“Catholics and Interreligious Relations: Challenges Facing a New Pope” on The Parliament Blog

Council for a Parliament of the World’s Relgions
February 26, 2013

John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D
Catholic Theological Union, Chicago


Benedict XVI’s papacy has been marked by ups and downs. There was more than one colossal “faux pas” (.e.g the Regensburg speech) with regard to Muslims (and the BishopA bishop is an ordained minister who supervises life in a diocese, synod, or other broad region and possesses, among other things, the authority to ordain clergy to the ministry of the church. The Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and Protest... Williamson affair). Overall, however, Benedict generally kept intact the interreligious thrust of the Catholic ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... generated by VaticanThe Vatican is the residence and administrative headquarters of the Pope. Located in the area around St. Peter’s basilica in Rome, it is the official headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican City is the name of the independent state headed by ... II But he did not do much to advance that thrust beyond his predecessor John Paul II.

If (and that remains a big “if”) the new PopeThe Pope, the Bishop of the Church of Rome, is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, invested with both moral and ecclesiastical authority by the Church. In 1870, the pronouncements of the Pope on issues of faith were proclaimed to be infalli... wishes to move interreligious relations to a new level I see three interrelated challenges before him. The first will be how to handle the strong emphasis on evangelization and dialogue that has been a central of the past several years of Benedict XVI’s time in office. In my mind few Catholic leaders have really struggled with the question, “can you mount an evangelization campaign and still remain committed to interreligious relations?” Doesn’t such an evangelization outreach place “the other” on unequal footing  from the Catholic perspective? And doesn’t authentic dialogue require some affirmation of the coequal status of your dialogue partner?

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