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Ecumenical developments between Roman Catholicism and Non-Christian Religions


On December 2, 1964, a strange thing happened in Bombay. Pope Paul VI was given a tumultuous welcome by thousands of people who had traveled from all over India in order to see him. According to one who witnessed it, the reception given to Paul VI by the people of India completely overshadows the reception given to other famous visitors such as Queen Elizabeth, Khrushchev or Eisenhower.1 Did the pope, as he drove through those dense crowds, stop to think that the vast majority of those cheering him were Hindus, Moslims and Buddhists? Is it possible that the "universal father" saw in what was taking place an omen of the papacy's role in future world events?

Since the historic Second Vatican Council, papal ecumenism has launched an aggressive program aimed at bringing about a worldwide reconciliation which will include all men. Non-Christian religions are not excluded. Vatican II stressed "the universal design of God for the salvation of the human race."2 It called for truly human conversation and patient dialogue with the nations of the earth. The council's "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions" explicitly says that the Vatican's present attitude arises from her newly understood task of "fostering unity and love among men."3 The council fathers continue:

    In our times, when every day men are being drawn closer together and the ties between various peoples are being multiplied, the Church is giving deeper study to her relationships with non-Christian religions.4
Since Vatican II, a tremendous interest in inter-religious dialogue has been developing among Roman Catholic theologians and missionaries. This interest was given impetus when Paul VI advocated dialogue with world religions in his encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam (June 6,1964). And not only has the pope advocated dialogue, but he has even tried to give it institutional permanence by creating a special Secretariat for Non-Christians on Pentecost, 1964. This new Vatican secretariat (cabinet position) is responsible for furthering good relations between the church and other world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

This is all very interesting when it is remembered that Scripture predicts a special role to be played by Rome in earth's final spiritual apostasy and religious confederation. The views given under inspiration to the apostle John, and recorded in the book of Revelation, strongly suggest that in the future all the people of the earth (except for a small "remnant") will look toward Rome for spiritual and political leadership.
    And all who dwell on the earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. . . .And the whole earth followed the beast with wonder (Rev. 13:3, 8).

    Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of her impure passion (Rev. 14:8).

    And I saw, issuing from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three foul spirits like frogs; for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty (Rev. 16:13-14).

The questions I have attempted to answer in my research are these:

1. What world conditions have been responsible for encouraging inter-religious cooperation and dialogue?

2. What changes have taken place in Rome's attitude toward non-Christian religions, especially since Vatican II?

3. Is there evidence that Catholicism may be willing to assimilate certain elements from other world religions? Is it possible that some kind of synthesis will take place between Roman Christianity and paganism, similar to what occurred in the early church?

4. And finally, what role will "religious experience" and "mysticism" play in Rome's attempt to unite all men with herself? Is this a possible point of contact between world religions?

In the conclusion, I will summarize my findings and —based on current indications—offer some predictions regarding the future development of Rome's inter-religious ecumenism.

Rome and the World Religion

World Conditions That Encourage Inter-Religious Dialogue

Catholic theologians sense that they are living in a unique moment of history, just when world conditions seem to be converging which favor dialogue between religions. The globe is quickly shrinking, and men of various faiths are beginning to realize that they must work together for the well-being of civilization. Tremendous problems face modern man which, it seems, can best be solved through united effort. Global crises such as ecology, famine, war, racism, human rights and poverty represent a latent incentive for "getting together."

A case in point is the conference which took place in Korea several years ago. Thirty representatives from six major religions (Buddhism, Won-Buddhism, Confucianism, Chondoism, Protestantism and Catholicism) came together to see what they could do in common to help solve the pressing problems of their country.5 Even more recently, the World Conference on Religion and Peace met in Kyoto, Japan. Two hundred eighty-five persons attended, representing ten major religions and thirty-six countries. Interestingly, a Roman Catholic archbishop was chairman of this conference, which focused its attention on peace, human rights, disarmament and human development. The Japan Christian News witnessed the event:6

    Blue turbaned Sikh, Orthodox priest with flowing robe and hood, fez-wearing Muslim, shaven-headed Buddhist monk, business-suited rabbi, clergy-collared Protestant, crucifix-adorned Catholic Archbishop, orange robed Hindu swami-they were all there.

Pope Paul VI, in an address to the Secretariat for Non-Christians, has hinted at the papacy's grand plan for the betterment of the world: "We hope we will soon see the day when all religions will unite their efforts concretely in the service of man, his freedom, and his dignity."7 Paul expressed much the same sentiment to a delegation of Buddhist monks who recently visited the Vatican: "We hope that there will be increasingly friendly dialogue and close collaboration between the traditions that you represent and the Catholic Church. Such contacts can . . . assist in advancing the cause of justice and peace in [the] world. . . .8

Another powerful incentive which tends to draw world religions together is that they are all threatened with a common enemy. Organized religion of all kinds is being assaulted by a deadly combination of materialism, religious indifference and atheism. Paul Cardinal Marella, the first to head the Secretariat for Non-Christians, has written that the religions must begin to collaborate in "cherishing the basic religious sentiment existing in every man, which is being attacked today by atheistic materialism."9 Henri Le Saux, a Catholic priest who is deeply involved in dialogue with Hinduism, declares that inter-religious cooperation is the way to "stem the tide of materialism which is sweeping over the world."10 This idea seems to be gaining ground and can be seen more and more in the ecumenical literature.11

Rome's New Attitude toward Non-Christians

There has been a radical shift in Rome's attitude toward non-Christians in the last twenty years and especially since Vatican II. In the past, the church's attitude toward rival religions (including Protestantism) was determined by a very literal interpretation of the formula, exfra ecciesiam nulla salus (outside the church there is no salvation). This adage is supposed to have been originated by Cyprian, and for centuries it was used by popes and councils to justify a hard-nosed approach to non-Catholics. For example, the Council of Florence declared:

Neither pagans nor Jews, heretics and schismatics can obtain eternal life but will be condemned to the everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels unless, before the end of their lives, they are received into the Catholic Church.12

Boniface VIII, in his bull, Unam Sanctam, stated the mailer in the strongest possible terms:
    We are required by faith to believe and hold that there is one holy, catholic and apostolic Church; we firmly believe it and unreservedly profess it; outside it there is neither salvation nor remission of sins. . . . Further, we declare, say, define and proclaim, that to submit to the Roman Pontiff is, for every human creature, an utter necessity of salvation.13
In view of these strong medieval pronouncements, the reader may be surprised to discover the new philosophy regarding non-Christians which now prevails in Roman Catholic circles. According to Vatican II's Constitution on the Church, "those who have not yet received the gospel are related in various ways to the People of God."14 The same document continues:
    Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God; for the Saviour wants all men to be saved. Those who, through no fault of their own, are still ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of His Church, yet sincerely seek God, and with the help of Divine grace strive to do His will as known to them through the voice of their conscience—those men can attain eternal salvation.15
In other words, it is no longer considered necessary that one be a member of the visible Catholic Church or render conscious submission to the pope in order to obtain salvation. The idea that even non-Christian religions represent the outworking of the divine plan for the salvation of the world is becoming more and more the accepted Roman Catholic view. The salvific value of other religions is recognized. This does not mean, however, that Cyprian's taut formula has been completely discarded. It is still true, in a sense, that salvation can be obtained only in and from the Catholic Church. The non-Christian religions can be salvific only because they are "related in various ways" to the church.

