Let’s do a little Catholicism 101:
Human beings are called, as the first demand of justice, to render unto God that which He is due; namely, to worship Him, not just in the manner of our choosing, but in truth as He Himself has revealed.
So far so good?
Now, there is but one way that fits this description, obviously, and that is through, with and in Jesus Christ and His holy Catholic Church. That is why the popes of tradition didn’t hesitate to speak of the Catholic Church as the one true faith, with all others necessary being in varying degrees, false.
So, what exactly gives rise to the false religions, the adherents of which, in spite of whatever good intentions they may have, do not worship God as justice demands?
The answer is simple, sin, apart from which there would be no such thing as “diversity of religion;” with all of their multiple creeds and conflicting doctrines.
This being the case, can a reasonably well-formed Catholic say that religious diversity among men, such that some are Christian, others Muslim, still others Hindu, and on, and on, and on, is something to be celebrated as a gift?
No, of course not, it is to be lamented, and should lend urgency to our mission to convert the world to Christ and His Church!
Diversity of religion simply means that there are human beings who, wounded by sin, are not worshiping God in the manner that He is due simply by virtue of who He is; in other words, this diversity of religion is about as far from a “gift” as you can get.
Seems simple enough, right?
Seems simple to a practicing Catholic. We are called to be the light of the world in a world full of darkness. That light is Christ. The Church is the mystical body of Christ. The Holy Spirit, often through us, leads the lost sheep to the Church through our words and deeds. Those who hear the truth but choose to ignore it or contradict it, I suppose, will be held accountable for their action or lack of. So be it someone chooses to worship falsely or a false God. But this is not a ticket out for us! We HAVE to proclaim the truth, just as the apostles did, regardless of the consequence. Diversity of religion is nothing to celebrate, it should be mourned. Salvation is the only gift the human race has that is really worth anything at all. And that only comes from Christ’s death on the cross, and our cooperation with God’s will – to repent of our sins, to love Him, to serve Him. If others refuse to do so, that is their choice. If we refuse them the truth, that is our failure as Christians. It is an act of love, pure and simple. May none of us ever refuse out lost brothers and sisters the truth they need.
Why don’t the recent Pontiffs seem to agree and why do their actions flagrantly contradict these very straightforward and previously universal teachings? How could that be? It is things like this that most vex me. It is one thing to have heretical and apostate priests and bishops and religious, to say nothing of laity, but I am left in utter confusion and despair when Popes seem to be in stark contradiction with what has always and everywhere been taught by the Church since her founding (this particular example being but one of many).
“There are other ways of being united to God besides baptism. An adult who believes in God and basically desires to do his will, and who has sorrow for his sins out of love of God, has God’s grace-presence by this sincere desire. Many men come to God in this way through other, non-Christian religions. So, too, one who cannot believe in a personal God, through no fault of his own, but is committed to following his conscience, receives God’s grace-presence.” —Anthony J. Wilhelm, from the book, “Christ Among Us”.
Some years later, after the damage was done, this volume would be condemned by the Holy Office in Rome, and the bishop involved ordered to remove his imprimatur from the book.
It’s still being sold on Amazon.