Recent Posts

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What a Cool Cardinal.

Is Britain Christian?

Vatican City,  (

 See more

Lord Williams, who retired from leader of the Church of England in 2012, told the Telegraph that widespread worship in Britain was a thing of the past and the UK no longer was a nation of believers. His statements soon were countered by Prime Minister David Cameron, asserting Britain as a “Christian country.”
Earlier this month in article for the Church Times, Cameron said Christians should be more evangelical about Christians making a difference in others’ lives.
Disagreeing with Cameron, 50 public figures wrote a letter asserting the UK was "non-religious" and a "plural" society. They said asserting otherwise would cause "division" and "alienation."
Lord Williams clarified that even if the UK is "post-Christian" that does not mean it’s "non-Christian," as the UK’s "cultural memory is still quite strongly Christian."
The former Anglican leader further explained it’s "post-Christian," in the sense that most of the population are not practicing Christians.
Clarifying what is meant by a "Christian nation," he said such a nation "can sound like a nation of committed believers." He continued, “we are not that, ” but added, "equally, we are not a nation of dedicated secularists."
He said it comes down to defining terms:  "A Christian country as a nation of believers? No." However, if you consider a Christian country to be one “in the sense of still being very much saturated by this vision of the world and shaped by it?” He said, “Yes."
Reverend Justin Welby, current archbishop of Canterbury, has supported the prime minister's view of the UK as a Christian country and has written that it’s a "historical fact (perhaps unwelcome to some, but true)" that British culture, law, and ethics were founded on Christian teachings and traditions. (D.C.L.)

License to Kill? Persecution Watch in Britain

They class Roman Catholics and others motivated by pro-life beliefs as “ineligible” for important qualifications provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) even if they complete the training programme.
It led to accusations that the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, a branch of the RCOG, is unfairly discriminating against medical staff who act on grounds of conscience.

My phrase of the day

If you have a choice between dealing or living with either barbarians or civilized men, choose the civilized.

Law and Marriage

Interesting, but the good canon lawyer left out one huge possibility; that the marriage was never consummated and was never intended to be.

Many of us thought that Jackie wanted privacy and protection. Ari gave this to her in exchange for a "trophy wife" but, perhaps, not a wife.

Just a possibility which would change the entire argument....

Comment on The Deacon

I have supported Deacon Donnelly and his blog for a long time. I, therefore, would like to make some statements from this blog, as there are many people hurt and angry by the recent decision in his diocese.

First of all, the Deacon is not a lay person, he is a clergyman. His main role is not journalism, but administering certain sacraments, helping the priests and bishops, and organizing charitable works. Those are the main duties of any deacon in the Catholic Church.

Second of all, the Deacon is under obedience to his bishop in a manner which does not apply to us lay people. We are free of the hierarchical restrictions, right or wrong, of the Church. Even St. Nicholas spent a few days in prison unjustly, but he obediently waited for God's intervention. Obedience is a higher virtue than preaching. There is no merit in obeying some authority with whom one agrees.

Third, I was uncomfortable with both the censure and with the carrying on of the blog. Any bishop has a right to intervene in clergy activities. Now, if the bishop is in error, a lay person may disagree and carry on, but not the clergyman involved, which means that I considered the carrying on of the blog by others as not in the spirit of obedience. If I were a deacon's wife, I would not have continued the blog. Personal holiness and the holiness of relationship are more important than journalism.

Fourth, blogging is not the main way of spreading the Gospel. We do this in our daily lives, in our parishes, in our homes. The role of the blogger is like that of the journalist. To me, this is primarily the role of the laity, not the clergy. Journalism becomes political, and the clergy are not to be involved in politics, unless that is the charism of a particular order, such as Priests for Life. Blogging is important, otherwise I would not do it, but canonically, I do not have the same relationship with any bishop that a deacon would have. Deacon Donnelly has many ways of serving God and the Church besides blogging. A lay person may easily pick up his blog and do it under a different name, but doing the same good work.  There are many talented and bright lay people in England who could do the same thing as the Deacon was doing. Just do it.

Fifth, pray for the bishop. Hatred and rancor do not convert hearts and minds. Love and forgiveness do.

Lastly, unless you are living in the Deacons' diocese, this is not your immediate fight. We must work on our own turf. Those who are in the same diocese as the Deacon may respond to their bishop respectfully on this. However, if those who want to support him can do so properly and with respect, indeed, write to the bishop. Again, the Deacon was ordained for a specific diocese, not for the universal Church. The universal Church is our backyard as laity secondarily, not primarily and the same is even more true for a deacon or priest who has been ordained in and for a diocese. There are some clergy exceptions to this, but those exceptions must have the backing of their bishop. Notice that Michael Voris was obedient even though he did not have to respond is such a way but dropping the name Catholic from his TV network. I realize he did not own the name, and worked for another media group, but change he did.

There are other virtues to develop other than writing and journalism skills. Maybe God is calling the Deacon to a higher holiness through this unfortunate situation. We should pray for all involved.

I shall miss the blog, but I am sure a good lay person can do the same service to the Church in Great Britain.

Another Homerun by Fr. Ripperger

Say a decade for him each time you listen to one of his talks.

On Holiness in Youth

Many years ago, I was appointed to be on a pastoral team for seminarians in a seminary. I objected, but it was part of my job description as a professor, so I could not refuse, but I took a rather passive stance.

...that was until I realized the nonsense which was being shared at the meetings made up of priests who were in seminary formation.  Two amazingly bad ideas were held by the majority of the formators. The first was that seminarians did not have to aspire to holiness.

I was floored. The goal of a seminary is not merely the stuffing of knowledge into men who are going to be priests, but the formation of a man who will be a holy priest. The idea that seminarians could just be 'one of the boys", or take time to decide to embrace the path of holiness, amazed me. Now, there were structures set up in the seminary to allow for personal growth in holiness, such as private prayer time, the saying of the Divine Office, daily Mass and spiritual direction. But, the attitude among the priests in my group revealed a lack of faith that young people could be holy.

