The Church and the diversity of religions
of Father Henri de La Hougue
Salvator, 192 p., € 18.80
How can we understand the plurality of religions today from the point of view of the Christian faith? It is to this thorny and vast question that Father Henri de La Hougue proposes to answer in an educational book. The latter is not addressed only to theologians but really to the greatest number. To fulfill this objective, the author, a Sulpician priest who teaches the theology of religions at the Catholic Institute in Paris, chose the didactic mode of “question-answer” – numbering 77.
Father Henri de La Hougue, very involved in Islamic-Christian dialogue since the 1990s, also speaks on behalf of his rich personal experience. The parish priest of Saint-Sulpice in Paris has already written two books, Esteem for the Faith of Others (Desclée de Brouwer, 2011) and, with Saeid Jazari Mamoei, Is God the author of the Bible and the Koran? (Salvator, 2016), on the same subject of Christian theology of religions.
He wishes to help Christians position themselves vis-à-vis members of other religions with whom they often come into contact on a daily basis in increasingly diverse societies. The author resolutely inscribes his reflection in the desire to understand the followers of other religions and their own logic and in a process of esteem. Father de La Hougue, moreover, invites us to be questioned by them, a reflection which can lead to a fresh exploration of what constitutes the very heart of our faith.
The author proposes to confront the question of religious plurality and the place of Christ in this diverse world by first exploring the outlook in the Bible on the religions of other nations before questioning the gaze of the Catholic Church, in particular through the major texts resulting from the Second Vatican Council, such as the famous conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate of October 28, 1965 on non-Christian religions. Father de La Hougue is also interested in the forms and conditions of interreligious dialogue before considering the theological debates at work today.
The author does not try to avoid the thorny questions: what becomes of the truth in interreligious dialogue? Between Christians, Jews and Muslims, can we say that we have the same God? Can we consider religious pluralism to be part of God’s plan? He gives some leads and affirms a conviction anchored in faith: the Holy Spirit “Even works outside the Church”.