KARL RAHNER’S ROLE IN SHAPING THE DECISIONS OF VATICAN COUNCIL II ON DIALOGUE WITH OTHER RELIGIONS (A HISTORICAL, THEOLOGICAL AND ANALYTICAL STUDY)
Karl Rahner has arguably been the most famous influential Catholic theologian of the twentieth century. He won the repute of being among the pioneers of the Second Vatican Council. He added new lenses to the Christian telescope which meant to detect active presence of God in all human beings. As a result of this, the Catholic community made a leap forward. It took new ways to understand other religions and relate to non-Christians. This was crystallized in Rahner’s writings. There is found congruence between Rahner’s theologizing style and the spirit of Vatican II. It was his theory of anonymous Christians which got Vatican II out of the dilemma of having relations with the non-Christians. Around the 1960s, Rahner turned the Christian telescope to the people of other religions. This aimed at finding common ground with the followers of other religions. Rahner emphasized the positive appraisal of the great world religions and the universal saving will of God. This optimistic view about salvation had been the clearest theme to Rahner. He also points out to the transcendental nature of human personality which means that ‘a person’s whole spiritual and intellectual existence is orientated towards a holy mystery which is the basis of their being’. Rahner’s subtle understanding of faith profoundly preoccupied him with three topics particularly in his final writings: (i) the reform of the teaching office of the Church; (ii) the future of Catholicism in a world-Church; and (iii) the future of Christianity among world religions and new humanism. With this, he played an important role in bringing the Vatican Council to a theological and historical turning point. To him, the Christian faith carried two tenets in its very basis: the universal salvific will of God, and that this salvation comes through God in Christ alone. This led Catholicism to take the former as universal and the latter as particular. For Catholics, however, a real and full encounter with Jesus can be had only in Church.