Pope Francis strikes again, and much as one would avoid having to write about this disquieting man all the time, one is forced to say one or three words about it.
Rorate Caeli has the latest piece of waffle coming from the mouth of the Pontiff. Below the excerpt in its entirety.
In the Church therefore, there is a variety, a diversity of tasks and functions; there is not flat uniformity, but the wealth of gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes. However, there is communion and unity: all are in relation with each other and all combine to form a single vital body, deeply attached to Christ. Let us remember well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him the divine life that makes us live as Christians, it means remaining united to the Pope and the bishops who are instruments of unity and communion, and it also means learning to overcome personal favoritisms and divisions, to understand each other better, to harmonise the variety and wealth of each one; in a word, to better love God and the people near us, in the family, in the parish, in the associations. In order to live, body and limbs must be united! Unity is superior to the conflicts, always! Conflicts, if they’re not resolved well, separate us from one another, separate us from God. Conflict can help us grow, but it can also divide us. Let’s not take the path of division, of fights among ourselves! All united, all united with our differences, but united, always: this is Jesus’ path. Unity is superior to conflicts. Unity is a grace that we must ask from the Lord, so that He may free us from the temptations of division, of struggles among us, of selfishness, of gossip. How much harm gossiping does, how much! Never gossip about the others, never! How much damage comes to the Church from divisions between Christians, from being biased, from petty self-interests!The divisions among us, but also the divisions among the communities: Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, why are we divided? We must seek to bring unity. I will tell you something: today, before leaving the House [Domus Sanctae Marthae], I spent forty minutes, more or less, half an hour, with an Evangelical pastor and we prayed together, and sought unity. But we must pray among ourselves as Catholics and also with the other Christians, pray that the Lord may give us unity, unity among us. But how can we achieve unity among Christians if we Catholics are unable to achieve it among ourselves? To have it in our family? How many families fight and are divided! Seek unity, the unity that makes the Church. Unity comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to create unity.
As always, we are served a triple portion of waffle of the usual “don’t kick the cat” variety, which seems to be the only aim Pope Francis has set for his pontificate; though here and there some trademark traits emerge (his obsession with gossip is remarkable; he must have heard confessions of women for a long time; sodomy is provocative, let’s talk about gossip!).
The biggest problem, thought, is that this Pope cannot think straight, and contradicts himself without even noticing it. And he does so, because he is either very slow (the least dangerous outcome for his soul), or not properly instructed, or willfuly heretical.
Just read the above to get an idea of the scale of the senselessness: after making himself beautiful telling us that communion with the Pope is so important and the only way of being part of the Church, he undermines what he has just said by boasting of having prayed together with a heretic, thus reinforcing him in his error, perpetuating the same divisions about which he has just complained and confusing the Catholics into thinking it is all right to pray together with a heretic. This is Assisi made a daily event, and boasted about. Can’t wait for the first Buddhist monk praying with his friend “Jorge”.
Again, one wonders whether this man is so slow that he does not realise he cannot be even coherent with what he has said forty seconds before; but whilst this Pope is certainly not a genius, to think him seriously deficient in the brains department is probably not realistic. What is more probable is that Pope Francis is so badly formed that he does not even realise the astonishing amount of senseless waffle and heretical bollocks he keeps regaling us with, and too arrogant to admit he is doing it seriously wrong and must reform his own way of thinking if he wants to be an orthodox Pope. This, provided he is interested in being an orthodox Pope in the first place, about which doubts are, at this point, certainly justified.
It is very telling that up to now no Cardinal has dared – at least to my knowledge – to correct the Pontiff. I never forgot the great Cardinal Biffi giving Pope John Paul II a very public lesson, from the pulpit of Bologna’s Cathedral, about the Doctrine of War in the days preceding the Iraq invasion in 2002. This was a Cardinal of the old school, taking his job very seriously and caring for the salvation of souls and the transmission of an intact patrimony of faith.
Compare, please, with Pope Francis’ latest utterances: he feels good when he waffles about unity, and he feels good when he undermines the same unity he has been waffling about. At all times, he sounds very much in tune with the modern thinking, with a world that does not even understand anymore that unity is already there, and those who are separated themselves from it must become part of it. In Pope Francis’ world, you can reinforce one in his heretical convictions whilst you talk about the necessity of unity with the Church, and this is fine because… well, you must ask him on his.
