Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part Eleven) – The Three Declarations (second and third of three): ‘Nostra ætate’ and ‘Gravissimum educationis’
by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P.
Dominican in Avrillé
From Le Sel de la terre 93, Summer 2015
(continued, number 11)
The three Declarations (continued)
2. Nostra ætate (NA): Non-Christian Religions
What is the significance of Nostra ætate (NA) on the relations with non-Christian religions?
Like DH, it is a declaration, a text of little importance in principle. And yet, it too, is one of the most important documents of the Council. 1 In favoring the unity of the human race, it does not suffice to promote ecumenism among Christians; it is also necessary to inaugurate inter-religious dialogue.
How does NA give a new teaching?
Never has the Church praised other “religions”. She presented herself as the only true religion, the only one that really merits this name because she alone binds [religa] man to God.
But this document describes the false religions positively, ignoring the negative aspects (of jihad of the Muslims, human sacrifices in several “religions”, terrible idolatry, moral infamies, etc.2). Here are some examples:
In Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. […] Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. […] The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings […]
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men […] In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. […]
God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues—such is the witness of the Apostle. […] True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. […]
The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion.
Could you point out a sophism of this new teaching?
For example, the statement: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.”
There surely are truths in these false religions, otherwise they would not attract anyone. But, as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. correctly said, truth is captive to error. But these religions use these partial truths to distance men from the Catholic Church, the only ark of salvation. What good is it to know these truths if one loses his soul?3
What are the consequences of this new teaching?
NA contains the seed for all the inter-religious gatherings that mushroomed after that which John Paul II convoked at Assisi in October 1986. The different religions are presented as good and able to save their adherents. The prayers performed in these religions are considered as agreeable to God.
In what concerns Judaism in particular, NA was the beginning of an engagement.4 The Church is no longer presented as the new elect people come to replace the old.5 The old Covenant would still be valid for the Jews, and they would not need to become Christians to be saved.
What does the Church become in this concert of religions?
The Conciliar Church becomes, according to the happy expression of Abbé de Nantes, the MASDU: the Spiritual Animating Movement of Universal Democracy. Using the moral prestige accumulated by 2000 years of Catholic Tradition, the authorities of the Church contributed to establishing the spiritual nave of the Masonic Temple described by Msgr. Delassus in La Conjuration antichrétienne6.
3. Gravissimum educationis (GE): Christian Education
What do you say about Gravissimum educationis momentum (GE) on Christian education?
Even if it is a document of minor importance, one finds the same usual errors in it:
— a liberal ideology, with references to the declarations of the Rights of Man of 1948 and the rights of the child of 1959 (preamble)—the word “right” occurring 28 times in the text;
— the recommendation of ecumenism—one of the roles of the faculties being to promote “the dialogue with our separated brethren and with non-Christians” (§ 11) in view of the decree on ecumenism and with the method of Ecclesiam Suam;
— the recommendation of the right to religious liberty (§ 7).
We remark that the Council does not state that the purpose of a Catholic school is to transmit the Faith, but instead, that « its proper function is to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity, to help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism » (§ 8).