Challenges for the Pope's Successor Include Expanded Interfaith Outreach

April 18, 2005

Source: MSNBC/Newsweek

On April 18, 2005 Newsweek reported, "John Paul II made interfaith dialogue a priority, but his successor needs to expand and intensify those exchanges, says Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard. 'He went much further with the Jewish people than with Muslims,' she says. 'And much further with Abrahamic dialogue than either Buddhists or Hindus.' Relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches remain strained, a painful reality for adherents who share so much culture and history. Achieving true interreligious understanding won't be easy, either, especially since the publication five years ago of 'Dominus Jesus,' Cardinal Ratzinger's document proclaiming the Roman Catholic Church 'the one, true church of Jesus Christ.' Written to assuage church members' unease over the pluralism so popular in secular culture, it also puts any new pope in a tough spot, diplomatically. The Vatican is keen to avoid a generalized confrontation between Islam and the Christian West; nevertheless, the next pope is going to have to address the challenge of Islam not only in what has been considered Muslim territory, but in the heart of Europe, where Muslim immigrants and their descendants now make up a new social and religious force that the church has never had to confront before."