Cardinal Ivan Dias, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in the Mumbai region while reacting to the Pope’s remarks on rising religious intolerance has remarked candidly that while seeds of the truth are visible in all religions, Christians believe that the inner yearning of the human heart can only be satisfied by Jesus Christ because He is Truth. In saying this, the Cardinal has not said any thing more than what is obvious – the core of Christian belief. But one can wonder as to how these comments will be understood and interpreted.
At one level, it is good that he has said what he has and clarified what Christians believe. In doing so in plain language, he has done two things. At the risk of being termed a fundamentalist, he has summarized the core of the Christian faith in two such short sentences that they could be captured in newspaper reports and transmitted to millions who read news papers. In doing so, he has done the Christian community a favor – with such a straight forward statement at hand, Christians need not and fudge or dive for cover. Secondly, he has by divesting the truth of trappings; he has not fallen into the pseudo – secularist trap. With such a frank and straight forward admission of what Christians believe in – that seeds of the truth are to be found in all religions but Jesus Christ alone is the Truth, there is no question of confusion of what all Christians irrespective of denomination believe in.
At the same time , while the statement itself at face value smacks of intolerance, it actually stops short of that because he only says what Christians believe – he does not indicate that others need to accept what he says though if Jesus is truly the answer to human yearning , it would be sensible to do so. The key words in the Cardinal’s statement are –“Christians believe”. Now if only such a succinct summary of beliefs was available for all ideologies – “Muslims believe”, “Sikhs believe” and so on if all the wrappers taken off, there would be an end to a lot of confusion and the bogey of pseudo secularism would be far minimized than what it is today. I admire the cardinal for laying his cards on the table and articulating so clearly, what the Christian faith stands for.