The second scary ideal of some of the priest formators centered on the fact that they saw seminary training as a time of discernment primarily. Again, this meant that these priests were not choosing young men who wanted to be priests, but those who thought that "maybe" they wanted to be priests. The attrition rate at this seminary in some years was fifty percent, which is a horrible statistic. (And, what a waste of money for the dioceses, some of which did not demand that the men who left had to pay back the tuition, room and board.)

Now, a young man does not need four years or six years to decide on a vocation. If it takes this long, there is a problem with both the discernment of the youth and the team which is supposed to be guiding him.

Let me make an analogy. Should a couple be engaged four to six years?  Of course not. In fact, the best marriages about which I have close knowledge are made up of couples who were engaged for a short time, such as three months.

The entire problem with these formation errors is a lack of faith in personal holiness. What does that tell one of the formators?

St. Therese of Lisieux was in formation. She was a novice mistress. She was "into" forming saints.

Seminaries should make it a priority to form saints.

Immediate Pray Request

Would someone please go to a shrine of St. Therese today and pray for a very important and immediate need for prayer? This is for a friend of mine's son-in-law.

Thank you.

UPDATE: prayer answered. Thanks, readers!

St. Therese on Purification

Ah! since that day love penetrates me and surrounds me; this Merciful Love each moment renews and purifies me, leaving in my heart no trace of sin. No, I cannot fear Purgatory; I know that I do not merit even to enter with the Holy Souls into that place of expiation, but I know too that the fire of Love is more sanctifying than the fire of Purgatory, I know that Jesus cannot will needless suffering for us, and that He would not inspire me with the desires I feel if He were unwilling to fulfill them.

Story of A Soul, Chapter 8

SS. Peter and John-The Call to Perfection

I have been reading and studying the epistles of SS. Peter and John today. They have written many of the same thoughts, in patterns which I have not seen before. In my degree, I, of course, took a Johannine class, but what was missing were the overlaps with Peter and Paul.

All these apostles write of perfection and purification, and in the epistles of Peter and Paul, one sees clearly that many of those reading or hearing these letters were already purified and living in a high state of perfection.

Some sections on this point follow from 1 John and other passages. All DR.

Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him.
Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.
And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.
Whosoever committeth sin committeth also iniquity; and sin is iniquity.
And you know that he appeared to take away our sins, and in him there is no sin.
Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not; and whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, nor known him.
Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just, even as he is just.
He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God, committeth not sin: for his seed abideth in him, and he can not sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. Whosoever is not just, is not of God, nor he that loveth not his brother.
11 For this is the declaration, which you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another.

This is the expectation of SS. John and Peter, as I shall quote later, that the committed Catholic will move away from sin entirely, in the Illuminative and finally, the Unitive States.
Here is John again, describing the purgation and perfection of himself and his people. I John 4.

12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abideth in us, and his charity is perfected in us.
13 In this we know that we abide in him, and he in us: because he hath given us of his spirit.
14 And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father hath sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known, and have believed the charity, which God hath to us. God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.
17 In this is the charity of God perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment: because as he is, we also are in this world.
18 Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in .charity.
19 Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.
Here is St. Peter calling for purification. I Peter I

11 Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ in them did signify: when it foretold those sufferings that are in Christ, and the glories that should follow:
12 To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to you they ministered those things which are now declared to you by them that have preached the gospel to you, the Holy Ghost being sent down from heaven, on whom the angels desire to look.
13 Wherefore having the loins of your mind girt up, being sober, trust perfectly in the grace which is offered you in the revelation of Jesus Christ,
14 As children of obedience, not fashioned according to the former desires of your ignorance:
15 But according to him that hath called you, who is holy, be you also in all manner of conversation holy:
16 Because it is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.
17 And if you invoke as Father him who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every one's work: converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here.
18 Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers:
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled,
20 Foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times for you,
21 Who through him are faithful in God, who raised him up from the dead, and hath given him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.
22 Purifying your souls in the obedience of charity, with a brotherly love, from a sincere heart love one another earnestly:
23 Being born again not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God who liveth and remaineth for ever.
and from I Peter 5:
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you.

Wanting to go into a cave

Not really, but I have been fighting with the Net all day and now in the evening.

I cannot believe this bad service.

Well, I can watch the Black Angus cattle in the next field, or the Killdeer racing around the yard, or look at the almost budding trees from my window.

Also, I was travelling today and as soon as I got back to Iowa, into the country, I was hit with an asthma flare.


I shall not list all the injuries I have suffered in the past week, but, like some other prayer warriors I know in Illinois, I have been subjected to Malice.

This is real, folks, so get ready. Many of us are wearing the wounds of war now. If you are not, ask yourself why.

From St. Therese, the Little Flower:

To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to sweetness - to consolation; but to every anguish, every bitterness, for Love lives only by sacrifice; and the more a soul wills to be surrendered to Love, the more must she be surrendered to suffering.

To Genty and Others

I do not have access to your emails unless you send them to me in a comment. I do not have to post the comments with emails. I cannot read your emails on your subscriptions. If you want to talk to me via email, please send me yours.

Thanks so much.


Love Is What Gets Us to Heaven

Can we remind each other of the great love passage, which is read at so many marriages?

If one is not living in these virtues, one must ask one’s self why.

These virtues have been given to all baptized Christians and nurtured in the sacraments of the Catholic Church.

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 RSV

This passage could be a weekly examination of conscience for one.

The opposites of the list of virtues are all sins: let me rewrite the passage.

“Unlove is impatient and harsh; unlove is jealous and boastful; unlove is arrogant and rude. Unlove insists on its own way; unlove is irritable and resentful; unlove takes joy in wrong and does not rejoice in right; Unlove walks away from suffering, doubts all things, despairs of all things, and gives up.”

One must love in order to join Christ and His saints in heaven. 

“Make love your aim…” I Cor. 14:1

The Land of Shadow Life

I have met five people in the States who are the walking dead. These five people have experienced no or little happiness in their lives. I do not know all the details of their lives, but they are baby-boomers and Gen-Xers who have never found joy.

I have thought about their deep, deep unhappiness and how they have dealt with years of living in shadows. Three of them do not go to any church and two do. The common denominator of all five is that they have not experienced God’s love in their lives.

