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Dominus Iesus -- a Compilation

by Various


A compilation of articles and documents concerning Dominus Iesus including the document itself.

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Various, Various

A Collection of statements from the following Bishops on the document, Dominus Iesus (On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church) issued on September 5, 2000, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the prefect and secretary respectively of the Congregation. The document is designed to answer a series of questions about the importance of the Catholic Church, answering questions that have arisen in the context of ecumenical activities. The document was approved by Pope John Paul in June.

Opposing Religious Relativism

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, IL
September 5, 2000

Today in Rome the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration "Dominus lesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church."

In response to questions raised in missionary work and ecumenical and interreligious relations, the declaration presents both the principal truths of the Catholic faith as well as the status of theological debate in the areas of the mystery of God's kingdom, the work of Christ as universal savior and his relationship to his church.

There is no new teaching in the declaration, but it serves very well to clarify and summarize the teachings of the Catholic Church that were established at the time of the Second Vatican Council in its relations with Christians and believers of other religions. At that time these positions were seen as positive developments in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and they continue to be so.

The unique and universal mediation of Christ in the work of salvation, the declaration states, does not exclude "participated mediation" of various types and degrees in other religions. Theories of a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Jesus Christ and without reference to his body the church are, however, inconsistent with the Catholic faith.

Insofar as these clarifications of Catholic teachings enable Catholics to better articulate their faith, their participation in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue will be more fruitful. Basically, the declaration opposes religious relativism, which bases truth in personal experience rather than in God's self-revelation in history.

I am grateful for this declaration, and I pray that it will be a means of promoting proclamation of the Gospel and dialogue, both of which are aspects of evangelization.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington,D.C. 20017-1100.

Dialogues Will Continue

Cardinal Roger Mahony, Los Angeles, CA
September 9, 2000

In the greater Los Angeles area, Roman Catholics have enjoyed a longstanding and valued relationship with Christians of other churches and peoples of other religious traditions. The fruits of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the southland have been rich and rewarding for people in this region, throughout the nation and well beyond.

In light of the great progress made in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the greater Los Angeles area, it is discouraging to read the headline "Vatican Declares Catholicism Sole Path to Salvation" (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 6, 2000). While clarifying the Roman Catholic Church's position, the declaration does in fact affirm that those who are not formally part of the Roman Catholic Church can indeed be saved (Dominus lesus, 20).

I would like to take this opportunity to reassure our partners in dialogue that our mutually beneficial conversations and joint pursuit of the truth will continue. I pledge my unyielding support for these efforts.

The declaration "Dominus lesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church" is best understood within the context of this ongoing dialogue. The purpose of the declaration is to clarify the Roman Catholic Church's own position in view of disagreements within the Roman Catholic Church, offering firm critique of those theological views that appear to relativize the Christian faith and the Roman Catholic Church. Nowhere in the declaration is there criticism of the fruits of bilateral agreements or of new initiatives taken in interreligious dialogue. Nor is there any indication that such dialogues or initiatives are to be halted.

The actions of Pope John Paul II himself have demonstrated his own profound respect for peoples and traditions other than Roman Catholic. His recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, his invitation to religious leaders to join him at Assisi in praying for world peace on Oct. 27, 1986, and his meeting on Sept. 16, 1987, here in Los Angeles with local Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu leaders are just three instances of his respect for the integrity of others and their religious traditions.

The tone of Dominus lesus may not fully reflect the deeper understanding that has been achieved through ecumenical and interreligious dialogues over these last 30 years or more. This deeper understanding has been prompted in no small measure by the initiatives of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The council clearly affirmed the importance of religious freedom and called for deep and mutual respect among people of different religious traditions. The declaration can only be properly understood in light of these conciliar orientations and affirmations.

It is my sincere hope that our ongoing dialogue and partnership will proceed unabated. The Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles remains fully committed to ongoing dialogue and partnership. Only in this way can we continue to move beyond the tragic estrangement which has characterized so much of our past.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington,D.C. 20017-1100.

