Cet ouvrage fait partie de la bibliothèque YouScribe
Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le lire en ligne
En savoir plus

The truth in Islam according to the official teaching of the catholic church

285 pages
The purpose of this book is to promote better understanding between Muslims and Christians by recognizing what is true and holy in Islam. The author is convinced that the recognition of what is true and holy in other religions is the best way forward for interreligious dialogue. He explores a new approach to religions based on the recognition of the truth of other religions.
Voir plus Voir moins

The Truth in Islam according to the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church

Serge Moussa Traore

The Truth in Islam according to the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church


© L’Harmattan, 2010 5-7, rue de l’Ecole polytechnique, 75005 Paris http://www.librairieharmattan.com diffusion.harmattan@wanado.fr harmattan1@wanadoo.fr ISBN : 978-2-296-10428-0 EAN : 9782296104280


In Memory of Mamou Ouedraogo, my Muslim mother, and of my Catholic father Grégoire Traore. Special thanks to Anne Mougnères, Bernadette D’Souza, Kim Weiner and Gary DeMichele, Barbara Pivarnik, David and Louise Cox, Sherly Naithparambil, Ivan Page, Aylward Shorter, and Donald MacLeod.



Introduction 1. What is interreligious dialogue? 2. The paralysis of interreligious dialogue 3. There is something true and holy in the other religions of the world 4. Recognizing the good things in the followers of Islam 5. What is true and holy in Islam according to Pope Benedict XVI? 6. The question of Muhammad as a prophet 7. Is the Qur’an God’s word? 8. Preserving the truth found in the followers of Islam 9. Promoting the truth found in the followers of other religions 10. Working together for peace 11. A new way of working together for conflict resolution and peace building In conclusion Bibliography References

11 23 43 57 69 107 133 151 167 191 223 239 259 265 275


The Truth in Islam


The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men. (Vatican Council II, Declaration Nostra Aetate, n.2)

The necessity and importance of interreligious dialogue are not in dispute today. All over the world, we are witnessing a surge in interreligious initiatives. Nevertheless, interreligious dialogue is stumbling. It is understood in different ways. It is put in question. It is even rejected by some. It is looked upon with suspicion by many. The basic question I would like to answer is, ‘What is the relevant dialogue we need today?’ Many people hesitate to engage in interreligious dialogue because of their misunderstanding of its nature and purpose. They are suspicious about it. Is it possible to propose an understanding of interreligious dialogue that will help people to become wholeheartedly involved? I found a solution in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Church has been thinking about interreligious dialogue since this Council. The Church was active in establishing structures for the promotion of interreligious dialogue. Some education in interreligious dialogue was included in the curriculum of seminaries and religious institutes. Yet I argue here that the Second Vatican Council 9

The Truth in Islam was not interested in inventing a new missionary activity to be called “interreligious dialogue.” The Church of the Second Vatican Council asked Christians simply to enter into dialogue with the world. Moreover, to be precise, the Council wants Christians to stop demonizing the world and instead to engage with it in a sincere and loving dialogue. Pope Paul VI could not be clearer than this: “The Church should enter into dialogue with the world in which she exists and labors. The Church has something to say; the Church has a message to deliver; the Church has a communication to offer.”1 Dialogue is presented only as a means to recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among the followers of other religions, and in the world in general. Dialogue, interreligious dialogue, was seen by the Church as a means to achieve that noble aim. It is a means and only a means. Therefore, I propose to go back to the first impulse of the Second Vatican Council. We should orient our efforts to recognize, preserve and promote the good things found in other religions and in the world. This book is about how we can do that. It is not about the means (dialogue and collaboration). It is about the aim. At first, I thought that it would not be difficult for me to do. My mother was Muslim. Her parents were Muslims. I have a wonderful relationship with the Muslims of my family. My father was a Catholic. Born of a Muslim mother and a Catholic father, I grew up in a Muslim-Christian atmosphere. I was shocked when I met some Christians who regarded Muslims as children of the devil. They simply could not find anything good in the lives of Muslims, yet I could find so many good things in the life of my Muslim relatives. The discussion would then shift to seeing them as not good Muslims. Those Muslims whose lives are exemplary are not good or true Muslims. They are 10

