123 – “In spite of various obstacles and difficulties, especially forms of fundamentalism on both sides, interreligious dialogue is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. By mutual listening, both parts can be purified and enriched”

When Pilate, with reverential fear, asked Christ about his sovereignty, he answered: ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’ (Jn 18:37) Was Our Lord perhaps being a fundamentalist in making this affirmation with so much conviction and resolve? Since he is God, made man, the Truth in substance, he could not have acted differently.

In the same way, his Church could not but be the sole holder of truth, for as Saint Paul affirmed, it is ‘the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth’ (1Tim 3:15). The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Church ‘faithfully guards ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’ She guards the memory of Christ’s words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles’ confession of faith’ (CCC no. 171). Moreover, the Divine Master left the Apostles a mandate: “The gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mk 13:10). Therefore, the primordial objective of the Catholic Church’s dialogue with other religions consists of the announcing of the Gospel, and the call to conversion.

However, Jesus declared that those who did not accept his Gospel would be condemned: ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned’ (Mk 16:15–16). Consequently, he made it clear that the Church should define positions well: those who follow the truth, and those who persist in error. In face of other religions, every Christian has the duty to ‘not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord’ (2Tim 1:8). The Catechism teaches: “In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep ‘a clear conscience toward God and toward men’ (Acts 24:16)” (CCC 2471)

Being faithful to the truth of the Church is not fundamentalism, but integrity in the faith. Interreligious dialogue that does not point toward conversion, but holds the belief that the Church is enriched and purified with other creeds places the truth of the Church in doubt, in the spirit of Pilate: ‘quid est veritas?’ (Jn 18:38). Dialogue which doubts in the one who affirmed ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6) cannot ‘have meaning of love and truth,’ but amounts to sheer relativism. And the Apocalypse is exceedingly severe with relativists: ‘because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth’ (Rev 3:16)

What does the Magisterium pronounce with respect to true interreligious dialogue?



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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

I – Fidelity to Catholic orthodoxy is ‘fundamentalism’? Or is it the only defense from an omnipresent dictatorship of relativism?
II – The mandate of Christ is to evangelize, in other words, to show the truth and draw the others from error…or prohibit it so that no one is deceived!
III – The Church is the custodian of the truth and maintains pure her doctrine that was received from Christ. She does not need to seek a greater truth, nor is She purified by interreligious dialogue
IV – Indispensable doctrinal clarification: What was the call for dialogue transmitted by Vatican Council II? Does the Church not desire Evangelization? What is true dialogue? Does a false dialogue exist?

I – Fidelity to Catholic orthodoxy is ‘fundamentalism’? Or is it the only defense from an omnipresent dictatorship of relativism?

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

It is even stated that the claim to have received the gift of the fullness of God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and a danger to peace!

Sacred Scripture

Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God

Pius XI

Since charity is based on a complete and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united principally by the bond of one faith

Pius XII

Even on the plea of promoting unity it is not allowed to dissemble one single dogma

Paul VI

The Church cannot abdicate its proper role: it must be according to the mind of Jesus Christ, as recorded and preserved in Sacred Scripture and in Apostolic Tradition

II – The mandate of Christ is to evangelize, that is, to preach the truth and draw others from error…or prohibit it so that no one be deceived!

Sacred Scripture

Act as the people’s representative before God: enlighten them, show them how to live
‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!’
‘Proclaim the word; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching - For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine’

Code of Canon Law

The Church - to which Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith - has the duty and innate right to preach the gospel to all peoples

Benedict XVI

The first service that Christians can render to humanity: the proclamation and witness to the Gospel

Paul VI

For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, transforming it from within and making it new

Pius XII

The true Christian gives encouragement and example to those who are tempted to given in to discouragement before the number and power of the adversaries
Can there be anything nobler than to unfurl the ‘Ensign of the King’ before those who have followed and still follow a false standard and win them back?

Pius IX

It is Christian charity to snatch others from the darkness of error in which they lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth
It is our duty to cut and uproot the noxious weeds we perceive growing: the spreading of false doctrines and the betraying of the depository of the faith


It is impossible for God to approve all sects who profess false teachings, which are inconsistent with one another and even contradictory

Gregory XVI

Those who do not gather with Christ will perish forever

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The fitting punishment for schismatics is that they be excommunicated

Leo I, the Great

Flee from those who don’t wish to correct themselves, avoid conversation with them

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

Together with the apostolic duty of teaching, the Church has the right and duty of proscribing ‘knowledge falsely so called’

III – The Church is the custodian of the truth and maintains pure her doctrine that was received from Christ. She does not need to seek a greater truth, nor is She purified by interreligious dialogue

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Church is conscious of being the bearer of a radical faithfulness to the Word of God which she has received from Christ until the end of the ages

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth

Saint John of the Cross

It would be committing an offence against God not to set one’s eyes altogether upon Christ

Pius XI

The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship


The concept that all religions are alike brings about the ruin of the Catholic religion

Pius IX

Perverse is the shocking theory that it makes no difference to which religion one belongs

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

Let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication
Whoever is separated from the Church is joined to an adulteress

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Just as he who drinks the chalice of the Lord becomes one with him, he who drinks the chalice of the demons becomes one with them

Pius XI

The false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy
A variety of opinions are an easy step to the neglect of religion or indifferentism, for dogmatic truth is treated as not absolute but relative

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

There is a great distinction between theological faith and the belief in the other religions

Paul VI

The message of Christ is truth that does not permit indifference, syncretism or accommodation
We cannot agree with these various forms of religion on the assumption that they are all to be regarded as on an equal footing

Sacred Scripture

To the false brothers we did not submit even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain intact for you
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons
What accord has Christ with Belial?

IV – Indispensable doctrinal explanation: What was the call for dialogue transmitted by Vatican Council II? Does the Church not desire Evangelization? What is true dialogue? Does a false dialogue exist?

John Paul II

Vatican Council II desires a dialogue permeated by the spirit of conversion: dialogue cannot be on a horizontal level without a vertical thrust toward the Lord

Paul VI

Our dialogue: neither a weakening of faith, nor a watering down of truth, nor vague compromises concerning the principles of faith in theory and practice

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

By no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth: outside the truth no true union can ever be attained

John Paul II

Always urgent for us: unity in truth, over and above unity in love – for purity of doctrine is the basis in building up the Christian community

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Dialogue with unbelievers should be undertaken by those who are firm in faith and such that it will lead to conversion

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Relativistic theories deny the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and propagate a religious pluralism not only de facto but also de iure
A condemned proposition: ‘To think that the God of one’s own religion is the only one is simply fanaticism’
The equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content, and even less to Jesus Christ
If dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith

John Paul II

It is wrong to claim that it is enough to help people to become more human, or more faithful to their own religion, or even to build communities only to work for peace

Related studies

  • 158 – If we concentrate on the convictions we share, and if we keep in mind the principle of the hierarchy of truths, we will be able to progress decidedly towards common expressions of proclamation, service and witness. How many important things unite us!

  • 157 – “Solidarity becomes a way of making history in a life setting where conflicts, tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity”

  • 146 – “That all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident”

  • 143 – “Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today”

  • 142 – “There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church. It relates us to Judaism and Islam, both of which consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes”

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