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"Things are not what they seem": Dominus Iesus, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue.


This essay argues that the "Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church," or Dominus Iesus, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000, has been largely understood as targeted only at Catholic ecumenical efforts, but it was also directed against proponents of interreligious dialogue, particularly those who seem to veer toward what it considers a more pluralistic position, such as Jacques Dupuis's theology. The author proposes that a thorough analysis of postconciliar documents tracing the trajectory of Catholic thinking about the other religions will show the other hitherto-ignored intended audience of Dominus Iesus. Toward that purpose, it examines three major documents before moving into a detailed assessment of the Declaration itself. The essay concludes that the document has set both the stage and the out-of-bound markers for Catholic discussions on dialogue with other religions and has exhibited a strong preference for seeing other faiths as only participating in the unique mediation of Christ through the Spirit.

I. Introduction

Since the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the Catholic Church has continued to investigate the role that other religions fulfill in the economy of salvation guided by the conciliar documents. (1) Karl Rahner has concluded that the Council left the salvific status of other religions open even though it made several positive assertions of them, including recognizing them as "concrete sociological realities." (2) The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.) (3) issued Dominus Iesus (4) (D.I.) ("Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church") in 2000, marking a milestone in this conversation and raising concerns both within Catholic circles and in the wider Christian community. D.I. was prepared by its International Theological Commission (5) and had been approved by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation, making it an official C.D.F. document. (6) The main issue was what the chief motivation behind the document was and whether its intended target was ecumenism or interreligious dialogue--or both.

To support the argument that D.I. arose mainly out of a concern about the emergence of a pluralistic Catholic theology of religions and only secondarily about ecumenism, we turn our attention to three postconciliar documents in chronological order, namely, Evangelii nuntiandi (E.N.), Redemptoris missio (R.M.), and Dialogue and Proclamation (D.P.), before closing with a detailed analysis of D.I. in order to understand how the Catholic Church has affirmed or revised its thinking. We will then conclude with a summary of the current state of the question within Catholicism of its views of other religions.

II. Three Postconciliar Documents

A. Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) (7)

On December 8, 1975, on the tenth anniversary of the closing of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI issued an Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi, that called on all Roman Catholics to proclaim the gospel universally. This document, in effect, a summary of the discussions of the 1974 Synod of Bishops, (8) states in no. 53:

The Church respects and esteems these non Christian [sic] religions because they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people. ... We wish to point out, above all today, that neither respect and esteem for these religions nor the complexity of the questions raised is an invitation to the Church to withhold from these non-Christians the proclamation of Jesus Christ. ... In other words, our religion effectively establishes with God an authentic and living relationship which the other religions do not succeed in doing, even though they have, as it were, their arms stretched out towards heaven. (E.N., no. 53)

This reference to the continuing need for proclamation of the gospel, while preambled with a statement of the Catholic Church's respect for other faiths, nonetheless closed by noting their inability to establish a true relationship with God, and it has generally been interpreted as a negative assessment of their salvific status, (9) Furthermore, throughout the Exhortation, there is a conspicuous lack of any mention of dialogue as a potential mode of engagement with other faiths, while the exclusivity of Christian claims as constituting the sine qua non for missions and evangelism is a key theme of the document. (10) While W. Richey Hogg noted positively that E.N., together with Ad gentes (A.G.), provides a clear theological basis for Catholics to engage in mission, William R. Burrows suggested that some clarification remains to be done in explicating the exact relationship between missions and the role of the other religions. (11) Thus, on the whole, when contrasted against the conciliar pronouncements, E.N. appears to have attenuated the hitherto positive tone toward other religions, focusing attention instead on their inherent deficiencies for attaining salvation for their believers, in order to reemphasize the need for Catholic missions.

B. Redemptoris missio (1990) (12)

In contrast to Paul VI's reserve in E.N. about any endorsement of other religions, Pope John Paul II was explicit throughout his papacy in his affirmation of the presence and activity of the Spirit to be found in other religions. (13) In his first encyclical, Redemptor hominis (R.H.), issued March 4, 1979, the pope noted the presence of the Holy Spirit in the adherents of other faiths in the context of expressing his hopes for humanity. (14) Later, in Dominum et vivificantem (D.E.V.), (15) he described the universal activity of the Holy Spirit both before the coming of Christ and today outside the Catholic Church, and he made the association between God's work and the paschal mystery's being possibly available for all as in Gaudium et spes (G.S.), no. 22. (16) However, it was in R.M. that he took a significant step in explicating the view of the Spirit's work within the other religions. R.M., no. 28, states, concerning both the individual and her or his faith:

The Spirit manifests himself in a special way in the Church and in her members. Nevertheless, his presence and activity are universal, limited neither by space nor time. The Second Vatican Council recalls that the Spirit is at work in the heart of every person ... The Spirit, therefore, is at the very source of man's existential and religious questioning, a questioning which is occasioned not only by contingent situations but by the very structure of his being. The Spirit's presence and activity affect not only the individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions. (R.M., no. 28; emphasis added)

Earlier, in R.M., no. 5, as the pope affirmed the uniqueness of the mediatory work of Christ, he left theological room for the "participated forms of mediation" by others: "Christ is the one mediator between God and mankind ... Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and value only from Christ's own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his" (R.M., no. 5; emphasis in original).

In John Paul II's papacy therefore, we may perceive simultaneous affirmations of the conciliar steps taken previously as well as an advance in the discussion. First, in his acknowledgment of the presence of the Spirit in the adherents of other faiths (R.H., no. 6; D.E.V., no. 53), he affirmed the work of the Spirit at the individual level. Then, R.M., no. 28, goes farther and makes a clear assertion of the Spirit's work among the religions, while R.M., no. 5, reasons that there are "forms of mediation" that participate in the sole mediation of Christ, although these "forms" were not yet unequivocally associated with the "religions." (17) Peter Phan identified these "participated mediations" with other faiths, arguing that the pope moved beyond Vatican II and "extended this notion of participation or sharing to non-Christian religions." (18) However, the link is tenuous at best, and it is more prudent to conclude that R.M. neither confers salvific values on other religions nor implies whether these "participated mediations" include other religious traditions at this stage of development. (19) Despite this, the pope's encyclical has sown the seeds not only for an inchoate pneumatological theology of salvation but also for religions that will serve as the impetus for subsequent Catholic theologians to develop a trinitarian theology of religions. (20)

C. Dialogue and Proclamation (1991) (21)

As we move closer to our current context, we begin to find an especially clear and positive soteriological affirmation of other religious traditions in the 1991 document, Dialogue and Proclamation, which declares:

From this mystery of unity, it follows that all men and women who are saved share, though differently, in the same mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ through his Spirit. Christians know this through their faith, while others remain unaware that Jesus Christ is the source of their salvation. The mystery of salvation reaches out to them, in a way known to God, through the invisible action of the Spirit of Christ. Concretely, it will be in the sincere practice of what is good in their own religious traditions and by following the dictates of their conscience that the members of other religions respond positively to God's invitation and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their saviour. (cf. AG 3, 9, 11). (D.P., no. 29; emphasis added) (22)

In D.P., no. 29, therefore, the apogee of a trajectory of development that had its origins in the conciliar documents has been reached as the article affirms that salvation for others is attained by the operation of the Spirit's working through "what is good in their own religious traditions." (23) Although there was no direct reference to religions' being the "participated mediations" that R.M., no. 5, mentioned earlier, it was sufficient for Jacques Dupuis to argue that it was tantamount to recognizing religions as such. (24) Paul Knitter, too, interpreted this text as a clear affirmation that, in and through religions, other peoples may find salvation. (25) Despite this positive tone, the document does not suggest an independent salvific status for religions but merely notes that they remain praeparatio evangelica and "play a providential role in the divine economy of salvation" (D.P., no. 17). D.P., no. 82, further indicates that, while dialogue is a necessary component of mission, in principle and practice, it is not a replacement for proclamation but "remains oriented" toward it. In summary, we may say that, among the postconciliar pronouncements of the Catholic Church, D.P., no. 29, provides the clearest affirmation that the Church was suggesting that the adherents of other faiths may be saved in their religious traditions and that this is attained through the work of the Spirit, with the caveat that in no way are they to be understood as autonomous salvific structures.

III. Assessment of Dominus Iesus (2000)

While D.P. marked the logical culmination of the postconciliar theology of other religions, the promulgation of D.I. in 2000 would redraw the theological landscape. The document is structured into six sections. After an introduction that condemns de jure (in principle) pluralism, Section I asserts the definitive nature of the revelation of Jesus Christ (D.I., no. 5), while the next section repudiates any notion of a separate, more universalizing work of the Spirit parallel to the work of Christ. (26) Section III reiterates Christ is the sole mediator of salvation, and Section IV relates the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Christ with the unicity and unity of the Catholic Church by arguing that it is the historical continuation of the church entrusted to Peter and his successors. (27) Section V refutes those who attempt to separate the realm of God from that of Christ and the Catholic Church, while the last section addresses the relationship that exists between the Catholic Church and other religions by asserting the indispensability of the Church (D.I., no. 20) and rejecting other religions as alternate ways of salvation (D.I., no. 21). As D.I., no. 22, puts it, while the adherents of other faiths may have received divine grace, they remain "in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation."

