New Guide Puts "Dominus Iesus" in Perspective

Book Explains Declaration on Salvific Event of Jesus and His Church

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2002 ( The Vatican Press has just published a book to enrich readers´ understanding of “Dominus Iesus,” one of the Church´s most debated documents in recent years.

“Dominus Iesus” is the August 2000 declaration on the unique and universal character of the salvation brought by Jesus and his Church.

The volume “´Dominus Iesus´ Declaration: Documents and Studies,” which is only available in Italian for now, addresses the objective by including the declaration´s full text as well as a series of articles.

The book´s introduction is by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which published the declaration.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the congregation´s prefect, wrote the prologue on the context and meaning of the 2000 document.

The volume includes articles by prestigious theologians and ends with the congregation´s “Notification” on Father Jacques Dupuis´ book “Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism,” including a commentary that appeared in L´Osservatore Romano.

The introduction explains that the doctrinal relevance and ecclesial importance of “Dominus Iesus” are “certainly undebatable, not only because of the subjects analyzed, which constitute the principal nucleus of the Catholic faith,” but also because of their importance in the current theological debate.

“Unfortunately, at present there are widespread ideas and erroneous or confused opinions regarding the doctrine on the unique and universal character of the salvific event of Jesus Christ, and on the unity and indivisibility of the Church, which tend to play down the revelation of Christ,” the text explains.

Hence, the temptation arises to “play down the necessity of the Church of Christ as universal sacrament of salvation and to consider the unity of the Church, not as an existing reality, but only as an objective to attain in the future.”

Thus, the declaration and the notification that the Vatican congregation published on Father Dupuis´ thesis “are not conceived to stymie healthy theological research, much less so to weaken and play down ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.”

“Rather, they offer a contribution of magisterial value so that, increasingly, the identity of Catholic doctrine and of Christian life is better perceived and accepted by all the Catholic faithful, as the permanent and irreplaceable foundation of all authentic and genuine dialogue,” the introduction to the volume explains.

The theology of religious relativism and the culture of relativism are having many consequences, the book states. The main one “is the essential rejection of the identification of the individual historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, with the very reality of God, of the living God,” Cardinal Ratzinger writes.

Other consequences are: a “mistaken idea” that “the religions of the world are complementary to the Christian revelation”; denial of the absolute necessity of the Church, and of its dogmas and sacraments; and the transformation of (ecumenical and interreligious) dialogue into the “ideology of dialogue,” which “replaces the mission and urgency of the call to conversion.”

Outstanding among the theological articles included in the book on the Christological and ecclesiological contents of “Dominus Iesus” are those of Angelo Amato and Fernando Ocariz, respectively.

The “Fullness and the Definitive Character of the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” is addressed by Bishop Rino Fisichella. “The Incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit in the Work of Salvation” is the title of Luis Ladaria´s article.

Donato Valentini explains the question of “The Uniqueness and Unity of the Church,” Nicola Bux studies “Truth, Church and Salvation,” and Mariasusai Dhavamony focuses on “The Church and Religions in Relation to Salvation.”

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