Raimon Panikkar, 'apostle of inter-faith dialogue,' dies
'Overcoming tribal Christology,' he said, is task of third Christian millennium
From National Catholic Reporter
Professor Raimon Panikkar, one of the greatest scholars of the 20th century in the areas of comparative religion, theology, and inter-religious dialogue, died at his home in Tavertet, near Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 26. He was 91.
Panikkar taught and lived in the United States from 1966-1987 and was known to generations of students here and around the world through both his lectures and his many books. What they heard and read were the arresting reflections of a multi-dimensional person, who was simultaneously a philosopher, theologian, mystic, priest and poet.
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One of Panikkar's many striking sentences looking back on his life's journey asserts: "I left Europe [for India] as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without ever having ceased to be a Christian." A wealth of meaning lies in that assertion. Christianity in its historical evolution began as a Jewish tradition and then spread to the Greco-Roman world, acquiring along the way Greek and Roman cultural expressions which have given it a certain form and character. Panikkar, having grown up and having been trained in a traditional Catholic and neo-Thomist environment, had a profound knowledge of, and respect for, that tradition. This knowledge prepared him for discussions with some of the great minds of 20th-century Catholicism: Jean Danielou, Yves Congar, Hans Urs von Balthazar, and others. He was also invited to take part in the Synod of Rome and the Second Vatical Council. But Panikkar did not confuse or conflate historical contingency with spiritual truth. In Hinduism and Buddhism Panikkar found other languages, in addition to Biblical Hebrew, Greek philosophy, and Latin Christianity, to express the core convictions (the kerygma) of the Christian tradition.
Tip of the hat to Diana Butler Bass via Facebook