A Call for Religious Tolerance
(See Mk 9:38-4)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The temptation of power and money is so strong that only few people can fight and overcome it. Most of those involved in these two sources of alienation would end up losing their sense of honesty, conscience and even their faith.
On the pretext of safeguarding the holiness of the worship of God, they create sort of a monopoly of religion, forcing people to serve not the true God, the loving and caring Father of all, but the god whom they fashion according to their own interest, the god who is finally used as just a means by which they achieve their evil agenda. By so doing they turn religion, on the one hand, into a lucrative business, and, on the other, they blow out the last hope for the presence of the sacred, the presence of the Lord God, the Creator of what is true, good and beautiful, the Master of history, the Supreme Criteria of moral and spiritual values, in this world.
We, Christians, are not exempted from this temptation when we serve the Lord God and neighbors. Because of personal ambitions and pride, we have disfigured the Church founded by Christ our Lord to be the house of worship for all peoples and nations, to be the temple where you and I, no matter who we are, can come to pray, to exchange our experience of so great a love which the Lord God has showed to all of us in His Beloved Son, Jesus. Because of narrow-mindedness and intolerance, we have turned Christianity into an exclusive club for the self-righteous the way the Pharisees did in the times of Jesus.
We need to take into serious consideration the Lord’s teaching to the disciple asking Him to stop the unknown preacher from performing miracles simply because the latter did not belong to his group. “Do not prevent him”, He said. “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.” Doubtless to say, our Lord wants His Church to be inclusive, and us, His believers, tolerant and open-minded in our service of God and of neighbors.
We strongly believe that the God Whom we worship is the only true God, and that Jesus Christ is the lone Lord and unique Savior. We are charity-bound to share this conviction with people of different beliefs, but not by means of force or deception, on the contrary, we would introduce to people, through our actions as witnesses, the face of the merciful Father as seen in the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord Who so loved us that He died for us sinners.
The Second Vatican Council speaking in the same tone teaches us the lesson of compassion and understanding with regard to non- Christian people. This is a quotation from the dogmatic Constitution on the nature of the Church “Lumen Gentium—The Light of The Peoples”:
God gives to all men life and breath and all things, and the Savior wills all men to be saved. Those who through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictate of their conscience, those too may achieve eternal salvation.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.