What "Dominus Iesus" Reaffirms

Cardinal Bernard Law, Boston, MA
September 5, 2000

It is with gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and to the prefect and members of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that I welcome the publication today of the declaration Dominus Jesus. This document is the fruit of several years of labor by pastors and theologians who responded to many requests from around the world for clarification of the church's constant teaching in light of some discussions and positions that have seemed to place that teaching in doubt. In contrast to these various theories and opinions, Dominus Jesus is a reaffirmation of that constant teaching. What the declaration affirms is, for example, contained in the Nicene-Contantinopolitan Creed, which is professed by every Catholic at every Sunday Mass as the faith of the church.

What is reaffirmed is what has been proclaimed by the apostles and believed by the faithful from the beginning. The revelation of Jesus Christ is the complete message of God for the salvation of the whole human race. The response of faith must be the "complete acceptance of the truth of Christ's revelation, guaranteed by God, who is truth itself." This truth is found in the books of the Bible as God's one and only inspired word as well as in the sacred tradition of the church. The truth of this divine and Catholic faith can in no way be reduced to merely one message among others or as a culturally conditioned partial expression of truth among many other similar and equally valid ones.

Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the one and only Savior of every human person. There can be no separation of Christ's humanity from the divine eternal Word. Theories that add to or subtract from this central truth deform the full truth about Jesus Christ. So also do those theories deform the Catholic faith which claim that the mission of the Holy Spirit is more universal than the fullness of revelation made in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit "works" throughout time so that all men and women are called and can be incorporated into the divine life of the incarnate Word and so enter into communion with the persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Because there is no other name than Jesus Christ by which we can be saved, all need to learn this truth. The uniqueness and universality of Christ's salvific action continues to be exercised in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. That church is the Catholic Church under the headship of the pope, the bishop of Rome, and the bishops who with him share the apostolic succession from the apostles down to the present day. The affirmations that Dominus Jesus makes about the church correspond to what Jesus Christ himself has promised to fulfill in her. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, these promises are active in the church until the end of time.

The church is deeply conscious of the fact that she received this extraordinary truth as a gift from the Father, who has sent his Son so that we might share in the divine life as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore with great humility but with an equal conviction of truth, the church enters into dialogue with the baptized of other churches and ecclesial communities as well as with adherents of other religions. Here in Boston we are blessed by the relationships we have with our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Church, which maintains apostolic succession and a valid eucharist. We are profoundly grateful for the many ways the ecclesial communities of the Reformation have been willing to relate to us and to work and pray along with us. Just as we are convinced that the fullness of grace and truth is God's gift to the Catholic Church, so do we joyfully recognize and esteem the efficacious life of faith lived by our brothers and sisters in other churches and ecclesial communities. The many elements of truth and life that animate them derive from Jesus Christ, the same source of grace and truth which subsists in its fullness in the Catholic Church.

Because Christ has called the church to evangelize the world, we cannot do other than announce to the world the good news of Jesus, the one Lord and only Savior. In so doing we encounter our brothers and sisters of other religions. Our dialogue with them is sincere and based on a constant search to understand better God's design for all human beings. With confidence in the revelation of Jesus Christ, whose kingdom is one of truth and of justice, we seek only to proclaim him, to worship him and to serve him in all peoples, especially in the sick, the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned, the naked, the homeless (Mt. 25:31-46). Catholics recognize that other religious traditions search for God and have found God, though without knowing Christ Jesus. Interreligious dialogue, as part of the church's missionary life, represents a sincere desire to seek understanding with the adherents of other religions so that all human beings may come to the knowledge of the truth.