They have been married and divorced, in one case, married and still married, in two cases and the other three are single and always have been. The sadness they carry around in their souls may be temporarily hidden by activity, a sense of humor, or even religiosity. But, none of them can hide the fact that they are deeply unhappy.

I have tried to be friends with these sad souls, but they do not like being around peaceful people. Almost as if they have to hide in a crowd of like-minded people, they choose friends, and even spouses, who have lived in the shadow worlds with them.

The shadows of their lives have been created by a light far away from their consciousness, a light which seem impossible for them to grasp. A few of the five do not believe in the source of the light, hating themselves and others, seeing all others as deceitful, falling into a great cynicism.

Some do not think the light is accessible because they have chosen to take the sufferings of the world on their backs, not realizing that God has already saved all mankind, through the redemptive act on the cross of Jesus Christ. These have not accepted the grace of salvation and believe they must save themselves and others.

As I stand on the edge of their shadow lands and look in, I wonder why they choose the darkness over and over again. Why do they not want the light of life to pierce through their darkness, illuminating not only their sin, but the love which God bestows on them daily?

“The dwarves are for the dwarves” was the cry of those unfortunate creatures in the last Narnia tale who would not accept the goodness, the purity, the light of heaven.

Love opens the door to the world of light, and leads one out of the land of shadows. I pray all five of these people choose life at some point in their lives. I pray that they want to live in the fullness of God’s love for them.

Ok Back in Business, sort of

Why the Internet is slower, not secure, and intermittent in this state is beyond me. We can send me into space and let them work in the space station whipping around the world, but one cannot get reliable Internet here.

Anyway, I shall post some things tonight, so hang on.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Am on what is called an unsupported search engine and cannot work on my blog today, until later.

One comment: news about ssm across the Western world indicates a concerted effort.

Read my Gramsci posts until I can back on later.


One of the comforts of being older is not having to prove one's self to others. One has come to an acceptance of limitations and lives in the knowledge that one is, simply, a sinner.

Age pushes one into the interior life, away from the activities of the exterior life as some things fade away.

However, age brings a huge responsibility. One no longer has the excuses of the younger person of putting off the pursuit of holiness to another day.

There may be no other days but the one today.

Age forces one to face the eternal. All those buffers which separated one from eternal life, or even thinking about eternal life, fade away, pass.

One must live in the present, as living in the past becomes self-indulgent, and living in the future senseless.

I challenge those in older middle-age to consider the last four things and have death constantly before one.

Such is the way of the saints.

Please do not waste old age in trivia or bitterness. The world is bigger than you know.

Be Not Afraid.

The key to love is being open, allowing someone else to love you as you really are.

Too many people live in fear of love, believing they have to earn love, or be someone other than they are in order to be loved.

God, who is all loving, loves us as we are, but also sees us as He created us to be. In other words, He has a plan for us which includes love.

God never wills an unhappy, abusive life, but only a life of love and growth.

To choose misery is to turn one's back on God and, sadly, too many people choose the evil they know and find comfort in, to taking that first step out in love.

Love is the recognition of our true selves, through the eyes of another person.

We should find a relief in love, a relief that opens up our hearts to accept more love and give love back in return.

This is the mystery of loving in the unknown. To love someone is to be patiently waiting for the real person to respond to the love which is given. Most of the time, people react in gratitude for such love.

But, some are frightened.

Be open to God's love for you this day. God's love brings life.

1 John 4

Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God:
And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome him. Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
They are of the world: therefore of the world they speak, and the world heareth them.
We are of God. He that knoweth God, heareth us. He that is not of God, heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity.
By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him.
10 In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.
11 My dearest, if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abideth in us, and his charity is perfected in us.
13 In this we know that we abide in him, and he in us: because he hath given us of his spirit.
14 And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father hath sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known, and have believed the charity, which God hath to us. God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.
17 In this is the charity of God perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment: because as he is, we also are in this world.
18 Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity.
19 Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.
20 If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?
21 And this commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Mother's Day Wish live in the same country or at least, continent, as my son.....

Excuse me, there is a difference in "religions"

Read again, this text.

1.  The Lord Jesus, before ascending into heaven, commanded his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world and to baptize all nations: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15-16); “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:18-20; cf. Lk 24:46-48; Jn 17:18,20,21; Acts 1:8).
The Church's universal mission is born from the command of Jesus Christ and is fulfilled in the course of the centuries in the proclamation of the mystery of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the mystery of the incarnation of the Son, as saving event for all humanity. The fundamental contents of the profession of the Christian faith are expressed thus: “I believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come”.1
2.  In the course of the centuries, the Church has proclaimed and witnessed with fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus. At the close of the second millennium, however, this mission is still far from complete.2 For that reason, Saint Paul's words are now more relevant than ever: “Preaching the Gospel is not a reason for me to boast; it is a necessity laid on me: woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This explains the Magisterium's particular attention to giving reasons for and supporting the evangelizing mission of the Church, above all in connection with the religious traditions of the world.3
In considering the values which these religions witness to and offer humanity, with an open and positive approach, the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions states: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and teachings, which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men”.4 Continuing in this line of thought, the Church's proclamation of Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), today also makes use of the practice of inter-religious dialogue. Such dialogue certainly does not replace, but rather accompanies the missio ad gentes, directed toward that “mystery of unity”, from which “it follows that all men and women who are saved share, though differently, in the same mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ through his Spirit”.5 Inter-religious dialogue, which is part of the Church's evangelizing mission,6 requires an attitude of understanding and a relationship of mutual knowledge and reciprocal enrichment, in obedience to the truth and with respect for freedom.7
3.  In the practice of dialogue between the Christian faith and other religious traditions, as well as in seeking to understand its theoretical basis more deeply, new questions arise that need to be addressed through pursuing new paths of research, advancing proposals, and suggesting ways of acting that call for attentive discernment. In this task, the present Declaration seeks to recall to Bishops, theologians, and all the Catholic faithful, certain indispensable elements of Christian doctrine, which may help theological reflection in developing solutions consistent with the contents of the faith and responsive to the pressing needs of contemporary culture.
The expository language of the Declaration corresponds to its purpose, which is not to treat in a systematic manner the question of the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church, nor to propose solutions to questions that are matters of free theological debate, but rather to set forth again the doctrine of the Catholic faith in these areas, pointing out some fundamental questions that remain open to further development, and refuting specific positions that are erroneous or ambiguous. For this reason, the Declaration takes up what has been taught in previous Magisterial documents, in order to reiterate certain truths that are part of the Church's faith.
4.  The Church's constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle). As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions, the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture, the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth, the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church.
The roots of these problems are to be found in certain presuppositions of both a philosophical and theological nature, which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth. Some of these can be mentioned: the conviction of the elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, according to which what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its “gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being”;8 the difficulty in understanding and accepting the presence of definitive and eschatological events in history; the metaphysical emptying of the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos, reduced to a mere appearing of God in history; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.
On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them.

