Italian Catholics Beg Pope Benedict Not To Go To Assisi

Assisi, 27th October 1986: this statue of buddha is put on an altar complete with tabernacle. In fact, it is put ABOVE the tabernacle...

... in front of the tabernacle, a lotus-shaped incense burner is placed. On the left of the tabernacle, a banner with buddhist inscriptions is clearly visible. On the right and.....

..... on the left of the incense burner, buddhist books have been placed. Please also note the rainbow-colouring of the tabernacle

Finally, two buddhist monks pray in front of the "christian-buddhist" altar. All this happens in front of the Tabernacle with consecrated hosts. All images from the "Tradition in action" website

This comes from Rorate Coeli, who in turn have it from the DICI site.

It is beautiful (particularly in these turbulent days) to be proud to be Italian. This letter is written by Catholics concerned about the possible effects of the next Assisi gathering; as a result, they beg the Holy father not to travel to Assisi.

The wording is absolutely beautiful. Instead of only reporting or commenting some passages, I will report the parts of the letter published on CITI in their entirety.

Most Holy Father,

(…)We take the liberty of writing you after having learned, precisely during the massacre of the Coptic Christians (Ed. in Egypt, December 31, 2010), your intention of convening in Assisi, in October, a large inter-religious assembly, 25 years after “Assisi 1986”.

We all remember this event that took place so long ago. An event like few others in the media, that, independently of the intentions and declarations of he (those) who convened it, had an undeniable repercussion, relaunching in the Catholic world indifference and religious relativism.

It is this event that caused to take effect among the Christian people the idea that the secular teaching of the Church, “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic”, concerning the unique character of the Savior, was in some way to be banished to the archives.

We all remember the representatives of all the religions in a Catholic sanctuary, the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, lined up with olive branches in hand: as if to signify that peace does not come through Christ but, indistinctly, through all the founders of any credo whatsoever (Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Kali, Christ…)

We remember the prayer of the Muslims in Assisi, the city of a saint who had made the conversion of the Muslims one of his objectives. We remember the prayer of the animists, their invocation to the spirits of the elements, and of other believers or representatives of atheistic religions, such as Jainism.

The effect of this “praying together”, whatever its goal may be, like it or not, is to make many believe that all were praying to “the same God”, only with different names.

On the contrary, the Scriptures are clear: “Thou shalt not have false gods before me” (First Commandment), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6)

Those who write here in no way contest a dialogue with each and every person, whatever his religion may be.

We live in the world, and every day we speak, discuss, love, even those who are not Christian, because they are atheists, indifferent, or of other religions. But that does not keep us from believing that God came down to earth, and let Himself be killed to teach us, precisely, the Way, the Truth, and not just one of many possible ways and truths. Christ is, for us Christians, the Savior; the only Savior of the world.

We recall with consternation, going back 25 years, the chickens beheaded on the altar of St. Claire according to tribal rituals and a statue of Buddha placed on the altar in the church of St. Peter, above the relics of the martyr Vittorino, killed in 400 AD to bear witness to his faith.

We remember the Catholic priests at the initiation rites of other religions: a horrible scene, for, if it is “ridiculous” to baptize into the Catholic faith an adult who does not believe, just as absurd is it for a priest to undergo a ritual of which he recognizes neither the validity nor the utility. By doing this, one ends up just spreading one idea: that rites, all rites, are nothing but empty human gestures. That all the conceptions of the divine are of equal value. That all moralities, that emanate from all religions, are interchangeable. That is the “spirit of Assisi”, upon which the media and the most relativist milieus of the Church have elaborated, sowing confusion. It seemed to us foreign to the Gospel and to the Church of Christ that had never, in two thousand years, chosen to do such a thing. We would have liked to rewrite these ironic observations of a French journalist: “In the presence of so many gods, one will believe more easily that they are all equal than that there is only one that is true. The scornful Parisian will imitate that skeptical collector, whose friend had just made an idol fall from a table: ‘Ah, unhappy one, that may have been the true God’.”

We therefore find comfort for our perplexities in the many declarations of the Popes who have always condemned such a “dialogue”. Indeed, a congress of all religions has already been organized in Chicago in 1893 and in Paris in 1900. But Pope Leo XIII intervened to forbid all Catholics to participate.

