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The purpose of this book is to promote better understanding between Muslims and Christians by recognizing what is true and holy in Islam. The author is convinced that the recognition of what is true and holy in other religions is the best way forward for interreligious dialogue. He explores a new approach to religions based on the recognition of the truth of other religions.

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Published 01 September 2010
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EAN13 9782296688025
Language English

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The Truth in Islam
according to the Official Teaching of the
Catholic Church

SergeMoussaTraore

TheTruthinIslam
accordingto theOfficialTeachingofthe
CatholicChurch

L’Harmattan





























© L’Harmattan, 2010
5-7, rue de l’Ecole polytechnique, 75005 Paris
http://www.librairieharmattan.com
diffusion.harmattan@wanado.fr
harmattan1@wanadoo.fr
ISBN : 978-2-296-10428-0
EAN: 9782296104280





DEDICATION




In Memory of Mamou Ouedraogo, my Muslim mother,
and of my Catholic father Grégoire Traore.Special thanks to
Anne Mougnères, Bernadette D’Souza, Kim Weiner and
Gary DeMichele, Barbara Pivarnik, David and Louise Cox,
Sherly Naithparambil, Ivan Page, Aylward Shorter, and
Donald MacLeod.


5





CONTENTS




Introduction
1. What is interreligious dialogue?
2. Theparalysis of interreligious dialogue
3. There is something true and holy in the other
religions of the world
4. Recognizing the good things in the followers of
Islam
5. What is true and holy in Islam according to Pope
Benedict XVI?
6. The question of Muhammad as a prophet
7. Is the Qur’an God’s word?
8. Preserving the truth found in the followers of
Islam
9. Promoting the truth found in the followers of other
religions
10. Working together for peace
11. A new way of working together for conflict
resolution and peace building
In conclusion
Bibliography
References


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The Truth in Islam



Introduction




The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through
dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other
religions carried out with prudence and love and in witness
to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and
promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the
socio-cultural values found among these men. (Vatican
Council II, DeclarationNostra Aetate, n.2)

The necessity and importance of interreligious dialogue
are not in dispute today. All over the world, we are
witnessing a surge in interreligious initiatives.Nevertheless,
interreligious dialogue is stumbling. It is understood in
different ways. It is put in question.It is even rejected by
some. Itis looked upon with suspicion by many.The basic
question I would like to answer is, ‘What is the relevant
dialogue we need today?’Many people hesitate to engage in
interreligious dialogue because of their misunderstanding of
its nature and purpose.They are suspicious about it.Is it
possible to propose an understanding of interreligious
dialogue that will help people to become wholeheartedly
involved? I found a solution in the teaching of the Second
Vatican Council.
The Catholic Church has been thinking about
interreligious dialogue since this Council.The Church was
active in establishing structures for the promotion of
interreligious dialogue. Some education in interreligious dialogue
was included in the curriculum of seminaries and religious
institutes. Yet I argue here that the Second Vatican Council

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The Truth in Islam

was not interested in inventing a new missionary activity to
be called “interreligious dialogue.”The Church of the
Second Vatican Council asked Christians simply to enter into
dialogue with the world. Moreover, to be precise, the Council
wants Christians to stop demonizing the world and instead to
engage with it in a sincere and loving dialogue. Pope Paul VI
could not be clearer than this: “The Church should enter into
dialogue with the world in which she exists and labors.The
Church has something to say; the Church has a message to
1
deliver; the Church has a communication to offer.”Dialogue
is presented only as a means to recognize, preserve and
promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the
socio-cultural values found among the followers of other
religions, and in the world in general.Dialogue,
interreligious dialogue, was seen by the Church as a means to
achieve that noble aim.It is a means and only a means.
Therefore, I propose to go back to the first impulse of the
Second Vatican Council. We should orient our efforts to
recognize, preserve and promote the good things found in
other religions and in the world.This book is about how we
can do that.It is not about the means (dialogue and
collaboration). Itis about the aim.
At first, I thought that it would not be difficult for me to
do. Mymother was Muslim. Her parents were Muslims.I
have a wonderful relationship with the Muslims of my
family. Myfather was a Catholic.Born of a Muslim mother
and a Catholic father, I grew up in a Muslim-Christian
atmosphere. Iwas shocked when I met some Christians who
regarded Muslims as children of the devil.They simply
could not find anything good in the lives of Muslims, yet I
could find so many good things in the life of my Muslim
relatives. The discussion would then shift to seeing them as
not good Muslims. Those Muslims whose lives are
exemplary are not good or true Muslims.They are


