Ambiguities Found in Jacques Dupuis´ Book on Religious
VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2001 (ZENIT).
If all believers can be saved, are all religions the same?
This is the question that numerous faithful have asked the Holy See,
after reading the book of a well-known Belgian theologian on the topic
of religious pluralism.
In response, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a
"Notification" today, with the theologian's approval,
which clarifies some of the affirmations made by Jesuit Father Jacques
Dupuis, on essential aspects of the Church's message.
The document analyzes the book "Toward a Christian Theology of
Religious Pluralism" (Orbis Book: Maryknoll, New York, 1997),
written by the theology professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University
in Rome, who for decades has taught in India.
The Vatican congregation, responsible for safeguarding the integrity of
the deposit of faith, in its Notification said it "found
that his book contained notable ambiguities and difficulties on
important doctrinal points, which could lead a reader to erroneous or
The Vatican document, published in L'Osservatore Romano, is
signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone,
prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith. It is the result of years of discussion with
Father Dupuis, who from the very outset admitted that "his
hypothesis may raise as many questions as it seeks to answer."
As both the author and the Vatican congregation acknowledge, the
question lies in the fact that the book "is not simply a theology
of religions, but a theology of religious pluralism, which seeks to
investigate, in the light of Christian faith, the significance of
plurality of religious traditions in God's plan for humanity."
Therefore, it is about a new approach, and as all new arguments,
confronts the author with "questions hitherto largely
Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone acknowledge "the author's
attempt to remain within the limits of orthodoxy in his study." The
theologian has confirmed his attitude in a series of responses, which he
offered to experts and consultors of the congregation June 30, 1999.
The Notification refers to the book's arguments about the concept
of salvation in Christ, which can lead one to think that any religion
is, in itself, a valid way for salvation. However, anyone who believes
that there is salvation outside of Christ, although he has the right to
so believe, cannot regard himself with full knowledge as a Christian.
The Second Vatican Council taught that all believers of different
religions are saved if they are faithful to their conscience; however,
they do so in virtue of the salvation brought by Jesus himself.
In particular, the Holy See explains that the "points concerned the
interpretation of the sole and universal salvific mediation of Christ,
the unicity and completeness of Christ's revelation, the universal
salvific action of the Holy Spirit, the orientation of all people to the
Church, and the value and significance of the salvific function of other
In giving his acquiescence to the Vatican text, Father Dupuis, 76, has
committed himself "to assent to the stated theses and, in his
future theological activity and publications, to hold the doctrinal
contents indicated in the Notification, the text of which must be
included in any reprinting or further editions of his book, as well as
in all translations."