The Pope and Other Religions - Once Again...

Cambridge, MA. Taking a deep breath at semester’s end — a semester that has in some ways seemed an eternity — I had the opportunity to look into Pope Benedict’s Light of the World, a series of conversations with journalist Peter Seewald that for various reasons has attracted a good bit of attention. Naturally, as I do with almost any book I read (excepting novels), I looked around in the book for things that were more likely to be of interest to me: so what does the Pope now think about Hinduism and Buddhism? are there warnings against meditation, yoga and zen? teachings on religious diversity? But unless I’ve missed them, such things are not in the book, which is rather populated with more in-Church issues, ranging from sex abuse by clergy to rules about condoms to reflections on Catholic-Orthodox relations and more intimate thoughts about becoming Pope. All of this is fine, of course, and the book will sell quite well. (I had to try several bookstores before finding it, and amazon.com seems to be bereft of copies at the moment.) That the great religions of the East or issues of dialogue are not present needn’t be an issue. We need not look to the Pope to speak about everything that is of importance to Catholics today.

But in any case, one section did jump out at me, and for now (I may return to the book later, after Christmas) I will simply highlight a few pages. In the chapter entitled “Ecumenism and the Dialogue with Islam” (many chapters seem to have double topics, as if pasted together), the Pope is asked to reflect on the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his 2006 Regensburg address, in which he quotes the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus rather calmly and even neutrally, and thus seemed to have no problem with the emperor's reducing Islam to violence: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The Pope admits that he was not prepared for the negative reactions that occurred everywhere, as people found the words inflammatory. He had thought of the address as a “strictly academic address” but found it was not to be received as such. (I sympathize with him on this; even in this blog, I have often enough tried to make a rather specific and narrowly defined point, only to find my gentle readers raising the largest possible issues for debate.) Of course, even academics are better off when we find ourselves among colleagues who, as our intellectual peers, give us a hard time. I suppose that at Regensburg German good manners let the Pope just say what he wanted to say, without serious debate - even if he would have been better off if some other German professor had then and there questioned him on the motive for that particular quotation.

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But more interestingly, in his interview with Mr. Seewald the Pope goes on to talk about the good things that came out of that unfortunate, even awful Regensburg moment. He saw himself as sticking to his position, challenging Muslims to talk more about their attitudes toward violence, and their view of how reason functions with respect to their faith. He makes a link to the well-received Common Wordstatement signed by 138 Muslim scholars (that ultimately drew the Vatican into dialogue), and a series of other conversations he had — and had to have — to make peace after Regensburg.

But what is most interesting to me is that he then adds, regarding himself and Muslims, “today we are on the same side of a common battle. There are two things we have in common: we both defend major religious values — faith in God and obedience to God — and we both need to situate ourselves correctly in modernity.” He willingly admits that both Catholics and Muslims face the same challenges and have much in common. It is a collegial model that he thus puts forth: we — Catholics, Muslims — have the most important things in common as we battle secularism, mindless violence, and widespread stupidity on matters religious.

In response to yet another question, he insists that old stereotypes of Christianity vs. Islam are simply outmoded, since today we live “in a completely different world” than that of the Middle Ages and early modernity. No more crusades or jihads. Secularism, not another faith tradition, is today’s problem: “In this world, radical secularism stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other.” Accordingly, people of various religions — and here it makes no sense, in my view, to exclude Hindus or Buddhists or people of smaller faith traditions, as if the reality of faith and experience of God is just a Jewish-Christian-Muslim property — must respect the distinctive differences among religions. Even while not confusing one religion with another, we must “try to understand one another… We must try to live the grandeur of our faith and to embody it in a vital way, while, on the other hand, trying to understand the heritage of others.” Studying other religions is something we must do! And all this is practical: “The important thing is to discover what we have in common and, wherever possible, to perform a common service in this world.”

As I have said a number of times in this blog, it is absolutely clear by now that Joseph Ratzinger, as Pope, is committed to dialogue and cooperation. There is no comfort in this papacy for the closed-minded, at least on these issues. No matter how spirited his articulation of Christian truth may be, he does not want our apprehension of truth to be distorted into a platform from which to look down on people of other faiths; he does not want us to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves about how much better our religion is than other religions; and he does want to us to work together with people of other faith traditions on issues that concern all of us. And for that, I add, we must learn about those other traditions and from their believing members.