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The Truth in Islam

“anonymous Christians”.They live according to the Gospel.
There is nothing good in Islam.Therefore there is nothing
good in the lives of true Muslims.The negative attitude of
these Christians disturbed me a great deal.I wondered if I
could still be part of a faith community that demonized
others. Irealized that we cannot rely solely upon our own
personal experience to teach others. This tension compelled
me to reflect on the problem of the relationship between the
followers of different religions.A more objective study of
religions was necessary to confirm or to invalidate my
toosubjective and emotional attitude towards Islam.
I was also challenged in my involvement in Rwanda as a
promoter of interreligious dialogue. I saw interreligious
dialogue as a powerful means for healing, reconciliation and
peace in such a broken society.When people of different
religions come together, they learn how to overcome the
barriers between them.In Rwanda, we need to gather all the
spiritual resources of all religions to bring about healing,
reconciliation and peace.However, I was soon challenged by
the hardness of the believers in Rwanda. Although they are
convinced of the importance of interreligious dialogue for a
peaceful society, they nevertheless could not see anything
good in one another’s religions. They believe that the
encounter between followers of religions is at a human level.
We can meet as human beings.We can meet as compatriots;
but at the religious level, we cannot meet.I was challenged
by such an attitude.Is it enough to engage in dialogue only
on the basis that we are all created by the same God?Our
history, from the tragic events of Cain and Abel to
presentday genocides, teaches us that the unity of the human race,
and more profoundly, the unity of the same shared womb, has
never been strong enough to prevent us from killing one
another. Weneed to find a common ground elsewhere.We
need something that will bind us.I am convinced that it is


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The Truth in Islam

the recognition and adoration of God's presence or the
recognition of goodness in the other that will help us to value
one another.
I have embarked upon the study of other religions of the
world and particularly Islam.Why should a Catholic priest
study other religions?Religions can be studied at the
university level from different perspectives: sociology of
religions, philosophy of religions, and history of religion.
Technically, someone can teach a religion in which he does
not deeply believe.Since interreligious dialogue has become
an important issue in the world, many institutes have been
created to prepare people for interreligious dialogue. It seems
to me that there are two types of institute for such dialogue.
For example, there are institutes that teach Islam to
Christians, such as the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and
Islamic Studies at Rome, Italy.The other example would be
those institutes whose students are both Muslim and
Christian, such as the Institute of the Study of Religions and
Cultures, at the Roman Pontifical Gregorian University.
Muslims study Christianity and any other religions while
Christians study Islam and any other religion.The question I
would like to ask is this, ‘Why would a Christian study Islam
and for what purpose?’ Or, ‘Why would a Muslim study
Christianity and for what purpose?’
The question becomes more serious when I recall that I am
a Catholic priest.How well do I know my own religious
tradition? Christianity has such an immense patrimony of
written texts. I know little about it.So, what's the point of
spending time studying other religions instead of deepening
my knowledge of my own religion? It sounds so strange for a
Catholic priest to be named an expert on Islam!I will argue
here that many Christians hesitate to engage in interreligious
dialogue because they have listened to Christians, and priests
who are experts in other religions and they wonder how


