VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican has criticised a book on non-Christian religions as ambiguous and potentially misleading and said its author had agreed to a number of clarifying principles that stress Christ as the only saviour of humanity.
The book, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, was written by Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Dupuis, a theologian at Rome’s Gregorian University. It was published in 1997 by Orbis Books in Maryknoll, New York.
In 1998, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began investigating the work. The process lasted more than two years and involved questions by the Vatican and responses by the author.
In a written notification on February 26, the congregation said it had concluded that, while the author’s intentions were good, the book contained ambiguous statements and insufficient explanations, which could lead readers to “erroneous or harmful conclusions” about Christ’s role as the one and universal saviour.
It then listed five basic doctrinal principles to help Catholic readers “avoid the serious confusion and misunderstanding which could result from reading this book”.
The principles stress that Christ’s saving mediation is unique, complete and universal, and can in no way be complemented or replaced by other religions. The notification was approved by Pope John Paul II in January.
Fr Dupuis said he had no problem with the more positive statements of doctrine the congregation had proposed. But he said statements about certain positions being “contrary to” the Catholic Church did not apply to his book, and in any case he did not consider them as doctrinally binding.
Fr Dupuis said it was unclear what, if any, qualifying statements would be published in future editions of his book.