5.  As a remedy for this relativistic mentality, which is becoming ever more common, it is necessary above all to reassert the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ. In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), the full revelation of divine truth is given: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Mt 11:27); “No one has ever seen God; God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed him” (Jn 1:18); “For in Christ the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9-10).
Faithful to God's word, the Second Vatican Council teaches: “By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines forth in Christ, who is at the same time the mediator and the fullness of all revelation”.9 Furthermore, “Jesus Christ, therefore, the Word made flesh, sent ‘as a man to men', ‘speaks the words of God' (Jn 3:34), and completes the work of salvation which his Father gave him to do (cf. Jn 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see his Father (cf. Jn 14:9). For this reason, Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially through his death and glorious resurrection from the dead and finally with the sending of the Spirit of truth, he completed and perfected revelation and confirmed it with divine testimony... The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Tim 6:14 and Tit 2:13)”.10
Thus, the Encyclical Redemptoris missio calls the Church once again to the task of announcing the Gospel as the fullness of truth: “In this definitive Word of his revelation, God has made himself known in the fullest possible way. He has revealed to mankind who he is. This definitive self-revelation of God is the fundamental reason why the Church is missionary by her very nature. She cannot do other than proclaim the Gospel, that is, the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself”.11 Only the revelation of Jesus Christ, therefore, “introduces into our history a universal and ultimate truth which stirs the human mind to ceaseless effort”.12
6.  Therefore, the theory of the limited, incomplete, or imperfect character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which would be complementary to that found in other religions, is contrary to the Church's faith. Such a position would claim to be based on the notion that the truth about God cannot be grasped and manifested in its globality and completeness by any historical religion, neither by Christianity nor by Jesus Christ.
Such a position is in radical contradiction with the foregoing statements of Catholic faith according to which the full and complete revelation of the salvific mystery of God is given in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the words, deeds, and entire historical event of Jesus, though limited as human realities, have nevertheless the divine Person of the Incarnate Word, “true God and true man”13 as their subject. For this reason, they possess in themselves the definitiveness and completeness of the revelation of God's salvific ways, even if the depth of the divine mystery in itself remains transcendent and inexhaustible. The truth about God is not abolished or reduced because it is spoken in human language; rather, it is unique, full, and complete, because he who speaks and acts is the Incarnate Son of God. Thus, faith requires us to profess that the Word made flesh, in his entire mystery, who moves from incarnation to glorification, is the source, participated but real, as well as the fulfilment of every salvific revelation of God to humanity,14 and that the Holy Spirit, who is Christ's Spirit, will teach this “entire truth” (Jn16:13) to the Apostles and, through them, to the whole Church.
7.  The proper response to God's revelation is “the obedience of faith (Rom 16:26; cf. Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) by which man freely entrusts his entire self to God, offering ‘the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals' and freely assenting to the revelation given by him”.15 Faith is a gift of grace: “in order to have faith, the grace of God must come first and give assistance; there must also be the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and gives ‘to everyone joy and ease in assenting to and believing in the truth'”.16
The obedience of faith implies acceptance of the truth of Christ's revelation, guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself:17 “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed”.18 Faith, therefore, as “a gift of God” and as “a supernatural virtue infused by him”,19 involves a dual adherence: to God who reveals and to the truth which he reveals, out of the trust which one has in him who speaks. Thus, “we must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.20
For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief  in the other religions, must befirmly held. If faith is the acceptance in grace of revealed truth, which “makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently”,21 then belief, in the other religions, is that sum of experience and thought that constitutes the human treasury of wisdom and religious aspiration, which man in his search for truth has conceived and acted upon in his relationship to God and the Absolute.22
This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance.
8.  The hypothesis of the inspired value of the sacred writings of other religions is also put forward. Certainly, it must be recognized that there are some elements in these texts which may be de factoinstruments by which countless people throughout the centuries have been and still are able today to nourish and maintain their life-relationship with God. Thus, as noted above, the Second Vatican Council, in considering the customs, precepts, and teachings of the other religions, teaches that “although differing in many ways from her own teaching, these nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men”.23
The Church's tradition, however, reserves the designation of inspired texts to the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, since these are inspired by the Holy Spirit.24  Taking up this tradition, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council states: “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 3:15-16), they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself”.25  These books “firmly, faithfully, and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures”.26
Nevertheless, God, who desires to call all peoples to himself in Christ and to communicate to them the fullness of his revelation and love, “does not fail to make himself present in many ways, not only to individuals, but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression even when they contain ‘gaps, insufficiencies and errors'”.27 Therefore, the sacred books of other religions, which in actual fact direct and nourish the existence of their followers, receive from the mystery of Christ the elements of goodness and grace which they contain.