The Truth in Islam “anonymous Christians”. They live according to the Gospel. There is nothing good in Islam. Therefore there is nothing good in the lives of true Muslims. The negative attitude of these Christians disturbed me a great deal. I wondered if I could still be part of a faith community that demonized others. I realized that we cannot rely solely upon our own personal experience to teach others. This tension compelled me to reflect on the problem of the relationship between the followers of different religions. A more objective study of religions was necessary to confirm or to invalidate my toosubjective and emotional attitude towards Islam. I was also challenged in my involvement in Rwanda as a promoter of interreligious dialogue. I saw interreligious dialogue as a powerful means for healing, reconciliation and peace in such a broken society. When people of different religions come together, they learn how to overcome the barriers between them. In Rwanda, we need to gather all the spiritual resources of all religions to bring about healing, reconciliation and peace. However, I was soon challenged by the hardness of the believers in Rwanda. Although they are convinced of the importance of interreligious dialogue for a peaceful society, they nevertheless could not see anything good in one another’s religions. They believe that the encounter between followers of religions is at a human level. We can meet as human beings. We can meet as compatriots; but at the religious level, we cannot meet. I was challenged by such an attitude. Is it enough to engage in dialogue only on the basis that we are all created by the same God? Our history, from the tragic events of Cain and Abel to presentday genocides, teaches us that the unity of the human race, and more profoundly, the unity of the same shared womb, has never been strong enough to prevent us from killing one another. We need to find a common ground elsewhere. We need something that will bind us. I am convinced that it is 11

The Truth in Islam the recognition and adoration of God's presence or the recognition of goodness in the other that will help us to value one another. I have embarked upon the study of other religions of the world and particularly Islam. Why should a Catholic priest study other religions? Religions can be studied at the university level from different perspectives: sociology of religions, philosophy of religions, and history of religion. Technically, someone can teach a religion in which he does not deeply believe. Since interreligious dialogue has become an important issue in the world, many institutes have been created to prepare people for interreligious dialogue. It seems to me that there are two types of institute for such dialogue. For example, there are institutes that teach Islam to Christians, such as the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies at Rome, Italy. The other example would be those institutes whose students are both Muslim and Christian, such as the Institute of the Study of Religions and Cultures, at the Roman Pontifical Gregorian University. Muslims study Christianity and any other religions while Christians study Islam and any other religion. The question I would like to ask is this, ‘Why would a Christian study Islam and for what purpose?’ Or, ‘Why would a Muslim study Christianity and for what purpose?’ The question becomes more serious when I recall that I am a Catholic priest. How well do I know my own religious tradition? Christianity has such an immense patrimony of written texts. I know little about it. So, what's the point of spending time studying other religions instead of deepening my knowledge of my own religion? It sounds so strange for a Catholic priest to be named an expert on Islam! I will argue here that many Christians hesitate to engage in interreligious dialogue because they have listened to Christians, and priests who are experts in other religions and they wonder how 12

The Truth in Islam Christian they still are. It pained them. It disturbed them. Interreligious education came to be reduced to the study of world religions. I will propose in this book that we need a more dialogical education for interreligious dialogue. It is not just about knowledge of other religions. It is about discerning the presence of the same God in other religions. It is about recognizing the spiritual richness of other religions. This recognition is done through a critical, just, scientific and honest discernment. I see only one reason for a Catholic priest to study Islam, as an example. It is to recognize, preserve and promote the good things God has put into the lives of followers of Islam. To study other religions is simply to seek the face of God in the lives of followers of other religions. We study other religions murmuring all the time a beautiful French song: ‘Je cherche le visage, le visage du Seigneur,’ (I seek the face, the face of the Lord); ‘Je cherche son image tout au fond de vos coeurs’ (I seek His image, in the depth of your hearts). Only in this way do I deepen my own religion as I come to see the same God I know at work beyond the boundaries of my own religion. In my study, I sometimes wondered if my Catholic brothers and sisters would accept my findings. Then one day, I was challenged by an individual. I stated that I was convinced that Islamic worship of God is true worship. There is something true in their worship of God. The person reacted by simply stating, “Please, Father, teach what the Church asks you to teach.” I got the message. He was convinced that the Church never said that there is anything true about the Islamic worship of God. I too was not sure that it was stated like this somewhere in the official documents. I insisted on justifying my approach. The official teaching of the Catholic Church is the reflection of the men and women of the Church. I believe that as a member of this Church and as a priest, I can contribute to the 13

