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Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue


The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) is a dicastery of the Holy See responsible for relations with followers of other religions. The PCID promotes dialogue with other religions in accordance with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, particularly Nostra Aetate. Founded at first as the Secretariat for Non-Christians during Pentecost 1964, it was raised to the dignity of a pontifical council in 1988 through the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, when it was renamed. In accordance with that constitution's regulation (§161), the PCID may at times, in the course of its work, consult with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as the Congregations for the Eastern Churches and the Evangelization of Peoples. The PCID does not have responsibility for the promoting relations with Jews. That is the proper competence of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, an office of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

The goals of the PCID are threefold: to promote mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of others religious traditions; to encourage the study of religions; and to promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue. In aid of this task the PCID has produced several documents, "The Attitude of the Catholic Church towards the Followers of Other Religious Traditions: Reflections on Dialogue and Mission" (1984), "Pastoral Attention to African Traditional Religions" (1988), "Dialogue and Proclamation"(1991), "Pastoral Attention to the Traditional Religions of Asia, America, and Oceania" (1994), "Journeying Together: The Catholic Church in Dialogue with the Religious Traditions of the World" (1999), and an "Inter-religious Dialogue Directory." Other documents also serve as guides, particularly the papal encyclical letters ecclesiam suam (1964), redemptor hominis (1979), and redemptoris missio (1990).

The permanent staff in Rome includes staff members for Africa and Asia and a staff member for new religious movements. The PCID also has a special commission for religious relations with Muslims, instituted by Paul VI on Oct. 22, 1974. It engages in studies on different aspects of Christian-Muslim relations and has produced a document with special attention given to dialogue with Muslims.

The PCID usually publishes the acts of the dialogue meetings it organizes. A bulletin, called Pro Dialogo, is published regularly three times a year. Typically, the president of the PCID or his delegate sends greetings on the occasion of the major festivals of non-Christian religions. For example, widely published messages have been sent to Hindus around the world on the feast of Diwali, to Buddhists on the feast of Vesakh/Hanamatsuri, or to Muslims on the occasion of Ramadan.

Bibliography: f. arinze, Church in Dialogue: Walking with Other Believers (San Francisco 1990); Meeting Other Believers (Huntington, Ind. 1997). m. borrmans, ed., Guidelines for Dialogue between Christians and Muslims by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, tr. r. m. speight (New York 1990). w. r. borrows, ed., Redemption and Dialogue: Reading "Redemptoris Missio" and "Dialogue and Proclamation" (Maryknoll, N.Y. 1993). f. gioia, ed., Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teaching of the Catholic Church, 19631995 (Boston 1997). r. b. sheard, Interreligious Dialogue in the Catholic Church since Vatican II: An Historical and Theological Study (Lewiston, N.Y. 1987).

[p. j. hayes]

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