This shift in Catholic philosophy really goes back to the First Vatican Council, where (in the schema constitutionis dogmaticae de Ecclesia Christi) a distinction was made between what we might term culpable and nonculpable paganism. According to this document, those who do not belong to the visible church because of "invincible ignorance" actually may be members of the church without realizing it! They belong to the church in voto (by desire).16 This distinction was strongly reiterated in 1943 when Pius XII issued the encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi.17 Here again, while Cyprian's formula is maintained, the possibility of membership "by desire" is allowed for (as opposed to membership in actual fact). The reasoning goes like this: The necessity of actual church membership for salvation is comparable to that of baptism. Just as there is a "baptism of desire" (in which a person wants to be baptized but dies before he can receive the sacrament), so it is not always necessary that a person be actually incorporated into the church as a member, but it is at least required that he belong to it in wish or desire.

The letter from the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston18 (August 9, 1949) regarding the interpretation of this encyclical further reveals that this "desire" does not necessarily need to be explicit. In the case of those who live in invincible ignorance, God accepts "the implicit wish, so-called because it lies in that right disposition of the soul by which a man wishes his will to conform to that of God."19 Or, as Boniface Willems explains it:
    God's will tends toward the Church. Since the 'pagan of goodwill wishes to do the will of God, he is also implicitly ordered toward the Church. Salvation is therefore granted these men for the Church's sake.20

This really means that all men—whether Buddhist, Hindu or Presbyterian—who sincerely want to live in accordance with God's will, can be considered as though they were already members of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore partakers in the church's salvation. They do not realize it, of course! Pronouncements such as these have set Catholic theologians in motion to develop a worldwide ecumenical theology. In their initial attempt, a whole spectrum of theories has been spawned, such as Karl Rahner's "anonymous Christianity"21 and Teilhard de Chardin's "cosmic Christology."22 One theologian thinks he has found a "hidden Christ" in Hinduism, and others are talking about the existence of some kind of "Church incognito." For example, Bede Griffith, a Catholic priest who is deeply involved in dialogue with the religions of India, asserts that these religions can no longer be considered simply "false" or "anti-Christian." He writes:

We cannot look upon the Hindu, the Buddhist or the Muslim as outside the covenant of grace. Through the elements of truth in their religion . . . by which God makes himself known through nature and conscience, they belong to the economy of grace. There is already a 'presence' of Christ and therefore of the Church in all genuine religion, however hidden it may be.23

As can be seen, a tremendous attempt is being made to enlarge the theoretical scope of the church's boundaries.

Admiring the "True and Holy" in Other Religions

Not only has salvation now been granted to millions of "anonymous Christians," but it is also acknowledged that there are many elements which are "true and holy" in these religions. According to Vatican II, the rules and teachings of non-Christian religions "often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men."24 Pope Paul VI recently emphasized this idea in an address to a group of Buddhist monks who were visiting the Vatican:

We have a profound regard for the spiritual, moral and socio-cultural treasures that have been bestowed on you through your precious traditions. We recognize the values of which you are custodians, and we share the desire that they should be preserved and fostered.25

In his 1964 Easter message, the pope declared:
    Every religion is the daybreak of faith, and we are waiting for the dawn to become brighter and brighter, until it reaches the brilliant splendour of Christian wisdom.26
This statement, while it clearly points to the superiority of the Christian faith, also reveals the current Roman Catholic attitude regarding the validity of other religions. They are like the "daybreak" —and a daybreak can be a very beautiful thing. The pagans are custodians of many true and holy treasures. The Secretariat for Non-Christians is convinced that the rites of other religions, for example, are "a certain foreshadowing . . . of the paschal mystery" and that even pagan sacrifices are "a prelude and a prefiguring of the saving sacrifice of Christ. "27

We are even told that "it may well become plain that a great preponderance of basic Hindu belief is indeed divinely inspired."28 C. Murray Rogers, a Catholic who resides in India, cannot conceive that the spiritual phenomena seen in Hinduism are "apart from Christ."29 Although Christianity claims the "culmination" of all divine revelation, other religions also have "revelation," and therefore their sacred writings should be treated with respect. Because the basis of their writings is a genuine religious experience, it is "impossible" that they are merely the product of man himself.30 Catholic theologian Sabbas Kilian writes:
    One can seriously ask the question whether God did not call on men, outside of Israel and Christianity, and inspire them with a mission similar to that of the prophets and the apostles. . . . Islam reveres Mohammed as the Prophet. Buddhism experienced a period of prophetism, and so on. The existence of prophetism outside the Judeo-Christian world cannot be denied. And if prophetism is taken seriously as meaning speaking in the name of God, one cannot avoid asking the question whether it could not be the vehicle of "positive revelation" . . . .31
It is true, of course, that while the non-Christian religions possess many "true and holy" things, they do not possess the "fulness" of divine truth. It is at this point that Catholicism offers itself to the pagan world as the grand "fulfillment" of all their spiritual aspirations. This does not mean, however, that inter-religious dialogue need necessarily be a one-way street. Catholicism may regard itself as the "culmination" of spirituality, but that does not keep it from accepting the special insights which other religions have to offer. For example, C. Murray Rogers confesses that he has been personally enriched through his contact with "Hindu spirituality."32 Could it be that in the future, Catholics and non-Christians will be learning from each other in what Peter Schreiner calls a "mutual enrichment?"33 William Johnston, a Jesuit on the faculty of Sophia University in Tokyo, says:
    To us Catholic Christians the Vatican Council brought the refreshing news that we are still seekers, members of a pilgrim church, and so we can join hands with other searchers, whether they be Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or anything else, in our common quest for truth. Needless to say, we have Christ, who I believe spoke of God as no man ever spoke; but I do not think we can claim to understand the revelation of Christ in all its fulness. . . . Moreover I also believe that in sundry times and diverse ways God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, and these include the prophets whose voices echo beautifully in the Gita, the Lotus Sutra, and the Tao Teh Ching.34
Raymond Panikkar, a Catholic who teaches religion at the University of California (Santa Barbara), writes in a recent ecumenical journal that Christians have "no monopoly of goodness" and "no monopoly of truth."

He continues:
    The Christian Church's claim to be the custodian of divine revelation, even when admitting that the fullness of revelation is to be found in Christianity, does not mean that the Christian has exhausted God's disclosure of himself to mankind. . .. Who are we to limit the works of God. . .?35

Bede Griffith writes, "We have to acknowledge that the Church has not only to teach but also to learn from other religions."36 And Robley Edward Whitson, in his book, The Coming Convergence of World Religions, suggests that the different religions are in some ways complementary and can therefore contribute greatly to one another.37

This raises an interesting question. If it is true that the church has not exhausted God's disclosure of Himself, if it is true that other religions contain many true and holy things and that the church has much to learn—how much of the non-Christian philosophy, doctrine and ritual is Rome willing to incorporate into herself? In her eagerness to draw the whole world under her authority, is it possible that the church will permit (or even encourage) some kind of synthesis?