The church has issued this statement on Jesus Christ and the church out of her inescapable commitment of fidelity: fidelity to God and his revelation, fidelity to Jesus Christ and his message, fidelity to the church, which is the means through which the Holy Spirit transforms human hearts and advances God's kingdom. Dominus Jesus does not signal a lessening of the church's commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Rather it is a statement of truth so that the dialogue may proceed on a firm foundation and not be open to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Dominus Jesus is not a proclamation of some human superiority in contrast to any other person or institution. It is a reaffirmation of what the church believes and lives with an ever abiding sense of her own unworthiness as she welcomes all persons of good will to reflect on its meaning. The Catholic Church is sustained in this task by the revelation made to Abraham, Moses and the prophets that God's promises are eternal and that his loving providence extends to every human being.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington,D.C. 20017-1100.

The Place of Religious Discourse in American Democracy

Archbishop William Levada, San Francisco, CA
September 5, 2000

The Declaration Dominus Jesus issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Tuesday reaffirms the fundamental teaching of Christian revelation, as handed down in the Catholic Church, on the role of Jesus Christ and the role of the Catholic Church in our salvation.

The declaration, which was approved and affirmed by the Holy Father, proceeds from a theological context and presents classic truths of the Catholic faith in contrast to relativistic theories. The declaration is a response to several confusing or erroneous ideas regarding what it means to call Jesus Christ the one savior of the world and how his saving grace may be applied to persons who do not explicitly believe in him or who have no connection with the church, to which he entrusted the application of salvation to the whole human race.

One example of the kind of erroneous and relativistic theories which the declaration addresses could be summed up in an explanation of the universality of salvation in Christ, which sets up two parallel dispensations in which this saving work takes place: one for Christian believers, which operates through Christ the incarnate Word and his body, the church; and the other for followers of non-Christian religions, which would operate through the invisible action of the Holy Spirit.

While reaffirming the essential truth of the uniqueness of Christ as savior and the necessity of the application of this salvation through the work of the church, the declaration encourages theologians and those engaged in interreligious dialogue to explore further how the mystery of God's saving will is truly universal, both throughout human history and among all peoples. For example, with regard to other religions, the declaration says, "Theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religious experiences and on their meaning in God's salvific plan, is invited to explore if and in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation" (No. 14).

Moreover, with regard to common action and common purpose by people of good will of any and all religious faiths, and of no explicit Faith, the declaration reminds us that the kingdom of God is not simply identified with the church in her visible and social reality, and therefore "the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the church's visible boundaries must not be excluded" (No. 19). The declaration here goes on to quote Pope John Paul's encyclical letter "The Mission of the Redeemer" (No. 15); "Therefore, one must also bear in mind that 'the kingdom is the concern of everyone: individuals, society and the world. Working for the kingdom means acknowledging and promoting God's activity, which is present in human history and transforms it. Building the kingdom means working for liberation from evil in all its forms. In a word, the kingdom of God is the manifestation and the realization of God's plan of salvation in all its fullness."'

In this jubilee year, commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the incarnate Word of God in the world, the declaration reiterates common doctrine about the unique status of Jesus Christ as redeemer and savior in the eternal plan of God. This plan, of course, began with the creation and is unfolding through the history of the world and human history, making us a part of it; it will find its fulfillment only at "the end of time."

In a sense, then, it is a commentary on the beautiful and familiar words of the first chapter of St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, on the power which comes from God's revelation of — and our response of faith in — Christ our Savior:

"God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he had put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:20-23).

The declaration notes that in treating the question of the true religion, the fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: "We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the catholic and apostolic church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the apostles, 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you' (Mt. 28:19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it" (Declaration on Religious Liberty, 1).

This statement illustrates the essential missionary spirit which has imbued Christianity from the beginning. At the same time, since it introduces the council's important declaration about religious liberty guaranteeing to each person that basic human right to personal freedom in religious matters, it reminds us of an important point which both religious and secular leaders failed to understand or ignored too often in history's religious controversies and wars.

While the declaration Dominus Jesus is primarily addressed to the Catholic and Christian theological community, the ideas contained in it naturally have some connection with the parallel and ongoing discussions about "civil religion," as those discussions have taken shape over the years in our country in regard, for example, to religious pluralism and the place of religious discourse in American democracy. For a certain view of religion in our American democracy, the claim that Christ is the "one" savior will seem problematic, as if Christians refuse to meet as "equals" on a "level playing field." Just as in interreligious dialogue, where all the participants must meet as "equals" while not surrendering the truth of their respective beliefs or traditions as the declaration notes in No. 22, so in American society the democratic process guarantees an equality to all religious beliefs — and to the lack of religion — to make their contribution to proposals for furthering the common good.

