Dialogue Derailed: Joseph Ratzinger’s War against Pluralist Theology

By Ambrose Mong

A critique of Joseph Ratzinger’s opposition to religious pluralism, showing how it fails to engage with the experience of the church in Asia.

ISBN: 9780227176405


Joseph Ratzinger has shaped and guided the church’s mission to proclaim the good news, as well as to forge good relations with non-Catholic Christian communities, other religious traditions, and the secular world at large. Through a critique of Ratzinger’s theology, this book draws attention to the importance of theological discourses originating from non-European contexts. Mong highlights the gap between a dogmatic understanding of faith and the pastoral realities of the Asian church, as well as the difficulties faced by Asian theologians trying to make their voices heard in a church still dominated by Western thinking. While Mong concurs with much of Ratzinger’s analysis of the problems in modern society – such as the aggressive secularism and crisis of faith in Europe – he brings attention to the realities of religious pluralism in Asia, which require the church to adopt a different approach in its theological formulations and pastoral practices.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 358

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Ambrose Mong, OP, is visiting professor at the University of Saint Joseph, Macau, and part-time lecturer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He holds an MA in English from the University of British Columbia, an STB from the Angelicum, Rome, as well as an MPhil and PhD in Religious Studies from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Foreword by Peter C. Phan
Preface and Acknowledgements


1. Foundations and Development of Ratzinger’s Theology
2. Challenge of Religious Pluralism
3. Ecclesiology: All Roads Lead to Rome
4. Ecumenism: Logos versus Ethos
5. Threat of Secularism
6. Dictatorship of Relativism
7. Tissa Balasuriya: Mary and Human Liberation
8. Jacques Dupuis: Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism
9. Peter Phan: Being Religious Interreligiously
10. Theological Context and Vision
11. Perspective of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences



Endorsements and Reviews

Mong’s analysis of Joseph Ratzinger’s fight against the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ is comprehensive and penetrating, enough to recommend the book to anyone who cares about the contours of contemporary Catholic theology.
Scott Steinkerchner, Blessed Sacrament Priory, Madison, Wisconsin

If theologians, like Ratzinger, begin from a perspective of the priority of the universal church over the local; if they emphasise the vast cultural riches of the West and have a Western aesthetic, they will end up at odds with theologians – particularly those from Asia – who work from a conviction of the local church’s autonomy and cultural validity. Mong carefully and respectfully presents Ratzinger’s entire theological system and argues that as brilliant as it is, it is unable to dialogue with the cultural and religious context of Asia, or any place except the developed West.
Stephen B. Bevans, co-author of Contextual Theology for the Twenty-First Century

Ambrose Mong leaves us greatly in his debt for introducing us to the rich interrelationships, not only between liberation theologies from different continents but also between different faiths.
John Riches, in The Expository Times, Vol 129, No 10

In this readable and informative work, Ambrose Mong, a Chinese Dominican friar and academic, presents a lucid and scrupulously fair exposition of Ratzinger’s thought, as well as a serious critique of it. While noting Mong’s penetrating critique, we must also be grateful for somebody who, throughout his long life, has always wanted to stand up for such central Christian truths, and steadfastly refused to negotiate or relativise them away.
Ven Dr Edward Dowler, in Church Times, 25 May 2018

This book is well researched and provides a much-needed Asian perspctive on some of the growing pains within the Catholic Church as today it grapples with its mission in a globalised world.
Patricia Madigan OP, in The Australasian Catholic Record, Vol 95, Issue 4