In the last 2,000 years the church has called ecumenical councils to struggle with changes in the church and the world. More than 50 years ago, Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council to prepare the church for the 20th century. Like many councils, it prepared a program to help the church in its mission in the modern world.
Fifty years have passed and the council’s recommendations and aims still need to be studied and addressed. The changes were intensive and challenging. As in any organization, there are always two sides in the debate, so it is no surprise it has taken many years to understand and accept its decision.
Today the church is coming to fulfill its mission to the modern world. One question is the role of various religions and their relationship to one another. The modern ecumenical movement has made this an important part in the understanding and appreciation of all religions. This is not any easy task. The bishop has established a Committee on Other Religions to implement our role in the endeavor.
Many people are not aware that the Diocese of Wilmington has had a Committee on Other Religions for 10 years. Our purpose is to learn about other faiths; to explore our understandings of the search and need for a relationship with God and one another.
History has shown a misunderstanding and conflict between religions and also other ideologies. World War II finally opened our realization that those who have a religious view of life must in some way recognize that although religions are different, they share certain values as to the nature of life and morality.
The effects of the Holocaust have opened an awareness that the persecution and treatment of the Jewish people was not only a great sin but a great injustice.
In today’s world, we Catholics realize and appreciate the role the Jewish people: to worship the one God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We share that belief and the Jewish scriptures are a part of our religious heritage and practices.
Cooperation between Catholics and Protestants has a longer history and continues to fill a need for inter-faith cooperation. Today we include all religions in our mission, especially new faiths that have come to America.
The diocesan Committee on Other Religions is trying to reach our Catholic family and dialog with other faiths. We would be willing to come to your parish, school or group to help you to understand the importance of this task and to join together in this cause. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Father Kempski resides at Holy Rosary, Claymont.