If you hope this Pope’s inordinate thinking and acting will be soon be dismissed as the talk of the senile uncle everyone smiles at and no one listens to, you may as well abandon hope now: this is just the kind of talking that will make him popular among the uninstructed, the skeptical and the heretics, without giving them any help to become more instructed, less skeptical or less heretical. On the contrary, by boasting of praying with a mickey mouse Protestant religious, Pope Francis is doing nothing else than actively promoting heresy.
And by the way, he seems to have counted the minutes he was praying with sufficient accuracy, but counting the rosaries with great accuracy is, to him, reason of concern. On second thoughts, one truly wonders whether this man is not just plain thick.
Make no mistake: ten years or more of Pope Francis waffling (another word comes to mind) over the Bride of Christ are going to make serious, serious damage. The sooner we open our eyes and realise the serious scale of devastation that is going on here, the sooner we will be able to react and to counter this, in our own little sphere of influence, with right Catholic thinking with those with whom we are in contact: relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. We live in times where we must constantly warn our friends about the many ways in which the Pontiff tries to reshape Catholicism. I never though I’d see the day.
Still, there is no ground for panic. The Blessed Virgin is looking upon us. Everything is closely monitored up above. We are being punished for our worldliness and unbelief, and the earthly Church is being punished because Her clergy deserted the faithful. One day, sanity will reign again.
Pray the Blessed Virgin of Quito that this punishment may be taken away from us soon; and in your charity, pray for Pope Francis: a man obviously unworthy of his habit and who with his novel theology would never have made it past the seminary in pre-Vatican II times, and now made Pope. Reflect on this, and think how urgent is his need for your prayers.
My rosary today is for him.
For the avoidance of doubt, I will count.
To help you to recover after the orgy of crowd-pleasing peace slogans – and worse, as I might write separately – some points from Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos.
All emphases mine. Enjoy:
…although many non-Catholics may be found who loudly preach fraternal communion in Christ Jesus, yet you will find none at all to whom it ever occurs to submit to and obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ either in His capacity as a teacher or as a governor. Meanwhile they affirm that they would willingly treat with the Church of Rome, but on equal terms, that is as equals with an equal: but even if they could so act, it does not seem open to doubt that any pact into which they might enter would not compel them to turn from those opinions which are still the reason why they err and stray from the one fold of Christ.
8. This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ.
Jesus Christ sent His Apostles into the whole world in order that they might permeate all nations with the Gospel faith, and, lest they should err, He willed beforehand that they should be taught by the Holy Ghost: has then this doctrine of the Apostles completely vanished away, or sometimes been obscured, in the Church, whose ruler and defense is God Himself?
If our Redeemer plainly said that His Gospel was to continue not only during the times of the Apostles, but also till future ages, is it possible that the object of faith should in the process of time become so obscure and uncertain, that it would be necessary to-day to tolerate opinions which are even incompatible one with another? If this were true, we should have to confess that the coming of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and the perpetual indwelling of the same Spirit in the Church, and the very preaching of Jesus Christ, have several centuries ago, lost all their efficacy and use, to affirm which would be blasphemy.
Shall We suffer, what would indeed be iniquitous, the truth, and a truth divinely revealed, to be made a subject for compromise? For here there is question of defending revealed truth.
These pan-Christians who turn their minds to uniting the churches seem, indeed, to pursue the noblest of ideas in promoting charity among all Christians: nevertheless how does it happen that this charity tends to injure faith? Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment “Love one another,” altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ’s teaching: “If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.”
Who then can conceive a Christian Federation, the members of which retain each his own opinions and private judgment, even in matters which concern the object of faith, even though they be repugnant to the opinions of the rest? And in what manner, We ask, can men who follow contrary opinions, belong to one and the same Federation of the faithful? For example, those who affirm, and those who deny that sacred Tradition is a true fount of divine Revelation; those who hold that an ecclesiastical hierarchy, made up of bishops, priests and ministers, has been divinely constituted, and those who assert that it has been brought in little by little in accordance with the conditions of the time; those who adore Christ really present in the Most Holy Eucharist through that marvelous conversion of the bread and wine, which is called transubstantiation, and those who affirm that Christ is present only by faith or by the signification and virtue of the Sacrament; those who in the Eucharist recognize the nature both of a sacrament and of a sacrifice, and those who say that it is nothing more than the memorial or commemoration of the Lord’s Supper; those who believe it to be good and useful to invoke by prayer the Saints reigning with Christ, especially Mary the Mother of God, and to venerate their images, and those who urge that such a veneration is not to be made use of, for it is contrary to the honor due to Jesus Christ, “the one mediator of God and men”. How so great a variety of opinions can make the way clear to effect the unity of the Church We know not; that unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief and one faith of Christians.
