This listing features official Church documents on interfaith dialogue that have been published during and since the era of the Second Vatican Council. Included here are papal encyclicals as well as documents produced by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, by Bishops' Conferences and by Congregations within the Vatican (e.g. the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

1964     Encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam

Issued by Pope Paul VI, this is the first papal document in history to promote interfaith dialogue.

1965     Nostra Aetate

This Declaration of the Second Vatican Council is truly a landmark in interfaith relations. For Catholics, the document initiated new understandings and new directions in the area of promoting dialogue and reconciliation with the followers of other religions. In particular,Nostra Aetate proved to be a watershed document in fostering a dramatic new direction in Jewish-Catholic relations.

1974     Asian Bishops, Evangelization in Modern Day Asia

Published by the bishops of Asia, where Christianity is a minority religion, this landmark document argues that dialogue with all peoples, cultures, and religions is part of the Church's mission.

1974     Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration "Nostra Aetate" (n.4)

The Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews speaks of a fundamental condition for dialogue when it states that "on a practical level in particular, Christians must strive to acquire a better knowledge of the basic components of the religious tradition of Judaism."

1975     Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelization in the Modern World

In this exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI states: "The Church respects and esteems these non-Christian religions because they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people. They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God"

1984     Dialogue and Mission

On its 20th anniversary, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue publishes "The Attitude of the Church Toward Followers of Other Religions: Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission". This document places interfaith dialogue squarely within the scope of the Church's mission.

1985     Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church

In this statement, the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews affirms that a fundamental dimension of dialogue is precise, objective and rigorously accurate teaching on Judaism for the Church's faithful.

1990     Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio

This important papal encyclical on mission activity contains a strong interreligious theme. Pope John Paul declares, "Each member of the faithful and all Christian communities are called to practice dialogue."

1991     Dialogue and Proclamation

A joint statement by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples entitled, Dialogue and Proclamation, asserts that inter-religious dialogue and proclamation are distinct but related activities within the Church's evangelizing mission. The goal of inter-religious dialogue is the deeper conversion to Truth by each partner in the dialogue. "In the final analysis, truth is not a thing we possess, but a person by whom we must allow ourselves to be possessed."

1998     We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah

In this long-awaited document on the Holocaust, the Church expresses repentance for those Christians who failed to oppose the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

2000     Dominus Iesus

A Declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus asserts that inter-religious dialogue does not does not diminish the duty and urgency to announce that Jesus Christ is the one-and-only Saviour for all humanity.

Compiled by Scarboro Missions Interfaith Department

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Paul McKenna | |