The same attitude was that of Pius XI, the Pope who condemned Nazi atheism and Communist atheism, but deplored at the same time the attempt to unite people in the name of a vague and indistinct sentiment, without religion, without Christ.

Pius XI wrote thus in Mortalium Animos (Epiphany 1928) concerning ecumenical encounters: “We see some men, convinced that it is very rare to meet men deprived of all religious sense, nourish the hope that it might be possible to lead peoples without difficulty, in spite of their religious differences, to a fraternal agreement on the profession of certain doctrines considered as a common foundation of spiritual life. That is why they begin to hold congresses, reunions, conferences, frequented by an appreciably large audience, and, to their discussions, they invite all men indistinctly, infidels of all kinds along with the faithful of Christ and even those who, unfortunately, have separated themselves from Christ or who, with bitterness and obstinacy, deny the divinity of His nature and of His mission.

“Such undertakings cannot, in any way, be approved by Catholics, since they are based on the erroneous opinion that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy, in the sense that all equally, although in different ways, manifest and signify the natural and innate sentiment that carries us towards God and pushes us to recognize with respect His power. In truth, the partisans of this theory fall into a complete error, but what is more, in perverting the notion of the true religion, they repudiate it, and they fall step by step into naturalism and atheism.”

In retrospect, we can say that Pope Pius XI was right, even on the level of the simple opportunity: in reality, what has been the effect of “Assisi 1986”, in spite of the just declarations of Pope John Paul II, aimed at forestalling such an interpretation?

What is the message relaunched by the organizers, the media, and even the many modernist clerics desirous of overturning the tradition of the Church? What came across to many Christians, through the images, which are always the most evocative, and through the newspapers and television, is very clear: religious relativism, which is the equivalent of atheism.

If all pray “together”, many have concluded, then all religions are “equal”, but if this is the case, that means that none of them is true. At this time, you, cardinal and prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, with Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, and several others, were among those who expressed serious doubts. For this reason, in the following years, you have never participated in the replicas proposed each year by the Community of Sant’Egidio. (…)

These past years you have taught, without always being understood, even by Catholics, that dialogue has its place, and can take place, not between different theologies, but between different cultures, and not between different religions, but between men, in the light of that which distinguishes us all: human reason.

Without recreating the ancient pagan Pantheon; without the integrity of the faith being compromised by a love for theological compromise; without Revelation, that is not our own, being modified by men and theologians in the aim of reconciling the irreconcilable; without placing Christ, “sign of contradiction”, on the same level as Buddha or Confucius, who, besides, never said that they were God.

This is why we are here to expose to you our fears. We fear that, whatever you may say, television, the newspapers, and many Catholics will interpret it in the light of this past and of the present indifferentism; we fear that, whatever you may claim, the event will be read as a continuation of the manipulation of the figure of St. Francis, transformed by today’s ecumenists into an pacifist, a syncretist without faith. It is already the case…

We are afraid that whatever you may say to clarify things more, the simple faithful, of whose number we are, everywhere in the world will see but one fact (and that is all that will be shown, for example, on television): the Vicar of Christ not only speaking, debating, dialoguing with the representatives of other religions, but also praying with them. As if the manner and the end of prayer were indifferent.

And many will think mistakenly that the Church has henceforth capitulated, and recognized, in the line of the New Age way of thinking, that to pray to Christ, Allah, Buddha, or Manitou is the same thing. That animist and islamic polygamy, hindu castes or the polytheistic animist spiritualism, can go hand-in-hand with Christian monogamy, the law of love and pardon of the One and Triune God. (…)

Most Holy Father, we believe that with a new “Assisi 1986”, no Christian in the Orient will be saved: nor in Communist China, nor in North Korea or Pakistan or Iraq… on the contrary, many faithful will not understand why in these countries, people still die martyrs for not renouncing their encounter not with just any religion, but with Christ. Just as the Apostles died.

In the face of persecution, there exist political, diplomatic means, personal dialogues between States: may they all take place, and as well as possible. With Your love and Your desire for peace for all men.

But without giving those who wish to sow confusion and to augment religious relativism – antechamber of all relativisms –, an opportunity, for the media included, as appetizing as a second edition of “Assisi 1986”.