I stress this single passage – pages 97-100 in the book – because while there is hardly anything about dialogue or meditation or the many world religions in the book, beneath the surface there is a wider sense of our duties to the whole. If we take these pages — right in the middle of the book — seriously, they become the vantage point from which to re-view the inside-the-Church and inside-the-West issues that make up the bulk of the rest of the book and capture the news headlines.

Open our mind, think, study, learn across religious boundaries: what better thought for Christmas, as we read a book by a Pope, entitled Light of the World?

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PJ Johnston
6 years 9 months ago
Why pick one reason to be Catholic?  There are many kinds of human being in the world, and I'm reasonably confident they're all capable of finding their own reasons to be Catholic (or not to be Catholic, as the case may be).  I'm fond of people with quirky and idiosyncratic reasons for religious belonging.  Perhaps some combination of the below explains my own Catholicism:

http://bnaikeshet.org/?q=node/806

"The late writer and newspaper editor Harry Golden told the story of his father who was an avowed socialist and atheist. Yet every evening Mr. Golden would go to the synagogue to recite the evening prayers. One day his son said to him, “Pa, I don’t understand. You don’t believe in God, you don’t believe in prayer, you don’t believe any of the words that are being said in shul. So why do you go?” And the elder Mr. Golden replied, “You know my friend Ginsburg? Ginsburg goes to shul to talk to God. I go to shul to talk to Ginsburg.”

http://tinyurl.com/2b4skj3

(Another Jewish Ginsberg - Allen - musing to his Catholic friend Jack Kerouac on why he should believe God is love).

http://pauljgriffiths.com/2010/09/11/zagajewski/

(Paul J. Griffiths on the Catholic poetics of Adam Zagajewski).

I don't think it is obvious that the survival of religion depends on getting one's ideological ducks in a row in a compulsory and self-consistent program of doctrine, discipline, and worship.  The Holy Spirit working through personal desire seems to accomplish just as much or more.
PJ Johnston
6 years 9 months ago
Whether or not you're an intellectual (and whether or not being an intellectual means anything at all, which I doubt), I think you've got the gist of things, and I appreciate the thought and charity.  It's certainly not necessary to agree with me, either.

I can't tell you what's absolutely necessary to be recognized as "Catholic" by "the pope's people" or for that matter anybody else.  First, there's significant disagreement between theologians about which teachings of the ordinary magisterium belong to the fallible ordinary magisterium and which belong to the infallible ordinary magisterium, and I'm a convert so I haven't had a chance to work through the issues.  According to the catechism and canon law ("the pope's people"), only infallible teachings of the extraordinary or ordinary magisterium count as things one must assent to in order to be Catholic, so with these being up for grabs most everything else is also.  More fundamentally, it's unclear to me whether it is necessary to be recognized by "the pope's people" to be "Catholic," and whether or not anyone should care if it is necessary.  I'm much more inclined to care whether or not a particular theological mentor of mine thinks I am Catholic, as I converted despite serious misgivings in large measure out of respect for him - "Ginsburg goes to shul to talk to God, and I go to shul to talk to Ginsburg," as the piece goes.  (N.B.:  one of my undergraduate mentors was a reconstructionist rabbi!)

I think we've already discussed the fact that I don't believe there is an "essence" to particular religious traditions which separates them from other religious traditions - some sine qua non feature without which a given manifestation of a tradition can be disqualified from claiming to belong to said tradition.  It doesn't work historically - if you look at all the manifestations of religion scholars commonly recognize as belonging to "Christianity" or "Buddhism" or "Hinduism"or whatever other label you choose and try to produce a unique list of features which all genuine manifestations of a given religion must share, you won't find a definition that works for any of them.  No Christianity, only Christianities; no Buddhism, only Buddhisms; no Catholicism, only Catholicisms; no syncretism, only a give-and-take of assimilation and differentiation between partially-overlapping groups.