So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.
I have read this on Father Ray Blake’s Blog, and gladly respond to the invitation of putting it up in our own blogs.
THE OATH AGAINST MODERNISM Given by His Holiness St. Pius X September 1, 1910.
To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.
I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:90), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time. Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely. Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord.
Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful. Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.
Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.
I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God.
Strange things happen these days at the FSSPX. I have already written about the potential offer of a worldwide ordinariate for Traditionalists, and of the subsequent clarification from Bishop Fellay that no formal offer has been made. On this second occasion, the Italian blog Messa In Latino insisted that the news (Ordinariate on its way of being offered; formal document not ready yet) are authentic and from credible source.
We now have, from the same blog, two pieces of news; the first rather, the second very interesting.
The first is that Bishop Williamson has criticised the offer of Ordinariate (which was clearly expected), at the same time confirming that he has a source of information directly inside of Ecclesia Dei. He adds the definition “Apostolic Ordinariate“, with the adjective not mentioned by Messa in Latino. This sounds like one with one ear inside Ecclesia Dei, and not particularly pleased at what he hears.
The second is that Bishop Fellay has been summoned to Rome, together with his two assistants, for the 14th September, 4th anniversary of the day Summorum Pontificum came into force.
Fellay is supposed to deposit the SSPX’s final relation about the doctrinal talks, but the date is a sensitive, directly relevant and historical one and it is not difficult to imagine that something might be in the making here. What day would be more apt for this second historical step, than the anniversary of when the first came into force…
Against this datum of 14th of September would, on the other hand, speak the fact that in October we will have the questionable “Assisi III” gathering, and it is easy to imagine that the spirits at the SSPX will be rather excited. If, therefore, a formal offer is presented mid-September, the discussion within the SSPX will develop in the weeks leading to the Assisi gathering. Not good for them, and not good for Rome. Good, actually, only for Williamson and the other opposers of full reconciliation.
We will see out this pans out. In the meantime, the clear nervousness of Bishop Williamson and the symbolic date for Bishop Fellay’s meeting with the Pope do give some reason to hope.
The Italian blog Messa In Latino – which had published the original rumour – today informs us that Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a document outlining the proposal of an Ordinariate for the FSSPX and other traditionalist groups.
Messa In Latino confirms that such a solution has been (tentatively) outlined to the FSSPX. The explanations given by the blog as to how reconcile this with Fellay’s words are as follows:
1) Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a “concrete project” (say: a definitive document of proposal), not the existence of a verbal, in principle proposal to proceed in this way.
2) It would appear that the announcement has caused some discontent within the FSSPX, with the least moderate part predictably opposed to any solution which doesn’t represent a complete backpedaling from Rome.
3) It would appear possible that in light of this situation, Fellay himself may have wished the postponement of the official proposal to a later time, in the meantime hoping to consolidate the approval for such a solution.
4) The proposed Assisi meeting in October is not going to make things easier; again, this might speak for an official proposal after the sandstorm to be caused by the Assisi gathering has settled.
It all makes much sense to me and I do not think that the Italian translation will reveal fundamental changes. Whilst it is predictable that the intransigent fraction will not be happy with the solution, I frankly can’t see why the vast part of the SSPX clergy should refuse it, provided that the ability for the SSPX to continue to operate in complete autonomy (which means: to continue to criticise V II documents ad libitum) would not be compromised. It is not that Lefebvre was any softer regarding V II before his excommunication, so there is no need to fear that return to full communion will mean the necessity to accept the V II documents as pure gold.
What is important to notice is that Messa In Latino boldly confirms the rumours. In this respect, the presence of a written document is in my eyes not really decisive, as after so many years of disagreements there is no real hurry and the idea of waiting until, say, Advent does make sense.
I will keep you posted if further news appear.
