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Good works not enough, Vatican tells missionariescomment (0)

January 3, 2008

VATICAN CITY — Roman Catholic missionaries should aim to win souls and not restrict themselves to humanitarian good works, the Vatican said Dec. 14.

A new 19-page document, which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI, draws on a controversial Vatican declaration he issued in 2000 that asserted Catholics alone have “the fullness of the means of salvation.”
The new document, issued by the same doctrinal office where Benedict was the longtime head, aims to correct a “growing confusion” among theologians who argue that “it is enough (for missionaries) to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity.”

It also seeks to debunk the notion that conversions should not be sought since “it would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.”

Citing words of Pope John Paul II, the document affirms that “every person has the right to hear the ‘good news’ of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ,” and said “this right implies the corresponding duty to evangelize.”

The document comes as the Catholic Church finds increased competition from Pentecostals and evangelicals, particularly in Third World countries, and charges of improper “sheep stealing” from Orthodox churches, especially in Russia.

The statement is a follow-up to Dominus Iesus, the 2000 document produced when Benedict was still known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which said non-Christians are in a “gravely deficient situation” on the question of salvation.
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