Nostra Aetate, by its nature being a “decree,” is more of a collection of affirmations rather than religious criticism.
From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.
The arguments I’ve seen printed lately along the lines of “The Muslim God is not the Christian God,” etc. are not supported by the Catholic acknowledgement of the Supreme Being, and the notion that the search for God–the one God, as we believe–is universal.
Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language.
Then the two major Asian religions:
Hinduism: (People) contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust.
Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which (people), in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination.
What NA does not do is endorse the “advanced culture” hierarchy of religions. It gives nod to “other religions,” inclusive of paganism and other less mainstream systems:
Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites.
A worthy quote:
The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.”
… suggesting that the proper focus is on Christ, on the building up of the Christian way, and not on the tearing down of others. Critics of non-Christian religions strike me as being among the most faithless of Christians. Lacking the ability or imagination to present Christianity in an attractive way to non-believers, they focus their energies instead on tearing down the beliefs of others. Clearly, Vatican II condemned such an approach:
The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.