The reception of D.I. was initially overwhelmingly negative, much of it based on a misreading that it was a statement against ecumenism because of its interpretation of "subsistit in," rather than what I contend is its actual target, de jure pluralism. (28) Vincent Branick lamented the legalistic tone of its language, while Thomas Looney and Thomas Rausch called it a retrograde step from Vatican II that had drawn inspiration from biblical imagery and, hence, allowed for greater conversation. (29) Severe criticism was also leveled against the C.D.F. for exceeding its authority in regulating theological areas still considered open, while John Rist contended against D.I.'s account of the development of doctrine. (30) Aloysius Pieris drew a distinction between "reform" and "renewal," arguing that D.L represented an attempt by the conservative wing of the Vatican, which had realized their own mistake at having perceived the Council as a reformist synod of bishops, so they were now attempting to reassert their control. (31) In its defense, George Weigel argued that D.L taught what the Catholic Church had reaffirmed at Vatican II, namely, that Christ is the only Savior and that the Catholic Church is the most complete expression of Christ's body. (32)

Reactions grew more nuanced as it became recognized that D.L was not meant only as an ecumenical document and that its target audience is within the Catholic Church, especially against theologians of religions such as Knitter and Dupuis. (33) Hence, Kilian McDonnell delineated the "watchdog function" of the C.D.F. against impending threats to the life of the Church, while Ratzinger highlighted the main thrust of D.I.: that the "ecclesiological and ecumenical issues of which everyone is now speaking occupy only a small part of the document." (34) Therefore, Edmund Chia and George Tavard summarized that most of D.I. referred to the issue of the salvific significance of non-Christian religions rather than to ecumenical dialogue. (35)

A close reading of the document supports the conclusion that the main intention of the C.D.F. was to curb any view of the independent salvific status of religions. The summary section, Section VI, makes several contentions regarding the other religions:

Certainly, the various religious traditions contain and offer religious elements which come from God, and which are part of what "the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures, and religions". Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel ... One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors.... constitute an obstacle to salvation. (D.I., no. 21)

Thus, the overall assessment of D.I. is the deficient nature of other religions, making it clear that, whatever may be described of them, their adherents could not be said to have been saved through them. (36) In 2001, further events endorsed this view when Dupuis's book, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, was investigated and a Notification (37) was issued that concluded that there are "notable ambiguities and difficulties on important doctrinal points" in it. (38) The connection between D.I. and the Notification has been conceded by Dupuis, who noted similarities in subject matter and methodology, (39) and the C.D.F. further confirmed that it was drawing "from the principles expressed in D.I. in its evaluation of Father Dupuis's book." (40) Hence, D.L, the Notification, and the subsequent Commentary all point to a movement by the magisterium to clamp down on any theology that hints of religious pluralism. They also suggest that Dupuis's theology of religions (and those of others who support his position) that advances a potentially positive salvific significance for the other religions is unlikely to attract further theological developments, leaving the field open for Catholic theologians who argue against this view. (41)

IV. Analysis of Post-Vatican II's Theology of Religions

Our analysis of postconciliar Catholic theology has shown that its understanding of religions has been marked by uneven developmental progress. While the Council had already affirmed that individuals outside of the Catholic Church might receive salvific grace, postconciliar developments have led to several possibilities in terms of the relationship between this received grace and the religions they practice: (1) This salvation is not mediated through non- Christian religions, or (2) other religions do mediate salvation for their adherents but not apart from Christ's mediation, or (3) other religions may be seen as independent channels of salvation. Paul VI suggested the first position in E.N., no. 53, given his metaphor that other religions are futilely "outstretched arms." John Paul II moved slightly forward from his predecessor into position (2), when he posited in R.M., no. 28, that the Spirit is in operation at the level of religions as well as individuals and that there are "participated forms of mediation" by others, which was later affirmed in D.I., no. 14, as referring to other religions. At the same time, he showed that he had not moved into position (3), since T.M.A., no. 6, confirms that other religions have no salvific value. D.P., no. 29, comes closest to (3) when it affirms that salvation for the non- Christian "Other" is by the Spirit through their own religions and by not qualifying them as being forms of participation, which could have implied religions as autonomous means of salvation. D.I. rebounded strongly to a position closer to (2), for D.I., no. 14, affirmed the participation of other religions, while D.I., no. 22, reiterated their acutely deficient situation as compared to those within the Catholic Church. (42)

The vigorous manner in which D.I. has put forth its case suggests that the theological out-of-bound markers have been set, and subsequent Catholic discussions on the theology of religions will inevitably have to take account of them. We conclude therefore that, on the whole, postconciliar developments manifest positive signs of leanings toward other religions but also display a strong desire within the Catholic Church to avoid any suggestion that other religions are autonomous ways of salvation for the non-Christian--leaning in favor of an assertion of their participated mediation in the sole mediation of Christ through the work of the Spirit.

