We cannot blame people for following other religions.

Wednesday, 6/26/14

Jesus in the Gospel warned us against false prophets, who come like wolves in sheep’s clothing. And then he adds, “By their fruit you will know them. A rotten tree cannot bear good fruit.”

If we had a narrow Catholic upbringing we might have been led to see the preachers of other religions as the false prophets against whim Jesus warned us.

However, we would have been quite wrong in that. Since a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, when we see Baptists or Lutherans doing good work, bearing good fruit, we should come to regard them as models of goodness whom we should befriend and imitate. 

Our Church now warns us against condemning people for following other religions. The Second Vatican Council put it this way:

“The Vatican Council declares that the human person has the right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be free from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, no one is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions in religious matters in private or public, alone or in association with others.

That “Decree on Religious Liberty” was very different from the attitudes of former times when the Inquisition punished heretics. The Church adopted this saner and more Christian attitude after seeing how well Freedom of Religion brought happiness to the United States.

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