Thursday, February 6, 2014

Can Catholics Respect Other Religions?

Q: I know the Church condemns what Pope Benedict termed "the dictatorship of relativism"
in light of this, can Catholics respect other religions? 

Absolutely! In fact, we are called to do so by the Church (see Nostra Aetate). We do so by respecting those areas where other religions agree with the Truth (as found fully and without error in the Catholic Church) and disagreeing with the beliefs in other religions that are erroneous.

For example, Muslims believe in One God, the God of Abraham. We, as Catholics, respect that because it is true - the God of Abraham is the one true God. But Muslims also believe many errors, for example that Christ is just a prophet, Mohammed had a true divine revelation, etc, etc, these we don't agree with or respect (error has no right to be respected, although people in error do).

Its also important to note that Catholics are called to respect all people (including members of other religions) not because of what they believe, but because of who they are (beloved sons and daughters of God, made in His image and likeness). We respect them as people, as much as we respect our fellow Catholics, even if we don't respect all their beliefs.

 The key is to separate respecting people (all of whom deserve respect), from respecting ideas (not all of which deserve respect). Whether we are talking about sin (hate the sin, love the sinner) or different religions (respect the person with the beliefs and the truths those religions teach, while not respecting errors other religions teach). We must always distinguish between people and the things they do or believe.

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