Rome and the Assimilation of Other Religions

Before trying to answer this question, it would be well to get a historical perspective. Only in this way can we understand the scope of what may take place in the near future. It is a well-known fact that syncretism crept into the early church. Syncretism refers to the combination of different religious Systems and a blending of their beliefs and practices. The Roman Church generally denies being guilty of syncretism. However, in view of her past history and the "religious pluralism" concept which is currently being developed by some of her theologians,38 one begins to suspect that Rome does not really know where "enrichment" ends and "syncretism" begins.

It appears that Catholicism inherited a certain tendency toward Sycretism from its political predecessor. According to J. N. D. Anderson, syncretism was widespread in the ancient Roman Empire (from which the papacy sprang—Dan. 7:8). He cites the example of Emperor Alexander Severus, who "had in his private chapel not only the statues of the deified emperors, but also those of the miracle worker Appolonius of Tyana, of Christ, of Abraham and of Orpheus."39 Syncretism under every possible form—ethical, political, social and theological—was a favorite policy of the Roman emperors, who saw in this philosophy a powerful tool for uniting and strengthening the empire. Bert Beach says that it amounted to a "syncretistic tidal wave" which "swept all the way from Persia to Scotland. The emperors collected gods the way wealthy art collectors gather paintings."40

When the Roman bishops began to function in the place of the emperors through the creation of a Holy Roman Empire, they also adopted, to some degree, the syncretistic philosophy of their predecessors. It is a well-known fact, for example, that many Hellenistic concepts were brought into Christianity. The theory of the immortality of the soul was one of those false doctrines that Rome incorporated into the religion of Christendom. Many other pagan ideas and customs were assimilated in order to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the heathen. The adoration of images and relics were introduced into Christian worship in order to afford converts from heathenism a substitute for the worship of idols, and thus to promote their nominal acceptance of Christianity.

Arnold J. Toynbee writes:

In winning the competition between the higher religions in the Roman Empire, Christianity did not really eliminate [them] One of the means by which it won . . . was that it . . . [absorbed] into itself what was valuable [sic] in those rival religions.41

Protestant theologians have shown rather conclusively that many aspects of ancient paganism continued to live within the bosom of the Catholic Church.42 For example, Karl Heim points out that the "mana" ideas of primitive animism continued in the custom of dissolving holy pictures in water to use as pills. The nature worship of the Mother Goddess (Isis and Astarte) continued in the cult of the Queen of Heaven (Mary) with her wide, blue mantle. The deities of the barbarians were perpetuated in the "saints" of the church (Peter of Milan as the patron of brewers, Barbara as the patron of gunners, St. Anthony of Padua as the patron of those eager to marry). The Hellenistic mystery cults of Attis, Mythras and Serapis continued to exist under new forms in the church's sacramental rites. These "skeletons in the closet" used to be considered a devastating criticism against the Catholic Church. Today, however, opinion has reversed itself. George Tyrrell, the famous Catholic modernist, wrote:
    What is so often used as a reproach against Catholicism—its various affinities with non-Christian religions, with Judaism, and Graeco-Roman, and Egyptian paganism, and all their tributaries—seems to us one of its principal glories and commendations. We like to feel the sap of this great tree of life in our veins welling up from the hidden roots of humanity. To feel so, to possess this sense of solidarity with all the religions of the world. . . this is to be a Catholic.43
Even more recently, Catholic Kaj Baago, who is deeply involved in dialogue with Eastern religions, points to this "mixture" as a sign of the church's greatness:
    Christianity came to be a mixture of elements from Judaism, Greek philosophy, the mystery religions and Roman Law, I.e.' a syncretistic religion. Syncretism is a naughty word nowadays, but actually the greatness of the Early Church consisted most of all in its ability to be syncretist without betraying the gospel [sic]. It . . . borrowed from Greek philosophy and from the mystery religions, and its theologians . . . could quote Plato, Socrates, Abraham, Isaiah, and the Sibylline Oracles in one breath. Similarly in its worship it copied the initiation rites of the Isis religion and took over not only the word 'sacrament' but also formulated a great deal of its sacramental theology according to the concepts of the Mithras cult. The Early Church also depicted Jesus in the form of pagan gods, as . . . 'the true Apollon,' or as the sun-god Mithras . . . , an identification which made it all the more natural for the Christians to take over the great sun festival on December 25th, converting it into Christmas. Above all, it was able to adopt and transform the universal humanism found in various Greek philosophical schools.44
Karl Helm Considers it a "profoundly symbolic fact" that in 609, Pope Boniface IV "consecrated the Roman pantheon, into which Agrippa had once received the deities of the ancient world, to the blessed Mary, ever virgin . . . "45 "Whereas Protestantism denies much in man," says Helm, "Rome assents to all of him."46 Historically, Catholicism has tried to incorporate the spirituality of its opponents within itself, gathering up all man's religious quests, from the most primitive magic of nature religion to the strict legalism of the Jews and the ecstasy of the mystic. Like a universal "mother,"47 the Roman Church gathers the whole world in her arms.

Having made this survey of church history, we must now return to the present ecumenical scene. Is it possible that Rome may try to assimilate her rivals in the modern world just as she did in past centuries? Henri Le Saux, a Benedictine priest who lives in India (and writes under an adopted Indian name, Abhishiktananda), confesses:
    In fact what we are looking for now in India is simply a corresponding event to what happened in the first centuries of the Christian era, when the Church developed within the religious and philosophical context of the Hellenistic world. The greatest Doctors and Fathers of the primitive Church first drank deep of Greek language, literature and philosophy. Then under the grace of the Spirit, they achieved almost unconsciously within themselves the synthesis . . . referred to above.48

Le Saux hopes that a "living synthesis" can be achieved in our day between Indian and Christian theology and liturgy.49 He encourages his colleagues to search the Hindu scriptures for that which can "enrich the diadem of the Church" and says that he wants to see the "riches of Hindu traditions" integrated into the church ("in all possible aspects—liturgical, ascetical, theological, and the like").50

Kaj Baajo, who also lives in India, feels that history is about to repeat itself:

If one were to write a history of the relationships between Christianity and other religions through the ages, it would have to be divided into three main periods. The first period would cover the four hundred years after Christ of the Early Church, which was expressive of an open dialogue with other faiths on the pant of the Church and a real willingness to receive from them. The second period would comprise the following fifteen hundred years, which was characterized by hostility, crusades, colonialism and missionary imperialism. The third period of that history . . . .has just begun, and we can already now see that it will take us into a new inter-religious dialogue . . . similar to that of the Early Church.51

Bede Griffith, a Catholic priest who has pioneered in developing Christian monasteries (or ashrams) in India, wants the church to undertake a "synthesis" with Hindu and Buddhist philosophy which will approximate what the "Fathers" accomplished in regard to Greek philosophy.52 He declares:

The great need is to have a theology constructed on the basis of Indian and Chinese thought, and beyond that a christian spirituality which will draw on all the infinite resources of Indian spirituality, Hindu, Buddhist, Taost and Confucian. . . . In India we need a christian Vedanta and a christian Yoga, that is a system of theology which makes use not only of the terms and Concepts but of the whole structure of the Vedanta, as the Greek Fathers used Plato and Aristotle; and a spirituality which will make use not merely of the practices of Hetha Yoga . . . but of the great systems of Karma, Bhakti and Jnana Yoga, the way of works or action of love or devotion, and the knowledge or wisdom, through which the spiritual genius of India has been revealed through the centuries.53

