Redemptoris Missio 29a: Other Religions

Some believers more Catholic than the pope decry certain events in the public ministry of John Paul II. If they were interested in the what and why, they would look to the topic of “The Spirit Is Present and Active in Every Time and Place,” and read his own reasoning:

Thus the Spirit, who “blows where he wills” (cf. Jn 3:8), who “was already at work in the world before Christ was glorified,”(Ad Gentes, 4) and who “has filled the world,…holds all things together [and] knows what is said” (Wis 1:7), leads us to broaden our vision in order to ponder his activity in every time and place.(Cf. Dominum et Vivificantem, 53)

This is basic Christianity. God is unbound by human expectations. God will do things that his believers, followers, and most loyal devotees will find inscrutable. It should be a caution to those tempted to display gnosticism. It should also inspire every Christian to look to paths of personal growth.

If people are looking for insights as to why Pope John Paul II reached out in interfaith ways, they could read this:

I have repeatedly called this fact to mind, and it has guided me in my meetings with a wide variety of peoples. The Church’s relationship with other religions is dictated by a twofold respect: “Respect for man in his quest for answers to the deepest questions of his life, and respect for the action of the Spirit in man.”(Address to Representatives of Non-Christian Religions, Madras, February 5, 1986; cf. Message to the Peoples of Asia, Manila, February 21, 1981, 2-4; Address to Representatives of Other Religions, Tokyo, February 24, 1981, 3-4)

He knew his critics bristled, but he wasn’t dissuaded:

Excluding any mistaken interpretation, the interreligious meeting held in Assisi was meant to confirm my conviction that “every authentic prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in every human heart.”(Address to Cardinals and the Roman Curia, December 22, 1986, 11)

Earlier this week, I got into a difficult social media conversation about how liberal atheists are largely at the root of violence connected to protests in society. One, I mostly dismissed the view as fake news. But two, and more importantly for the Christian (and less so for non-liberals) is that this view, publicly promulgated, is of no help whatsoever to the mission of evangelization.

Every human heart, as John Paul II notes, is made for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Even hearts that beat to drums different from one another. Think of it as a vast spiritual polyrhythm. And be glad.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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