A Church in Dialogue – The Catholic Church and Interreligious Dialogue

Monday, August 31 2015

184-898(CCCB – Ottawa)… To mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relations of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate (promulgated in 1965), the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), through its Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue, has published a new resource entitled: A Church in Dialogue: The Catholic Church and Interreligious Dialogue. This 12-page resource presents the origins of Nostra Aetate and its impact on interreligious dialogue, both in Canada and abroad over the past 50 years, and most notably the renewed relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. As the document states, “Nostra Aetate offers a vision of hope and a model of respectful, meaningful interaction. It marked a critical beginning point for contemporary interreligious dialogue for Catholics….”

The CCCB resource highlights “how, in our modern world, different religions are increasingly interacting with each other.” This move towards a global community was an essential principle which guided the preparation of the conciliar document. Nostra Aetate “seeks to highlight the things that Christianity shares in common with other religions, and to emphasize their positive, life-giving aspects, which Christians can appreciate and value…” Despite their differences, Nostra Aetate “recognizes that each religion seeks to answer certain basic questions about the cosmos, about the meaning of life, the nature of good and evil, and the goal of our existence.” The new CCCB resource explains that “our grappling with these fundamental issues links all believers, and through our sharing of our respective religious heritages, mutual enrichment is possible and, indeed, desirable”.

In Canada, the fruit of Nostra Aetate can be seen concretely in the many interreligious networks, forums and groups that have taken root in part because of the vision of the conciliar declaration. Areas of interfaith collaboration exist across our country, addressing issues of poverty, hunger, human trafficking, domestic violence, religious extremism, and peace-making in the Middle East. A number of Canadian institutions and groups now promote interreligious dialogue and friendship year-round. The Catholic Church in Canada contributes leadership and energy to these efforts. Examples include the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism in Montreal, the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Toronto, the Centre for Jewish-Catholic Muslim Learning at King’s University College in London, Ontario, the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Toronto, and the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Montreal.

This new CCCB resource is part of a series by the Commission called A Church in Dialogue which includes three other publications, the most recent published last July entitled: “A Church in Dialogue: Catholics and Muslims in Canada: Believers and Citizens in Society“. The other two resources focused on ecumenical dialogue: A Church in Dialogue: Catholic Ecumenical Commitment and A Church in Dialogue: Towards the Restoration of Unity among Christians. The latest resource celebrating the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate is now available on the CCCB website, while printed copies can be ordered from CCCB Publications at 1-800-769-1147 or online at www.cccbpublications.ca

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