Griffith again and again points to the early church as a precedent and justification for what he expects will soon take place in the Orient—"a real cultural fusion of Christianity with the people of the Far East."54 He reminds us that the early church "did not hesitate to adapt its ceremonies to local customs and even to take its festival days from the pagan calendars."55 He points out how the Greek fathers assimilated the principles of Greek philosophy until they had incorporated it "into the very tissue of christian thought," and how in yet a later age, St. Thomas Aquinas took up the thought of Aristotle and built that also into the structure of Catholic theology.56 He concludes:
    We have, therefore, in Christian history the evidence of a continuous movement of assimilation, by means of which different forms of culture have been integrated into christian tradition, to guide us in our attitude to the cultures of the East. . . . The same approach is obviously required in our approach to India.57
He does not mean to imply that the church can accept everything in the non-Christian religions indiscriminately. He feels that there are no doubt certain elements which will have to be rejected. Nevertheless, the church must aggressively begin to assimilate what she can both in regard to modes of thought and forms of worship.58

Another Catholic who is writing prodigiously in this area is William Johnston. Johnston, a Jesuit, is on the faculty of Sophia University, Tokyo. In his book, Christian Zen, he states:
    Just as a whole new era opened up for Christianity when Thomas introduced Aristotle in the thirteenth century, so a new era, an even bigger one, could be opened up by the assimilation of some Buddhist ideas and attitudes. . . . [The church] will only reach something like completion when it sees truth through the eyes of all cultures. Indeed, it is precisely because of its claim to universality that Christianity needs the insights of other religions.59
Indeed, this approach to non-Christian religions may soon be the prevailing fashion in Roman Catholic circles. Already a spate of books has been produced exploring other religions from this perspective. Books such as Christ in India, Zen Catholicism, Christian Yoga, A Theology of Paganism, The Still Point and The Encounter of Religions60 all manifest a definite trend among Catholics toward the selective appropriation of certain thoughts and practices from the Eastern religions.

William Johnston says something about Buddhism which could be said of all non-Christian religions:
    All forms of Buddhism are going to make an enormous impact on the Christianity of the coming century. If there has been a Hellenized Christianity . . . there is every likelihood that the future will see the rise of an Oriental Christianity in which the role of Buddhism will be incalculably profound. Indeed this process has already begun.61

Bede Griffith gives an interesting insight into the church's changing attitude toward Hinduism:

Until recently the Church in India has remained sealed against any influence from Hinduism. It was regarded as a mortal sin to read the Bhagavad Gita or any of the sacred books of Hinduism, to enter a Hindu temple, or even to witness a Hindu dance or listen to Hindu music. . . . But since Vatican Council a great change has taken place. Everywhere there is an awakening interest not only in Hindu culture but in Hindu religion and a recognition that the Church has much to learn from Hindu spirituality. . . .62

In the matter of rites and customs, Anthony Fernando has pointed out that "in the spirit of dialogue" every attempt is being made to integrate into Catholicism at the local level the customs and traditions prevailing in that region.63 Some Catholic monasteries in India have adopted the kavi (a saffron-colored habit worn by both Buddhist and Hindu monks) and are trying to follow as far as possible the customs of a Hindu ashram (monastery).64 Sabbas Kilian, a Catholic who teaches theology at Fordham University, suggests that some of the "beautiful and meaningful prayers of the non-Christian heritage" should "find their way into the liturgies of the Christian Churches."65 Jesuit Christian Troll discusses the possibility of developing forms of common prayer for Moslims and Christians. He says:

Practicing the discernment of spirits we should be constantly on the lookout for the traces of God's word amongst men, to adopt into our own life of faith the religious sentiments of other people.66

In the matter of religious "holy days," the church may once again try to incorporate the festivals of other religions into her own system. For example, the Secretariat for Non-Christians in Rome has for several years published its own greetings as well as those of Pope Paul to the Moslim community on the occasion of the Id al-saghir (this is the most popular Moslim feast day; it marks the end of a month of fasting). In 1971, Rome sent the following message:
    We attach to your fast a great religious value. Your fast is in effect a homage to God and a sign of your desire to be faithful to him. How could we fail to associate ourselves with such a homage and to rejoice with you on the feast day? . . . During these hours we feel closer to you.

    It is good to repeat on this occasion our common faith in God, the very foundation of our mutual relationship. . . .67
On another front, Jesuit Carl F. Starkloff writes about the "mutual enrichment" he hopes will take place between Catholicism and the religious traditions of the American Indians. He feels it is important to "explore the possibilities of one's being a christian according to the traditional tribal religious practices."68 Regarding the use of peyote by some Indians who use it to induce a mystical experience, Starkloff feels that it would be "most unwise" for ecclesiastical authorities to suppress it.69 He writes:
    Most Indians, young and old, with whom I have spoken, have told me that they see no necessity of conflict between their religious traditions and Christianity. . . .

    Christ is transcendent to all tribes and cultures, but demands of none of them that they relinquish their identities.70

What about the various doctrines of non-Christian religions? How will the church deal with them? In the past they were ignored or denounced, but now vigorous efforts are being made to relate them to Catholic doctrine. For example, Griffith speculates regarding how the Indian doctrine of "karma" might be integrated with Christianity.71 John Moffitt (who converted to Catholicism after twenty-five years as a Hindu monk) points out the many parallels between Hindu and Christian belief in the areas of trinity, incarnation, fate of the soul, heaven, hell, purgatory, sacramental practices and mysticism. While noting some differences, he does not feel that the gap is too great for a synthesis to take place.72 Still another Catholic priest, Lawrence Sullivan, has written an article to show how the Chinese concept of "tao" (the way) can be related to Christian theology.73

It is generally agreed, however, that in these doctrinal matters a long dialogue will be required before true agreement can be reached. Some of the doctrinal divergencies are serious. Catholic ecumenists seem to realize that the best hope of uniting the world religions lies elsewhere—in the realm of "religious experience" and "mysticism" Here, indeed, there is plenty of common ground.

The Role of Mysticism in Inter-Religious Ecumenism

Obviously, the most important step in developing ecumenical relationships with non-Christians is to find some kind of solid, common ground, some basis for fellowship. Griffith writes:

There is a need of an ecumenical movement in religion, by which we seek to discover what is the common ground in the different religious traditions of mankind and then in the light of this understanding to comprehend all these different religious traditions in their vital relationship to the living Christ. This is the great task of the future.74

While admitting that there are problems in relating all the different pagan doctrines to Christianity, Griffith feels that there is at least one area in which we have reason to be very optimistic: "When it comes to the doctrine of salvation and union with God, the agreement is already extraordinary."75 He continues:
    What is required is a meeting of the different religious traditions at the deepest level of their experience of God. Hinduism is based on a deep mystical experience and everywhere seeks not simply to know 'about' God, but to 'know God,' that is to experience the reality of God in the depths of the soul. It is at this level that Christian and Hindu have to meet, to discover in their experience of God, what is really common. . . .76

    All through Indian history there has been this yearning to experience God in the depths of the soul. The whole system of Yoga. . . is intended to bring the heart and the mind into . . . the ultimate experience. . . . That is where our . . . final contact finally has to take place.