The Truth in Islam improvement of the official teaching. The official teaching of the Church should not be confined to the work of theologians living peacefully in seminaries or in the Vatican. Christians are not senseless recipients of official teaching. They also need to reflect on the teaching of the Church and give feedback to those who have written about how they should live the Christian life, even if he were the Pope. Nevertheless, I was challenged. I realized the weight of being called “Father” by some people just because they considered me as a spiritual father, a spiritual guide. Was I leading them astray by my personal convictions that would have been in contradiction with official Church teaching? I took up the challenge. I began a serious reading of the official teaching of the Catholic Church about other religions and interreligious dialogue. I was mesmerized and flabbergasted by what I found. Paul VI in Ecclesiam Suam said clearly, “We do well to admire these people (the Moslems) for all that is good and true in their worship of God.” The official documents of the Church are a goldmine of teaching. It is unfortunate that such precious teachings remain unknown or poorly known. Beyond that, I wonder how much of what is said in the official documents of the Church, and especially in the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, is actually put into practice. Here, we can recall the famous event of Regensburg, Germany. During his apostolic journey to München, Altötting and Regensburg (September 9-14, 2006) Pope Benedict XVI met with the representatives of science at the University of Regensburg on Tuesday, 12 September 2006. On that occasion, he gave a lecture on “Faith and reason and the university”. He explained his intention:
Starting with what Manuel II subsequently said in a positive manner, with very beautiful words, about rationality that must guide us in the transmission of faith, I wanted to


The Truth in Islam
explain that it is not religion and violence but rather religion and reason that go together. The topic of my lecture responding to the mission of the University - was therefore the relationship between faith and reason: I wished to invite [people] to the dialogue of the Christian faith with the modern world and to the dialogue of all the cultures and religions2.

Unfortunately, he quoted some words of the Byzantine Emperor that were not kind towards the prophet of Islam. We remember the reactions of Muslims all over the world. The Vatican often refers in vain to her official teaching about Islam. What the Vatican perhaps forgot is that the Documents of the Second Vatican Council are addressed to Catholics, not to Muslims. What Muslims wanted to hear was not what the Church said to Catholics about Islam or Muslims. They wanted to hear what Pope Benedict XVI thinks of Muslims and Islam. They understood that the Pope agreed with Manuel II Palaeologus (1350-1425) in his view that Muhammad brought nothing good to the world, only violence. By citing the Documents of Vatican II in his defense, the Pope put the credibility of the Church at stake. Many Muslims are now convinced that there is a wide gap between what we actually believe and our official written documents. We simply do not live what we profess. We do not practice what we preach. The official teaching of the Catholic Church runs the risk of being pure literature if we do not commit ourselves to putting it into practice. We have lost so much of our credibility. It is time we became real and sincere. We believe that good things can be found among the followers of other religions. Let us not repeat the sentence as a mantra. Let us actually name those good things. Our credibility is at stake. The question of credibility is serious. Is the Catholic 15

The Truth in Islam Church even credible in its commitment to interreligious dialogue? The letter of 138 Muslim scholars in October 2007 has been greeted by many as a response to so many years of effort at dialogue from the Christian side. Many Christians were disappointed by the non-response of Muslims to the Christian invitation to dialogue. We hear Christians saying “we have always taken the initiative!” In that case, we should ask ourselves a serious question, ‘Why were Muslims not really willing to engage in dialogue?’ Is it not because we were not very credible and clear about dialogue and particularly interreligious dialogue? Interreligious dialogue did pose some serious questions and problems to Christians themselves. This book is intended to promote interreligious dialogue. It seeks to promote better understanding between Muslims and Christians. Its starting point is Nostra Aetate 2:
The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.

This book is a reading of the official documents of the Church about religions and interreligious dialogue in search for what the Catholic Church has actually recognized officially as true and holy in Islam. I believe that the recognition of what is true and holy in other religions is the best way forward for interreligious dialogue. I start with asking a simple question, ‘What is interreligious dialogue?’ I investigate the Church Documents 16

The Truth in Islam in search of the Catholic Church’s understanding of interreligious dialogue. Chapter 1 poses the problem of interreligious dialogue today, according to my own experience. In Chapter 2, I reflect upon the difficulties of interreligious dialogue today: why is it at an impasse? Chapter 3 explores the teaching of the Church about the recognition of something true and holy in the religions of the world. Nostra Aetate 2 is a very important statement of the Catholic Church. By calling attention to that conviction in the documents of the Church, I want to free it from any possible doubt. In Chapter 4, I identify in the official documents of the Catholic Church what is true and holy in Islam. I am searching for what the Church has recognized as true and holy in Islam since the Second Vatican Council. In chapter 5, I analyze the documents of the current Pope about dialogue with the Muslims to see if he indeed believes that something true and holy does exist in Islam. Chapter 6 will discuss the question of recognizing Mohammad as a prophet and chapter 7 the question of the Qur’an as the word of God. Chapter 8 will explore the different ways we may have to share our spiritual riches. Chapter 9 reflects on the necessity to purify our memories and finally chapter 10 explores a new way of working together for peace. To conclude, I will propose a way forward for interreligious dialogue today: a sharing of our spiritual riches. The only purpose of this book is to promote better understanding between Muslims and Christians. I propose a way forward in interreligious dialogue: recognizing the spiritual bonds that unite us. This teaching of the Second Vatican Council was never properly put into practice. Catholics came to have different views on the attitudes Christians should adopt towards other believers. The Church is quite clear in her documents. I simply would like to apply the teaching of the Church by identifying “what is true and 17