What underlies much religious discourse today, however, as the recent lively discussion about Sen. Joe Lieberman's remarks on faith and morality in American politics illustrates, is that for some people religion can only be "tolerated" if it is private. It used to be that any public appeal to religion was considered divisive, presumptively preferring one's own religion over another's. But in Lieberman's case, even a generic appeal to God and morality has proved offensive to some, since they feel left out. It is as if the old saw "One religion is as good as another" has now got to be "No religion is as good as another"!

But, indeed, religion has always provided the moral grounding and social conscience for the American vision, and in my view attempts to privatize it should be firmly rejected as undermining still further the importance of religious faith for the pursuit of virtue in personal and public life, the absence of which cannot but undermine our American culture and institutions. Furthermore, such a tendency toward privatization itself fundamentally skews and tends to violate the First Amendment guarantees of American constitutional law.

I do not want this aside into American political discourse to distract from the important reaffirmation of Catholic doctrine which the declaration Dominus Jesus provides for Catholic and Christian believers and for the future of interreligious dialogue. But I think it does help to provide some comment in the cultural context of our ongoing dialogue with our neighbors about our purpose and our goals in church and society.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington,D.C. 20017-1100.

Ways of Misunderstanding This Document

Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Newark, NJ
September 12, 2000

Last week one of the major offices of the Holy See published a document which triggered an immediate reaction in some sectors of the press. It was a document that reminded Catholics what was taught by the Second Vatican Council and by the Holy Fathers before and since. As a matter of fact, what the document repeated was what the church has always believed and constantly taught. It reminded Catholics all over the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he is the only savior of the human race. It reminded us also that Jesus Christ established a church which was to serve as the channel of grace and truth and holiness in the world. That seems straightforward for anyone, or so it seems to me.

The reason for the promulgation of this document now is tied to the concerns raised by some in the church that we ought to be open to other ways of salvation — for example, through the teachings of Buddha or the other deep Oriental mystics — or to accept the validity of other ecclesial communities besides the Catholic Church. The secular press had a heyday with this document. The headlines trumpeted that Catholics think they are the only ones who can be saved, that the pope called other religions inferior and that the Catholic Church was returning to what the media so glibly inferred to have been a past of intolerance and intransigence. What nonsense, especially in the light of our Holy Father's constant outreach to other faiths and other religious leaders.

Let met try to make some things clear. First, we do not claim that only Catholics can be saved or that only Catholics can be holy.

We have too great a personal experience of our own sinfulness and too deep an admiration for the goodness and holiness of other peoples. Second, we do not deny the beauty and the significance of other religious teachings. Indeed, we believe that in some way the Holy Spirit speaks to all men and women, in many ways calling them to virtue and inspiring them to seek the truth of the presence of the one living God. The dialogue of true ecumenism does not infer the denial of what we believe, but the desire to understand and appreciate what our neighbor believes.

What we do believe is that we have received in Jesus Christ the perfect revelation of the Father and that in the Catholic Church we can find all the necessary helps toward achieving holiness in this life and obtaining the rewards of heaven that are in the life to come. We believe that this is true. Therefore the denial of this has to be untrue. Wouldn't it be bizarre for a Catholic to proclaim that the Catholic Church did not have the truth or that salvation won for us by Jesus was merely one of many such accomplishments in the history of the world? Shouldn't a Catholic rejoice in his or her faith and be proud of his or her church — even as they know that the human elements of the church can and must be constantly purified and renewed?

