Finding rapprochement and peace among the Abrahamic religions

Finding rapprochement and peace among the Abrahamic religions

Patrick Byrne

Oasis is an international foundation to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims. It was founded in 2004 at the inspiration of the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola.

Among his many Vatican appointments, Cardinal Scola is currently a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

The Oasis Foundation, which publishes the online journal Oasis at a time in history when there is a deepening interaction of cultures and religions across the globe.

According to Oasis, "the dimensions of this historical process are unprecedented, its dynamic unstoppable and it needs to be oriented towards the [common] good ... Interreligious dialogue involves intercultural dialogue because religious experience is always lived and expressed through the medium of culture: not merely at the theological and spiritual level, but also at the political, economic and social ones."

Members of the Oasis promotional committee include Cardinal Scola, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria of the Copts, the Cardinals of Lyon, Zagabria, Budapest, Abuja, Vienna and Granada, as well as Professor Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Vatican II

The work of Oasis is based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Church , Lumen Gentium (1964), which is a declaration of the Church's extraordinary magisterium.

The Council declared that, "those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God" (LG 16) and this starts with those religions that declare their origins in Abraham.

First is the Jewish people, to "whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues."

The Council says that although the Jews do not believe in Christ as the Son of God, they are "dear to God ... on account of their fathers".

Then there are the Muslim peoples. The Council declared that "the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator ... [A]mongst these there are the Muhammadans [Muslims], who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind" (LG 16).

Since God's "plan of salvation" is implemented solely through the Church, the Council is asserting that the Church is linked in some way to all who believe in the Creator.

This is most obviously the case with both Jews and Muslims, who give honour to the one Creator God and respect His sovereignty over all human beings.

While Muslims differ from Christians in their theological doctrines, the God of Islam is not another false god, like the gods of animists or pantheists.

This has profound implications. If Muslims are deemed to know the True God, then to some degree they must have received true revelation. To worship God, one must know Him, and one knows Him primarily through revelation, which is a divine gift.

The Church has left as an open question the nature of this revelation.

The Vatican Council also made the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions , Nostra Aetate (1965), which deals principally with relations between the Church and Jews. The Council also extended Nostra Aetate to deal with Church-Muslim relations, and even relations with other non-Abrahamic religions.

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