    To meet on the level of liturgy, of language, music and art is not so difficult. To meet on the level of philosophy and theology is a difficult and extended task, though I think we can manage it eventually. But to meet in the interior depths of the soul, in this experience of God, is, I believe, the final task of the Church, not only in India but in all the East. . . .77
Griffith believes that any truly successful encounter with non-Christians will have to take place on this level.78 He even implies that if dialogue is to be fruitful, both sides must allow their dogmas to be tested and judged by this common "experience."79 It is for this very reason that Griffith went to India to establish a monastic order in Bangalore. He recalls:
    My interest in eastern religion had grown steadily over the years. It was not merely an academic interest but rather a sense of need for that which Indian spirituality had to give. I had long been familiar with the mystical tradition of the West, but I felt the need of something more which the East alone could give; above all the sense of the presence of God in nature and the soul, a kind of natural mysticism which is the basis of all Indian spirituality. I felt therefore that if a genuine meeting of East and West was to take place, it must be at this deepest level of their experience and this I thought could best come through the monastic life.80

The word mysticism has to do with obtaining a knowledge of God by means of subjective experience rather than by objective revelation. The New Catholic Encyclopedia concedes without hesitation that authentic mystical experiences occur among non-Christians.81 The church recognizes that she has "no monopoly of mysticism" and that the mystical experiences of holy men in other religions bear "a remarkable resemblance" to the traditional teaching of Catholicism.82 Pope Paul himself, when he went to India in 1965, praised the people of India for their "profound meditation" and mystical search for God. In 1972, Pope Paul received a group of Buddhist monks who were visiting the Vatican. In his address to them, he commended them for their "spirituality."83 The Secretariat for Non-Christians, picking up the cue, has issued a document which mentions man's "desire for perfection and self-purification" and "search for God" as being the "basis for dialogue."84

Mysticism has always been a powerful force in drawing together men of different faiths because, as J. N. D. Anderson points out, mystics, regardless of religious background, are apt to speak the same sort of language. "Mystics in different religious traditions often recognize in each other a common experience which, they assert, transcends theological differences."85 This helps us understand what Klaus Klostermaier means when he says, "In true dialogue . . . it is not . . . doctrine or theological theory that matters but spirituality."86 Klostermaier is the consultant on Hinduism to Rome's Secretariat for Non-Christians. Elsewhere he explains that "at the level of formulated theology and fixed doctrinal concepts there can be no true spiritual meeting or dialogue" and says that ecumenists must go beyond that "to the level of the spiritual encounters of the self with God in the inner being."87

Abhishiktananda (Indian name assumed by Benedictine Henri Le Saux) feels that the "ultimate depths of the self" is the only adequate level for dialogue.88 This common "interiority" will be the cement to bind together the hearts of men. The title of his book speaks for itself—Hindu-Christian Meeting Point: Within the Cave of the Heart. The translator of Le Saux's book writes:

    Only in the cave of the heart can true dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism take place: contact at any other level can never be more than superficial and fleeting. . . . The time has come for Christians and Hindus to recognize in each other the gifts of the Spirit, and for that both must go silently down to the depths of their own being, to "the place where the glory dwelleth."89
The potential ability of "religious experience" to transcend theological differences is illustrated in a story told by William Johnston in his book, The Still Point:
    In the hot summer of 1968 I had the privilege of participating in the Zen-Christian dialogue held in Kyoto [Japan]. This was an unforgettable experience—a week in which Buddhists and Christians met in an atmosphere of great cordiality, forming deep friendships and laying the foundations for further union. Obviously we were not in complete accord on every point. On the contrary, when it came to formulating propositions on which we were agreed, it seemed that there was not a single philosophical or theological tenet that we held in common. . . . Yet that we had much in common was proved by the very atmosphere of delicate charity and understanding that penetrated the week in which we lived together. And soon it became clear that what united us was not philosophy but religious experience. . . . Indeed it was amazing that such diverse philosophies should produce such similar experiences.90
Raymond Panikkar, who comes from a mixed Hindu-Catholic home, recognizes that the meeting of religions cannot take place except in the sphere of an "existential" encounter.91 And here again, there is growing evidence that the dialogue will not be a one-way street. Bede Griffith writes, "We stand in desperate need of . . . interior life such as the East can teach us."92 Already, certain elements of Eastern spirituality are finding their way into Catholicism. For example, William Johnston writes:
    It seems to me that Christians can profit greatly from Zen methodology to deepen their Christian faith, and here in Japan an increasing number of Christians, both Japanese and Western, are discovering this. A growing number of Catholic Japanese nuns, for example, are quietly practicing Zen, and I believe it has a future in the Church.93
Johnston feels that in its dealings with the East, Western Christianity must humbly admit that it has much to learn. "She will find her encounter with the Orient no less enriching than her meeting with Greco-Roman thought in the early years of her existence."94 He points out that Zen meditation and the mystical contemplation of St. John of the Cross are 'remarkably similar" and that Zen can no doubt add many "precious and valuable teachings" to the Christian experience.95 Abhishiktananda also writes (from his hermitage near the Ganges in the Himalayas) that there must be an "integration in Christian spirituality of the Hindu mystical experience, and that this is the most essential duty cast on us, Christians of India, by the Spirit . . . . "96

One of the most interesting examples of how Eastern spirituality can be blended with Catholicism is the case of Thomas Merton (d. 1968). Merton was a Trappist monk who became deeply involved in Oriental mysticism and Zen meditation. (Zen is a technique usually associated with Buddhism. One author describes it as "the quest for direct and pure experience on a metaphysical level, liberated from verbal formulas and linguistic preconceptions."97 Many Catholics feel it is compatible with their faith.)98 Merton himself was a deeply committed ecumenist who seemed to feel that Zen could facilitate the dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity. "It would do so," he wrote, "by elevating contemplation over doctrines and concepts."99 Merton contended that Buddhism and Christianity, after all, have the same aim, namely, "ontological transformation through direct experience."100 Merton recognized the validity of mystical experience found in other religions. He wrote:
    Since in practice we must admit that God is in no way limited in His gifts, and since there is no reason to think that He cannot impart His light to other men without first consulting us, there can be no absolutely solid grounds for denying the possibility of supernatural (private) revelation and of supernatural mystical graces to individuals, no matter where they may be or what may be their religious tradition, provided that they sincerely seek God and His truth.101
To illustrate the mutual appreciation of mysticism by both partners in the ecumenical dialogue, Merton tells the story of a Hindu monk named Brahmachari who one day told him (with special emphasis) that he (Merton) ought to read The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, and Augustine's Confessions. Merton looks back on this experience with the following observation:
    It seems to me very probable that one of the reasons why God had brought him all the way from India, was that he might say just that.

    After all, it is rather ironical that I had turned, spontaneously to the east, in reading about mysticism, as if there was little or nothing in the Christian tradition. . . .

