Dr Walter Fernandes
Dear Mr Francis
Where did you get the idea that Catholics or for that matter any Christian denomination is saying that there is no salvation outside their religion? Yes there are some fanatics who believe in that but that is not the majority and definitely not the offcial teaching. As early as 1953 i.e. 56 years ago an American Jesuit was excommunicated because he refused to withdraw his teaching that there is no salvation outside the church. The Vatican Council documents are clear on this issue so is the 1972 declaration of the World Council of Churches. We can have personal opinions about individuals. Similarly, individuals may hold such views but let us not demonise them by calling them Taliban type Christians. That is an insult both to Christians and Muslims. Please don's put a tag on people so easily.
Dr Walter Fernandes
North Eastern Social Research Centre
110 Kharghuli Road (1st floor)
Dear Sri R L Francis,
There are some misconceptions in your letter -concerning dialogue.
You say that the Church teaches that "there is no Moksha or "salvation" for the followers of other religions and only Christianity is the way of salvation through the organized church"
It is true that in times past some have said what you have stated, but the Church teaches that this must be understood in a broad way.
In fact the Church teaches that -people of other religions , when they sincerely practice what is good in their own religious traditions,and follow the dictates of their conscience, they respond positively to God's invitation and receive salvation. This salvation they receive in Jesus Christ even though they do not recognize or acknowledge himas their saviour" (See No 29, of Vatican Document entitled 'Dialogue and Proclamation', 1991.)
Kindly note that this implies that salvation is available for people of all religions, even if they do not belong to the visible Catholic Church, or even if they do not know and acknoeldge Jesus as their Saviour"
Secondly, you seem to understand that Christian evangelizing activity means 'poaching souls from other religions'. This again is not correct. What we Christians do is we share with others the joy of our faith and give them a taste of God's love for them by our service to them. We do this for everyone who without distinction of caste or creed. We do not ask people to be converted, nor ever make it a condition for our service. Christians have been serving thousands of people this way.
But if some people feel attracted towards Christ, if they of their own accord want to become his followers, then we do warmly welcome them into the Church. Communicating the message and love of Jesus is our work; whether people are attracted to and want become followers of Jesus - this is the work of God's Spirit. Hence what we do cannot be called 'poaching'.
Let me also say what we Catholics mean by inter-religious dialogue. It has three elements. In dialogue:we learn and are enriched by the good elements in other religions; we also share the riches of our religion in ways that would enrich those of other religions and finally we work together to build up a better human world. Dialogue is not one trying to convert the other to his religion; it is rather both being converted to God and together working for the good of all.
Finally, you ask whether Christian educational institutions will admit Hindu dalit children, children of tribals, children of Muslims. Perhaps you have not been to a Catholic school. In most Catholic schools (let me say in a very large majority of Christian schools) the number of Christian children admitted is far less than those of other religions (including tribals and dalits). It is by law that minority schools and higher educational insitutions can admit only up to 50% from their own minority community; they have to take in at least 50% from other religious backgrounds. In a country where the Christian population is very small, the percentage of Christians in most educational institutions is helplessly small.
I just wanted to clear some misconceptions people have about the teachings of the Church.
Ronnie Prabhu SJ
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