The Truth in Islam holy in Islam”. This is to help my fellow Christians and particularly Catholics to better appreciate their official teachings. I am also interested in reaching Muslims. I would like Muslims to know what the Catholic Church officially sees as true and holy in their religion. It is one thing to say that the “Catholic Church does not reject what is true and holy in the religions”. However, it is another thing to actually identify those things which are “true and holy”. My purpose is to help Muslims appreciate the official convictions of the Catholic Church. The inspiration for this book came during my stay in the United States as part of the Fulbright Interfaith Community Action Program 2008. The diversity of interreligious initiatives in America is impressive. It is nearly impossible to put all of what is going on in a book. It would fill volumes. Bud Heckman’s work, The Interactive Faith: the Essential Interreligious Community Building Handbook (Skylight Paths 2008) is praiseworthy. However, he gave us just a sampling of the many interreligious initiatives going on in America. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Each one of us Fulbright scholars tried in our host institution to participate in the movement. The introductory seminar in Philadelphia gave us a taste of interreligious dialogue in America. It was simply a celebration. All of our encounters with people involved in interreligious dialogue were a celebration of God’s grace and presence. The Seminar at Dialogue Institute at Temple University, Philadelphia, warmed our hearts. It is with such a heart that each one of us went on to their host institution. I had the joy of staying at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, which has a great tradition of training ministers in interfaith dialogue and reflection. At our host institution, we began by learning. As scholars, 18

The Truth in Islam we were interested in giving and in teaching, but soon we realized that wisdom means listening first. We learned in our courses. We learned through conferences and seminars. We visited interfaith organizations and centers. We celebrated important events in the life of different communities and the country. The doors of homes were opened to us. We were used to seeing their outsides. Now we saw their insides and the natural breath of American families. We worshipped with people of other faiths. We also enjoyed ourselves. We visited museums and parks. We walked in the cities. We celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving. We ate together. We laughed together. We felt good. We also spent time studying, reflecting and praying. We were conscious that God was present. Each human encounter can be filled with the divine presence. We felt the presence of God not in the earthquake, not in the strong wind, not in the fire but as the sound of utter silence, a gentle breeze (cf. First book of Kings19:18) that was guiding and leading us. This book bears the signs of our American experience. We also gave something of ourselves. We preached. We gave talks. We gave lectures. We participated in interreligious panels. We shared formally and informally. I shared with audiences my convictions in interreligious dialogue. I then had a conference in the Muhammad Islamic Center in Hartford. I presented what the Catholic Church has recognized as true and holy in Islam. My Muslim audience was very receptive and even mesmerized. They encouraged me to publish it so that many people would come to know the official teaching of the Church about Islam. We often know what some Catholics think but we seldom know the official teaching of the Church. I thank all my Muslim brothers and sisters for helping me write this book. Muslims encouraged me to provide them with a text. I owe this book to all my friends in America. They encouraged me and helped me by 19

The Truth in Islam reading it through and through. I thought at the beginning of simply compiling the documents of the Church about Islam. This work has been already done. I realized that what was needed more was an exploration of what the Church recognized as true and holy in Islam. Christians and Muslims seem unable to believe that the Catholic Church has ever recognized something like that. I hope this book fills that gap of ignorance. While writing this book, I realized that my past experiences of encountering and above all discovering others inspired me a great deal. I had the good fortune to spend one year living in Egypt and visiting India. My stays in those places were deep spiritual journeys for me. In Egypt and India, I discovered other religions in their many forms and dimensions. For God, Allah, Vishnu, Krishna, artists worked hard to build magnificent divine dwelling places here on earth. I allowed myself to be awakened by the muezzin early in the morning. The calls to worship reminded me of the importance of letting God be God in our daily lives. What counts, ritual prayers or prayers of the heart? It does not really matter. What matters is giving time and space to the divine, so that He may be adored. I went into mosques and temples. I very much enjoyed the “removing of footwear” before entering those holy places. I understood that something would happen there. Would it be a burning bush? Maybe! Was it a burning heart? Certainly! To walk barefoot in those places of worship was quite an interesting experience of touching the untouchable, touching the unseen. I always felt like praying in silence in those places of worship. Praying or thinking? They do go together at the moment. I thought of this divine, this God. Who is He or She really? Karen Armstrong’s book “A history of God, the 4, 000-Year quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam” will remind me of a human being’s long search for the God 20

