Non-Christians

Non-Christians

Fr Brian Harrison OS

I'm sure I am not the only reader wondering how on earth an article like that of Fr Dudley Perera OMI got into a magazine like AD2000 (April 2010).

Fr Perera's bland optimism about the prospects for salvation of non-Christians and his evident discomfort with 'claims to superiority on both sides' borders on naturalism and relativism. Never mind the suggestion that non-Christian religious texts could also be 'inspired' and even used at Mass for the first reading!

In order to justify this radical suggestion, Fr Perera here actually falsifies the Vatican II declaration on non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate. He says it attributes to these religions 'vestiges or rays of Revelation (vestigia revelationis)'.

It says nothing of the sort - only that they often contain 'a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men (radium illius Veritatis, quae illuminat omnes homines)'. That is, they often include certain naturally knowable truths (about God, the soul, and morality).

But neither NA nor any other Vatican II document suggests that any religions other than Judaism and Christianity contain 'revelation' - much less 'inspired' writings.

Indeed, a computer search of the entire Vatican website reveals zero occurrences of the expression 'vestigia revelationis'. And it is worth recalling that Vatican I defined infallibly that a merely natural knowledge of God is insufficient for salvation: in order to have the theological virtue of faith without which no one can be justified (cf. Hebrews 11:6, Catechism, 161), we must believe revealed truth on the authority of God who reveals it (DS 3032).

FR BRIAN HARRISON OS
St. Louis, Missouri, US

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