How do you justify interfaith prayer?

“Such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.”
Pope Pius XI Mortalium Animus

This particular Encyclical seems to condemn such practices… so why are they practiced?

It seems to me that Pius XI was criticizing the false notion that all religions lead to God. The Church does not profess this, only that there is a certain amount of truth in every religion. For example, I hold that there is a certain amount of truth in Islam. Muslims believe in God, and it is certainly true that God exists (though they are mistaken about His nature). But I do not hold that all of Islam is true (example, that Christ never died), much less that it is a God-ordained path of salvation. There is no path of salvation outside of the Body of Christ, which subsists fully and properly only in the Holy Catholic Church. This attitude was not condemned by Pius XI. However, if I not only held that there was some truth in Islam, but also held that it is a God-ordained path to salvation, I would be in grave error, and that (imho) is what the pope here is condemning.

I would guess that interfaith prayer was always prohibited in the pre-Vatican II days because it was presumed that the ones involved held the opinion of religious relativism. Nowadays, however, the Church does not presume that. Good thing too, because I can’t imagine it would have gone down too well with my Protestant family that, on my conversion to the Catholic Faith, I wasn’t allowed to attend my brother’s baptism, or even allowed to say grace with them before meals. Talk about a turn-off to the Church!

I agree that I think this is a pre-V2 rule. It sounds like it any way. I remember back in the 50’s and 60’s being taught that simply going into a non-Catholic church was a mortal sin–which is, of course, incredibly silly and short sighted.

We are all God’s children. As Catholics, we can’t, for instance, substitute going to a protestant Sunday service for gong to Mass.Conversely, praying with and for all our brothers and sisters of every faith could be nothing but good in God’s eyes I think!:thumbsup:

Because it’s preferable to the alternative, shunning one another and letting resentment breed up until it pops up in the form of religious hostility.

Interfaith prayers encourage a certain degree of…How can I phrase it, camaraderie between people of different denominations. It also proves some misconceptions false, like for instance how Baptists seem to believe Catholics are cannibals who worship a Goddess called Mary :stuck_out_tongue:

From an earlier, similar thread:

I quote from The Christian Virtues: Moral Theology for S and Laymen by Charles E. Sheedy, C.S.C., p. 91 (University of Notre Dame Press, 1965):

The virtue of Divine Faith requires that Catholics refrain from taking an active part in the public worship of non-Catholic sects and from contributing either money or services to the progress of religious error. . . .

Religious cooperation . . . is dangerous to Faith, and it promotes religious indifferentism. . . . **Catholics may join with non-Catholics in private prayers, if there is nothing in these prayers against Faith. . . .
For good reason, Catholics can assist passively at certain non-Catholic functions, especially marriages and funerals. . . . Passive presence means just being there respectfully. . . . In short, he should do nothing that would indicate approval of the religious ceremony as such. . . .

So there won’t be a one size fits all answer to this question. If Sally risks her faith by praying privately with others, she should not do it. If Jane is in no danger of converting, then Jane may pray with people of other faiths.

If a Catholic can’t explain something like the Communion of Saints, he shouldn’t pray with others who may challenge his style of prayer, because that type of Catholic is ripe for “poaching.”

We are called to use faith and reason - There is one God.

Those praying to him, even if not fully aware of all of His true attributes. Can still send up a prayer of thanksgiving to Him, who provided this rock to live on and life to live.

Where interfaith gets tricky is in sacraments, I’m pretty sure it’s a ‘no’ to attend a non Catholic wedding. Someone can detail the teaching.

But praying to God, how does one learn about God, but to ask Him to reveal himself. Even non-Christians do this daily. I’d be happy to join a non-Christian in this prayer.

The “wedding issue” relates to attending a marriage where one or both parties are Catholic but are getting married outside of the Church. It has never been my understanding that there is anything whatsoever wrong in attending a wedding, in their church, between two Presbyterians, two Lutherans, or any couple at all (we are talking a man and woman here) not bound by the rules of the Catholic Church and who are free to marry.

Thanks for clarifying. A Catholic as one of the parties in a non-Catholic wedding. That makes sense.

Sheedy’s advice has clearly been superseded. See the Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, which speak favorably of quite a few forms of active participation in non-Catholic worship, stopping short only of Eucharistic communion.

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