9.  In contemporary theological reflection there often emerges an approach to Jesus of Nazareth that considers him a particular, finite, historical figure, who reveals the divine not in an exclusive way, but in a way complementary with other revelatory and salvific figures. The Infinite, the Absolute, the Ultimate Mystery of God would thus manifest itself to humanity in many ways and in many historical figures: Jesus of Nazareth would be one of these. More concretely, for some, Jesus would be one of the many faces which the Logos has assumed in the course of time to communicate with humanity in a salvific way.
Furthermore, to justify the universality of Christian salvation as well as the fact of religious pluralism, it has been proposed that there is an economy of the eternal Word that is valid also outside the Church and is unrelated to her, in addition to an economy of the incarnate Word. The first would have a greater universal value than the second, which is limited to Christians, though God's presence would be more full in the second.
10.  These theses are in profound conflict with the Christian faith. The doctrine of faith must be firmly believed which proclaims that Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, and he alone, is the Son and the Word of the Father. The Word, which “was in the beginning with God” (Jn 1:2) is the same as he who “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). In Jesus, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), “the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9). He is the “only begotten Son of the Father, who is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18), his “beloved Son, in whom we have redemption... In him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, God was pleased to reconcile all things to himself, on earth and in the heavens, making peace by the blood of his Cross” (Col 1:13-14; 19-20).
Faithful to Sacred Scripture and refuting erroneous and reductive interpretations, the First Council of Nicaea solemnly defined its faith in: “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten generated from the Father, that is, from the being of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father, through whom all things were made, those in heaven and those on earth. For us men and for our salvation, he came down and became incarnate, was made man, suffered, and rose again on the third day. He ascended to the heavens and shall come again to judge the living and the dead”.28 Following the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, the Council of Chalcedon also professed: “the one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man..., one in being with the Father according to the divinity and one in being with us according to the humanity..., begotten of the Father before the ages according to the divinity and, in these last days, for us and our salvation, of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, according to the humanity”.29
For this reason, the Second Vatican Council states that Christ “the new Adam...‘image of the invisible God' (Col 1:15) is himself the perfect man who has restored that likeness to God in the children of Adam which had been disfigured since the first sin... As an innocent lamb he merited life for us by his blood which he freely shed. In him God reconciled us to himself and to one another, freeing us from the bondage of the devil and of sin, so that each one of us could say with the apostle: the Son of God ‘loved me and gave himself up for me' (Gal 2:20)”.30
In this regard, John Paul II has explicitly declared: “To introduce any sort of separation between the Word and Jesus Christ is contrary to the Christian faith... Jesus is the Incarnate Word — a single and indivisible person... Christ is none other than Jesus of Nazareth; he is the Word of God made man for the salvation of all... In the process of discovering and appreciating the manifold gifts — especially the spiritual treasures — that God has bestowed on every people, we cannot separate those gifts from Jesus Christ, who is at the centre of God's plan of salvation”.31
It is likewise contrary to the Catholic faith to introduce a separation between the salvific action of the Word as such and that of the Word made man. With the incarnation, all the salvific actions of the Word of God are always done in unity with the human nature that he has assumed for the salvation of all people. The one subject which operates in the two natures, human and divine, is the single person of the Word.32
Therefore, the theory which would attribute, after the incarnation as well, a salvific activity to the Logos as such in his divinity, exercised “in addition to” or “beyond” the humanity of Christ, is not compatible with the Catholic faith.33
11.  Similarly, the doctrine of faith regarding the unicity of the salvific economy willed by the One and Triune God must be firmly believed, at the source and centre of which is the mystery of the incarnation of the Word, mediator of divine grace on the level of creation and redemption (cf. Col 1:15-20), he who recapitulates all things (cf. Eph 1:10), he “whom God has made our wisdom, our righteousness, and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). In fact, the mystery of Christ has its own intrinsic unity, which extends from the eternal choice in God to the parousia: “he [the Father] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph 1:4); “In Christ we are heirs, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will” (Eph 1:11); “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers; those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30).
The Church's Magisterium, faithful to divine revelation, reasserts that Jesus Christ is the mediator and the universal redeemer: “The Word of God, through whom all things were made, was made flesh, so that as perfect man he could save all men and sum up all things in himself. The he whom the Father raised from the dead, exalted and placed at his right hand, constituting him judge of the living and the dead”.34 This salvific mediation implies also the unicity of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, eternal high priest (cf. Heb 6:20; 9:11; 10:12-14).
12.  There are also those who propose the hypothesis of an economy of the Holy Spirit with a more universal breadth than that of the Incarnate Word, crucified and risen. This position also is contrary to the Catholic faith, which, on the contrary, considers the salvific incarnation of the Word as a trinitarian event. In the New Testament, the mystery of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, constitutes the place of the Holy Spirit's presence as well as the principle of the Spirit's effusion on humanity, not only in messianic times (cf. Acts 2:32-36; Jn 7:39, 20:22; 1 Cor 15:45), but also prior to his coming in history (cf. 1 Cor10:4; 1 Pet 1:10-12).
The Second Vatican Council has recalled to the consciousness of the Church's faith this fundamental truth. In presenting the Father's salvific plan for all humanity, the Council closely links the mystery of Christ from its very beginnings with that of the Spirit.35 The entire work of building the Church by Jesus Christ the Head, in the course of the centuries, is seen as an action which he does in communion with his Spirit.36
Furthermore, the salvific action of Jesus Christ, with and through his Spirit, extends beyond the visible boundaries of the Church to all humanity. Speaking of the paschal mystery, in which Christ even now associates the believer to himself in a living manner in the Spirit and gives him the hope of resurrection, the Council states: “All this holds true not only for Christians but also for all men of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly. For since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery”.37
Hence, the connection is clear between the salvific mystery of the Incarnate Word and that of the Spirit, who actualizes the salvific efficacy of the Son made man in the lives of all people, called by God to a single goal, both those who historically preceded the Word made man, and those who live after his coming in history: the Spirit of the Father, bestowed abundantly by the Son, is the animator of all (cf. Jn3:34).
Thus, the recent Magisterium of the Church has firmly and clearly recalled the truth of a single divine economy: “The Spirit's presence and activity affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions... The Risen Christ ‘is now at work in human hearts through the strength of his Spirit'... Again, it is the Spirit who sows the ‘seeds of the word' present in various customs and cultures, preparing them for full maturity in Christ”.38 While recognizing the historical-salvific function of the Spirit in the whole universe and in the entire history of humanity,39 the Magisterium states: “This is the same Spirit who was at work in the incarnation and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and who is at work in the Church. He is therefore not an alternative to Christ nor does he fill a sort of void which is sometimes suggested as existing between Christ and the Logos. Whatever the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures and religions, serves as a preparation for the Gospel and can only be understood in reference to Christ, the Word who took flesh by the power of the Spirit ‘so that as perfectly human he would save all human beings and sum up all things'”.40
In conclusion, the action of the Spirit is not outside or parallel to the action of Christ. There is only one salvific economy of the One and Triune God, realized in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, actualized with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, and extended in its salvific value to all humanity and to the entire universe: “No one, therefore, can enter into communion with God except through Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit”.41