With our filial devotion,

Francis Agnoli, Lorenzo Bertocchi, Roberto de Mattei, Corrado Gnerre, Alessandro Gnocchi, Camillo Langone, Mario Palmaro

There is truly nothing to add.

I hope that the Holy Father will give this letter careful consideration.


Posted on January 22, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Yes, Mundabor, truly nothing to add.

    I am so torn about JPII. I know he was a truly holy man, but was he a good Pope? I feel the Church sank into a quagmire of touchy-feely liturgy and abyssmal cathechesis during his pontificate. I don’t believe the Church was at all counter-cultural during those twenty five years. On the other hand, it was he who initiated the catechism–a glorious deposit of the faith.

    Are there really “JPII Catholics” as they are called here in the USA, young people who came of age during the pontificate of JPII, who are seemingly “on fire” for Christ, who will herald in a new Renaissance for the Roman Catholic Church via faithful priests, renewed religious, etc??? The parish I attend, which is Protestant in so many ways, has a large picture of JPII in the school’s entrance, and no where can be found a picture of Benedict. I’ve heard Religious Education teachers here speak scornfully about Benedict. It blows my mind.

  2. He was a disastrous pope. I am implacably opposed to his prospective beatification. redvelvette’s comments about the JP2 generation resonated with me – I find neo-cons to be largely indifferent or hostile to traditional liturgy and spirituality. While we should pray for his soul, frankly I just want to forget him.

    • But Shane,
      surely the Church says that when someone is beatified this is wanted from God? The Church doesn’t invent non-existent miracles for political reasons; if the Church says he is in heaven, that’s what it is and I not only accept it, but am glad for him and those who loved him.

      Once it is clear that he is in heaven, you don’t need to pray for him anymore 😉 .


  3. You’ve educated me on the catechisms of the past, Mundabor. Yes, I knew only of the Baltimore which Catholics in the states abandoned completely, so I thought JPIIs attempt to compile what Catholics believe was a monumental task. At least you’ll find it on the shelves of all the protestantised Catholic parishes that abound in the states. At least there is a measure of truth in them, convoluted as it might be. What’s really creepy is the abridged edition put out by the USCCB–very watered down, dumbed down.

    • RV,
      I didn’t know there was an abridged version of JP II’s catechism and to my recollection I have never seen one here.

      Have you tried the “Compendium”? Much better, I’d say…


  4. I do not think it very helpful that in today’s climate at the Vatican we can automatically assume that these “beatifications” are always and in every case authentic and that the subject is enjoying the Beatific Vision. The fact that John Paul II himself watered down the Saint-making process so as to make even the most minor pieties a cause for future canonization should be enough to cause red flags to be going up everywhere.

    The Church under John Paul cheapened the canonization process to the point where it has become almost meaningless and we cannot blithely fal back on the refrain that “well, if the Church beatifies him he must be in Heaven.” Alas we cannot make those assumptions anymore. Well was it said that JPII instituted a “saint-making factory”.

    Quite obviously I have no idea as to what went on at John Paul’s deathbed, whether he was able to save his soul or not. But I do know, as every Catholic should know, that one is judged more by his actions in life, since those actions are motivated by the person’s beliefs. That being the case, and reviewing the disastrous reign of this seriously troubled man, I have to have serious doubts about his “personal holiness”. His deathbed confession is another matter…I hope he made his peace with God, and we must pray for his soul. But we know nothing about those final moments of his life and can therefore only judge by his actions while he lived. And judging by those actions I cannot view with any optimism his automatic entrance into Heaven. Protestants believe that we all have that instant ticket to the pearly gates regardless of our personal sins. Catholics know better….or should know better.

    As for the “miracle” attributed to John Paul’s intervention, numerous level-headed thinkers in Europe have cast serious doubts upon its authenticity. In previous days, as you may recall, three unquestionable miracles were required before any serious consideration could be given to sainthood. John Paul’s “reforms” knocked it down to one. So, I’m afraid this whole thing stinks.

    The compromises the Vatican has made over the sainthood process can also be illustrated in the recent attempt to canonize deservedly, and at long last, Isabella of Spain. But when Jewish pressure groups complained, the process was mysteriously stopped.

    No, I’m afraid we must not assume that John Paul II can be considered a saint.

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