The following is an unofficial translation of the working draft of the document on the Church's Relationship Toward Non-Christian Religions. Once called a declaration on the Jews, the document has now been broadened to speak also of others, Such as the Moslems, as well as the Jews.
IN this age of ours when man kind is being drawn closer together, day by day, and the tics between peoples here and there are made stronger, the Church weighs earnestly her relationship toward non-Christian rel igions. One is the community of all peoples. one their origin, for God made the entire human race live on all the face of the earth (cf.
Acts 17, 26). One. too, is their ultimate end. God : His providence. His goodness—of which creation is the witness His saving design extend toward all men (cf. Wisd. 8, Acts 14, 17: Rom. 2..6-7. 1 Tim. 2, 4). And in the end all the elect will be united in that Holy City whose light is the glory of God. that City where the nations will walk in His radiance
Apoc. 21, 23f).
Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved. riddles of the human condition. riddles that move the hearts of men today as they did in olden times: What is man? What is the meaning, what the purpose of our lives? What is the moral good, what sin? Which is the
road to true happiness? What are death, judgment. and retribution after death? What, linallv• is that ultimate. inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence, which is the fountain as well as the destiny of our being?
Ever since primordial days, numerous peoples have had a certain perception of that hidden Power which hovers over the course of things and over the events that make up the lives of men; some have even come to know of a Supreme Being and father.
Religions, however, that arc entwined with an advanced culture have been able to uses in their struggle for an answer to man's great questions, more refined concepts and a more developed language. In Hinduism. for instance. men try to fathom the divine mystery, expressing it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through keen efforts of a philosophical kind: they seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition through asectical methods. profound meditation, and a flight to God, full of love and trust. Again, Buddhism realises the radical inadequacy of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men. with minds devout and confident, seek to liberate themselves, through a self-denial and inner cleansing, from the fleetingness of things, and to attain a state of lasting quiet. Other religions, everywhere on earth, counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner. by proposing ways. that is to say. doctrines, rules of life, and sacred rites.
The Catholic Church scorns nothing in these religions that is true and holy. For ceaselessly she proclaims Christ. "the Way. the ruth, and the Life" (Jn. 14, 6). in whom God reconciled all things to Himself (cf. 2 Cor. 15, 19). Having learned of various dispositions toward salvation (cf. Irenaeus. Adv. Haer. IV, • 28, 2; PG 7, 1062). she regards with sincere reverence those ways of action and of life. those precepts and teachings which, differ though they do from the ones she sets forth, reflect nonetheless a ray of of that Truth which enlightens all mcn!
'1 he Church. therefore. admonishes her sons that they converse and collaborate with the followers of other religions in order to preserve, indeed. advance those spiritual and moral goods as well as those socio-cultural values that have a home among men of other religious traditions.
The Church is filled with esteem for Moslems: they adore the one God who lives, exists in Himself. and wields all power; they adore the Creator of heaven and earth who has spoken to men; they strive to obey wholeheartedly even His incomprehensible decrees, just as Abraham did, to whose faith they like to link their own.
Though Moslems do not acknowledge Jesus as God. they revere Him as a Phophet. They also honour Mary, His VirginMother; at times, they even call on her with devotion. Again. they await the day of judgment when God will reward all those who have risen.
Furthermore. as they worship God through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, so they seek to make the moral life—be it that of the individual or that of the family and society—conform to His Will.
In the course of centuries, however. not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems. Hence this Sacred Synod urges all not only to forget the past but also to work honestly for mutual understanding and to further as well as guard together social justice. all moral goods, especially peace and freedom so that the whole of mankind may benefit from their endeavour.
As this Sacred Synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock.
With a grateful heart, the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design. the beginnings of her faith and her election were already among the patriarchs, Moses. and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ -Abraham's sons aecordine to faith ---were included in the same patriarch's call, likewise that her
salvation is typically foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage.
The Church. therefore. cannot forget that she received the T revelation of the Old estament from the people with whom God in His ineffable mercy concluded the former Covenant. Nor can she forget that she feeds upon the root of that cultivated olive tree into which the wild shoots of the Gentiles have been grafted (cf.
Rom, I1, 17-24). Inded, the Church believes that by His Cross Christ our Peace reconciled the Jews and Gentiles, making both one (cf. Eph. 2. 14. 16).
The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "Theirs is the sonship. the glory. the covenants. the giving of the law, the worship. and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and of them is the Christ according to the flesh." the Son of Mary the Virgin (Rom. 9. 4-5).
No less does she recall that the Apostles. the Church's mainstay and pillars. as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ'sGospel to the world. sprang from the Jewish people.
Even though a large part of the Jews did not accept the Gospel. they remain most dear to God for the sake of the patriarchs. This is the witness of the Apostle as is the utterance that God's gifts and call are irrevocable (cf. Rom. 11, 281). In company with the prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone. on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve Him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3, 9; cf. Is. 66. 23; Ps. 65, 4; Rom. 11, 11-32).
Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is of such magnitude, this Sacred Synod wants to support and recommend thedr mutual know
ledge and respect, a knowledge and respect that are the fruit, above all. of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.
Moreover, this Synod. in her rejection of injustice of whatever kind and wherever inflicted upon men, remains mindful of that common patrimony and so deplores. indeed. condemns hatred and persecutions of Jews, whether they arose in former or in our own days.
May all, then. see to it that in their catechetical work or in their preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that could give rise to hatred or contempt of Jews in the hearts of Christians.
May they never present the Jewish people as one rejected. cursed. or guilty of deicide. All that happened to Christ in His passion cannot be attributed to the whole people then alive, much less to that of today.
Besides, the Church has always held and holds now that Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of all men and out of infinite love. It is. therefore. the burden of Christian preaching to proclaim the Cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.
We cannot truly address God. the Father of all, if we refuse to treat sonic men or other in a brotherly way, even though they are created in His image. Man's attitude toward God the Father and his . attitude towards his human brethren arc $so intimately linked. one to the other. that Scripture is able to say: "He who does not love does not know God" (I Jn. 4, 8; cf. I, in. 2, 9-11; Lk. 10, 25-37), Thus any theory orpractice that, so far as their human dignity is concerned, discriminates between man and man orpeople and people, creating a different set of rights for each of them—any such theory or practice is shown to be without foundation.
All men, therefore, but especial's. Christians must refrain from discrimination against. or harassment of. others because of their race. colour, creed or walk of life. But this is not enough. Treading the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this Sacred Synod ardently implores the faithful that they rather "maintain good conduct among the Gentiles" (1 Pet. 2, 12) and live, if possible, that is, so far as it depends on them. in peace with all men (cf. Rom. 12, 18), so that they may really be sons of the Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt. 5. 44).