13.  The thesis which denies the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ is also put forward. Such a position has no biblical foundation. In fact, the truth of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord and only Saviour, who through the event of his incarnation, death and resurrection has brought the history of salvation to fulfilment, and which has in him its fullness and centre, must be firmly believed as a constant element of the Church's faith.
The New Testament attests to this fact with clarity: “The Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world” (1 Jn 4:14); “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). In his discourse before the Sanhedrin, Peter, in order to justify the healing of a man who was crippled from birth, which was done in the name of Jesus (cf. Acts 3:1-8), proclaims: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts4:12). St. Paul adds, moreover, that Jesus Christ “is Lord of all”, “judge of the living and the dead”, and thus “whoever believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10: 36,42,43).
Paul, addressing himself to the community of Corinth, writes: “Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as in fact there are many gods and many lords — yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:5-6). Furthermore, John the Apostle states: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:16-17). In the New Testament, the universal salvific will of God is closely connected to the sole mediation of Christ: “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:4-6).
It was in the awareness of the one universal gift of salvation offered by the Father through Jesus Christ in the Spirit (cf. Eph 1:3-14), that the first Christians encountered the Jewish people, showing them the fulfilment of salvation that went beyond the Law and, in the same awareness, they confronted the pagan world of their time, which aspired to salvation through a plurality of saviours. This inheritance of faith has been recalled recently by the Church's Magisterium: “The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised for the sake of all (cf. 2 Cor 5:15) can, through his Spirit, give man the light and the strength to be able to respond to his highest calling, nor is there any other name under heaven given among men by which they can be saved (cf. Acts 4:12). The Church likewise believes that the key, the centre, and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and Master”.42
14.  It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.
Bearing in mind this article of faith, theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religious experiences and on their meaning in God's salvific plan, is invited to explore if and in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation. In this undertaking, theological research has a vast field of work under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium.  The Second Vatican Council, in fact, has stated that: “the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude, but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a participation in this one source”.43 The content of this participated mediation should be explored more deeply, but must remain always consistent with the principle of Christ's unique mediation: “Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and valueonly from Christ's own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his”.44 Hence, those solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ would be contrary to Christian and Catholic faith.
15.  Not infrequently it is proposed that theology should avoid the use of terms like “unicity”, “universality”, and “absoluteness”, which give the impression of excessive emphasis on the significance and value of the salvific event of Jesus Christ in relation to other religions. In reality, however, such language is simply being faithful to revelation, since it represents a development of the sources of the faith themselves.  From the beginning, the community of believers has recognized in Jesus a salvific value such that he alone, as Son of God made man, crucified and risen, by the mission received from the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit, bestows revelation (cf. Mt 11:27) and divine life (cf. Jn1:12; 5:25-26; 17:2) to all humanity and to every person.
In this sense, one can and must say that Jesus Christ has a significance and a value for the human race and its history, which are unique and singular, proper to him alone, exclusive, universal, and absolute. Jesus is, in fact, the Word of God made man for the salvation of all. In expressing this consciousness of faith, the Second Vatican Council teaches: “The Word of God, through whom all things were made, was made flesh, so that as perfect man he could save all men and sum up all things in himself. The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the centre of mankind, the joy of all hearts, and the fulfilment of all aspirations. It is he whom the Father raised from the dead, exalted and placed at his right hand, constituting him judge of the living and the dead”.45 “It is precisely this uniqueness of Christ which gives him an absolute and universal significance whereby, while belonging to history, he remains history's centre and goal: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end' (Rev 22:13)”.46

16.  The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf.Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5).  Therefore, the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27),47 which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18).48 And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”.49 This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29;Rev 21:2,9).50
Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”.51 Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf.Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity — will never be lacking.52
The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession53 — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”.54  With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that “outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth”,55 that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.56 But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.57
17.  Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.60
On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.63
“The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach”.64 In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities”.65 “Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.66
The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but “in that it hinders the complete fulfilment of her universality in history”.67

18.  The mission of the Church is “to proclaim and establish among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth, the seed and the beginning of that kingdom”.68 On the one hand, the Church is “a sacrament — that is, sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of unity of the entire human race”.69 She is therefore the sign and instrument of the kingdom; she is called to announce and to establish the kingdom. On the other hand, the Church is the “people gathered by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”;70 she is therefore “the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery”71 and constitutes its seed and beginning. The kingdom of God, in fact, has an eschatological dimension: it is a reality present in time, but its full realization will arrive only with the completion or fulfilment of history.72
The meaning of the expressions kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God, and kingdom of Christ in Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, as well as in the documents of the Magisterium, is not always exactly the same, nor is their relationship to the Church, which is a mystery that cannot be totally contained by a human concept. Therefore, there can be various theological explanations of these terms. However, none of these possible explanations can deny or empty in any way the intimate connection between Christ, the kingdom, and the Church. In fact, the kingdom of God which we know from revelation, “cannot be detached either from Christ or from the Church... If the kingdom is separated from Jesus, it is no longer the kingdom of God which he revealed.  The result is a distortion of the meaning of the kingdom, which runs the risk of being transformed into a purely human or ideological goal and a distortion of the identity of Christ, who no longer appears as the Lord to whom everything must one day be subjected (cf. 1 Cor 15:27). Likewise, one may not separate the kingdom from the Church. It is true that the Church is not an end unto herself, since she is ordered toward the kingdom of God, of which she is the seed, sign and instrument. Yet, while remaining distinct from Christ and the kingdom, the Church is indissolubly united to both”.73
19.  To state the inseparable relationship between Christ and the kingdom is not to overlook the fact that the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality.  In fact, “the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the Church's visible boundaries” must not be excluded.74 Therefore, one must also bear in mind that “the kingdom is the concern of everyone: individuals, society and the world. Working for the kingdom means acknowledging and promoting God's activity, which is present in human history and transforms it. Building the kingdom means working for liberation from evil in all its forms.  In a word, the kingdom of God is the manifestation and the realization of God's plan of salvation in all its fullness”.75
In considering the relationship between the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, it is necessary to avoid one-sided accentuations, as is the case with those “conceptions which deliberately emphasize the kingdom and which describe themselves as ‘kingdom centred.' They stress the image of a Church which is not concerned about herself, but which is totally concerned with bearing witness to and serving the kingdom. It is a ‘Church for others,' just as Christ is the ‘man for others'... Together with positive aspects, these conceptions often reveal negative aspects as well. First, they are silent about Christ: the kingdom of which they speak is ‘theocentrically' based, since, according to them, Christ cannot be understood by those who lack Christian faith, whereas different peoples, cultures, and religions are capable of finding common ground in the one divine reality, by whatever name it is called. For the same reason, they put great stress on the mystery of creation, which is reflected in the diversity of cultures and beliefs, but they keep silent about the mystery of redemption. Furthermore, the kingdom, as they understand it, ends up either leaving very little room for the Church or undervaluing the Church in reaction to a presumed ‘ecclesiocentrism' of the past and because they consider the Church herself only a sign, for that matter a sign not without ambiguity”.76 These theses are contrary to Catholic faith because they deny the unicity of the relationship which Christ and the Church have with the kingdom of God.