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The Truth in Islam

Christian they still are.It pained them.It disturbed them.
Interreligious education came to be reduced to the study of
world religions.I will propose in this book that we need a
more dialogical education for interreligious dialogue.It is
not just about knowledge of other religions.It is about
discerning the presence of the same God in other religions.It
is about recognizing the spiritual richness of other religions.
This recognition is done through a critical, just, scientific and
honest discernment. I see only one reason for a Catholic
priest to study Islam, as an example.It is to recognize,
preserve and promote the good things God has put into the
lives of followers of Islam.To study other religions is simply
to seek the face of God in the lives of followers of other
religions. Westudy other religions murmuring all the time a
beautiful French song: ‘Je cherche le visage, le visage du
Seigneur,’ (I seek the face, the face of the Lord); ‘Je cherche
son image tout au fond de vos coeurs’seek His image, in (I
the depth of your hearts). Only in this way do I deepen my
own religion as I come to see the same God I know at work
beyond the boundaries of my own religion.
In my study, I sometimes wondered if my Catholic
brothers and sisters would accept my findings.Then one day,
I was challenged by an individual.I stated that I was
convinced that Islamic worship of God is true worship.
There is something true in their worship of God.The person
reacted by simply stating, “Please, Father, teach what the
Church asks you to teach.” I got the message.He was
convinced that the Church never said that there is anything
true about the Islamic worship of God.I too was not sure
that it was stated like this somewhere in the official
documents. Iinsisted on justifying my approach.The
official teaching of the Catholic Church is the reflection of
the men and women of the Church.I believe that as a
member of this Church and as a priest, I can contribute to the


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The Truth in Islam

improvement of the official teaching.The official teaching
of the Church should not be confined to the work of
theologians living peacefully in seminaries or in the Vatican.
Christians are not senseless recipients of official teaching.
They also need to reflect on the teaching of the Church and
give feedback to those who have written about how they
should live the Christian life, even if he were the Pope.
Nevertheless, I was challenged. I realized the weight of being
called “Father” by some people just because they considered
me as a spiritual father, a spiritual guide.Was I leading them
astray by my personal convictions that would have been in
contradiction with official Church teaching? I took up the
challenge. I began a serious reading of the official teaching of
the Catholic Church about other religions and interreligious
dialogue. I was mesmerized and flabbergasted by what I
found. PaulVI inEcclesiam Suamsaid clearly, “We do well
to admire these people (the Moslems) for all that is good and
true in their worship of God.” The official documents of the
Church are a goldmine of teaching.It is unfortunate that
such precious teachings remain unknown or poorly known.
Beyond that, I wonder how much of what is said in the
official documents of the Church, and especially in the
Documents of the Second Vatican Council, is actually put
into practice.
Here, we can recall the famous event of Regensburg,
Germany. During his apostolic journey toMünchen,Altötting
andRegensburg(September 9-14, 2006) Pope Benedict
XVI met with the representatives of science at the University
of Regensburg on Tuesday, 12 September 2006.On that
occasion, he gave a lecture on “Faith and reason and the
university”. Heexplained his intention:

Starting with what Manuel II subsequently said in a positive
manner, with very beautiful words, about rationality that
must guide us in the transmission of faith, I wanted to

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The Truth in Islam

explain that it is not religion and violence but rather religion
and reason that go together. The topic of my lecture
responding to the mission of the University - was therefore
the relationship between faith and reason: I wished to invite
[people] to the dialogue of the Christian faith with the
modern world and to the dialogue of all the cultures and
2
religions .

Unfortunately, he quoted some words of the Byzantine
Emperor that were not kind towards the prophet of Islam.
We remember the reactions of Muslims all over the world.
The Vatican often refers in vain to her official teaching about
Islam. Whatthe Vatican perhaps forgot is that the
Documents of the Second Vatican Council are addressed to
Catholics, not to Muslims.What Muslims wanted to hear
was not what the Church said to Catholics about Islam or
Muslims. Theywanted to hear what Pope Benedict XVI
thinks of Muslims and Islam. They understood that the Pope
agreed with Manuel II Palaeologus (1350-1425) in his view
that Muhammad brought nothing good to the world, only
violence.
By citing the Documents of Vatican II in his defense, the
Pope put the credibility of the Church at stake.Many
Muslims are now convinced that there is a wide gap between
what we actually believe and our official written documents.
We simply do not live what we profess.We do not practice
what we preach.The official teaching of the Catholic Church
runs the risk of being pure literature if we do not commit
ourselves to putting it into practice.We have lost so much of
our credibility.It is time we became real and sincere.We
believe that good things can be found among the followers of
other religions.Let us not repeat the sentence as a mantra.
Let us actually name those good things.Our credibility is at
stake.
The question of credibility is serious.Is the Catholic

