OCTOBER 22, 2016
The wilful misinterpretation of Church documents by Indian inculturationist theologians
The Document Nostra Aetate declares that “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men” #2.
NOSTRA AETATE-DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
PAUL VI, VATICAN COUNCIL II OCTOBER 28, 1965
In my three-plus decades of Catholic ministry, I have heard the arguments and read the writings of many priests, theologians, progressives, liberals, modernists and inculturationists (Hinduisers) who cite those two sentences to justify what they believe, teach and practise and which conservatives find to be erroneous, New Age, and even heretical.
But not a single one of them EVER reproduces the sentence that IMMEDIATELY follows in the very same paragraph:
“Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.”
The Document says absolutely NOTHING about our being obliged to assimilate, adapt, adopt or incorporate the “ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings” of the adherents of pre-Christian religions into our faith, rituals and way of life. It simply says that Catholics need not reject but may respect what is true and holy for them.
Those first two sentences are made out of deference to the religions that non-Christians hold to because of their “invincible ignorance” and to remind Catholics who have through no merit of their own received from God the free gift of the Faith through Baptism to treat with dignity those not similarly blessed by God with the fullness of revelation and who live in partial or complete ignorance of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
They are not a mandate for Catholics to imitate or borrow what they might think is “holy” from those religions.
For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils…
The Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible
For all other gods are worthless idols…
(Even the syncretistic) St. Pauls 2008 New Community Bible
St. Paul’s teaching on Christians’ being “all things to all men” does not give licence to believers to participate in idol worship and pagan rituals, no matter what some liberal or modernist interpretations might say even using a sentence or two from Nostra Aetate (#2) or other Pontifical Documents in isolation from the context.
I prefer to reflect on our ‘jealous’ God’s many warnings to His Chosen People especially in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. He wanted the people of Israel to maintain not their racial purity but also their spiritual purity. He knew that any interest by the Israelites in the religious activities of the neighbouring tribes would lead to the assimilation of their rituals, practices and even adoption of their gods, and to monumental disaster to the Jewish people, and this is exactly what happened several times over.
“You will be lured into following them*.
Do not inquire regarding their gods, ‘How did these nations worship their gods? I, too, would do the same’.”
Deuteronomy 12:30, New American Bible
*The New Jerusalem Bible:
“Beware of being entrapped into copying them.”
Whenever that passage comes to my mind, I like to imagine that God was saying “Do not EVEN inquire regarding their gods.”
The Philippines Bishops’ Conference’s Christian Community Bible translation reads as “Do not look at their gods, saying…”
The Knox Translation, Catholic, 1955, reads “Do not hanker after their observances.”