20.  From what has been stated above, some points follow that are necessary for theological reflection as it explores the relationship of the Church and the other religions to salvation.
Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”.77 This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.78
The Church is the “universal sacrament of salvation”,79 since, united always in a mysterious way to the Saviour Jesus Christ, her Head, and subordinated to him, she has, in God's plan, an indispensable relationship with the salvation of every human being.80  For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit”;81 it has a relationship with the Church, which “according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.82
21.  With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83  Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully.  Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God's salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished. However, from what has been stated above about the mediation of Jesus Christ and the “unique and special relationship”84 which the Church has with the kingdom of God among men — which in substance is the universal kingdom of Christ the Saviour — it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.
Certainly, the various religious traditions contain and offer religious elements which come from God,85and which are part of what “the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures, and religions”.86 Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel, in that they are occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to be open to the action of God.87 One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments.88 Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1 Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation.89
22.  With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31).90 This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another'”.91 If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.92  However, “all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged”.93 One understands then that, following the Lord's command (cf. Mt 28:19-20) and as a requirement of her love for all people, the Church “proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life”.94
In inter-religious dialogue as well, the mission ad gentes “today as always retains its full force and necessity”.95  “Indeed, God ‘desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Tim 2:4); that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the promptings of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary”.96 Inter-religious dialogue, therefore, as part of her evangelizing mission, is just one of the actions of the Church in her mission ad gentes.97 Equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content, nor even less to the position of Jesus Christ — who is God himself made man — in relation to the founders of the other religions. Indeed, the Church, guided by charity and respect for freedom,98 must be primarily committed to proclaiming to all people the truth definitively revealed by the Lord, and to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church through Baptism and the other sacraments, in order to participate fully in communion with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, the certainty of the universal salvific will of God does not diminish, but rather increases the duty and urgency of the proclamation of salvation and of conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

23.  The intention of the present Declaration, in reiterating and clarifying certain truths of the faith, has been to follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who wrote to the faithful of Corinth: “I handed on to you as of first importance what I myself received” (1 Cor 15:3). Faced with certain problematic and even erroneous propositions, theological reflection is called to reconfirm the Church's faith and to give reasons for her hope in a way that is convincing and effective.
In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the Apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you' (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”.99
The revelation of Christ will continue to be “the true lodestar” 100 in history for all humanity: “The truth, which is Christ, imposes itself as an all-embracing authority”. 101 The Christian mystery, in fact, overcomes all barriers of time and space, and accomplishes the unity of the human family: “From their different locations and traditions all are called in Christ to share in the unity of the family of God's children... Jesus destroys the walls of division and creates unity in a new and unsurpassed way through our sharing in his mystery. This unity is so deep that the Church can say with Saint Paul: ‘You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are saints and members of the household of God' (Eph2:19)”. 102
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience of June 16, 2000, granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority, ratified and confirmed this Declaration, adopted in Plenary Session and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 6, 2000, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