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The Truth in Islam

Church even credible in its commitment to interreligious
dialogue? Theletter of 138 Muslim scholars in October 2007
has been greeted by many as a response to so many years of
effort at dialogue from the Christian side.Many Christians
were disappointed by the non-response of Muslims to the
Christian invitation to dialogue.We hear Christians saying
“we have always taken the initiative!” In that case, we should
ask ourselves a serious question, ‘Why were Muslims not
really willing to engage in dialogue?’Is it not because we
were not very credible and clear about dialogue and
particularly interreligious dialogue?Interreligious dialogue
did pose some serious questions and problems to Christians
themselves.
This book is intended to promote interreligious dialogue.
It seeks to promote better understanding between Muslims
and Christians.Its starting point isNostra Aetate2:

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in
these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those
ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings
which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she
holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that
Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and
ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life"
(John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious
life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.

This book is a reading of the official documents of the
Church about religions and interreligious dialogue in search
for what the Catholic Church has actually recognized
officially as true and holy in Islam. I believe that the
recognition of what is true and holy in other religions is the
best way forward for interreligious dialogue.
I start with asking a simple question, ‘What is
interreligious dialogue?’I investigate the Church Documents


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The Truth in Islam

in search of the Catholic Church’s understanding of
interreligious dialogue.Chapter 1 poses the problem of
interreligious dialogue today, according to my own
experience. In Chapter 2, I reflect upon the difficulties of
interreligious dialogue today: why is it at an impasse?
Chapter 3 explores the teaching of the Church about the
recognition of something true and holy in the religions of the
world.Nostra Aetate 2a very important statement of the is
Catholic Church.By calling attention to that conviction in
the documents of the Church, I want to free it from any
possible doubt.In Chapter 4, I identify in the official
documents of the Catholic Church what is true and holy in
Islam. Iam searching for what the Church has recognized as
true and holy in Islam since the Second Vatican Council.In
chapter 5, I analyze the documents of the current Pope about
dialogue with the Muslims to see if he indeed believes that
something true and holy does exist in Islam.Chapter 6 will
discuss the question of recognizing Mohammad as a prophet
and chapter 7 the question of the Qur’an as the word of God.
Chapter 8 will explore the different ways we may have to
share our spiritual riches.Chapter 9 reflects on the necessity
to purify our memories and finally chapter 10 explores a new
way of working together for peace. To conclude, I will
propose a way forward for interreligious dialogue today: a
sharing of our spiritual riches.
The only purpose of this book is to promote better
understanding between Muslims and Christians.I propose a
way forward in interreligious dialogue: recognizing the
spiritual bonds that unite us. This teaching of the Second
Vatican Council was never properly put into practice.
Catholics came to have different views on the attitudes
Christians should adopt towards other believers.The Church
is quite clear in her documents.I simply would like to apply
the teaching of the Church by identifying “what is true and


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The Truth in Islam

holy in Islam”.This is to help my fellow Christians and
particularly Catholics to better appreciate their official
teachings.
I am also interested in reaching Muslims.I would like
Muslims to know what the Catholic Church officially sees as
true and holy in their religion.It is one thing to say that the
“Catholic Church does not reject what is true and holy in the
religions”. However,it is another thing to actually identify
those things which are “true and holy”.My purpose is to
help Muslims appreciate the official convictions of the
Catholic Church.
The inspiration for this book came during my stay in the
United States as part of the Fulbright Interfaith Community
Action Program 2008. The diversity of interreligious
initiatives in America is impressive.It is nearly impossible to
put all of what is going on in a book.It would fill volumes.
Bud Heckman’s work,The Interactive Faith: the Essential
Interreligious Community Building Handbook (Skylight
Paths 2008) is praiseworthy.However, he gave us just a
sampling of the many interreligious initiatives going on in
America. Itis a movement that cannot be stopped.Each one
of us Fulbright scholars tried in our host institution to
participate in the movement. The introductory seminar in
Philadelphia gave us a taste of interreligious dialogue in
America. Itwas simply a celebration.All of our encounters
with people involved in interreligious dialogue were a
celebration of God’s grace and presence. The Seminar at
Dialogue Institute at Temple University, Philadelphia,
warmed our hearts.It is with such a heart that each one of us
went on to their host institution.I had the joy of staying at
the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, which has a
great tradition of training ministers in interfaith dialogue and
reflection.
At our host institution, we began by learning.As scholars,


