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10. It is said that after the meeting of Vatican Council II in the late 1960s, there is a change in the exclusivist thinking of the Catholic church.

      Hindu believe in pluralism, and will welcome any relaxation of the changes in the theological thinking of the exclusivist faiths. Many Hindus have tried to build bridges with the Christian theologians to get them to change their rigid thoughts. Due to changes in the intellectual environment, even the Christian churches have felt the need to change. What has to be seen is whether the change is genuine and enduring.
     The change in the Catholic thinking is supposed to contain in the following sentences in the document of Vatican II: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these reli-gions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrine which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless, often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men."
     These are the only sentences that are said to reflect the changes in the thinking. However, 'rejects nothing' is qualitatively different from 'accepts everything'. The latter is part of the Hindu ethos, which accepts that salvation can be achieved even by an atheist. The grudging manner in which even these sentences try and project the change is clear when the Catholic church says that the other religions 'often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men.' When one says 'a ray of truth', one is not accepting that there is a complete process. At best, the Catholic church seems to accept that other religions are second best.
     This conclusion is confirmed when one reads the sentences immediately following the ones quoted above. It goes as follows: "Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life." Thus, while other religions 'reflect a ray of truth', it is only in Christianity that 'men find the fullness of their religious life.' In Vatican II, at many other places the ethos that Christ is the ONLY son of god is reaffirmed. Statements of the Catholic clergy subsequent to Vatican II, and even in the last few years, attest that the change is really not there. Christ is held to be supreme and unique.
     This Catholic view of the uniqueness of Christianity is confirmed by other churches as well. In June 1994, Prince Charles of the UK expressed a desire to change his oath if he ever became the monarch. He wants to be the defender of all faiths, instead of only the Anglican variety of Christianity. In response, one senior member of the clergy said, "If (the Prince is) saying Christianity is equal with other religions, we should differ profoundly with him. As men we're all equal before God, but are you talking about religions and saying one is as good as another? I hope he is not saying that."
     There have been cases of where there is a disobeying by members of the church of the exclusivist ethos, leading to excommunication - that is, throwing the person out of the church. This has happened to a Sri Lankan priest, who took the so-called liberal interpretation of the Vatican document produced in 1969 literally. His excommunication was revoked only after he apologised. Also, there is the case of an Italian priest, Dom Mario Mazzoleni, who said that following the teachings of Satya Sai Baba gave him a better meaning to his belief in Christ. He was excommunicated, and since he did not apologise, the excommunication has remained in place. The books of the Indian priest, the late Fr Anthony de Mello, have been determined to fall outside the purview of the official teachings of the Catholic church.


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