Rorate Caeli

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega

[R]eligion, by reminding us of human finitude and weakness, also enjoins us not to place our ultimate hope in this passing world. Man is "like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow". All of us have experienced the disappointment of falling short of the good we wish to accomplish and the difficulty of making the right choice in complex situations.

The Church shares these observations with other religions. Motivated by charity, she approaches dialogue believing that the true source of freedom is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians believe it is he who fully discloses the human potential for virtue and goodness, and he who liberates us from sin and darkness. The universality of human experience, which transcends all geographical boundaries and cultural limitations, makes it possible for followers of religions to engage in dialogue so as to grapple with the mystery of life’s joys and sufferings. In this regard, the Church eagerly seeks opportunities to listen to the spiritual experience of other religions. We could say that all religions aim to penetrate the profound meaning of human existence by linking it to an origin or principle outside itself. Religions offer an attempt to understand the cosmos as coming from and returning to this origin or principle. Christians believe that God has revealed this origin and principle in Jesus, whom the Bible refers to as the "Alpha and Omega".


  1. The stress put on 'human experience' and 'spiritual experience' to me sounds like and reminds of Immanentism, such as described in the anti-Modernist encyclical 'Pascendi' by Pope St. Pius X in 1907. Why did not Benedict XVI state: Jesus Christ ís the Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ múst be believed in, Jesus Christ is Lord and God over entire creation. Why this distant "the Christians believe that". As if non-Christians do not know what we believe. What does pope Ratzinger himself believe and preach? Why the 'experience' stressing. It is about objective truth, nto about experiences and subjectivism, which ends in relativism which Benedict XVI continues to lament.

  2. God bless our Holy Father, but I continue to be surprised that he does not speak the strightforward simple truth to other religions and that the Church has always taught and must always teach and that is the perennial reality that,"Outside the Church there is no salvation". This is true Charity
    That he does not come right out and state this is really confusing to me.

    God bless His Holiness and God bless the Church

  3. This sounds rather straightforward to me. Moreover, it is written in a way that is calm, and it seems to me, would calm down the emotionally stressed minds of youth.

    The stress on "human experience" and "spiritual experience" is vital to genuine Catholic life.

  4. Don't forget that in his initial remarks to the youth in Australia, the Holy Father made it very clear that experience by itself was not enough.


  5. If you put your "extra ecclesia nulla salus" foot forward when speaking to other religions,expect them to respond in kind.Anyone who believes one HAS to be a Christian,already is one!

  6. This is a clear statement of the new christocentrism. On the one hand, there is nothing incompatible here with "no salvation outside the church," even in its most restrictive sense, which we know Ratzinger does not personally believe (see, Ratzinger Report, Vatican II). On the other hand, these statements are also open to another interpretation: namely, that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the source of a saving grace about which all know something already via universal experience. On this understanding, what is "exclusive" is the Christian understanding of the source of salvation, accepted in faith, not salvation itself. It would be hard not to conclude that the latter option is closer to the mind of Ratzinger, who is and always has been a modern Catholic theologian.

  7. The Pope's message seems very consistent with the message he delivered in the USA.

    To non-Catholics Christians he warns (the "critical juncture" of ecumenism) against doctrinal relativism and not to give in to the idea that doctrine is divisive or the temptation to subordinate truth to earthly goals.

    To other religions, the Pope says that the aim of diologue is the Truth...and this Truth is ultimately a person -- Jesus Christ.

  8. "I think you would agree that the ecumenical movement has reached a critical juncture," the pope said. "We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live."
    Pope Benedict

  9. Pope Benedixt XVI isn't more forceful in proclaiming the truth of the Catholic Faith to these people because simply, his predecessor didn't.
    The set piece of the Pope visitng non-Christian religious, inter-religious dialog, and ecumenism was all very much a JP II thing that has become very much expected by these people.
    They also expect the present Pope to give weak, inclusive speeches just as JP II did. That he sometimes has not , and instead has spoked Catholic truth, has caused controvesy.
    So, I think (and many others do also), that Benedict XVI is alittle afraid to bring back 100% Catholic truth, and has made some inroads in that direction, but the old image of the Pope as "friend of all mankind" that John Paul II engendered rather than "Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church", is am old that Benedict XVI seems afraid to break.
    Many wish he would though.

  10. There is nothing compromising here. The Holy Father is in this opinion quite boldly presenting Jesus to these "representatives of religions" as the origin and fulfillment of their spiritual quest. This is nothing if not exactly how St Paul preached to the pagans that Jesus is the unknown god they yearned to know. I think traditionalists can often fall into the temptation of judging the Pope's genuine and well placed efforts at evangelization in a negative way simply because it isn't harsh. Yet it was St Paul whose example Pope Benedict is following when he preaches the Truth (Jesus as the alpha and omega of true spiritual quest) in Charity.

    I was encouraged by this speech. The Pope is preaching Christ to the unbelievers. You've got to be thankful and joyful about that.

    Toronto, Ontario

  11. "The Pope is preaching Christ to the unbelievers."

    Lest we forget what the word "preaching" means:

    I ask, does it mean to invite to dialogue, or does it mean to preach an absolutely necessary acceptance of (all/a) revealed truth without which it is impossible to be saved?

    I think only the latter qualifies.

    Only the latter is what the Bible and Sacred Tradition mean by the word in its proper sense.

    That is why any form of what is called Ecumenism, has nothing to do with either of the two.


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