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The Truth in Islam

we were interested in giving and in teaching, but soon we
realized that wisdom means listening first.We learned in our
courses. Welearned through conferences and seminars.We
visited interfaith organizations and centers.We celebrated
important events in the life of different communities and the
country. The doors of homes were opened to us.We were
used to seeing their outsides.Now we saw their insides and
the natural breath of American families.We worshipped
with people of other faiths. We also enjoyed ourselves.We
visited museums and parks. We walked in the cities.We
celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving.We ate together.
We laughed together.We felt good.We also spent time
studying, reflecting and praying.We were conscious that
God was present.Each human encounter can be filled with
the divine presence.We felt the presence of God not in the
earthquake, not in the strong wind, not in the fire but as the
sound of utter silence, a gentle breeze (cf. First book of
Kings19:18) that was guiding and leading us. This book bears
the signs of our American experience.
We also gave something of ourselves.We preached.We
gave talks. We gave lectures. We participated in
interreligious panels.We shared formally and informally.I
shared with audiences my convictions in interreligious
dialogue. Ithen had a conference in the Muhammad Islamic
Center in Hartford.I presented what the Catholic Church has
recognized as true and holy in Islam. My Muslim audience
was very receptive and even mesmerized.They encouraged
me to publish it so that many people would come to know the
official teaching of the Church about Islam.We often know
what some Catholics think but we seldom know the official
teaching of the Church. I thank all my Muslim brothers and
sisters for helping me write this book. Muslims encouraged
me to provide them with a text.I owe this book to all my
friends in America.They encouraged me and helped me by


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The Truth in Islam

reading it through and through.I thought at the beginning of
simply compiling the documents of the Church about Islam.
This work has been already done.I realized that what was
needed more was an exploration of what the Church
recognized as true and holy in Islam.Christians and Muslims
seem unable to believe that the Catholic Church has ever
recognized something like that.I hope this book fills that gap
of ignorance.
While writing this book, I realized that my past
experiences of encountering and above all discovering others
inspired me a great deal.I had the good fortune to spend one
year living in Egypt and visiting India.My stays in those
places were deep spiritual journeys for me. In Egypt and
India, I discovered other religions in their many forms and
dimensions. ForGod, Allah, Vishnu, Krishna, artists worked
hard to build magnificent divine dwelling places here on
earth. Iallowed myself to be awakened by the muezzin early
in the morning.The calls to worship reminded me of the
importance of letting God be God in our daily lives.What
counts, ritual prayers or prayers of the heart?It does not
really matter. What matters is giving time and space to the
divine, so that He may be adored.
I went into mosques and temples.I very much enjoyed the
“removing of footwear” before entering those holy places.I
understood that something would happen there. Would it be a
burning bush? Maybe! Was it a burning heart? Certainly!To
walk barefoot in those places of worship was quite an
interesting experience of touching the untouchable, touching
the unseen. I always felt like praying in silence in those
places of worship.Praying or thinking?They do go together
at the moment.I thought of this divine, this God.Who is He
or She really?Karen Armstrong’s book“A history of God,
the 4, 000-Year quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam”
will remind me of a human being’s long search for the God


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The Truth in Islam

he or she believes in.Did we really come to know God?
God seems to remain so unknown or ill-known.Yahweh,
Jehovah, Allah…so many names that try to put the one who
is named and the one who names in deep relationship, but
who really is this God?
I discovered that Muslims, Hindus, Parsees… they are
after all nice people like all of us.They belong to all sorts of
social classes.They are typical people with families, desires,
dreams and sufferings.They are capable of deep gestures of
love. Iwas never afraid of them.We are always afraid of the
other who is distant.However, when we are near, the other
has a name.This book carries the marks of closeness with
people of different faiths.
I hope to reach a large audience.I am writing for those
who are interested in relations between believers of different
religions. Iwant this book to be read by people who did not
study theology.Those involved in interreligious activities
will have a book to encourage them.
Many books have been written in the field of interreligious
dialogue. The book of G. Gäde, “Adorano con noi il dio
unico,” (Roma: Borla 2008), is a good theological reflection
that inspires me.However, it is a theological reflection.This
book is simpler and for a larger audience.I differ from him
in that I stay with the documents of the Catholic Church
seeking what the teaching Office of the Church has
recognized as true and holy in religion.I am most interested
in making people know and reflect about the official teaching
of the Church about Islam.
The book is also in line with the Pontifical Council for
Interreligious Dialogue’s publication,“Recognize the
spiritual bonds that unite us”. This is a praiseworthy
publication. Unfortunately,it is too summarized, incomplete,
and not academic.I want to combine some academic
reflection with a reading of the Church Documents.My work


