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Why can’t I incorporate other religious traditions into my spiritual search? Can people from other faiths be saved?

Catholics are encouraged to learn about other world religions as a way of promoting world peace. In fact, the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate asks Catholics “through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve and promote the spiritual and moral goods found among these people, as well as the values in their society and culture.” Such examination often leads us to commit to our own faith more deeply. Learning more about Judaism, for example, helps us to understand the beliefs that shaped Jesus’ world when he lived here on earth. The Buddhist emphasis on meditation echoes our own tradition of Christian contemplation. Current events in our world demands that Christians understand at least something about the teachings of Islam and the beliefs and practices of its adherents.

But there is a danger, not only for Catholics but for people of all faiths, when we try to mix and match religious traditions to fit our own interests and desires. We compromise the meaning and message of religion when we reduce it to a parade of unrelated practices subject to the whims of the trendy. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He did not say that he was part of the answer, or one of many possible paths.

As for salvation, the writings from Vatican II acknowledge that no one knows for sure who will be saved and who won’t, and they do not exclude anyone acting in good faith from the possibility of salvation. They do go on, however, to speak of the Church’s mission from Christ to bring the gospel to all people, for Christ is the source of salvation for the whole world.
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