It's not important to me whether "a" religion survives, as opposed to "religion" or even "spirituality" - even if there were such a thing as a discrete, bounded, definable religious tradition that remains self-consistent in all its manifestations and somehow distinct from all others, that's not the kind of religiosity that matters to me (that is, strikes me as corresponding to Thomistic trinity of the true, the beautiful, and the good).  To bring this back to a point Fr. Clooney might perhaps recognize as directly relating to his post, a "religion" is at its best aesthetically, morally, and theologically when it overflows itself and engages in creative bricolage with elements from outside itself - e.g. Jack Kerouac's Zen Catholicism (http://tinyurl.com/23mukse : "I believe in the sweetness of Jesus and Buddha / I believe in St. Francis and Avalokitesvara").  The bricolage Catholicism of the "spiritual cafeteria," the New Age bookstore, the Hispanic botanica, and which results from the comparative reading of Hindu and Christian texts offers far more to faith than the invention of and propagation of a supposedly immutable normative tradition by which everything else is found wanting and deviants are excluded as heretics.

Your mileage, of course, may vary...


Bill Mazzella
6 years 9 months ago
We can still believe Jesus is the face of God on earth without condemning those who take other paths to God. It is just unthinkable that God would forget all in the far east, most of whom have never had the gospel preached to them. In the Catholic church Augustine more than anyone made being Catholic more important than being virtuous. It was like all is forgiven as long as you were in the orthodox Catholic faith. That was Augustine's major error (he had a few others). The influence of Augustine on the Western church has not been positive in my opinion. He used soldiers to compel Christians to stay Catholic even as far as killing otherChristians. He prepared the way for the inquisition more than anyone, not to mention the crusades. The sticking to Augustine is a major roadblock to unity. The pope and bishops are important. But as Francis points out in the post, the church has to call them on it when they depart from the gospel. The clergy's most distinctive characteristic should be their service to the church. Jesus made the point over and over with the humble being exalted and the washing of the feet of the disciples. John XXIII showed the way to be pope. Notwithstanding all the bending over backwards to make BXvi like him this pope has a long way to go.
Mark Harden
6 years 9 months ago
Regarding ecumenism and the slippery slope into syncretism, yes, the Church teaches that one need not be Catholic, or even Christian, to attain heaven. But the fact remains that God became flesh and walked among us so we would know Him, and The Way he pointed out to us while he walked this Earth led directly, through the Holy Spirit who would guide us into all truth, to the Catholic Church as we know it today.

The Catholic Church may not be the only Way, but, according to God made flesh, it is the Best Way. They are blessed who have recourse to belonging faithfully to it. 
Bill Mazzella
6 years 9 months ago
Jesus said "By their fruits you will know them." Not by the Mass or the Pope. The celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus which the Eucharist is means an encounter with Christ whereby we live his life. If you read the transcripts of the bishops on child sex abuse you will sadly see how they have fared poorly in their imitation of Christ. You cannot divorce the pope or bishop from their actions. If you do you miss the whole point of Jesus who condemned the leaven of the Pharisees who were the bishops of his time. He criticized them continually because they strayed from the path of God. We must do the same.
Kang Dole
6 years 9 months ago
I woud like to briefly (insofar as I know that it is not on the path of the intended direction of this thread) object to Bill's comments above. Specificaly, I object to the comparison between Pharisees and corrupted bishops of the modern era. The Pharisees simply were not the bishops of their time, and they hardly participated in any sort of activity as comparatively heinous as allowing for the sexual abuse of minors. Speaking of them in such a way is to essentially appropriate "old-timey Jews" as a thinking tool by which to critique those within one's own camp. Let's not do that. If you need to challenge Catholic leaders, find a way that doesn't involve the unfair and unfounded denigrations of figures of foundational importance to Jews.
PJ Johnston
6 years 9 months ago
Before you make the eucharist and/or the papacy the sine qua non to distinguish Catholicism from all other forms of Christianity (and for that matter, all other religions), you might first like to perform a careful historical study of the development of doctrine on these issues.  This is fairly straightforward to do - you first look at what was written on these topics in the earliest recoverable stratum of tradition (Q, undisputed Pauline letters, etc.), then the next layer (canonical Gospels, some non-canonicals, intermediate NT epistles, etc.), then the next layer (Didache, Ignatius, the pastoral epistles, etc.), and so on as far as you would like to go up until the Vatican I declaration of papal infallibility.  Note whether institutions such as apostolic succession, the monarchical episcopate, "bishops," and "papacy" exist in all layers, and their similarities and differences throughout eras.  You might be surprised by the results, and it's relevant to your argument as I suspect you would NOT like to be forced to defend a sine qua non for Catholicism which would exclude Peter himself and the entire early church up to say Constantine or the East/West split.