  Joseph Card. Ratzinger
  Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli

(1) First Council of ConstantinopleSymbolum ConstantinopolitanumDS 150.
(2) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 1: AAS 83 (1991), 249-340.
(3) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Ad gentes and Declaration Nostra aetate; cf. also Paul VI Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandiAAS 68 (1976), 5-76; John Paul II, Encyclical LetterRedemptoris missio.
(4) Second Vatican Council, Declaration Nostra aetate, 2.
(5) Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 29: AAS 84 (1992), 424; cf.Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22.
(6) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55: AAS 83 (1991), 302-304.
(7) Cf. Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 9: AAS 84 (1992), 417ff.
(8)  John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, 5: AAS 91 (1999), 5-88.
(9)  Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum, 2.
(10) Ibid., 4.
(11) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 5.
(12) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, 14.
(13) Council of Chalcedon, Symbolum ChalcedonenseDS 301; cf. St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione, 54, 3: SC 199, 458.
(14) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum, 4.
(15) Ibid., 5.
(16) Ibid.
(17) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 144.
(18) Ibid., 150.
(19) Ibid., 153.
(20) Ibid., 178.
(21) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, 13.
(22) Cf. ibid., 31-32.
(23) Second Vatican Council, Declaration Nostra aetate, 2; cf. Second Vatican Council,Decree Ad gentes, 9, where it speaks of the elements of good present “in the particular customs and cultures of peoples”; Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 16, where it mentions the elements of good and of truth present among non-Christians, which can be considered a preparation for the reception of the Gospel.
(24) Cf. Council of Trent, Decretum de libris sacris et de traditionibus recipiendisDS 1501;First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, cap. 2: DS 3006.
(25) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum, 11.
(26) Ibid.
(27) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55; cf. 56 and Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 53.
(28) First Council of Nicaea, Symbolum NicaenumDS 125.
(29) Council of Chalcedon, Symbolum ChalcedonenseDS 301.
(30) Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22.
(31) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 6.
(32) Cf. St. Leo the Great, Tomus ad FlavianumDS 294.
(33) Cf. St. Leo the Great, Letter to the Emperor Leo I Promisisse me meminiDS 318: “ tantam unitatem ab ipso conceptu Virginis deitate et humanitate conserta, ut nec sine homine divina, nec sine Deo agerentur humana”. Cf. also ibid. DS 317.
(34) Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 45; cf. also Council of Trent, Decretum de peccato originali, 3: DS 1513.
(35) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 3-4.
(36) Cf. ibid., 7; cf. St. Irenaeus, who wrote that it is in the Church “that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit” (Adversus haereses III, 24, 1: SC 211, 472).
(37) Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22.
(38) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 28. For the “seeds of the Word” cf. also St.Justin Martyr, Second Apology 8, 1-2; 10, 1-3; 13, 3-6: ed. E.J. Goodspeed, 84; 85; 88-89.
(39) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris missio, 28-29.
(40) Ibid., 29.
(41) Ibid., 5.
(42) Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 10. Cf. St. Augustine, who wrote that Christ is the way, which “has never been lacking to mankind... and apart from this way no one has been set free, no one is being set free, no one will be set free” De civitate Dei 10, 32, 2:CCSL 47, 312.
(43) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 62.
(44) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 5.
(45) Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 45. The necessary and absolute singularity of Christ in human history is well expressed by St. Irenaeus in contemplating the preeminence of Jesus as firstborn Son: “In the heavens, as firstborn of the Father's counsel, the perfect Word governs and legislates all things; on the earth, as firstborn of the Virgin, a man just and holy, reverencing God and pleasing to God, good and perfect in every way, he saves from hell all those who follow him since he is the firstborn from the dead and Author of the life of God” (Demonstratio apostolica, 39: SC 406, 138).
(46) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 6.
(47) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 14.
(48) Cf. ibid., 7.
(49) Cf. St. Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmos, Ps. 90, Sermo 2,1: CCSL 39, 1266; St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Iob, Praefatio, 6, 14: PL 75, 525; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 48, a. 2 ad 1.
(50) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 6.
(51) Symbolum maius Ecclesiae ArmeniacaeDS 48. Cf. Boniface VIII, Unam sanctamDS 870-872; Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.
(52) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 4; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 11: AAS 87 (1995), 927.
(53) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 20; cf. also St. Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, III, 3, 1-3: SC 211, 20-44; St. Cyprian, Epist. 33, 1: CCSL 3B, 164-165; St. Augustine, Contra adver. legis et prophet., 1, 20, 39: CCSL 49, 70.
(54) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.
(55) Ibid.; cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 13. Cf. also Second Vatican Council,Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 15 and the Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.
(56) The interpretation of those who would derive from the formula subsistit in the thesis that the one Church of Christ could subsist also in non-Catholic Churches and ecclesial communities is therefore contrary to the authentic meaning of Lumen gentium. “The Council instead chose the word subsistitprecisely to clarify that there exists only one ‘subsistence' of the true Church, while outside her visible structure there only exist elementa Ecclesiae, which — being elements of that same Church — tend and lead toward the Catholic Church” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification on the Book “Church: Charism and Power” by Father Leonardo BoffAAS 77 [1985], 756-762).
(57) Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.
(58) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 1: AAS65 (1973), 396-398.
(59) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 14 and 15; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 17: AAS 85 (1993), 848.
(60) Cf. First Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor aeternusDS 3053-3064; Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 22.
(61) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 22.
(62) Cf. ibid., 3.
(63) Cf. ibid., 22.
(64) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 1.
(65) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 14.
(66) Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.
(67) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 17; cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 4.
(68) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 5.
(69) Ibid., 1.
(70) Ibid., 4. Cf. St. Cyprian, De Dominica oratione 23: CCSL 3A, 105.
(71) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 3.
(72) Cf. ibid., 9; cf. also the prayer addressed to God found in the Didache 9,4: SC 248, 176: “May the Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom” and ibid. 10, 5: SC 248, 180: “Remember, Lord, your Church... and, made holy, gather her together from the four winds into your kingdom which you have prepared for her”.
(73) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 18; cf. Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, 17: L'Osservatore Romano (November 7, 1999). The kingdom is so inseparable from Christ that, in a certain sense, it is identified with him (cf. Origen, In Mt. Hom., 14, 7: PG 13, 1197;Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem, IV, 33,8: CCSL 1, 634.
(74) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 18.
(75) Ibid., 15.
(76) Ibid., 17.
(77) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 14; cf. Decree Ad gentes, 7; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.
(78) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 9; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,846-847.
(79) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 48.
(80) Cf. St. Cyprian, De catholicae ecclesiae unitate, 6: CCSL 3, 253-254; St. Irenaeus,Adversus haereses, III, 24, 1: SC 211, 472-474.
(81) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 10.
(82) Second Vatican Council, Decree Ad gentes, 2. The famous formula extra Ecclesiam nullus omnino salvatur is to be interpreted in this sense (cf. Fourth Lateran Council, Cap. 1. De fide catholicaDS 802). Cf. also the Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of BostonDS 3866-3872.
(83) Second Vatican Council, Decree Ad gentes, 7.
(84) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 18.
(85) These are the seeds of the divine Word (semina Verbi), which the Church recognizes with joy and respect (cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Ad gentes, 11; Declaration Nostra aetate, 2).
(86) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 29.
(87) Cf. ibid.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 843.
(88) Cf. Council of Trent, Decretum de sacramentis, can. 8, de sacramentis in genereDS 1608.
(89) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55.
(90) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 17; John Paul II,Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 11.
(91) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 36.
(92) Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mystici corporis: DS 3821.
(93) Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 14.
(94) Second Vatican Council, Declaration Nostra aetate, 2.
(95) Second Vatican Council, Decree Ad gentes, 7.
(96) Catechism of the Catholic Church, 851; cf. also 849-856.
(97) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55; Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, 31.
(98) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 1.
(99)  Ibid.
(100) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, 15.
(101) Ibid., 92.
(102) Ibid., 70.