Why would anyone want to be a Catholic, with all the challenges to holiness that are part of our lives, if another religion was "just as good"? The media should be a little ashamed of the blatant put-down of Catholics that is present in the way it looks at us. Why would anyone — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu or of whatever faith — want to remain in that faith community if they thought that it was not true. When next we pray the Creed at Sunday Mass, let us recite it with enthusiasm. It is for us the guideline to everlasting life. I wanted to reach as many of our Catholic people as possible on this subject so that you would know what I was thinking when I am thinking of you.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington,D.C. 20017-1100.

Understanding This Document's Context and Intent

Archbishop Alexander Brunett Seattle, WA
September 13, 2000

In recent days, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Declaration titled Dominus lesus. It is subtitled "On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church."

Although this declaration may seem at first reading to be proposing some values and truths that haven't been stated before, in reality it reiterates much of what has already been said, particularly in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The main concern of the declaration was to state again the importance in the life of a Catholic believer of Jesus Christ as the focal point of our faith and, through him alone, salvation is possible. The declaration does not cover any new ground or provide any new theological insights. Instead, it is calling attention to the fact that in dialogue and in conversations Catholics need to be wary of taking positions that could prove to be problematic and even erroneous.

From the perspective of one who has been involved in ecumenical discussions for many years, the declaration itself does not seem to be needed by those who have been engaged in official dialogues. Dialogue partners usually understand that there is much give and take and that one should come to the table with a clear understanding of their own religious convictions and ecclesial identity. From that perspective, this declaration does not add much to the process nor does it further the cause of mutual understanding and respect.

There are several other Vatican documents of greater significance for the church, particularly the encyclical Ut Unum Sint, issued by Pope John Paul II in 1996. In that document there is a much clearer understanding of the need to look deeply into our own lives and to ask forgiveness for the times that we have offended others. The pope also calls for dialogue and input regarding the role and nature of primacy as it functions in the church. In general, those who know well the Vatican documents and the thinking of Pope John Paul II and his leadership role in the quest for Christian unity and religious understanding will recognize that this declaration does not add to the dialogical process. Some perhaps will wonder why it does not reflect the ecumenical sensitivity achieved through 30 years of dialogue and cooperation.

This declaration will serve as a good reminder of the commitment we each have to Jesus Christ and his universal will for the salvation of all people. It will be a good corrective against exaggerated forms of religious pluralism. Ecumenists will be encouraged to continue a dialogue that does not wallow in the controversies of the past but will seek to find ways in which together we can express a common faith in Jesus Christ.

I encourage everyone to read the full text of the declaration so that the true emphasis and meaning can be understood in the context and intention of those who framed it.

© Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Catholic News Service, 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington,D.C. 20017-1100.

Commentary from Archbishop Weakland

Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Milwaukee, WI
September 14, 2000

After reading a newspaper article, what we remember most is the headline. This past week "The Journal Sentinel," reporting on the document "Dominus Iesus" from the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, carried the headline: "Vatican insists only faithful Catholics can attain salvation." After reading carefully the full document, I can tell you this statement never occurs in the text. It does say that the Catholic Church believes it has all the means that are necessary for salvation. We Catholics are convinced of this truth. Otherwise, why would we be Catholic? (I know that members of other churches believe the same about their particular churches.)

The Asian bishops in particular, I am told, wanted a statement from Rome asserting this truth because Evangelical Christians were invading their countries in droves, preaching and disseminating literature that states that Catholics cannot be saved. I, too, am bombarded by such literature.

The first half of the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is directed toward those scholars engaged in theological dialogues with other great religions, especially Buddhism and Hinduism. It takes exception to those Catholic and Protestant theologians who minimize the salvific role of Jesus Christ and try to find manifestations of the presence of the second person of the Trinity (the Logos) or the salvific workings of the Holy Spirit in those other religions, while diminishing or eliminating the unique role of Jesus Christ.

Concerning members of the other great religions of the world, however, the document quotes the statement of the bishops of Vatican Council II that God can bestow salvific grace to adherents to these religions "in ways known to himself." It is impossible to reconcile that statement with the interpretation that God only grants this grace to faithful Catholics.