    So now I was told that I ought to turn to the Christian tradition [regarding mysticism] . . . —and told by a Hindu monk!102
Another example of how mysticism serves as a common ground for inter-religious dialogue is seen in the conference that took place between Zen Buddhists and Catholics in 1967.103 A large portion of the time in this conferencconferencee was devoted to a discussion of the so-called "interior way" in which the participants shared their personal religious experience in order to discover a deeper connection among themselves.
    The Catholic participants in the conference focused on the notion of prayer when they discussed the interior way. They tried to clarify the relationship between specifically Christian prayer and Zen meditation. The three Catholic reports on this theme agree on one point: there is no unbridgeable gap between the two types of spirituality.104

At this same conference, a young Japanese Carmelite monk, Ichiro Okumura, told how he had combined the spiritual values of Japanese tradition with those of Carmelite spirituality. Soon after becoming a Christian, he became acquainted with Catholic mysticism through the writings of St. John of the Cross. When he entered the Carmelite order, he brought with him his familiarity with Zen discipline and an intimate knowledge of the great Zen master, Dogen. He told the conference that he feels Christian spirituality can be enriched by Zen meditation.105

Another Catholic at the conference, Enomiya Las-sale, stated that with the help of Zen meditation, he had experienced "a new and undreamed of possibility for spiritual recollection and concentration."106 One of the Buddhist participants was Zenkei Shibayama (he is abbot of a cloister of Buddhist monks). He told of how he "renounced the world after recognizing the fleeting nature of worldly things and the enduring values of the spirit."107 This is something that every Catholic ascetic can appreciate.

What does all this mean? It means that we live in a time when—surrounded on every side by calamity and uncertainty—the masses of humanity are lusting for a satisfying religious experience. The Roman Catholic Church is well-equipped to satisfy the world's mystical longing for experience, for immediacy. Indeed, some of the world's greatest mystics have drawn their nourishment from her bosom. A chain of mystics stretches through all the centuries of the church—Bernard of Clairvqux, Eckhart, Suso, Tauler, Thomas a Kempis, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Catherine of Siena, etc. And in Roman mysticism, says Theresa, the soul "drinks deep drafts of the water of grace flowing abundantly from God and sinks into a heavenly intoxication, a holy frenzy."108 This ecstasy, this unio mystica, may turn out to be Rome's greatest attraction in the accelerating quest for inter-religious unity.109

According to the official Vatican newspaper, Rome wants to establish a "true, mutual existential communication" with world religions.110 It can truly be said that, experientially, Catholicism is ready to meet and dialogue with all the nations of the earth. "Here, at the level of mysticism, East meets West. Here is the still point of the turning world."111


In summary, I would like to state the following conclusions:

1. World conditions seem to be ripe at the present time for the greatest syncretistic movement since the early church. Common social problems and a menacing common enemy (atheism) are tending to draw the world religions into more intimate cooperation and dialogue.

2. Rome is manifesting a new attitude toward non-Christian religions which could be characterized with the words "dialogue" and "mutual esteem." Sincere pagans are now "anonymous Christians," and it is acknowledged that many true and holy things are contained in their respective religions. The rites and dogmas of rival religions are no longer denounced, but often admired.

3. Rome seems willing to assimilate certain elements from these religions for the sake of improved ecumenical relationships. Rome may soon permit some kind of synthesis to take place which will include not only rites and customs, but philosophies and dogmas as well. A repetition of the fusion that occurred between Catholicism and the Greco-Roman civilization is being predicted from many quarters. This time, however, it is the Oriental religions which will be engulfed.

4. Subjective "religious experience" or "mysticism" is the most promising meeting point as world religions cast about for some common ground upon which to fellowship. The principle that man can save himself by his own works (or experience) lies at the foundation of every heathen religion. Most Catholics who are actively involved in dialogue feel that man's innermost spiritual life is the only level at which successful ecumenism can take place.

In view of these emerging factors, what predictions can we make regarding the shape of inter-religious ecumenism in the future? It is difficult to say how far Rome is willing to go in the matter of assimilation, but there are plentiful indications that some kind of marriage between Catholicism and Oriental spirituality is imminent. For example, John Moffitt, who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism and is well-acquainted with both Hindu and Buddhist religious thought, writes:

I am a Christian, . . . but I can no longer say I am not a Hindu or a Buddhist. . . .

In becoming a Roman Catholic . . . I was not let to forget or deny the profundities of my earlier faith. After the first flush of convert zeal subsided, I realized there was a deeper kinship between Hinduism and the technique of Jesus Christ than most Westerners had up to now perceived.112

Bede Griffith also gives an interesting insight into how this "marriage" is progressing in India.
    I once joined in a Catholic procession at a church in Bangalore, where the statues of the saints were carried in procession, and I could not help seeing that it was almost like a Hindu procession, where the statues of the saints had taken the place of the 'idols' of the gods.113

But what about the attitude of Hindus and Buddhists toward Christ? Are the barriers insurmountable? Not according to Raymond Panikkar. He points out that Hindus, for example, tend to readily accept the idea of Christ as "the Son of God." They recognize the validity of religious thought beyond their own horizon. Indeed, Panikkar says that Christ is already becoming a popular figure in the Indian "pantheon."114 Catholic Edward Rice agrees that it is relatively easy for Hindus to "believe" in Christianity—they have the capacity to encompass many beliefs.115 Klaus Klostermaier, a consultant to the Vatican's Secretariat for Non-Christians, writes that "the educated, religiously-interested Hindu respects Christ and often reads the New Testament, and many Swamis quote freely from the Bible when preaching to their followers."116

As much as Catholics loathe to use the word syncretism, it seems that no other word so well describes what is beginning to take place. At this time it would be well to ask, What is God's attitude toward syncretism? Several biblical passages speak to this very point. For example, 1 Samuel 5 relates how the victorious Philistines placed the captured ark of the covenant in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod (in order to add Yahweh to their pantheon of deities). During two successive nights, the statue of Dagon fell upon its face before the ark, breaking off its head and hands! It seems that Yahweh does not agree td being synthesized with other religions. In Acts 14:11 we read that when Paul performed a miraculous healing in Lystra, the populace (including the priests of Jupiter) were eager to incorporate the Christian missionaries into their religious system. The apostles, however, could not tolerate such a God-dishonoring fusion.

What about the aspect of interiority and subjectivism in the current inter-religious dialogue? This is often considered the best meeting point, the "cement" which can unite men of different faiths. But is mysticism a valid place for men to gather and worship God? As a Protestant, I must agree with Karl Heim that mysticism and true worship are as far apart as the east from the west. Writes Heim:

    We cannot find God through a condition of ecstasy. . . . . As long as we are intoxicated we are not with God, but only with ourselves. We are concerned with the swelling ocean of our own mental life. . . . We can find God only in a spiritual act that occurs in deep solitude and with full mental clarity. That is why the Word plays the decisive role in the search for God.117
Protestants recognize that true worship can be offered only by one who is in full control of his faculties, and that this worship consists not in subjective experiences, but rather in hearing the objective Word of God. Further, this ecumenical emphasis on interiority is radically opposed to the apostolic preoccupation with the objective mercies of God. True Christianity is unique among world religions in that it is a historical faith. The Christian's salvation is based on something entirely outside of himself—the doing and dying of Jesus, the Christ of history. While Oriental and Catholic mystics are turning their gaze inward to discover God "in the depths of their being," the true people of God will be looking away from themselves to the alien righteousness of Christ, which alone can make them acceptable to God. They will look upward into the heavenly sanctuary where Christ has entered, cast their anchor within the veil, and enter boldly into God's presence by the blood of Jesus.

