French Dominican Claude Geffré, the controversial theologian and influential promoter of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, died on Thursday at the age of 91, Expatica reports.
Fr Geffré was co-founder in 1977 of an organisation called the Islamo-Christian Research Group (GRIC), gathering Christian and Muslim thinkers around the Mediterranean.
The group's aim was to encourage religious pluralism and ending a so-called "dialogue of the deaf" between the two faiths.
After Vatican II, Fr Geffré was placed in charge of fundamental theology at the Catholic Institute of Paris, but decided he should no longer concentrate on defending dogma but instead focus on hermeneutics, the field of studying and interpreting different religious texts.
He came under fire from hard-core traditionalists within the Catholic hierarchy who opposed what they feared was a slide to religious relativism.
In 2007, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education refused to approve an honorary doctorate that the Faculty of Theology in Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, sought to award Fr Geffré for his lifelong work.
"If many men and women are saved in Jesus Christ, it is not despite their belonging to a particular religious tradition but in it and through it," Fr Geffré wrote, according to La Croix.
"He pushed the advances of Vatican II on interreligious dialogue as far as possible, with accents of great relevance today," commented Fr Laurent Lemoine, sub-prior of the Saint Jacques Convent in Paris where he lived.
Claude Geffré (Wikipedia)