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CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

NOTIFICATION
on the book
Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism
(Orbis Books: Maryknoll, New York 1997)
by Father
JACQUES DUPUIS, S.J.
Preface
After a preliminary study of the book Toward a Christian Theology of
Religious Pluralism by Father Jacques Dupuis, S.J., the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith decided to proceed to a comprehensive
examination of the text by means of its ordinary procedure, in
accordance with Chapter 3 of the Regulations for Doctrinal
Examination.
It must be emphasized that this text is an introductory reflection on a
Christian theology of religious pluralism. It is not simply a theology of
religions, but a theology of religious pluralism, which seeks to
investigate, in the light of Christian faith, the significance of the
plurality of religious traditions in Gods plan for humanity. Aware of the
potential problems in this approach, the author does not conceal the
possibility that his hypothesis may raise as many questions as it seeks
to answer.
Following the doctrinal examination of the book and the outcome of
the dialogue with the author, the Bishop and Cardinal Members of the
Congregation, in the Ordinary Session of June 30, 1999, evaluated the
analysis and the opinions of the Congregations Consultors regarding
the authors Responses. The Members of the Congregation recognized
the authors attempt to remain within the limits of orthodoxy in his
study of questions hitherto largely unexplored. At the same time, while
noting the authors willingness to provide the necessary clarifications,
as evident in his Responses, as well as his desire to remain faithful to
the doctrine of the Church and the teaching of the Magisterium, they
found that his book contained notable ambiguities and difficulties on
important doctrinal points, which could lead a reader to erroneous or
harmful opinions. These points concerned the interpretation of the sole
and universal salvific mediation of Christ, the unicity and completeness
of Christs revelation, the universal salvific action of the Holy Spirit, the
orientation of all people to the Church, and the value and significance
of the salvific function of other religions.

At the conclusion of the ordinary procedure of examination, the


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided to draft a
Notification,[1] intended to safeguard the doctrine of the Catholic faith
from errors, ambiguities or harmful interpretations. This Notification,
approved by the Holy Father in the Audience of November 24, 2000,
was presented to Father Jacques Dupuis and was accepted by him. By
signing the text, the author committed himself to assent to the stated
theses and, in his future theological activity and publications, to hold
the doctrinal contents indicated in the Notification, the text of which
must be included in any reprinting or further editions of his book, as
well as in all translations.
The present Notification is not meant as a judgment on the authors
subjective thought, but rather as a statement of the Churchs teaching
on certain aspects of the above-mentioned doctrinal truths, and as a
refutation of erroneous or harmful opinions, which, prescinding from
the authors intentions, could be derived from reading the ambiguous
statements and insufficient explanations found in certain sections of
the text. In this way, Catholic readers will be given solid criteria for
judgment, consistent with the doctrine of the Church, in order to avoid
the serious confusion and misunderstanding which could result from
reading this book.
I. On the sole and universal salvific mediation of Jesus Christ
1. It must be firmly believed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God made
man, crucified and risen, is the sole and universal mediator of salvation
for all humanity.[2]
2. It must also be firmly believed that Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary
and only Saviour of the world, is the Son and Word of the Father.[3] For
the unity of the divine plan of salvation centred in Jesus Christ, it must
also be held that the salvific action of the Word is accomplished in and
through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father, as mediator of
salvation for all humanity.[4] It is therefore contrary to the Catholic
faith not only to posit a separation between the Word and Jesus, or
between the Words salvific activity and that of Jesus, but also to
maintain that there is a salvific activity of the Word as such in his
divinity, independent of the humanity of the Incarnate Word.[5]
II. On the unicity and completeness of revelation of Jesus
Christ
3. It must be firmly believed that Jesus Christ is the mediator, the
fulfilment and the completeness of revelation.[6] It is therefore
contrary to the Catholic faith to maintain that revelation in Jesus Christ

(or the revelation of Jesus Christ) is limited, incomplete or imperfect.