Finally, it seems that in the current inter-religious dialogue, the enemy of souls is laying the groundwork for his final deception. The final uniting of the world religions will in all likelihood be accomplished by Satan himself. Bede Griffith, a Catholic who is extremely active in inter-religious ecumenism, predicts:
    As the different religions draw nearer to one another in mutual respect, seeking the ultimate truth to which they all alike bear witness, may we not hope that they may eventually arrive at unity? Yet perhaps we have to allow that this ultimate unity will only be reached at the end of time. It is notable that all the different religions look forward to a figure who is to appear at the end of time. The Hindus expect the last avatara in the form of Kalki, the Buddhists await the coming of the Buddha Maitreya, the Jews look for the coming of the Messiah, and both Christians and Muslims expect the coming of Jesus. . .118
When this dazzling religious figure comes, this counterfeit christ, he will offer the world peace, unity and healing. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. Christians will unite in the use of this wonderworking power, and they will see in this development a grand opportunity for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.

In the meantime, Rome can be expected to patiently continue working toward her great ambition of worldwide ecumenism and unity. The sweeping analysis offered by Bert Beach is probably not exaggerated. He writes:
    Rome has launched out on an ecumenical enterprise of truly impressive proportions. . . . All religions, races, social classes, professions, cultures, governments, are to lay their aspirations and values on the altar of Catholic ecumenism and let Roman integration and unity make up for their division. . . . Nothing is excluded except that which refuses to be integrated into this enlarged framework. Catholicism thus presents itself as the universal religion of mankind, the religion of the United Nations.119



1 C. Murray Rogers, "Hindu and Christian—A Moment Breaks," in Inter-Religious Dialogue, ed. Herbert Jai Singh (Bangalore: The Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1967), p.104.
2 Walter M. Abbott, The Documents of Vatican II, introduction by Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, translations directed by Joseph Gallagher (New York: Herder & Herder, 1966), p.586.
3 lbid., p.660.
4 lbid.
5 The conference met during October 8-9, 1965. S. J. Samartha, "The Progress and Promise of Inter-Religious Dialogues," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 9 (Summer 1972): 463-76.
6 October 30.1970.
7 L' Osservatore Romano, October 19,1972, p.3.
8 lbid., June 15,1972, p.5.
9 Preface to H. Van Straelen, Our Attitude Toward Other Religions (Tokyo: Enderl-Herder, 1965), p.7.
10 Abhishiktananda [Henri Le Saux], Hindu-Christian Meeting Point: Within the Cave of the Heart, foreword by Klaus Klostermaier, translated by Sara Grant (Bombay: Institute of Indian Culture, 1969), p.4.
11 See, for example, Journal of Ecumenical Studies 10 (winter 1973): 24: L'Osservatore Romano, April 13, 1972, p.8.
12 D 714.
13 D 468f. The necessity of being in the church for salvation was also explicitly taught by Innocent III (D 423) and the Fourth Lateran Council (D 430).
14 Abbofl, Vatican II, p.34.
15 Ibid., p.35.
16 D 1821-40.
17 D 3821.
18 D 3866-73.
19 D 3870.
20 "Who Belongs to the Church?" translated by Theodore L. Westow, in Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal, Vol.1: The Church and Mankind, p.144. Boniface Willems, 0. P., is professor of dogmatic theology at the Albertinum in Nilmegen.
21 Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, 11 vols., vol. 5: Later Writings, translated by Karl-H. Kruger (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1966).
22 Christopher Mooney, Telihard de Chardin and the Mystery of Christ (New York: Harper & Row, 1966).
23 Christ in India: Essays towards a Hindu-Christian Dialogue (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1966), p.247.
24 Abbott, Vatican II, p.662.
25 L'Osservatore Romano, June 15, 1972, p.5.
26 Ibid., May 15, 1969, p.9.
27 Secretariat for Non-Christians, Towards the Meeting of Religions; Suggestions for Dialogue; The First Pan of a Guide for Dialogue, September 21, 1967 (Washington, D.C.: Publications Oflice of the United States Catholic Conference), pp.19, 22 The attitude taken toward "idol-worship" among non-Christians in this document is also very interesting. The veneration of idols, ancestor worship and the veneration of the dead—says the secretariat—are not in themselves idolatry and should be considered "permissable" since they are really an expression of man's search for the divine. See p.18.
28 John Moffitt, "Christianity Confronts Hinduism," Theological Studies 30 (June 1969): 222. Moffitt converted to Catholicism after living ass Hindu monk for 25 years.
29 "Hindu and Christian," p. 110.
30 Sabbas J. Kilian, "The Catholic Theologian and Non-Christian Religions," Thought 49 (March 1974): 21-42.
31 Ibid., p.34.
32 "Hindu and Christian," p.110.
33 Peter Schreiner, ''Roman Catholic Theology and Non-Christian Religions," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 6 (Summer 1969): 394. At the time of publication, Schreiner was a doctoral student at the University of Munster, Germany.
34 Christian Zen (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p.10.
35 "Christians and So-called Non-Christians,' " Cross Currents 22 (Summer-Fall 1972): 283.
36 India, p.247.
37 (New York: Newman Press, 1971), pp.52-53.
38 Raymond Panikkar, "Confrontation Between Hinduism and Christ," New Blackfriars 50 (January 1969): 197-204.
39 Christianity and Comparative Religion (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-varsity Press, 1974), p.12.
40 Ecumenlsm: Boon or Bane? (Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1974), p.131.
41 Christianity among the Religions of the World (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), pp.111-12.
42 Karl Heim, The Nature of Protestantism, translated and with a foreward by John Schmidt (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963), pp.12-14. The following examples are taken from his work.
43 Through Scylla and Charybdis (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1907), p.23; cited in Helm, Protestantism, p.14.
44 "Dialogue in a Secular Age," in Inter-Religious Dialogue, pp. 127-44, edited by Herbert Jai Singh (Bangalore: The Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1967), pp.130-31.
45 Heim, Protestantism, p.13.
46 Ibid.
47 "Mother of harlots" (Rev. 17:5).
48 The Church in India: An Eassy [sic] in Christian Self-Criticism (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1969), p.37.
49 Ibid.
50 Ibid., p.55.
51 "Dialogue," p.125.
52 India, p.249.
53 Ibid., pp.23-24.
54 Ibid., p.70.
55 Ibid.
56 Ibid., p.72.
57 lbid., pp.72-73.
58 Ibid.
59 pp. 14-15.
60 The authors, respectively, are Bede Grttith, Aired Graham, J. M. Dechanet, Henri Maurier, William Johnston and Jacques-Albert Cuttat. See bibliography.
61 The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Meditation (New York: Fordham University Press, 1970), p. xii.
62 "Salvation in India," Tablet 226 (December 23-30, 1972): 1221.
63 "Salvation and Liberation in Buddhism and Christianity," Lumen Vitae 27 (June 1972): 304. Fernando lectures in Buddhism and in catechetics at the National Seminary, Kandy, Ceylon, and edits the national catechetical magazine in Ceylon.
64 Grittith, India, p.42.
65 "Catholic Theologian," p.38.
66 "A New Spirit in Muslim-Christian Relations," Month 6 (September 1973): 304.
67 Quoted in ibid., p.299.
68 "American Indian Religion and Christianity: Confrontation and Dialogue," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 9 (Summer 1972): 318. Starkloff has been chaplain at Haskell Indian College, Lawrence, Nebraska.
69 Ibid., p.319.
70 Ibid., pp.320-22.
71 Bede Griffith, "Salvation," p.1221. Briefly, karma is the idea that every deed has its inevitable consequence and that the effects of karma continue from one rebirth to another until the soul is finally purified and attains final release. There is a profound truth in this, says Griffith, when we realize that it is humanity as a whole that takes birth continually from age to age and that human history is really the working out of the karma.
72 "Christianity Confronts Hinduism," p.30.
73 "Lao Tzu and the Doctrine of the way," Spiritual Life 18 (Fall 1972): 166-73.
74 India, pp.164-65; cf. p.30
75 "Salvation," p.1221.
76 Griffith, India, pp.46-47; ct. pp.63-65.
77 Ibid., p.183; cf. p.24.
78 Ibid., pp.175-76.
79 Ibid., p.200.
80 Ibid., p.17.
81 Vo1. 10, S.v. "Mystical Phenomena," J. Aumann.
82 Ibid., S.v. "Mysticism," T. Corbishley.
83 L'Osservatore Romano, June 15, 1972, p.5.
84 Suggestions for Dialogue, p.14.
85 Christianity, pp.18-19.
86 "Dialogue—the Work of God," in Inter-Religious Dialogue, edited by Herbert Jai Singh (Bangalore: The Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1967), p.123.
87 Foreward to Abhishiktananda, Cave of the Heart, p.7.
88 Ibid.
89 Ibid., note by translator (Sara Grant), p. vii.
90 pp. xi-xii.
91 The Unknown Christ of Hinduism (London: Darton, Longman & Todd [1965]).
92 India, p.74.
93 Christian Zen, p.19.
94 Still Point, p. 182.
95 "Zen and Christian Contemplation," Review for Religious 29 (Spring 1970): 703.
96 "Hindu Spirituality," Clergy Review 54 (March 1969): p.174.
97 Chalmers MacCormick, "The Zen Catholicism of Thomas Merton," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 9 (Fall 1972): 803.804. For a good description of Zen, see Johnston, Still Point, pp.1-23.
98 Ibid.
99 Quoted in MacCormick, "Merton," p.813.
100 Donald Swearer, "Three Modes of zen Buddhism in America," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 10 (Spring 1973): p.301.
101 Quoted in MacCormick, "Merton," pp.809-10.
102 Quoted in ibid., p.816.
103 Heinrich Dumoulin, "A Dialogue with Zen Buddhists," translated by John Drury, in Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal, Vol.29: Opportunities for Belief and Behavior, edited by Christian DuOuoc (New York: Paulist Press, 1967).
104 Ibid., p.158.
105 Ibid., p.159.
106 Ibid., p.160.
107 Ibid., p.161.
108 Quoted in Helm, Protestantism, p 8.
109 For a thorough survey of classical mysticism in the Catholic Church, see Sidney Spencer, Mysticism in World Religions (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1963).
110 Piero Rossano, L'Osservatore Romano, October22, 1970, p.10.
111 Johnston, Still Point, p.174.
112 Journey to Gorakhpur: An Encounter with Christ beyond Christianity (New York: Hot, Rinehart, & Winston, 1972), p. xi.
113 India, p.105; see also p.109.
114 "Confrontatlon," p.202.
115 Edward Rice, "The Hidden Christ of Hinduism," Sign 49 (June 1970): 32.
116 "Hindu-Christian Dialogue," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 5 (winter 1968): 27.
117 Protestantism, 79.
118 India, pp.36-37.
119 Beach, Ecumenism, p.260. 118India, pp.36-37.
119 Beach, Ecumenism, p.260.