The Truth in Islam he or she believes in. Did we really come to know God? God seems to remain so unknown or ill-known. Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah…so many names that try to put the one who is named and the one who names in deep relationship, but who really is this God? I discovered that Muslims, Hindus, Parsees… they are after all nice people like all of us. They belong to all sorts of social classes. They are typical people with families, desires, dreams and sufferings. They are capable of deep gestures of love. I was never afraid of them. We are always afraid of the other who is distant. However, when we are near, the other has a name. This book carries the marks of closeness with people of different faiths. I hope to reach a large audience. I am writing for those who are interested in relations between believers of different religions. I want this book to be read by people who did not study theology. Those involved in interreligious activities will have a book to encourage them. Many books have been written in the field of interreligious dialogue. The book of G. Gäde, “Adorano con noi il dio unico,” (Roma: Borla 2008), is a good theological reflection that inspires me. However, it is a theological reflection. This book is simpler and for a larger audience. I differ from him in that I stay with the documents of the Catholic Church seeking what the teaching Office of the Church has recognized as true and holy in religion. I am most interested in making people know and reflect about the official teaching of the Church about Islam. The book is also in line with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue’s publication, “Recognize the spiritual bonds that unite us”. This is a praiseworthy publication. Unfortunately, it is too summarized, incomplete, and not academic. I want to combine some academic reflection with a reading of the Church Documents. My work 21

The Truth in Islam is in the same spirit of promoting the spiritual good found in religions. I am proud to be a member of a faith community that recognizes goodness and truth in the lives of the followers of other religions.


The Truth in Islam

Chapter One What Is Interreligious Dialogue?

Let us start with a basic question: what is interreligious dialogue? The Second Vatican Council exhorts Catholics to engage into dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, with prudence and love (Nostra Aetate 2). The expression “dialogue and collaboration” shows that dialogue is not collaboration. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue made of “collaboration” a form of “interreligious dialogue” (cf. Dialogue and Mission, 1984 and Dialogue and Proclamation, 1991). This is misleading. It has given to the term dialogue a technical meaning. According to the Documents of the Council, there is something called dialogue and there is something called collaboration. I argue that the Church of Vatican II does not use the term dialogue in a technical sense. The term dialogue used in Nostra Aetate has the same meaning in other Documents of the Council. It simply means conversation, or discussion. Let us see the occurrences of the term in the Documents of the Council.3 Already on November 21, 1964 in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium) “a familiar dialogue” is mentioned as an important element that should characterize the relationship between the laity and the clergy. Lumen Gentium 37 states: 23

The Truth in Islam

A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders. The latter, on the other hand, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world.

Dialogue is a means to enrich both parties and to empower them to accomplish their responsibilities. The decree concerning the pastoral office of the bishops (Christus Dominus) deserves some attention. We are in October 28, 1965. The Church gives to bishops the duty of seeking out people to promote dialogue with them:
Since it is the mission of the Church to converse with the human society in which it lives, (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 3, nos. 21, 24 and 25: A.A.S. 57 (1965) pp. 24-25, 29-31) it is especially the duty of bishops to seek out men and both request and promote dialogue with them. These conversations on salvation ought to be noted for clarity of speech as well as humility and mildness in order that at all times truth may be joined to charity and understanding with love. Likewise they should be noted for due prudence joined with trust, which fosters friendship and thus is capable of bringing about a union of minds (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 3, no. 21: A.A.S. 57 (1965) pp. 24-25.) (Christus Dominus 13)

This is a beautiful text that shows clearly that dialogue is simply a conversation, and a conversation that gives life. 24

The Truth in Islam Moreover, this conversation between the bishops and people must also exist between the bishop and his priests:
The relationships between the bishop and the diocesan priests should rest most especially upon the bonds of supernatural charity so that the harmony of the will of the priests with that of their bishop will render their pastoral activity more fruitful. Wherefore, for the sake of greater service to souls, let the bishop call the priests into dialogue, especially about pastoral matters. This he should do not only on a given occasion but at regularly fixed intervals insofar as this is possible. (Christus Dominus 28).