(1) For a detailed discussion of preconciliar and conciliar postures toward other religions, see Francis A. Sullivan, Salvation outside the Church? Tracing the History of the Catholic Response (New York and Mahwah, N J: Paulist Press, 1992; Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002); and Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism (with appendices) (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001 [orig.,1997]).

(2) Karl Rahner, "On the Importance of the Non-Christian Religions for Salvation," in Karl Rahner, God and Revelation, Theological Investigations 18, tr. Edward Quinn (London: Darton, Longman & Todd; New York: Crossroad, 1983), pp. 289-290.

(3) The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was established by Paul Ill in 1542 as a congregation of the Roman Curia with the responsibility to safeguard doctrinal and faith matters of the Catholic Church. Paul VI renamed this congregation in 1967 as the "Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." In terms of accountability, although each pontifical council is juridically equal to the other, all the other councils are required to submit any documents pertaining to faith and morals to the C.D.F. prior to publication. See Tom Stransky, "The Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity," in Adrian Hastings, ed., Modern Catholicism: Vatican II and After (London: SPCK; New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 183-184; and James Joseph Markham and Elizabeth McDonough, "Curia, Roman," in New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 4, 2nd ed. (Detroit, MI: Gale; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 2003), pp. 438-440.

(4) Dominus Iesus, issued by the C.D.F., August 6, 2000; available at /roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus- iesus_en.html.

(5) The idea for setting up the I.T.C. was first broached by the Synod of Bishops on October 28, 1967, with its chief responsibility being "to assist the Holy See and especially the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, principally in connection with questions of greater importance" (see Synod of Bishops, "Ratione Habita [On Dangerous Opinions and on Atheism]," in Austin Flannery, ed., Vatican Council H." More Post Conciliar Documents [Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1982], p. 670; and Walter H. Principe, "The International Theological Commission," in Hastings, Modern Catholicism, pp. 194-195).

(6) See another related document by the I.T.C., "Christianity and the World Religions" (1997), which proposed that religions carry a salvific significance: "Given this explicit recognition of the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the religions, one cannot exclude the possibility that they exercise ... a certain salvific function ... It would be difficult to think that what the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of men taken as individuals would have salvific value and not think that what the Holy Spirit works in the religions and cultures would not have such value" (International Theological Commission, "Christianity and the World Religions," no. 84, Origins 27 [August 14, 1997]: 161). Peter Phan considered this to be an affirmation of the salvific status of religions, and Terrence Tilley concurred (see Peter C. Phan, "John Paul II and Interreligious Dialogue: Reality and Promise," in Gerard Mannion, ed., The Vision of John Paul I1: Assessing His Thought and Influence, A Michael Glazier Book [Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008], pp. 253-254; and Terrence W. Tilley, "'Christianity and the World Religions': A Recent Vatican Document," Theological Studies 60 [June, 1999]: 318-337). However, John Hick considered its statements insufficient for interreligious dialogue because of its commitment to the superiority of Christianity (see John Hick, "The Latest Vatican Statement on Christianity and Other Religions," New Blackfriars 79 [December, 1998]: 542-543). Despite the clear assertion of the document, its issuance by the I.T.C. rather than the C.D.F. means that, while it may have theological significance, it still lacks magisterial authority (Dupuis, Toward, p. 179, n. 28).

(7) The text of Evangel# nuntiandi ("Evangelism in the Modern World") (December 8, 1975) can be found in Flannery, Vatican Council 11: More Post Conciliar Documents, pp. 711- 761; citations are from vi_exh_19751208_evangelii- nuntiandi_en.html. For commentaries on the exhortation, see W. Richey Hogg, "Vatican II's 'Ad Gentes': A Twenty-Year Retrospective," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 9 (October, 1985): 146-154; and Michael L. Fitzgerald, '"Evangelii Nuntiandi' and World Religions," African Ecclesial Review 21 (February, 1979): 34-43.