Selected Bibliography

Abhishiktananda [Henri Le Saux]. The Church in India: An Eassy [sic] in Christian Self-Criticism. Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1969.

_______ Hindu-Christian Meeting Point: Within the Cave of the Heart. Foreward by Klaus Klostermaier. Translated by Sara Grant. Bombay: Institute of Indian Culture, 1969.

_______ "Hindu Spirituality." Clergy Review 54 (March 1969)163-212.

Anderson, J. N. D. Christianity and Comparative Religion. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1974.

Baago, Kaj. "Dialogue in a Secular Age." In: Inter-Religious Dialogue, pp.127-44. Edited by Herbert Jai Singh. Bangalore: The Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1967.

Beach, Bert Beverly. Ecumenism: Boon or Bane? Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1974.

Cuttat, Jacques-Albert. The Encounter of Religions: A Dialogue between the West and the Orient, with an Essay on the Prayer of Jesus. Foreword by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Translated by Pierre de Fontnouvelle with Evis McGrew. New York: Descee, 1960.

Dechanet, J. M. Christian Yoga. New York: Harper & Row, 1960.

Dumoulin, Heinrich. "A Dialogue with Zen Buddhists." Translated by John Drury. In: Opportunities for Belief and Behavior. Edited by Christian DuQuoc. Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal, Vol.29. New York: Paulist Press, 1967.

Fernando, Anthony. "Salvation and Liberation in Buddhism and Christianity." Lumen Vitae 27 (June 1972): 304-18.

Graham, Aired. Zen Catholicism. London: Catholic Book Club, 1963.

Griffiths, Bede. Christ in India: Essays towards a Hindu-Christian Dialogue. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966.

_______ "Salvation in India." Tablet 226 (December 23-30, 1972): 1221.

Heim, Karl. The Nature of Protestantism. Translated and with a foreword by John Schmidt. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963.

Herder 6 (October 1969): 316-19. An "observer" comments on the activities of the Secretariat for non-Christians.

Johnston, William. Christian Zen. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

________The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Meditation. New York: Fordham University Press, 1970.

________ "Zen and Christian Contemplation." Review for Religious 29 (Spring 1970): 699-704.

Kilian, Sabbas J. "The Catholic Theologian and Non-Christian Religions." Thought 49 (March 1974): 21-42.

Klostermaier, Klaus. "Dialogue—The Work of God." In: Inter-Religious Dialogue, pp. 118-26. Edited by Herbert Jai Singh. Bangalore: The Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1967.

Kreeft, Peter. "Zen Buddhism and Christianity: An Experiment in Comparative Religion." Journal of Ecumenical Studies 8 (Summer 1971): 513-38.

Kung, Hans. "The World Religions in God's Plan of Salvation." In: Christian Revelation and Worid Reilgions, pp. 25-66. Edited by Joseph Neuner. London: Compass Books, 1967.

L'Osservatore Romano, April 13, 1972, "Secretariat for non-Christians engages in manifold activities," p.8+.

_________May 15,1969, quotation from Pope Paul VI, p.9.

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__________ "Paul VI to participants in the meeting promoted by the secretariat for non-Christians." L'Osservatore Romano, October 19,1972, p.3.

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