A far more interesting question is why we need to find an essence to Catholicism or some sine qua non factor to isolate religions as distinct entities so their boundaries can be preserved and they can be ranked as superior or inferior to one another anyway.  Why is essential religion that remains unchanged suposed to be better than dynamic religion which responds to outside influences and adapts?
Kang Dole
6 years 9 months ago
Bill, my argument is certainly not with Jesus, nor with the literary figure of Jesus as presented in the gospels (for who would argue with a literary depiction), nor even with the communities/individuals who are responsible for the literary depictions of Jesus' interactions with Pharisees. Rather, my argument is with those Christians of later generations who do not take on the responsibility of recognizing that the gospel portrayals of Pharisees are not necessarily meant to be taken as historically accurate reporting on Pharisees in the time of Jesus.
Bill Mazzella
6 years 9 months ago
David,  

PJ  offered you an education which you resisted. Many things you consider permanent were introduced in later years. Infallibility is unheard of until the 12th century. Popes made terrible mistakes by not letting far east Christians have their own customs but rather tried to romanize them. Etc.  We are nomads in that we have traveled from Egypt to Israel to the New Israel as we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. We are a sinful people in that we scrape our way to the promised land content with the crumbs from the Lord's table believing in the promise of Jesus. Human beings are going to organize and fight their turf wars yet we have to keep in mind during these tensions that we rejoice in the resurrection whereby we enjoy the freedom of the children of God. Not subject to those who would rather dominate us under the guise they are talking for Jesus.

Abe,

One does have to be aware of the mythology in the NT. At the same time the death of Jesus at the hands of the religious leaders which the Pharisees were a part of is fairly accurate historical facts. The details may be literary but the conflict with the Pharisees is a constant in all four gospels. John's gospel indicates that the author's community had more pronounced conflict with the leaders.
 http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/pharisee.htm
Kang Dole
6 years 9 months ago
 Bill, I think that the site you link to does not do much by way of reinforcing any view of the Pharisees as bearing a strong comparison to the modern bishop (let alone that they "strayed from the path of God"). If anything, it points to the scarcity of the information we have on the group, as well as the fact that our sources are all anachronistic and shaded (sometimes quite strongly) by bias and the needs of rhetoric. The New Testament sources, for instance, offer an obvious polemic against the Pharisees, while the rabbis give heady endorsement. I think that Shaye Cohen gives an accessible, clear-headed assessment of the situation in From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (pp. 143-163 in the '87 edition), if you're interested.

Accepting at face value the notion that the Pharisees "strayed from the path of God" seems unwise to me because the claim doesn't have much basis in the sources, as difficult as those sources may be. Josephus' portrayal of the Pharisees runs along the spectrum from neutral to positive, and while he portrays them as having political clout, that does not mean that they possessed any sort of established position of authority from which to dictate and enforce religious teaching (a la bishops). He does portray them as being dedicated to the "traditions of the elders," as well as being sources of religious knowledge and instruction to various parts of the population. He portrays them as keeping the "traditions of the fathers," and I would argue that these "traditions" did no small work in adding to the spiritual practice of daily life for common people. Actually, I think that the New Testament corroborates Josephus on this point to an extent. Obviously, the gospels and (to a lesser extent) Acts present the Pharisees unfavorably, but I think that when these texts are looked closely at, their depiction is not so negative as is typically accepted. Consider MT 23: yes, Jesus says hard things about the Pharisees, but it is necessary to recognize the positive things that he says, as well. Moreover, throughout the gospels we see Jesus eating with Pharisees and engaging in religious disputations with them, all of which was basically what Pharisees did (symposia and debates concerning traditions and law). The average disinterested passer-by couldn't be blamed for casually assuming that Jesus was just another Pharisee. I also think that it is a big leap to associate the Pharisees with persecution of Jesus; they are not characters in the passion narratives. John has certainly been a storm center in discussions of the anti-Jewish sentiments in the New Testament (see its use of "Jews" as a metonymy for the priests), but I do not think that it provides special evidence of Pharisees participating in Jesus' death. I would note that Paul (as represented by the author of Acts, as well as represented by himself in his own letters) makes no special condemnation of Pharisees, and actually never disowns his own membership in their number. Finally, I would just point out that it is not exactly new or wild for me to suggest that the gospels' depictions of the Pharisees has more to do with competition between that group and the followers of Jesus in the years of the early Jesus movement than it does with any actual hostility between Jesus and the Pharisees. As it were, the early rabbis' positive portrayal of the Pharisees probably stems from the opposite side of that coin.