(8) The "Synod of Bishops" was mandated during Vatican II for greater collegiality, so that bishops would share responsibility for governance of the Catholic Church with the pope (Lumen gentium, nos. 22-25 [hereafter, L.G.]), and was established by Chrisms Dominus (the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops) (October 28, 1965), available at cil/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651028_christus-dominus_en.html; also in Austin Flannery, ed., Vatican Council I1: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1975), pp. 564-590. For a more detailed description of the history of the Synod, see Peter Hebblethwaite, "The Synod of Bishops," in Hastings, Modern Catholicism, pp. 200-209. The 1974 Synod, the third assembly, addressed the issue of the evangelization of the modern world, but a common consensus was not achieved, and only the statement "The Evangelization of the Modern World" was issued (see Hogg, "Vatican II's 'Ad Gentes,'" p. 149).

(9) Jacques Dupuis argued that the image of other religions as "arms stretched out towards heaven" in vain was a negative evaluation and laments that this came from the "pope of dialogue" (Dupuis, Toward, pp. 172-173). Paul Knitter noted that, while Paul VI was known as the "pope of dialogue," he remained rooted in the idea of Christianity's being the one true religion, and it was instead John Paul II, both in his speeches and papal trips to various places of worship in Palestine and Damascus, who embodied openness to other faiths (see Paul F. Knitter, Introducing Theologies of Religions [Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002], pp. 80-81).

(10) Michael Fitzgerald noted that. despite the fact that "dialogue" is a keyword in the Synod's statement, E.N. deliberately eschewed it, and he concluded that the world religions had not been considered adequately (Fitzgerald, "Evangelii Nuntiandi," pp. 36 and 42).

(11) See Hogg, "Vatican II's "Ad Gentes,'" p. 149: and William R. Burrows, "Tensions in the Catholic Magisterium about Mission and Other Religions," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 9 (January, 1985): 4. William Frazier's study of EN. also concluded that the missionary nature of the Catholic Church has not been fully explored (see William Frazier, "A Monumental Breakthrough in the Missiology of Vatican II and Its Reception by Ongoing Leadership in the Church," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 34 [July, 2010]: 139).

(12) The text of the papal encyclical Redemptoris missio ("On the Permanent Vitality of the Church's Missionary Mandate," issued by John Paul 11, December 7, 1990) is available at http://www.vati Written on the 25th anniversary of A.G., R.M. was a theological argument for the continued significance of the missionary activity of the Catholic Church (see Francis Cardinal George, "The Decree on the Church's Missonary Activity, Ad Gentes," in Matthew L. Lamb and Matthew Levering, eds., Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition [Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008], p. 301). For analyses, see Jacques Dupuis, "A Theological Commentary: Dialogue and Proclamation," in William R. Burrows, ed., Redemption and Dialogue. Reading Redemptoris Missio and Dialogue and Proclamation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993), pp. 119-158; and James H. Kroeger, "Sent to Witness--with Enthusiasm," African Ecclesial Review 33 (October, 1991): 288-294.

(13) George H. Williams analyzed that John Paul's ecumenical and interfaith orientations can be traced to his Polish and pre-papal philosophical background (see George Huntston Williams, "The Ecumenical Intentions of Pope John Paul II: The Third of the Four Quadrennial Lectures under the Bequest of Judge Paul Dudley, 1750," Harvard Theological Review 75 [April, 1982]: 174).

(14) In article 6, he wrote: "What we have just said must also be applied ... to activity for coming closer together with the representatives of the non-Christian religions ... Does it not sometimes happen that the firm belief of the followers of the non-Christian religions--a belief that is also an effect of the Spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body--can make Christians ashamed at being often themselves so disposed to doubt concerning the troths revealed by God and proclaimed by the Church" (R.H., no. 6): available at paul_ii/encycli cals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_04031979_dedemptor-hominis_en.html.

(15) Dommum et vivificantem ("On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World," May 18, 1986) is available at

(16) D.E. V, no. 53, states: "We need to go further back, to embrace the whole of the action of the Holy Spirit even before Christ ... The Second Vatican Council, centered primarily on the theme of the Church, reminds us of the Holy Spirit's activity also 'outside the visible body of the Church.' ... For, since Christ died for all, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this Paschal Mystery" (D.E.V., no. 53; available at http://www.vatican.vaJedocs/ENG0142/_PG.HTM; also included in Jacques Dupuis and Josef Neuner, The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, 7th rev. and enlr. ed. [New York: Alba House, 2001], p. 1048). Gaudium et spes ("Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," promulgated by Paul VI, December 7, 1965) is available at ii_cons_ 19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html.

