Monday, February 15, 2010

Monotheism and John Paul

Christian, spiritual leader to more than a billion of the world's population, Pope John Paul II led the Catholic Church into new, modern territory. Some think that among his vast flock, he will be long regarded as 'the good Pope.' He was an important architect of the renovation and reform of the Church in 1962 through 1964. Finding the new age to have wants of its own and recognizing the need for change and relevance, She (the Church) set upon the sweeping reforms widely known as 'Vatican II.' Churchmen, laity, religious monks, brothers and nuns, were one and all swept into the 'body of Christ.' Playing his part, the young bishop of Krakow, Poland Karol Wotjyla, surprised the convocation by finding a voice in that great assembly. Thoroughly modern, he called for another way.

Recollecting his time as a Cleric and his views as Pope John Paul II, Karol Wotjlya, wrote in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, "the Church has a high regard for for the Muslims, who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. As  a result of their monotheism  believers in Allah are particularly close to us... some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran [Qur'an], but he is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only majesty, never Emmanuel, God is with Us. Islam is not a religion of Redemption... Jesus is mentioned, but only as a Prophet... for this reason, not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity."

The Council [Vatican II] has also called the Church to have a dialog with the followers of the Prophet." And She has done so. "To work toward mutual understanding, as well as the preservation and promotion of social justice, moral welfare, peace, and freedom for the benefit of all mankind." John Paul continues his thoughts to express concern for countries "where fundamentalist movements come to power, human rights and the principle of religious freedom are interpreted... make reciprocal contacts very difficult... the Church remains open to dialog."

Regarding the Jewish people, John Paul speaks of them as "our elder brothers in the faith." And in a typically Christian way, he interprets the Covenant of Abraham, the Covenant at Sinai, the Prophets, the sacred Scripture, as the old versus the new covenant. "The one whom God would send in the fullness of time," Galations 4:4. Yet for the Jewish believer, there is only One Covenant; it is outlined and inscribed in the Tenakh. And the Church remains a powerful voice for monotheism today.