A friend sends me a thoughtful piece on Pluralism, Inclusivism, and Exclusivism and asks my view also of Vatican II.

Here is my response:

The piece you attached is a good one, though it focuses on religions.

So far as I can see, all religions are essentially institutions that work and even fight for their own power, riches and glory (they may do a certain amount of good and a certain amount of harm on the way, but that is incidental).

Vatican II was an interesting experiment for the Roman Church but, as with Chairman Mao's "Let a thousand flowers bloom and a thousand schools of thought contend", it was overtaken by events and by later orthodoxies - in the case of China, by the new orthodoxy of the market and, in the case of the Roman Church, by the old orthodoxy which was brought back by Pope John Paul II.

The current focus of the world on the question of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests and the way that matter is handled will prove much more significant than Vatican II for the future of the Roman Church.

What makes the Roman Church different from other Churches is its claim to be the final arbiter of what is or is not acceptable to God, with the Pope as "Christ's Vicar on earth", and therefore able to determine definitively all matters of faith when he speaks in council ("ex cathedra").

So far as I can see, Jesus the Lord came to earth precisely because of the absolutism, impropriety, inadequacy and corruption of religion - but some who claimed to be his followers made a religion out of what should be a simple matter of a direct relationship with him without reference to priests, popes, churches and the rest.

Prabhu Guptara