(17) This connection was affirmed only later, in 2000, by D.I., no. 14, which references R.M., no. 5 (available at, when it states that "theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religious experiences ... is invited to explore ... in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation.... Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and value only from Christ's own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his" (D.I., no. 14; emphasis in original).

(18) Phan, "John Paul II," p. 251. However, he observed that, despite seeing religions as "participated forms," John Paul II never affirmed the salvific value of religions per se (Phan, "John Paul II," p. 252). This is evident in the Apostolic Letter, Tertio millenio adveniente (7:MA.) ("As the Third Millennium Approaches," issued by John Paul 11, November 10, 1994), available at ii_apl_10111994_tertio-millennio- adveniente_en.html, in which the pope asserted a lack of salvific values in other religions: "Here we touch upon the essential point by which Christianity differs from all the other religions, by which man's search for God has been expressed from earliest times.... Here, it is not simply a case of man seeking God, but of God who comes in Person to speak to man of himself and to show him the path by which he may be reached.... In Christ, religion is no longer a 'blind search for God' (cf. Acts 17:27) but the response of faith to God who reveals himself.... Christ is thus the fulfilment of the yearning of all the world's religions and, as such, he is their sole and definitive completion" (T.M.A., no. 6; emphases in original).

(19) See also Dupuis, Toward, p. 173; and Sullivan, Salvation? p. 194.

(20) E.g. see Gavin D'Costa, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000). (21) Dialogue and Proclamation ("Reflections and Orientations on Interreligious Dialogue and the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," a joint document of the PCID and the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, issued May 19, 1991) is available at /pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc__pc_interelg_doc_19051991_dialogue- and-proclamatio _en.html. Prior to D.P., another document deserves some mention: The May 10, 1984, document, "The Attitude of the Church toward Followers of Other Religions: Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission" (D.M.), issued by the predecessor of the PCID, the Pontifical Secretariat for Non-Christians, summarized the positive affirmations of conciliar pronouncements in no. 26: "This vision induced the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to affirm that in the religious traditions of non-Christians there exist 'elements which are true and good' [L.G., no. 16], 'precious things, both religious and human' [G.S., no. 92], 'seeds of contemplation' [A.G., no. 18], 'elements of truth and grace' [A.G., no. 9], 'seeds of the Word' [A.G., nos. 11 and 15], and 'rays of that truth which illuminates all humankind' [N.A., no. 2]. According to explicit conciliar indications, these values are found preserved in the great religious traditions of humanity. Therefore, they merit the attention and the esteem of Christians, and their spiritual patrimony is a genuine invitation to dialogue [cf. N.A., nos. 2 and 3; A.G., no. 11], not only in those things which unite us, but also in our differences" (D.M., no. 26; available at http:// See Pontifical Secretariat for Non-Christians, "'Dialogue and Mission--The Attitude of the Church towards the Followers of Other Religions: Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission," The Furrow 36, no. 7 (1985): 519-524. However, the reference in D.M., no. 26, to L.G., no. 16, probably refers to L.G., no. 17, instead, which does mention the latent elements of goodness in other religions, since the scope of L.G., no. 16, was restricted to the individual level.

(22) Also found in Dupuis and Neuner, Christian Faith, p. 1059. D.P., no. 12, had earlier defined the terms "religions" and "religious traditions" mentioned in D.P., no. 29, to include generically the Abrahamic faiths and the Afro-Asian religions.

(23) See Mark Plaiss's argument in Mark Plaiss, "'Dialogue and Proclamation' a Decade Later: A Retreat?" J.E.S. 38 (Spring--Summer, 2001): 190.

(24) See Dupuis, Toward, pp. 178-179.

(25) Knitter, Introducing, pp. 8243. He even contended that D.P., no. 41, which describes how one may decide "to leave one's previous spiritual ... situation" through dialogue, implies the possibility of a Christian's becoming a Buddhist. However, it is arguable whether this article has anything other than Christian conversion in mind, since it quotes D.M., no. 37, which explicitly describes conversion in the context of missionary proclamation directed toward the non-Christian, as well as linking it to the "Paschal Mystery" of Christ.

(26) Thus, D.I., no. 11, states that "the doctrine of faith regarding the unicity of the salvific economy ... must be "firmly believed'" (emphasis in original). The phrase "firmly believed" in this emphatic form appears seven times (D.L, nos. 5, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 20), suggesting the tone of the document.

