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Thomas Ryan, CSP :
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Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Washington, D.C.
October 15th, 2009

Here are several ways in which the two religions differ:

Incarnation: The big difference is what Christian theology calls “the Incarnation”, or the “enfleshment” of God as one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Trinity: Closely related to this is the revelation of God as a community of relations—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If one looks at Jewish mysticism the idea of God being internally dialogical is not so strange.  Jewish mystical tradition hold a vision of God as ten-fold, the sephirot emanating from the eternal One, the wholly other.  By the last of the emanations, God is approachable by humanity.
Scripture:We share the bulk of Sacred Scripture, but not the New Testament which Jews

October 8th, 2009

This is weird but is Satanism or devil worship a religion?  Or is it just some kind of weird cult?…
“Satanism” is a term that refers to a number of related beliefs and social phenomena. Their commonality is that they all feature the veneration or admiration of  Satan or similar figures.
The notion of Satan arose in Jewish scripture. For example, in the Book of Job, the angel of the Lord called ‘the Satan’ (suh-tahn) was the one who challenged the followers of Yahweh. In the gospels, a character named “Satan” was described as the cosmic enemy of God and  temptor of Jesus. Religions inspired by these texts (Jews, Christians and Muslims) typically regarded Satan as an adversary or

September 24th, 2009

Question:  I went to a “high Anglican” service and was told that they believe the same thing about the Eucharist as we do.  Is it OK therefore for me to receive communion here as a Catholic and if not, why does the church say that I shouldn’t receive here?

The Anglican and Catholic International Dialogue Commission, in a 1981 document entitled The Final Report, claimed in the sections relating to the Eucharist “to have attained a substantial agreement on eucharistic faith.” This, however, does not resolve the question of intercommunion. The reason is that, while both churches may have a common understanding of what is happening at… the Eucharist, the significance they attribute to

September 17th, 2009

The Episcopal Church belongs to the Anglican Communion, a world-wide family of Churches. The Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church both follow the Bible and the traditional Christian creeds, celebrate the seven sacraments, and have bishops, priests, and deacons. In its Decree on Ecumenism, The Second Vatican Council (1962-5) said that “among those (churches separated from it in the Reformation)in which some Catholic traditions and institutions continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place” (par.13). The main differences still needing resolution are 1)the role of the bishop of Rome (pope) in a reunited church, and 2)the ordination of women as deacons, priests,…

September 9th, 2009

Question: I am wondering about Jewish people, my son is marrying a Jewish girl soon, If Jews don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God In the second person of the trinity, how will they get to Heaven?  I was taught that one must believe In Jesus as the mediator between God and us.
There is a lot of discussion and debate in the church today about the question you raise. On September 1, 2002, a Christian Scholars Group published the following consensus statement:
“For centuries, Christians claimed that their covenant with God replaced or superseded the Jewish covenant. We renounce this claim. We believe that God does not revoke divine promises. We affirm that God is in covenant with both Jews and Christians.…

September 2nd, 2009

Question: What is the difference in belief between Roman Catholics and Episcopalians? I was once told, “All the ceremony and half the guilt” but there must be more to it than that.…
Indeed, there is more to it than that, though your pithy line has some validity to it as far as it goes. A large part of the Episcopal Church (its styles vary from the simple to the elaborate, from Evangelical to Catholic) has retained rich and reverent ceremony as part of its Catholic heritage. Because Roman Catholics have a pope and bishops it’s often pretty clear who has teaching authority in the church. The Episcopalians’ hierarchy is less clear as they don’t have a figure like the pope at the head of their church.

