scripture with our Holy Father St. Peter being corrected by St. Paul, but ultimately the Magisterium never teaches error and never will.

The Deposit of Faith is all based on public revelation, which the Church teaches ended with the death of the last apostle. Everything in Holy Religion is derived from the deposit of faith and public revelation.

I do not know of anything we can lean on to say the Church’s infalliblity extends to its interpretation of the faith and morals of non-Catholic religions. Furthermore, I do not know of any way we can argue that the faith and morals of non-Catholic religions are contained within the Deposit of Faith and part of public revelation.

Take Islam as an example. When individuals within the Magisterium make statements that say Muslims worship the same God as Catholics, I think we are safe to say that statement cannot be definitive. The statement cannot b e contained within the Deposite of Faith, because public revelation ended centuries before Islam was invented, To say otherwise is to say the Church can infallibly interpret the teachings of the Koran, which would mean the Koran is part of the deposit of faith, which it clearly is not, because of the time in which it was written. It certainly cannot be a matter of faith that Catholics are bound to believe at the pain of sin.

Now I understand your question,I believe.
It is not that the Church is referring to their doctrine. Since God includes every man and woman in His plan of Salvation,the Church looks for those sparkles of truth in other religions through dialogue included.
So in fact they would be talking about our religion ,to explain it somehow ,and how sparks of truth appear in Islam,for instance in this case. Not " their doctrine" nor teaching " them" about their own,
Is that what you were asking?
I am reading documents where these " sparks" are highlighted as well as differences .

No, it isn’t because Jews have the same Scriptures as us and Jesus and the Apostles were Jews. The Old and New Testaments are highly prophetic about the life of the Church.

Not saying what the church authorities have said would in no way imply that we didn’t appreciate what Muslims may think they have in common with us. It’s not necessary for us to state who believes in the same God or not. Silence is golden! Keep it simple!

Staples doesn’t shed any light on this.

If Christians believed in God they would be teaching each other how to mature emotionally and foster each other’s ministries. That would be a good place to start making comments - if it ever happened!

( off record: Paul corrected Cephas over a discipline.)

Well, my question was more about the basis of making that kind of claim, not the claim itself. I did not/don’t fully understand the angle the Church was coming from in making this declaration.

To make my concern more clear: what if an Islamic scholar made the claim that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God; on what grounds is the Church authoritatively telling such an Islamic scholar that he is incorrect about his own religion? (If that’s what is being told here).

Or more to the point, does the Church’s authority extend to making definitive declarations about the doctrines of other religions? I was under the impression that the Church was only infallible on issues of faith (that is the one true Catholic faith, not just any and all different religions) and morals.

I just don’t see what the Church is basing the claim on, different religions are other belief systems entirely, so I don’t see what such a declaration by the Church is being predicated on if it is a statement about the religion of Islam itself.

ACTS 17:21-25

[21] (Now all the Athenians, and strangers that were there, employed themselves in nothing else, but either in telling or in hearing some new thing.) [22] But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. [23] For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you: [24] God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is he served with men’ s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things:

Barricade #18
…does the Church’s authority extend to making definitive declarations about the doctrines of other religions? I was under the impression that the Church was only infallible on issues of faith (that is the one true Catholic faith, not just any and all different religions) and morals.

As the Catholic Church is the only Church founded by the Son of God, Jesus, She not only states that fullness of teaching entrusted to Her, but has to identify the errors which conflict with, and detract from, His teaching so that the faithful are not led astray by false doctrines, and others are encouraged to embrace the fullness of truth.

That is precisely why She has been endowed with infallibility.

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