(27) Here, the ecumenical dimension of the document was discussed through a clarification of the term "subsistit in" as signifying two truths simultaneously: (1) that the Church of Christ exists fully only in the Catholic Church, and (2) that elements of "sanctification and truth" can be found in other churches and ecclesial communities (D.I., no. 16). Ralph Del Colic noted that D.I., no. 16, chose a restrictive reading of "subsistit in" by noting only one subsistence of the Church of Christ and that only ecclesial elements exist in ecclesial communities (see Ralph Del Colic, "Toward the Fullness of Christ: A Catholic Vision of Ecumenism," International Journal of Systematic Theology 3 [July, 2001]: 207). Eugene Brand also noted that its original usage in L.G., no. 16, was meant to leave the door open for future consideration about the status of other Christian communities, as did Nicholas Lash (see Eugene L. Brand, "Dominus lesus: A Lutheran Response," Pro Ecclesia 10 [Winter, 2001]:7-8; and Nicholas Lash, Theology for Pilgrims [Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008], pp. 268-274). On June 29, 2007, the C.D.F. issued a clarification of "subsistit in" in which it maintained: "The use of this expression ... comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity'" (see C.D.F., Responses to Some Questions regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church [2007], Response to Third Question; available at http:// 0629_responsaquaestiones_en.html). This clarification is not likely to appease those who have criticized it as a dialogue-ender for ecumenism.

(28) An early negative response to D.I is found in a story from Ecumenical News International: "Mother Rome. "Christian Century 117 (September 13-20, 2000): 895-897. This focused on the implications for ecumenical dialogue, given the rejection of the term "sister churches" to describe post-Reformation churches.

(29) See Thomas P. Looney, "Dominus lesus: Appreciation, Critique, and Hope," Ecumenical Trends 30 (May, 2001): 70; Thomas P. Rausch, "Has the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Exceeded Its Authority?" Theological Studies 62 (December, 2001): 804; and Vincent P. Branick, "'Dominus lesus" and the Ecumenical Dialogue with Catholics," J.E.S. 38 (Fall, 2001): 416.

(30) See Rausch, "Has the Congregation?" pp. 806-808; and John M. Rist, What Is Truth? From the Academy to the Vatican (Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 6. Rist also directed the same critique at Newman's concept of the development of doctrine.

(31) To Pieris, "reform" referred to a top-down process of change as witnessed in Vatican I and Trent, while Vatican II was a "renewal" council that found its genesis in the periphery before surging to the center (see Aloysius Pieris, "The Roman Catholic Perception of Other Churches and Other Religions after the Vatican's Dominus Jesus," East Asian Pastoral Review, vol. 38, no. 3 [2001], p. 5). Giuseppe Alberigo, however, clarified that Trent is to not to be confused with "Tridentinism," a hardened ideology generated by late-medieval scholasticism and characterized by resistance and refusal to change (see Giuseppe Alberigo, "From the Council of Trent to 'Tridentinism,"' in Raymond F. Bulman and Frederick J. Parrella, eds., From Trent to Vatican II: Historical and Theological Investigations [Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006], pp. 29 and 32). Joseph Komonchak also observed that, ultimately, Vatican II did not depart from the teachings of Trent (see Joseph. A. Komonchak, "The Council of Trent at the Second Vatican Council," in Bulman and Parrella, From Trent to Vatican II, p. 76).

(32) See George Weigel, God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church (New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2005), p. 192.

(33) See Kilian McDonnell, "The Unique Mediator in a Unique Church: A Return to Pre-Vatican II Theology?" The Ecumenical Review 52 (October, 2000): 548; and Timothy George, "Dominus lesus: An Evangelical Response," Pro Ecclesia 10 (Winter, 2001): 16. Despite this, Geoffrey Wainwright cautioned that, inevitably, an intrachurch document will be overheard by the wider theological community and will have an inadvertent adverse effect on ecumenical efforts (see Geoffrey Wainwright, "Dominus Iesus: A Methodist Response," Pro Ecclesia 10 [Winter, 2001]: 13).

(34) McDonnell, "Unique Mediator," p. 544; and Joseph Ratzinger, "Answers to Main Objections against Dominus lesus," L'Osservatore Romano 22 (September, 2000): 10. Ratzinger later asserted that the chief motivation for D.L was a concern about the emergence of a "pluralist theology of religion" underpinned by a rise in relativism in the West (see "Presentation of the Declaration Dominus lesus in the Press Conference Room of the Holy See, September 5, 2000," in Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, ed Stephan Otto Horn and Vinzenz Pfnur, tr. Henry Taylor [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2005], pp. 209-210).

