Christianity and Islam: the official position

Surprisingly, there is one – or at least, one that stands out from the crowd.

Whilst thousands of other denominations get by with inherited historic assumptions and occasional votes and reports, the Roman Catholic church (representing more than half the world’s two billion Christians), in response to the Second Vatican Council, compiled its first ever comprehensive catechism, running to approximately 800 pages and containing 2,865 items. It provides a clear, authoritative statement of a highly significant Christian position on virtually any topic – including other faiths. There is nothing to compare in terms of either comprehensiveness or global significance.

So what does it say on other religions?

Catechism items 836 to 847 describe, very positively, the church’s relationship with (in this order and using these terms) “the catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind”, being more specifically: “those who are fully incorporated into the body of the church”; “the baptised who are honoured by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter” (ie the pope); and finally “non-Christians” defined as “the Jewish people”, “the Muslims”, “non-Christian religions”, and “those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church”.

Specifically on Islam (item 841): “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

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