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The Truth in Islam

is in the same spirit of promoting the spiritual good found in
religions. Iam proud to be a member of a faith community
that recognizes goodness and truth in the lives of the
followers of other religions.


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The Truth in Islam





Chapter One

What Is Interreligious Dialogue?




Let us start with a basic question: what is interreligious
dialogue? TheSecond Vatican Council exhorts Catholics to
engage into dialogue and collaboration with the followers of
other religions, with prudence and love (Nostra Aetate 2).
The expression “dialogue and collaboration” shows that
dialogue is not collaboration.The Pontifical Council for
Interreligious Dialogue made of “collaboration” a form of
“interreligious dialogue” (cf.Dialogue and Mission, 1984
andDialogue and Proclamation, 1991).This is misleading.
It has given to the term dialogue a technical meaning.
According to the Documents of the Council, there is
something called dialogue and there is something called
collaboration. Iargue that the Church of Vatican II does not
use the term dialogue in a technical sense.The term dialogue
used inNostra Aetatethe same meaning in other has
Documents of the Council.It simply means conversation, or
discussion. Letus see the occurrences of the term in the
3
Documents of the Council.
Already on November 21, 1964 in the Dogmatic
Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium) “a familiar
dialogue” is mentioned as an important element that should
characterize the relationship between the laity and the clergy.
Lumen Gentium37 states:

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The Truth in Islam


A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this
familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual
leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal
responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready
application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual
leaders. The latter, on the other hand, aided by the
experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively
come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal
matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each
one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission
for the life of the world.

Dialogue is a means to enrich both parties and to empower
them to accomplish their responsibilities.
The decree concerning the pastoral office of the bishops
(Christus DominusWe are in) deserves some attention.
October 28, 1965.The Church gives to bishops the duty of
seeking out people to promote dialogue with them:

Since it is the mission of the Church to converse with the
human society in which it lives, (cf. Second Vatican
Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 3, nos.
21, 24 and 25: A.A.S. 57 (1965) pp. 24-25, 29-31) it is
especially the duty of bishops to seek out men and both
request and promote dialogue with them. These
conversations on salvation ought to be noted for clarity of
speech as well as humility and mildness in order that at all
times truth may be joined to charity and understanding with
love. Likewise they should be noted for due prudence joined
with trust, which fosters friendship and thus is capable of
bringing about a union of minds (cf. Second Vatican
Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 3, no.
21: A.A.S. 57 (1965) pp. 24-25.) (Christus Dominus13)

This is a beautiful text that shows clearly that dialogue is
simply a conversation, and a conversation that gives life.

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The Truth in Islam

Moreover, this conversation between the bishops and people
must also exist between the bishop and his priests:

The relationships between the bishop and the diocesan
priests should rest most especially upon the bonds of
supernatural charity so that the harmony of the will of the
priests with that of their bishop will render their pastoral
activity more fruitful. Wherefore, for the sake of greater
service to souls, let the bishop call the priests into dialogue,
especially about pastoral matters. This he should do not only
on a given occasion but at regularly fixed intervals insofar as
this is possible. (Christus Dominus28).

It is clear that a bishop who is incapable of dialoguing
with his priest will not be capable of engaging in
conversation with those outside his community.It is
important to see dialogue as simply a conversation no matter
who the interlocutor is. What is important is to be able to
engage in dialogue.
The term dialogue will appear again, the same day,
October 28, 1965, in the Declaration on Christian Education
(Gravissimum Educationis). It will appear twice in the
Documents. InGravissimum Educationis8 it is a question of
fostering dialogue between the Church and mankind:

Since, therefore, the Catholic school can be such an aid to
the fulfillment of the mission of the People of God and to the
fostering of the dialogue between the Church and mankind,
to the benefit of both, it retains even in our present
circumstances the utmost importance.

