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Islamochristiana 32, 9-28


The emergence of the Nostra Ætate Declaration at Vatican Council II

“The text of the Declaration on the Church’s Relations with Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate) was undoubtedly one of the final surprises of the Second Vatican Council, because no one had thought of it during the preparation of the Council, although the Catholic world then experienced significant changes in its way of considering the great religions of the world. It is therefore necessary to get an idea of the change in mentality that had already taken place regarding the discernment that Catholics were trying to make of the religion of Muslims, especially since some of the writings did not fail to exert some influence on the Council Fathers. Such a prerequisite makes it possible to better understand how the text of the Declaration appeared before the third session of the Council, knowing several successive drafts to insert into documents that also varied. It was only after these curious adventures that the fourth session took care of assuring him of final drafting, especially as regards the relationship between Christians and Muslims. All these things explain the four divisions of the present inquiry on the subject, for the very commentary on the Declaration and the subsequent use of it by the Popes and the Dicasteries of Rome are the subject of another analysis.”

“Le texte de la Déclaration sur les relations de l’Eglise avec les religions non chrétiennes (Nostra Aetate) a sans doute été une des surprises finales du Concile Vatican II, car nul n’y avait songé lors de la préparation du Concile, bien que le monde catholique ait alors connu des évolutions significatives en sa manière de considérer les grandes religions du monde. Il convient donc de se faire une idée du changement des mentalités qui s’était déjà opéré quant au discernement que les catholiques tentaient de se faire de la religion des musulmans, d’autant plus que certains écrits ne manquèrent pas d’exercer alors quelque influence sur les Pères conciliaires. Un tel préalable permet de mieux comprendre comment le texte de la Déclaration fit son apparition avant la troisième session du Concile, connaissant plusieurs rédactions successives à insérer en des documents qui variaient également. Ce n’est qu’à la suite de ces curieuses aventures que la quatrième session s’occupa de lui assurer une rédaction définitive, surtout en ce qui concerne le rapport des chrétiens avec les musulmans. Toutes choses qui expliquent les quatre divisions de la présente enquête sur le sujet, car le commentaire même de la Déclaration et l’usage qu’en firent ensuite les Papes et les dicastères de Rome relèvent d’une autre analyse.”

Maurice Borrmans

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