August 26th, 2009

As the question does not specify what kind of a non-Catholic wedding (e.g. Protestant or Orthodox Christian, or Hindu?), the answer must of necessity be broad as well.
Be a respectful observer. Participate to the extent your own faith tradition allows. Pray well for the couple being married. Do what Jesus did at the wedding feast of Cana: add joy to the occasion.
Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP is the Director of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Paulist Fathers.…

August 20th, 2009

Buddhism refers to a variety of traditions — Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana — whose source point was in Northern India 2,500 years ago. Buddhism, like Christianity, comes from the name of its founder, Buddha, or “awakened one,” as Siddhartha Gautama was called. A primary difference between the two religions is that the Buddha remained silent on the question of God, whose existence, he felt, could not be proved. So, he chose to focus his energies on what no one could deny: the presence of suffering.
This led to the Four Noble Truths: 1) All life is suffering. 2) The cause of suffering is desire. 3) To reduce your suffering, decrease your desire. 4) Use the Eightfold Path to end suffering.
By recognizing…

August 13th, 2009

First of all, Hinduism is not a religion as we tend to think of a religion. It is a name given to a range of practices, attitudes, beliefs, schools of thought, and the social and political systems connected to these. There is in Hinduism the idea of an enduring divine reality that never changes: Brahman. And “God” is the personalized form or manifestation of that ultimate divinity and takes many forms.
Interestingly, the Deity in Hinduism has a triple-form, and thus a certain resonance with Christian belief in the Trinity. There is Brahma, the Ultimate Reality, associated most with the transcendence of the Divine, remaining somewhat in the theological background as the revered but disengaged Creator.

July 30th, 2009

While we are looking for common ground with followers of other religions, it is also good  to be aware of and not gloss over the differences. The differences between us will not disappear. They make us who we are.  But so does what we share, and what we share is all important for the future of humanity.
Incarnation: The big difference is what Christian theology calls “the Incarnation”, or the “enfleshment” of God as one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Trinity: Closely related to this is the revelation of God as a community of relations—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If one looks at Jewish mysticism the idea of God being internally dialogical is not so strange.  Jewish mystical tradition hold

June 13th, 2007
A recent trip to Turkey reveals some surprises about Islam and politics

Current events in a country bridging Europe and Asia are offering an important object lesson about the Muslim world: it is not monolithic, and there are significant forces for religious pluralism and democracy within it.
The country is Turkey, at one and the same time a candidate for the European Union (EU) and the source of much of the water in the Middle East; larger in population than any EU country, and with the second largest military in NATO after the United States.
From May 7-15 I had the opportunity to travel with an interfaith group of 16 people from the fields of government, education, health care, religion, journalism and the arts to several cities within Turkey on visits to schools, mosques, cultural institutions,…

March 30th, 2007
Beyond words and Into Great Silence

At the beginning of March, Philip Groning’s film Into Great Silence—a two-hour and forty-minute meditation on life in the Grande Chartreuse Carthusian monastery in southeastern France—opened at a theatre in New York City for a two-week run. But when each of the three daily showings continued to sell out, the theatre owners put a “Held Over” sign on the marquee after the film’s title. Now, at month’s end, it’s still playing to a full house. Patrons are buying their tickets on-line the day before in order to ensure they get a seat.
All this for a film in which, for the first two hours, the loudest sounds are of rain falling, birds chirping, an axe splitting wood,…

September 22nd, 2006
Catholic-Muslim Relations in the wake of the Pope's controversial remarks

As the firestorm of reaction cools to some sentences in Pope Benedict’s talk on September 12 at Regensberg University in Germany, the questions of the hour are: What lessons can be learned, and what impact will it have on Catholic-Muslim relations at-large?
The speech was in large measure a scholarly address criticizing the West for squeezing faith out the door in its love affair with reason, science, and technology. The section relating to Islam represented only three paragraphs, and came at the outset.

Pope Benedict began by recounting a conversation that took place between a 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor and a Persian scholar. “Show me,” he quoted the emperor Manuel II Paleologus…

October 4th, 2005
Though its influence among Christians in the West may be waning, the sacred art of fasting is flourishing in the rest of the world.

This October all adult and physically capable Muslims abstain from food, water and sexual relations from dawn to sunset during the lunar month of Ramadan (October 5 to November 3). Approximately one billion Muslims around the globe will be joined in their fast by about 14 million Jews worldwide on Yom Kippur (Oct 12, 13), the Day of Atonement, the single holiest day in the Jewish year. And in mid-November, Eastern Orthodox Christians throughout the world will begin their forty-day vegetarian Advent fast in preparation for the feast of the Nativity.

In every culture and religion in history, fasting has been an instinctive and essential language in our communicating with the Divine. As a religious act it increases…

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