Papal concern for solid doctrine in dialogue
John Paul II, at the audience of January 19, 2001, in the light of theological problems in dialogue with world religions, confirmed the Notification from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, January 24, 2001, and ordered its publication.
I. On the sole and universal salvific mediation of Jesus Christ.
It must be firmly believed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, crucified and risen, is the sole and universal mediator of salvation for all humanity.
It must be firmly believed that Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Man and only Savior of the world, is the Son and Word of the Father. For the unity of the divine plan of salvation centered in Jesus Christ, it must also be held that the salvific action of the Word is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father, as mediator of salvation for all humanity. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith not only to posit a separation between the Word and Jesus, or between the Word’s salvific activity and that of Jesus, but also to maintain that there is a salvific activity of the Word as such in his divinity, independent of the humanity of the Incarnate Word.
II. On the unicity and completeness of revelation of Jesus Christ.
It must be firmly believed that Jesus Christ is the mediator and fulfillment and the completeness of revelation. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith to maintain that revelation in Jesus Christ (or the revelation of Jesus Christ) is limited, incomplete or imperfect. Moreover, although full knowledge of divine revelation will be had only on the day of the Lord’s coming in glory, the historical revelation of Jesus Christ offers everything necessary for man’s salvation and has no need of completion by other religions.
It is consistent with Catholic doctrine to hold that the seeds of truth and goodness that exist in other religions are a certain participation in truths contained in the revelation of or in Jesus Christ. However, it is erroneous to hold that such elements of truth and goodness, or some of them, do not derive ultimately from the source-mediation of Jesus Christ.
The Church’s faith teaches that the Holy Spirit, working after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is always the Spirit of Christ sent by the Father, who works in a salvific way in Christians as well as non-Christians. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith to hold that the salvific action of the Holy Spirit extends beyond the one universal salvific economy of the Incarnate Word.
IV. On the orientation of all human beings to the Church.
6.It must be firmly believed that the Church is sign and instrument of salvation for all people. It is contrary to the Catholic faith to consider the different religions of the world as ways of salvation complementary to the Church.
According to Catholic doctrine, the followers of other religions are oriented to the Church and are all called to become part of her.
V. On the value and salvific function of the religious traditions.
In accordance with Catholic doctrine, it must be held that “whatever the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures and religions, serves as a preparation for the Gospel” (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 16). It is therefore legitimate to maintain that the Holy Spirit accomplishes salvation in non-Christians also through those elements of truth and goodness present in the various religions; however to hold that these religions, considered as such, are ways of salvation, has no foundation in Catholic theology, also because they contain omissions, insufficiencies and errors regarding fundamental truths about God, man and the world.
Furthermore, the fact that elements of truth and goodness present in the various world religions may prepare peoples and cultures to receive the saving event of Jesus Christ does not imply that the sacred texts of these religions can be considered as complementary to the Old Testament, which is the immediate preparation for the Christ event.
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