It is clear that a bishop who is incapable of dialoguing with his priest will not be capable of engaging in conversation with those outside his community. It is important to see dialogue as simply a conversation no matter who the interlocutor is. What is important is to be able to engage in dialogue. The term dialogue will appear again, the same day, October 28, 1965, in the Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis). It will appear twice in the Documents. In Gravissimum Educationis 8 it is a question of fostering dialogue between the Church and mankind:
Since, therefore, the Catholic school can be such an aid to the fulfillment of the mission of the People of God and to the fostering of the dialogue between the Church and mankind, to the benefit of both, it retains even in our present circumstances the utmost importance.

Gravissimum Educationis 11 will give to faculties of sacred sciences the duty to foster dialogue with other Christians and with non-Christians:
it is the role of these very faculties to make more penetrating


The Truth in Islam
inquiry into the various aspects of the sacred sciences so that an ever deepening understanding of sacred Revelation is obtained, the legacy of Christian wisdom handed down by our forefathers is more fully developed, the dialogue with our separated brethren and with non-Christians is fostered, and answers are given to questions arising from the development of doctrine.

The Declaration on the relations of the Catholic Church with other religions (Nostra Aetate) appears on the same date, October 28, 1965. The term dialogue appears twice in the Documents. In Nostra Aetate 2, dialogue is presented as a means to see the good things present in the life of other believers:
The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

In Nostra Aetate 4, it is a question of fraternal dialogues, in the plural:
Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

In November 18, 1965, in the decree on the apostolate of the laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem), the Church calls priests to engage in a continuous dialogue with the laity:
Through continuous dialogue with the laity, these priests


The Truth in Islam
should carefully investigate which forms make apostolic activity more fruitful. They should promote the spirit of unity within the association as well as between it and others (Apostolicam Actuositatem 25).

Almost one month later on December 7, 1965, the Church speaks of a sincere and patient dialogue that will help to see the treasures of God:
Even as Christ Himself searched the hearts of men, and led them to divine light, so also His disciples, profoundly penetrated by the Spirit of Christ, should show the people among whom they live, and should converse with them, that they themselves may learn by sincere and patient dialogue what treasures a generous God has distributed among the nations of the earth. But at the same time, let them try to furbish these treasures, set them free, and bring them under the dominion of God their Savior (Ad Gentes 11).

In the same document, dialogue is presented as a powerful answer to those in quest of peace: “To those in quest of peace, she (the Church) wishes to answer in fraternal dialogue, bearing them the peace and the light of the Gospel (Ad Gentes 12). Dialogue is a means to bring peace. The document will insist further that education in fraternal dialogue should be part of priestly training: “Let them be educated in the ecumenical spirit, and duly prepared for fraternal dialogue with non – Christians” (Ad Gentes 16). One would wonder if people could be really education for dialogue. The education intended aims at fraternal dialogue and not dialogue tout court. Ad Gentes 20 encourages Christian ministers to dialogue with human associations:
Now since men are more and more banding together into associations, it is very fitting that Episcopal Conferences


The Truth in Islam
should form a common plan concerning the dialogue to be held with such associations.

Ad Gentes 34 sees dialogue with followers of other religions a delicate thing that needs a scientific knowledge of religions and cultures. Therefore, it proposes that
Since the right and methodical exercise of missionary activity requires that those who labor for the Gospel should be scientifically prepared for their task, and especially for dialogue with non - Christian religions and cultures, and also that they should be effectively assisted in the carrying out of this task, it is desired that, for the sake of the missions, there should be fraternal and generous collaboration on the part of scientific institutes which specialize in missiology and in other arts and disciplines useful for the missions, such as ethnology and linguistics, the history and science of religions, sociology, pastoral skills and the like.

Finally, Ad Gentes does not leave the work of dialogue only to priests. It invites laypeople to take on the responsibility:
Worthy of special praise are those laymen who, in universities or in scientific institutes, promote by their historical and scientific religious research the knowledge of peoples and of religions; thus helping the heralds of the Gospel, and preparing for the dialogue with non – Christians. They should cooperate in a brotherly spirit with other Christians, with non - Christians, and with members of international organizations, always having before their eyes the fact that “the building up of the earthly city should have its foundation in the Lord, and should be directed towards Him.” (Ad Gentes 41).

The same day, December 7, 1965, the beautiful Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) is 28