Continuity and Reform in Vatican II's Teaching on Islam



How credible is the Catholic Church's teaching on Islam in the light of some modern appreciations of Islam? Does the teaching about Islam at the Council, welcomed by so many, represent a discontinuity of magisterial doctrinal teaching? This paper argues that Pope Benedict's hermeneutic for the Council can be tested using this question. It is argued that the discontinuity at Vatican II lies at the level of historically contingent circumstances, with continuity at a doctrinal level. Hence, the Church retains credibility in looking at a new issue and developing a “new” response, discerning the signs of the times, without contradicting previously held doctrinal teachings.