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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.



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February 10, 2008



dd, I've been able to read some of the "Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization", and I do find it to be a very beautiful document. But regarding my previous comment about sensing some disharmony between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, maybe if I gave you a little example of what I find confusing/contradictory, you would have a better idea of what I mean; for example, here's a little extract from the PCID re its "Nature and Goals" taken from the Vatican website:

"Nature and Goals of PCID

The PCID is the central office of the Catholic Church for the promotion of interreligious dialogue in accordance with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, in particular the declaration “Nostra Aetate”. It has the following responsibilities:

1) to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of others religious traditions;

2) to encourage the study of religions;

3) to promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue.

Methodology of PCID

Dialogue is a two-way communication. It implies speaking and listening, giving and receiving, for mutual growth and enrichment. It includes witness to one’s own faith as well as an openness to that of the other. It is not a betrayal of the mission of the Church, nor is it a new method of conversion to Christianity. This has been clearly stated in the encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II “Redemptoris Missio”. This view is also developed in the two documents produced by the PCID: The Attitude of the Catholic Church towards the Followers of Other Religious Traditions: reflections on Dialogue and Mission (1984), and Dialogue and Proclamation (1991)."

I wish I really understood this whole subject-area better, but don't you see some tension/contradiction between the PCID's mandate of openness to other religions without attempting any conversion, as opposed to what is expressed in the Doctrinal Note re the absolute necessity of evangelization otherwise we are promoting relativism? These are both organizations within the Vatican. Do you see why it is confusing to a person who loves Catholicism but is also drawn to inter-religious dialogue?


Unless it's only of cereal box length, I'm too lazy, undisciplined and/or perhaps too limited to mine for documents' gold dust; if I come away with nuggets that jumped into my brain's arms, it's a fine day.

Conflicting messages from within the Church is cause for a serious confusion or a delay of evangelization, as it trickles down to cereal-box laypersons like me who mean well, but not knowing what more one should do, mostly just take up R.E. or RCIA materials and help wean our own from milk so as to give them meat.

The only nugget I caught from the two documents, along with seeing that the goal of evangelization is always the same -- all of us into Christ's arms safe from that bastard devil who hates God through His most precious creation, man -- the problem is still a 2000-year "How?" That will always remain a stumbling, gasping thing. One cannot please all the people, all the time. All we can do, is do the best with whatever we have. It is undeniably part of our mission to invite into formation what is already non-Christians', too, for their acknowledging, but we must first listen with respect actively, definitively, to those who are equally Loved, and certainly not only with just our own witness given in living the Gospel. After listening, tho', we can't not have something to say. And it's more important than ever, or so it seems, that we have what to say, because satan is so busy.

There are ever more weird if pretty gardens growing out there. Husband is doing sidework for a guy who handed him his business card for ancient Harmonic Voices therapy (with a didgeridoo, which retunes our own vibrations...) Naturally, it has links to more than just the holistic -- Reiki, witchery, yada yada, everything but Personal Love of a God to believe in. For Pete's sake --let some Congregation or other in the Curia compile and provide us with basic Truth pamphlets to hand out!

Deacon DW

Gabrielle- I think that your analysis is good; however, it's important to keep in mind that the CDF and the PCID have essentially different aims. The tension we see arises partly, I believe, as a semantic difference. It's clear to me in the documents of the PCID that the call to evangelize is not overlooked. Also in the CDF Note there is attention given to presenting the faith in such a way that it still respects the validity of the beliefs of others.

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