Gravissimum Educationiswill give to faculties of 11
sacred sciences the duty to foster dialogue with other
Christians and with non-Christians:

it is the role of these very faculties to make more penetrating

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inquiry into the various aspects of the sacred sciences so that
an ever deepening understanding of sacred Revelation is
obtained, the legacy of Christian wisdom handed down by
our forefathers is more fully developed, the dialogue with
our separated brethren and with non-Christians is fostered,
and answers are given to questions arising from the
development of doctrine.

The Declaration on the relations of the Catholic Church
with other religions (Nostra Aetate) appears on the same date,
October 28, 1965.The term dialogue appears twice in the
Documents. InNostra Aetatedialogue is presented as a 2,
means to see the good things present in the life of other
believers:

The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through
dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other
religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness
to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and
promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the
socio-cultural values found among these men.

InNostra Aetateit is a question of fraternal dialogues, 4,
in the plural:

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and
Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and
recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is
the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well
as of fraternal dialogues.

In November 18, 1965, in the decree on the apostolate of
the laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem), the Church calls priests
to engage in a continuous dialogue with the laity:

Through continuous dialogue with the laity, these priests


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should carefully investigate which forms make apostolic
activity more fruitful. They should promote the spirit of
unity within the association as well as between it and others
(Apostolicam Actuositatem25).

Almost one month later on December 7, 1965, the Church
speaks of asincere and patient dialoguethat will help to see
the treasures of God:

Even as Christ Himself searched the hearts of men, and led
them to divine light, so also His disciples, profoundly
penetrated by the Spirit of Christ, should show the people
among whom they live, and should converse with them, that
they themselves may learn by sincere and patient dialogue
what treasures a generous God has distributed among the
nations of the earth. But at the same time, let them try to
furbish these treasures, set them free, and bring them under
the dominion of God their Savior (Ad Gentes11).

In the same document, dialogue is presented as a powerful
answer to those in quest of peace:“To those in quest of
peace, she (the Church) wishes to answer in fraternal
dialogue, bearing them the peace and the light of the Gospel
(Ad Gentes12).
Dialogue is a means to bring peace.The document will
insist further that education in fraternal dialogue should be
part of priestly training: “Let them be educated in the
ecumenical spirit, and duly prepared for fraternal dialogue
with non – Christians” (Ad Gentes16). One would wonder if
people could be really education for dialogue.The education
intended aims at fraternal dialogue and not dialogue tout
court.Ad Gentes 20encourages Christian ministers to
dialogue with human associations:

Now since men are more and more banding together into
associations, it is very fitting that Episcopal Conferences

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should form a common plan concerning the dialogue to be
held with such associations.

Ad Gentes34 sees dialogue with followers of other religions
a delicate thing that needs a scientific knowledge of religions
and cultures.Therefore, it proposes that

Since the right and methodical exercise of missionary
activity requires that those who labor for the Gospel should
be scientifically prepared for their task, and especially for
dialogue with non - Christian religions and cultures, and also
that they should be effectively assisted in the carrying out of
this task, it is desired that, for the sake of the missions, there
should be fraternal and generous collaboration on the part of
scientific institutes which specialize in missiology and in
other arts and disciplines useful for the missions, such as
ethnology and linguistics, the history and science of
religions, sociology, pastoral skills and the like.

Finally,Ad Gentesnot leave the work of dialogue does
only to priests.It invites laypeople to take on the
responsibility:

Worthy of special praise are those laymen who, in
universities or in scientific institutes, promote by their
historical and scientific religious research the knowledge of
peoples and of religions; thus helping the heralds of the
Gospel, and preparing for the dialogue with non –
Christians. Theyshould cooperate in a brotherly spirit with
other Christians, with non - Christians, and with members of
international organizations, always having before their eyes
the fact that “the building up of the earthly city should have
its foundation in the Lord, and should be directed towards
Him.” (Ad Gentes41).

The same day, December 7, 1965, the beautiful
Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) is

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