(35) See George H. Tavard, Vatican 11 and the Ecumenical Way, Marquette Studies in Theology (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2006), p. 42; and Edmund Chia, "Dominus lesus and Asian Theologies," Horizons 29 (Fall, 2002): 278-279. Chia subsequently developed this thesis further, making the case that, since Vatican II, the Curia has been concerned with curtailing developments that John XXIII initiated (see Edmund Chia, Towards a Theology of Dialogue [Nijmegen: University of Nijmegen, 2003]).

(36) It is noted that D.I. does not address the specific question of Judaism as a religion, since it considers the Jewish-Christian relationship to be a singular one (see Gavin D'Costa, "Christian Orthodoxy and Religious Pluralism: A Response to Terrence W. Tilley," Modern Theology 23 (July, 2007): 435-446.

(37) The complete text of the Notification is included as Appendix 1 in the 2001 edition of Dupuis's book as stipulated by the C.D.F. as a condition of its continued publication. A commentary on this Notification was issued on March 12, 2001; see Commentary on the Notification on the CDF regarding the Book Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism by Father Jacques Dupuis, S.J. (2001). Waldenfels noted that, since D.I., the C.D.F. has issued two more Notifications, to Roger Haight in 2005 and Jon Sobrino in 2007; all three have centered on the question of Christology (see Hans Waldenfels, Jesus Christ and the Religions: An Essay in Theology of Religions, Marquette Studies in Theology [Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2009], p. 10).

(38) The Notification went through three drafts. The first draft from the C.D.F. to Dupuis's Jesuit Superior--General noted that his book contained "serious doctrinal errors," but this was revised by the second draft to "ambiguities" in matters of faith (see Franz Cardinal Koenig, "Let the Spirit Breathe," in Daniel Kendall and Gerald O'Collins, eds., In Many and Diverse Ways: In Honor of Jacques Dupuis [Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003], p. 16. According to Robert Kaiser, Dupuis himself acknowledged the possibility of "ambiguities and difficulties" that might be misleading (see Robert Blair Kaiser, "Dupuis Profile," in Kendall and O'Collins, In Many and Diverse Ways, p. 228. Dupuis himself conceded that any "[s]uch potentially harmful ambiguities ought to be dispelled" (Jacques Dupuis, Christianity and the Religions: From Confrontation to Dialogue, tr. Phillip Berryman [Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002], p. 260). For a defense of Dupuis's book as advocating classic inclusivism rather than pluralism, see Terrence Merrigan, "Exploring the Frontiers: Jacques Dupuis and the Movement 'Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism'," Louvain Studies 23, no. 4 (1998), p. 349.

(39) Dupuis, Christianity, p. 260. Weigel argued that D.I. was issued against theologians in India as well as against Dupuis's work (see Weigel, God's Choice, p. 196). Waldenfels asserted further that the "true intention of Dominus Iesus" can be seen in the subsequent 2001 Notification (see Waldenfels, Jesus, p. 15).

(40) Notification, in Dupuis, Toward (2001), p. 437, n. 1.

(41) One chief proponent is Gavin D'Costa, whom John May has called a "representative post-DI theologian of religions" (John D'Arey May, "Catholic Fundamentalism? Some Implications of Dominus lesus for Dialogue and Peacemaking," Horizons 28 [Fall, 2001]: 280-281).

(42) Despite D.I., some theologians continue to work from the previous positions elucidated by D.P. Thus, Plaiss reasoned that, since D.P. came from two dicasteries of the Curia, whereas D.I. was only a

Loe-Joo Tan (Brethren) has been a Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore since the beginning of 2013. He was staff for the Fellowship of Evangelical Students, Singapore, 2003-09; and was a senior member of the technical staff of the Centre for Electronic Warfare at DSO National Laboratories, Singapore, 1996-2000. He holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in engineering from the National University of Singapore; an M.Div. from Regent College, Vancouver, an M.Th. in systematic theology from Trinity Theological College, Singapore; and a Ph.D. in divinity from the University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. His dissertation was on "The Trinity and the Religions: An Assessment of Gavin D'Costa's Trinitarian Theology of Religions with Reference to the Patristic Trinitarianism of Basil of Caesarea." He has published an article in Trinity Theological Journal (2013) and has articles forthcoming in the Scottish Journal of Theology and New Blackfriars. A member of the Evangelical Theological Society, his areas of research interest include post-Vatican II Catholic theology, the theology of religions, trinitarian and patristic theology, and Eastern Orthodoxy.
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Date:Sep 22, 2013
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