Sorry to have written a book, but I think I actually managed to work my way up to my point: the portrayal of Pharisees in the gospels has its origins in intra-Jewish debate in the first century CE. When the issue no longer consists of sectarian debate, but instead takes on an interreligious dimension (i.e. Jewish vs. Christian, rather than Jewish X vs. Jewish Y), then some extra caution is involved. The word Pharisee has become synonymous in Christian discourse with "hypocrite" and worse, which is problematic because of the strong association of Pharisees with Judaism. The word Pharisee is often used in intra-Christian conflict as a means by which to denigrate opponents as failing to represent the real essence of Christianity. In other words, when one Christian wants to say that another Christian isn't acting like a Christian, he or she says that the other is like a Pharisee, and the subtext to that is that the opponent is like a Jew. I think that new language needs to be found.
6 years 9 months ago
''PJ  offered you an education which you resisted.''


 I must have missed the education.  I didn't see it.  I saw a lot of names listed.


The institution narrative is in the three synoptic gospels and in Paul.  And John has long sections about the eating of the bread.  So the Eucharist was established very early and there are references to it in the early Church. What other religions have the doctrine of the ''Living Presence?''  The Roman Catholic Church is not the only one but there are not many.


The basis for papal authority and the authority of the magisterium could fill some interesting arguments but was the line that Peter was to be the basis for the Church and the one about the keys to the kingdom just throwaway lines.  I don't think so.  I am sure some of the Jesuits could contribute to the Church history of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.


As far as Benedict is concerned, does anyone think he does not believe in the Living Presence and the authority of Rome and know what the basis for each is.  Does anyone think he is putting on a big charade or is misguided and ill informed.  I doubt any of this.  So as I said, it is a difficult tightrope he has to walk knowing he represents the true way and not offend those of other religions.
Jim McCrea
6 years 9 months ago
PJ Johnston said:  I can't tell you what's absolutely necessary to be recognized as "Catholic" by "the pope's people" or for that matter anybody else.
"When Pius X died, the conclave of 1914 elected Benedict XV, who immediately issued an encyclical calling on Catholics ‘to appease dissension and strife" so that "no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith.’
‘There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism’ he concluded. ‘It is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname’ “
David Gibson, “Who Is a Real Catholic?” The Washington Post, Sunday, May 17, 2009 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/15/AR2009051501390.html?sid=ST2009051503626
PJ Johnston
6 years 9 months ago
Sadhanas and pujas and devotions which bring about the living presence of Christ have not been terribly uncommon in the more liberal strands of Asian religions since contact with Europeans, so the Eucharist does not make Catholicism (or even Christianity) unique.  Ramakrishna's Christ experience is probably the most famous instance of this kind of religious practice.  Ramakrisha wanted to realize the inner truth of all religions and as part of that program he improvised a personal Jesus sadhana, which ultimately led to Jesus appearing to him and the two merging into one another in a non-dual mystical communion.  I myself have interviewed Vaishnavas for whom Jesus is a figure of devotional significance (as one of the manifestations of Krishna), and it is not terribly uncommon for Hindus to receive communion in Indian Catholic churches as prasad in order to commune more closely with him.  For a more accessible Western example, here's a nice diasporic Tibetan Buddhist Jesus sadhana for manifesting and communing with the living presence of Jesus Christ throughout one's day.  (I'd actually like to receive the empowerment for this one):

