Saturday, December 24, 2005

Lorenzo Albacete

Lorenzo Albacete is a Catholic theologian that even an athiest can love—and who will love him in return. In a Slate video interview (no transcript is available), Albacete discusses what it takes (according to Catholic teaching) to get into heaven. It's not (he says) faith or belief. It's what's in one's heart. It's not good acts or right behavior that gets one into heaven. It's one's stand with respect to otherness—one's ability to respond to other people.

From the Slate profile
According to the New Testament, Jesus was born as a sign of God's love for humanity--sent to Earth so that "whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life," as the gospel of John puts it. Over the years, this prerequisite for admission to heaven--believing that Christ died for your sins--has been a strong incentive to become or remain a Christian. But if God really loves humankind, shouldn't He let, say, a good Buddhist or Jew through the pearly gates? God goes further than that, says Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete in this clip from his interview: even atheists are eligible for salvation. This radical reinterpretation of scripture, Albacete notes later in the interview, has now become official Catholic doctrine (unbeknownst even to many Catholics). And it raises a question: Can the world's major religions coexist harmoniously without amending core beliefs--such as the belief that they've been blessed with a uniquely enlightening revelation?
All of which reminds me of an extract from the Dalai Lama's recent book that I've been so taken with that I've added it to this blog's sidebar.
A religious act is performed out of good motivation with sincere thought for the benefit of others. Religion is here and now in our daily lives. If we lead that life for the benefit of the world, this is the hallmark of a religious life.

This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart, is the temple; your philosophy is simple kindness.

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