I’ve missed the anniversary by a few weeks. This shortest of the Vatican II documents, however, is well worth an examination, especially in these times in which some Catholics seek to turn back the clock of reform.
The whole document is here, titled the Declaration On The Relation Of The Church To Non-Christian Religions. It should be noted that non-Christian religions include not only Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, but also any pagan religion, as well as the world’s minor religions.
In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely he relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.
A focus on what will follow: what we hold in common, namely morals, values, belief, sacred actions, worship, prayer, and other human efforts to reach beyond ourselves and seek the Divine.
One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth. One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men, until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.
Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?
The acknowledgement of a common search is just that; nothing more.