http://www.starintheeast.org/jesussadhana.htm

As for the papacy, I suppose I should have been a bit more direct, but I thought it would be better if you worked the matter out for yourself by looking at the historical evidence rather than taking it or leaving it on my say-so.  The papacy cannot be the sine qua non of Catholicism because there was no pope or even bishops in the earliest recoverable strata of Catholic tradition.  We know that there were bishops by the time of Ignatius of Antioch, but the Bishop of Rome was (at best) what we would today call a metropolitan rather than the monarchical head of the church until the East/West split at the earliest - the pope's assertion of new powers for himself is in fact what precipitated the split.  If you're interested in a brief overview on the question of whether bishops were present and what their roles might have been in the NT period, check out Raymond Brown's Introduction to the New Testament.  (Brown was Catholic and very sympathetic to traditional Catholic claims about the historical episcopate, but he was also a careful and honest scholar)  If you'd like to trace the gradual expansion of papal claims to ultimate authority, there's a section on that in Owen Chadwick's Documents of the Christian Church.  There are probably better and more focused studies on the question, but these are cogent, mainstream, and commonly available.  Have fun!
Bill Mazzella
6 years 9 months ago
"Finally, I would just point out that it is not exactly new or wild for me to suggest that the gospels' depictions of the Pharisees has more to do with competition between that group and the followers of Jesus in the years of the early Jesus movement than it does with any actual hostility between Jesus and the Pharisees"

Abe,

This may well be true. Certainly as you note we should not juxtapose any of these notions or negative aspersions on modern Jews. Language can be tricky. Using a new language takes time since we ascribe meaning according to what we know. Not what we should know. I compared the bishops to the "Pharisees" as depicted in the NT. We may need to find a new language but as of now we have to use provisos as we relate which is what dialogue is all about. But I do get your point
Kang Dole
6 years 9 months ago
Thanks. I know that I was focusing pretty intensely on one detail in what your said.
PJ Johnston
6 years 9 months ago
David:

I suspect your mileage may vary on this also.  For me it was all about violence.  I grew up in a Christian anarcho-pacifist household, and it seemed like there was too much in Christianity that sabotaged any aspirations towards non-violence.  I was told that Buddhism is the one religion in the world in which violence is consistently condemned as wrong - even if a deity performs acts of violence or commands violence from his followers, the dharma trumps the will of deities, and the dharma always promotes non-violent compassion and condemns violence.  I was even told that being a Buddhist involves internalizing a philosophical framework for viewing the world (Madhyamaka philosophy) in which you can't become attached even to the things you believe in, so sectarian religious violence and dogmatic and authoritarian approaches to religion cannot be rationalized on Buddhist terms.  I wanted to figure out how this approach to doctrine works and import it back into Christianity to cure it of its latent tendencies towards violence and domination.  But of course this understanding of Buddhism was very much that of pacifist Buddhist friends and is fairly out-of-touch with how the religion has actually been practiced in Asia.
6 years 9 months ago
There are two things and probably others that make Roman Catholicism unique and of course others who are not Roman Catholic will dispute them:


First: Do this in remembrance of Me:  

Every Mass is a celebration of the gift that God gave us, the presence of one of the Three in the Eucharist for ever more.  No other religion theoretically provides that though I understand there is a debate over which bishops have the power to confer that power.


Second: ''Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.''  

and

''I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.''


The Pope has to deal with these other religions believing he represents the one true religion/way on earth.   That is an interesting tightrope to walk.  If he doesn't or others don't believe them then why bother being Catholic.  It is not just a personal choice as to which religion I will join from the Religion of the Month Club but one that has no alternatives once you understand the issues.
Bill Mazzella
6 years 9 months ago
Abe,

 Your argument is with Jesus not with me. Jesus constantly criticized them. They were the religious leaders of that time along with the Sadducees and the Scribes. We are unfair to modern Jews when we punish them for the crucifixion and what is worse, say that this is divinely ordained. The pharisees are part of our tradition in that we descended from them. Christians can claim them as well as Jews. All the Apostles were Jews. Your argument appears to be without substance unless you can give more weighty reasons for such a weird conclusion from my words.  
Kay Satterfield
6 years 9 months ago
” Studying other religions is something we must do! And all this is practical: “The important thing is to discover what we have in common and, wherever possible, to perform a common service in this world.”

I agree.  Certainly Trappist monk Thomas Merton thought so.  His study of Buddhism led to finding a common ground with Buddhist monks that encouraged his Christian faith and prayer and through Merton's writings encouraged the faith and prayer life of others. Influenced by Merton,  Thomas Keating brought centering prayer into mainstream Christianity.

I also really liked what Mother Teresa preached in the diverse culture of her home in India.  If you are raised in a Buddhist tradition you should try to be the best Buddhist you can be, a Hindu the best Hindu you can be, a Christian the best Christian...

God is so much greater than anything we can put in a box of our own understanding.  God takes us where we are no matter what the religion if we are earnestly seeking, at least that's what our Catholic church teaches.  

 

 

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