Moreover, although full knowledge of divine revelation will be had only
on the day of the Lords coming in glory, the historical revelation of
Jesus Christ offers everything necessary for mans salvation and has no
need of completion by other religions.[7]
4. It is consistent with Catholic doctrine to hold that the seeds of truth
and goodness that exist in other religions are a certain participation in
truths contained in the revelation of or in Jesus Christ.[8] However, it is
erroneous to hold that such elements of truth and goodness, or some
of them, do not derive ultimately from the source-mediation of Jesus
Christ.[9]

III. On the universal salvific action of the Holy Spirit


5. The Churchs faith teaches that the Holy Spirit, working after the
resurrection of Jesus Christ, is always the Spirit of Christ sent by the
Father, who works in a salvific way in Christians as well as nonChristians.[10] It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith to hold that
the salvific action of the Holy Spirit extends beyond the one universal
salvific economy of the Incarnate Word.[11]
IV. On the orientation of all human beings to the Church
6. It must be firmly believed that the Church is sign and instrument of
salvation for all people.[12] It is contrary to the Catholic faith to
consider the different religions of the world as ways of salvation
complementary to the Church.[13]
7. According to Catholic doctrine, the followers of other religions are
oriented to the Church and are all called to become part of her.[14]
V. On the value and salvific function of the religious traditions
8. In accordance with Catholic doctrine, it must be held that
whatever the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of
peoples, in cultures and religions, serves as a preparation for the
Gospel (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 16).[15] It is
therefore legitimate to maintain that the Holy Spirit accomplishes
salvation in non-Christians also through those elements of truth and
goodness present in the various religions; however, to hold that these
religions, considered as such, are ways of salvation, has no foundation
in Catholic theology, also because they contain omissions,

insufficiencies and errors[16] regarding fundamental truths about God,


man and the world.
Furthermore, the fact that the elements of truth and goodness present
in the various world religions may prepare peoples and cultures to
receive the salvific event of Jesus Christ does not imply that the sacred
texts of these religions can be considered as complementary to the Old
Testament, which is the immediate preparation for the Christ event.
[17]
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience of January
19, 2001, in the light of the further developments, confirmed
the present Notification, which had been adopted in Ordinary
Session of the Congregation, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, January 24, 2001, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.
+ JOSEPH Card. RATZINGER
Prefect
+ Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B.
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
Secretary
[1]
Because of tendencies in some circles, which have become
increasingly evident in the thinking of the Christian faithful, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the Declaration
Dominus Iesus on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ
and the Church (AAS 92 [2000], 742-765) in order to protect essential
truths of the Catholic faith. The Notification draws from the principles
expressed in Dominus Iesus in its evaluation of Father Dupuis book.
[2]
Cf. Council of Trent, Decree De peccato originali: DS 1513;
Decree De iustificatione: DS 1522, 1523, 1529, 1530; Second Vatican
Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 10; Dogmatic
Constitution Lumen gentium, 8, 14, 28,49,60; John Paul II, Encyclical
Letter Redemptoris missio, 5: AAS 83 (1991), 249-340; Apostolic
Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, 14: AAS 92 (2000), 449-528; Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 13-15.
[3]

Cf. First Council of Nicaea: DS 125; Council of Chacledon: DS 301.

[4]
Cf. Council of Trent, Decree De iustificatione: DS 1529, 1530;
Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum
Concilium, 5; Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22.
[5]
Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 6;
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus,
10.
[6]
Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum, 2,
4; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, 14-15, 92: AAS 91
(1999), 5-88; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration
Dominus Iesus, 5.
[7]
Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration
Dominus Iesus, 6; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 65-66.
[8]
Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen
gentium, 17; Decree Ad gentes, 11; Declaration Nostra aetate, 2.
[9]
Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen
gentium, 16; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 10.
[10] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et
spes, 22; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 28-29.
[11] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 5; Apostolic
Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, 15-16; Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 12.
[12] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen
gentium, 9, 14, 17, 48; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris
missio, 11; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration
Dominus Iesus, 16.
[13] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 36;
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus,
21-22.
[14] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen
gentium, 13, 16; Decree Ad gentes, 7; Declaration Dignitatis humanae,
1; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 10; Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 20-22;
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 845.
[15]

John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 29.

[16] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen


gentium, 16; Declaration Nostra aetate, 2; Decree Ad gentes, 9; Paul
VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 53: AAS 68 (1976), 5-76;
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 55; Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 8.
[17] Cf. Council of Trent, Decree De libris sacris et de traditionibus
recipiendis: DS 1501; First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei
Filius, 2: DS 3006; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Declaration Dominus Iesus, 8.