The second half of the document deals with the uniqueness of the Catholic Church as we Catholics understand it. The document repeats the teaching of Vatican Council II that the church founded and willed by Jesus Christ "subsists in" the Catholic Church. The bishops at that council debated at length over the right phrase to use - "subsists in," or "is the same as," or "is identified with" - and chose the first in order to acknowledge the existence of true ecclesial elements in other churches. The document admits that the bishops at Vatican Council II did not want to teach a doctrine of exclusivity, but to accept the fact that outside the structure of the Catholic Church "many elements can be found of sanctification and truth."

In examining what must characterize a true church, the new document cites "apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist." Without these two qualities the document does not call a Christian denomination a church. In my opinion the documents of Vatican Council II made the role of baptism much more significant as entrance into the Body of Christ and thus into the church: "All who have been justified by faith in baptism are members of Christ's body and have a right to be called Christians, and so are deservedly recognized as sisters and brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church ("Lumen gentium," No. 3)." The documents of Vatican Council II do not hesitate to use the word "churches" to characterize these communities of the Reformation ("Unitatis redintegratio," No. 19). Unfortunately, "Dominus Jesus" does not take into account the enormous progress made after Vatican Council II in the mutual recognition of each other's baptisms and the ecclesial significance of such recognition.

What is disappointing about this document is that so many of our partners in ecumenical dialogues will find its tone heavy, almost arrogant and condescending. To them it is bound to seem out of keeping with the elevated and open tone of the documents of Vatican Council II. It ignores all of the ecumenical dialogues of the last 35 years, as if they did not exist. None of the agreed statements are cited. Has no progress in working toward convergence of theological thought occurred in these 35 years? Our partners have every reason to believe we may not be sincere in such dialogues. We seem to be talking out of both sides of the mouth, for example, making agreements with the Lutherans on Monday and then calling into question the validity of their ecclesial nature on Tuesday. To those involved in the ecumenical dialogues this document will be seen as pessimistic and disheartening. It will be a burr in the side of all involved in the ecumenical movement for decades to come and will continue to promote the conviction that we Catholic are simply not sincere.

But we Catholics can all hold, without apology, as stating our position what the bishops gathered at Vatican Council II declared: "Some, and even most, of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace, faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, coming from Christ and leading back to Christ, properly belong to the one church of Christ ("Unitatis redintegratio," No. 3)."

© The Catholic Herald, Sept. 14, 2000

Bishop Loverde Welcomes New Vatican Document

Bishop Paul S. Loverde, Arlington, VA
September 7, 2000

"In the practice of dialogue between the Christian faith and other religious traditions, as well as in seeking to understand its theoretical basis more deeply, new questions arise that need to be addressed through pursuing new paths of research, advancing proposals and suggesting ways of acting that call for attentive discernment. In this task, the present Declaration seeks to recall to Bishops, theologians, and all the Catholic faithful, certain indispensable elements of Christian doctrine, which may help theological reflection in developing solutions consistent with the contents of the faith and responsive to the pressing needs of contemporary culture" (Dominus Jesus, 3). "The intention of the present Declaration, in reiterating and clarifying certain truths of the faith, has been to follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who wrote to the faithful of Corinth: "I handed on to you as of first importance what I myself received" (1 Cor 15:3). Faced with certain problematic and even erroneous propositions, theological reflection is called to reconfirm the Church’s faith and to give reasons for her hope in a way that is convincing and effective" (Dominus Jesus, 23).

Bishop Loverde said he "welcomes the publication of this Declaration. My experience over the last thirty years is that a number of Catholics have often, through no fault of their own, acquired an understanding of the Church (Ecclesiology) and of Christ (Christology) that is inaccurate and therefore misleading. Obviously such misinterpretations have significant implications for the living out of faith within the Church. This Declaration will assist us all in understanding more fully and more accurately the role of Jesus Christ and of His Church in the salvation of the human family."

© Arlington Catholic Herald, 200 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 607, Arlington, VA 22203-3797, (703) 841-2565,

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