Monday, December 17, 2007
"It is an exact order from the Lord, and it does not allow for any sort of exemption. He did not tell us: Preach the Gospel to every creature, except for the Muslims, the Jews, and the Dalai Lama."
This is the preaching of Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop of Bologna, in a celebrated address he gave nine days after September 11, 2001.
And this is also the message – in less explosive words, but essentially the same – of the "Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization" released by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith last Friday, December 14.
The note had been in reserve for a number of years, from when Joseph Ratzinger was still prefect of the congregation. What made it "necessary" – as the introduction states – was the "growing confusion" over the Church's duty to proclaim Jesus to the world.
"This confusion has even penetrated within the missionary institutes," the congregation's secretary, Angelo Amato, lamented in an interview on Vatican Radio. "No more proclaiming Christ, no invitation to conversion, no baptism, no Church. Only social activism."
At the origin of this chilling of the Church's missionary spirit, to the point of its extinction, the note indicates various causes.
Above all, there is the idea that every religion is a way of salvation as valid as all the rest.
Then there is the conviction that proposing Christian truth to others is an attack on their freedom.
Then there is a conception of the Kingdom of God that is not identified in the person of Jesus Christ, but in "a generic reality that overarches all the religious experiences or traditions, toward which these should incline as toward a universal and indistinct communion of all those who seek God."
Then again there is the idea that "the pretense of having received as a gift the fullness of God's Revelation conceals an attitude of intolerance and a threat to peace."
Read the rest of the article by Sandro Magister at Chiesa