In need of clarification

The recent Vatican document Dominus Iesus, released on September 5, has whipped up a storm of controversy that has not yet subsided (see "Rome & Relativism," Commonweal, October 20). Although the text reaffirms Catholicism’s belief in the uniqueness and completeness of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, its approach to other religions and its judgment of certain other churches as "gravely deficient" have raised concerns over its tone and content. Interpretation has varied greatly, even at the top.

• On October 1, the pope had this to say at a Mass to honor the Chinese martyrs: "With the declaration...approved by me in a special way at the height of the jubilee year, I wanted to invite all Christians to renew their fidelity to him in the joy of faith....Our confession of Christ as the only Son...is not arrogance that disdains other religions."

• In a September 22 public debate with philosopher Paolo Flores d’Arcais, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith whose office issued Dominus Iesus, said that "Jews are connected with God in a special way and that God does not allow that bond to fail...the fact remains, however, that our Christian conviction is that Christ is also the messiah of Israel. Certainly it is in the hands of God how and when the unification of Jews and Christians into the people of God will take place."

• In a book published on October 10 in Germany, God and the World, which has an extensive interview with journalist Peter Seewald, Ratzinger continues on the topic: "It’s true, we’re waiting for the moment when Israel will say yes to Christ."

Published in the 2000-11-17 issue: 
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