Declaration on the Relation of the
(October 28 1965)
1. In this age of ours, when men are drawing more closely
together and the bonds of friendship between different peoples are being strengthened the
Church examines with greater care the relation which she has to nonChristian religions.
Ever aware of her duty to foster unity and charity among individuals, and even among
nations, she reflects at the outset on what men have in common and what tends to promote
fellowship among them.
All men form but one community This is so because all stem
from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth (cf. Acts 17:26), and also
because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and
saving designs extend to all men (cf. Wis. 8:1: Acts 14:17: Rom. 2:6 7: I Tim. 2:4)
against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city which is illumined
by the glory of God. and in whose splendor all peoples will walk(cf. Apoc 21:23 ff.).
Men look to their different religions for an answer to the
unsolved riddles of human existence. The problems that weigh heavily on the hearts of men
are the same today as in the ages past. What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of
life? What is upright behavior, and what is sinful? Where does suffering originate, and
what end does it serve? How can genuine happiness be found? What happens at death? What is
judgment? What reward follows death? And finally, what is the ultimate mystery, beyond
human explanation, which embraces our entire existence, from which we take our origin and
towards which we tend?
2. Throughout history even to the present day, there is
found among different peoples a certain awareness of a hidden power, which lies behind the
course of nature and the events of human life At times there is present even a recognition
of a supreme being or still more of a Father. This awareness and recognition results in a
way of life that is imbued with a deep religious sense. The religions which are found in
more advanced civilizations endeavor by way of welldefined concepts and exact language
to answer these questions. Thus in Hinduism men explore the divine mystery and express it
both in the limitless riches of myth and the accurately defined insights of philosophy.
They seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound
meditation and recourse to God in confidence and love. Buddhism in its various forms
testifies to the essential inadequacy of this changing world. It proposes a way of life by
which men can with confidence and trust, attain a state of perfect liberation and reach
supreme illumination either through their own efforts or by the aid of divine help. So.
too, other religions which are found throughout the world attempt in their own ways to
calm the hearts of men by outlining a program of life covering doctrine, moral precepts
and sacred rites.
The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and
holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the
precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching,
nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men Yet she proclaims
and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the
life (Jn. 1:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2 Cor. 5:1819),
men find the fullness of their religious life.
The Church therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence
and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religious. Let
Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and
encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among nonChristians also their social
life and culture.
3. The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They
worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of
heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without
reserve to the bidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to
whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they
worship Jesus as a prophet, his virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly
invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the
resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship
God, especially by way of prayer, almsdeeds and fasting.
Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have
arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget
the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the
benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice
and moral values.
4. Sounding the depths of the mystery which is the Church,
this sacred Council remembers the spiritual ties which link the people of the New Covenant
to the stock of Abraham.
The Church of Christ acknowledges that in God's plan of
salvation the beginning of her faith and election is to be found in the patriarchs. Moses
and the prophets. She professes that all Christ's faithful, who as men of faith are sons
of Abraham (cf. Gal. 3:7), are included in the same patriarch's call and that the
salvation of the Church is mystically prefigured in the exodus of God's chosen people from
the land of bondage On this account the Church cannot forget that she received the
revelation of the Old Testament by way of that people with whom God in his inexpressible
mercy established the ancient covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws nourishment from
that good olive tree onto which the wild olive branches of the Gentiles have been grafted
(cf. Rom. 11:1724). The Church believes that Christ who is our peace has through his
cross reconciled Jews and Gentiles and made them one in himself (cf. Eph. 2:1416).
Likewise, the Church keeps ever before her mind the words
of the apostle Paul about his kinsmen: "they are Israelites, and to them belong the
sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law the worship, and the promises; to
them belong the patriarchs, and of their race according to the flesh, is the Christ"
(Rom. 9:45), the son of the virgin Mary. She is mindful, moreover, that the apostles,
the pillars on which the Church stands, are of Jewish descent, as are many of those early
disciples who proclaimed the Gospel of Christ to the world.
As holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize
God's moment when it came (cf. Lk. 19:42) Jews for the most part did not accept the
Gospel; on the contrary, many opposed The spreading of it (cf. Rom. 11:28). Even so, The
apostle Paul maintains that the Jews remain very dear to God. for the sake of the
patriarchs since God does not take back the gifts he bestowed or the choice he made.
Together with the prophets and that same apostle, the Church awaits the day, known to God
alone, when all peoples will call on God with one voice and "serve him shoulder to
shoulder" (Soph. 3 :9 cf. Is. 66:23; Ps. 65:4; Rom. 11:1132)
Since Christians and Jews have such a common spiritual
heritage, this sacred Council wishes to encourage and further mutual understanding and
appreciation. This can be obtained, especially, by way of biblical and theological enquiry
and through friendly discussions.
Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed
their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. John 19:6), neither all Jews
indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed
during his passion. lt. is true that the Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews
should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.
Consequently, all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the Word of God,
they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel message or the
spirit of Christ.
Indeed the Church reproves every form of persecution
against whomsoever it may be directed. Remembering, then, her common heritage with the
Jews and moved not by any political consideration, but solely by the religious motivation
of Christian charity, she deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism
leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews.
The Church always held and continues to hold that Christ
out of infinite love freely underwent suffering and death because of the sins of all men,
so that all might attain salvation. It is the duty of the Church, therefore, in her
preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's universal love and the
source of all grace.
5. We cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we
treat any people in other than brotherly fashion, for all men are created in God's image.
Man's relation to God the Father and man's relation to his. fellowmen are so dependent
on each other that the Scripture says "he who does not love. does not know God"
(I Jn. 4:8).
There is no basis therefore, either in theory or in
practice for any discrimination between individual and individual, or between people and
people arising either from human dignity or from the rights which flow from it.
Therefore, the Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of
Christ, any discrimination against people or any harassment of them on the basis of their
race, color, condition in life or religion. Accordingly, following, the footsteps of the
holy apostles Peter and Paul, the sacred Council earnestly begs the Christian faithful to
"conduct themselves well among the Gentiles" (I Pet. 2:12) and if possible, as
far as depends on them, to be at peace with all men (cf. Rom 12:18 ) and in that way to be
true sons of the Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt. 5:45).
2. Cf. Rom. 11:2829; cf. Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium (AAS 57, 1965, 20).