Dialogue Not Monologue

Benedict XVI & Religious Pluralism

How is Benedict XVI, long a defender of orthodoxy and famous critic of the “dictatorship of relativism,” likely to approach interreligious dialogue? Does he see religious pluralism and tolerance as little more than an enticement to indifferentism or as something potentially more spiritually and intellectually fruitful?

While in India this summer, I spent a good bit of time reading two books by Benedict: Many Religions-One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World and Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (both Ignatius Press). Both collect relatively short pieces from the past fifteen years that shed considerable light on the new pope’s views.

Many Religions (1998) concentrates on Christian-Jewish relations, while Truth and Tolerance (2005) deals with the Christian encounter with Hinduism and Buddhism. I also brought along for rereading Benedict’s essay “Relativism: The Central Problem for Faith Today” (1996), and two documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) when he was prefect: Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (1989) and Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church (2000). Near the end of my visit to India, I was perhaps providentially visited by some concerned Hindus who accused me-Catholic priest, Jesuit, aficionado of interreligious dialogue, and...

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About the Author

Francis X. Clooney, SJ, is Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School.