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Posted May 29, 2004

Book: Catholicism in Dialogue
Author: Wayne Teasdale
Sheed and Ward, Lanham, MA 20706

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Al over the world, religions are challenged to find common ground in the cause of peace and justice, and in the face of war and exploitation. Stereotypes, antipathies, and sectarian isolation continue to rob religion of the impact it can have in fostering a better world.

Drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience of ecumenical cooperation, Roman Catholic lay brother and monk Wayne Teasdale offers a strong and prophetic voice for interface dialogue that brings traditions together without watering them down. He offers a blueprint for combining the strengths and perspectives of various faiths in order to address the crises of poverty, racism, environmental pollution, and moral indifference.

Teasdale advocates the teaching of the Roman Catholic tradition with a spiritual insight and prophetic wisdom that is both secure in faith and enriched by contact with the great world religions. Highly accessible and compelling, Catholicism in Dialogue is visionary, hopeful, and deeply inspiring.

Two Excerpts from the Book:

Reading the Signs of the Time

Reading the times is a new model of the Catholic Church: the church as the matrix. A matrix is a container in which developments occur, it protects these changes, nurtures them, and allows them to grow unhindered by negative influences from outside. The term matrix derives from the Latin root of mater, meaning, “mother.” a mother also protects and nurtures the unborn n her womb and guards against harmful factors from the surrounding environment.

The third option would see the church leadership reading the signs of the times, as Pope John XXIII did in his time when he proceeded to call the Second Vatican Council. Doing so would illuminate the church’s situation vis-a-vis its own flock, the other traditions, the contemporary world, and what is required of its followers if it is to be of service to the future of humanity. Reading the signs of the times, the church would realize that the interfaith movement is now a permanent reality that will inevitably influence the future course of he world; the ecological crisis demands leadership from the church; the oppression of the Tibetan people requires a courageous voice in Rome; the moral vacuity of capitalism and all the harm it has done around the planet, and even to the planet, calls the church to a continuity of its critique of the capitalist system, globalization, and its witness to the poor. It will also notice the hope of women and thier rising expectations, which can no longer be frustrated. These developments and others will invite the church and its leaders to adjust the Christian community to these realities. Its adjustments will emphasize continuity in the midst of change.

. . . . . There are only two examples of dialogical resources the Catholic Church can summon to its work. Ultimately, the primary goal of inter-religious conversation, exchange, and collaboration is to serve the interests of the planet, and these interests are best served by following the papal dream of a Civilization of Love. That dream was articulated by Pope Paul VI and carried forth by Pope John Paul II. It has become part of the Catholic Church’s mission. The Spirit has inspired this vision in the mind of these pontiffs, but perhaps they formulated the dream of the Earth itself, the hope of us all.

A Civilization of Love, a universal society animated by charitas, the selfless love incarnated in Christ’s life, teachings, and actions, is the purpose of the Christian community around the world. Such a society will replace the old emphasis on power and an economic system that works for a minority of the human family. A society established in charitas is for a minority of the human family. A society established in charitas is one whose kindness extends to all its members, especially the most vulnerable. It is this quality of selfless love, of agape, that the world must learn if it is to survive, just as it must learn the necessity and practice of nonviolence. The church is an agent of this consciousness; it is its heart, but it must be consistently informed by it, and allow itself to be renewed by its power and call. It is charitas that is the most humanizing resource by its power and call. It is charitas that is the most humanizing resource humanity has, and the church can give this treasure to the world by first being an example of it itself. Its method of communicating it to the other religions and the whole of the human family s first by its example, and then by means of interreligious dialogue and its teaching. Humanity’s hope is found in growth into this new civilizational ideal. Upon this ideal and its fruition, this enduring dream, may rest our very survival.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Background

1. The conversation begins

2. the historical roots of interreligious dialogue in the Catholic Church

3. The nature, types, and fruits of dialogue

Part II: Views of Dialogue

4. The presence and example of Pope John Paul II

5. The official magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church on interreligious encounter and dialogue

Part III: Contradictions in the Understanding of the Church

6. The three basic positions on the other religious traditions

7. Tensions between mission and dialogue

8. Interreligious encounter and dialogue: the existential reality

Part IV: The Historical Horizon of the Dialogue’s Possible Future

9. Reading the signs of the times: a possible new course for the Catholic Church

10. The Catholic Church and the crisis of the world.