I have already pointed out in my last blog post about Assisi III that it would be high time to start talking a bit of the Catholic doctrine of war instead of indulging in the usual easy rhetoric of peace. It would appear that there is a good example at hand.
Above is the trailer of Cristiada, a film about the armed insurgence of mexican Christians (and obviously mainly: Catholics) between 1926 and 1929 in reaction to the strongly anti-Christian stance of the Mexican government of the time. When the persecution became open (closing of monasteries, religious schools and convents in the province of Chihuahua, for example; or possibility for the government to regulate the number of priests; or prohibition for priests to wear the clerical garb outside of the church) the rebellion became armed. Somehow, I feel that the movie will not be distributed in the United Kingdom…..
I do not doubt that even today – as, of course, then – there would be those among the Catholics happy to – if put in a similar situation – choose the easy and, most of all, safe role of the prayerful oppressed instead of realising that there is a time for war. Thankfully, in Mexico people who thought differently were enough to carry their fight to victory in the end.
We are, admittedly, not in such a dire situation here in Blighty or in the rest of Europe. But we are certainly nearer to the point of armed conflict now than we were ten or twenty years ago. In fact, a situation might well emerge in the next decades where a Catholic is obliged to choose, like Thomas More, between God and King.
Now don’t get me wrong, democracy is a beautiful thing and one appreciates its ability to achieve long periods of peace and prosperity. One of the most distinctive traits of western democracies is that they don’t go at war with each other; still,they might well go at war against Christianity.
A country in which a supremely stupid Prime Minister says that Christians must be “tolerant” and the Judiciary is right in imposing to them an anti-Christian behaviour is not very far away from the Mexican government of 1926. A country in which laws are proposed – though not passed – by which the selling of Bibles can be seen as “discriminatory” against all the pervert therein condemned is not far away from forfeiting its right to existence. A country unable to distinguish between a man and a woman and two perverts shows that it has squarely put itself in a position of conflict with Christianity a long time ago.
Democracy is, of course, a good thing. But democracy is not our religion. I believe in God, The Father Almighty, not in democracy. When the two come into frontal conflict , I know which side I’m on.
Don’t make of democracy an idol. Democracy is good – and justified in its existence – only as long as it doesn’t explicitly marches against a higher Order.
The Queen’s good servant, and all that……
The Press office of the vatican has released a multilingual communiqué about the planned meeting in Assisi, in the meantime known as “Assisi III”. If you scroll here you’ll see the English text.
As expected, Pope Benedict will do things in a radically different manner than his soon-to-be-beatified predecessor. Among the positive aspects I would mention:
1) The express intention of avoiding the mess of the other times (particularly 1986). The statement says (emphasis mine):
Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism.
No Buddhas on altars, and no mistake.
2) The express mention that there will be no common prayer. People of different faith will just – to say it poetically – shut up and everyone of them will pray individually as he can. The fact that everyone prays according to his own religion doesn’t make the act “ecumenical” (in the wrong sense) in the least. This is, it seems to me, not different from what happens in a stadium before the shooting of a penalty. I will eagerly await what conservative Catholic sites write about this, but I personally don’t see any need to be alarmed by the exercise in itself.
3) The event is very much low-key: a selected group of people starting a train journey from Rome to Assisi. Also, no multi-day kermesse but a rather sober programme beginning and ending on the same day. This is no mega-gathering, rather a day out.
As largely expected, scenes like these ones are not going to be repeated; rather, Pope Benedict chooses to emphasise beforehand that he is going to make it differently. Still, I think that this is not a good thing as he is, in a way, trying to repair Assisi like Gorbaciov tried to repair communism, but the first is every bit beyond repair as the second.
Some aspects of the gathering are, in my eyes, still questionable; not “JP II-questionable”, though; rather, questionable from a purely Catholic point of view:
1) I’d have thought that the Pope’s role is to convert those who are not Catholic, not to dialogue with them. I know that dialogue is so much “en vogue” nowadays, but everytime I read about “dialogue” I have the strange impression that here the message is broadcast that Catholicism and heresy – or Catholicism and Atheism – are positions which meet on a foot of equal dignity.
They don’t. Truth meets Lie, and Faith meets Unbelief. It may be that this will be the bearer of good fruits; still, the supremacy of the Truth should be stressed by none more than by the Pope himself. This here doesn’t help.
2) Assisi I is called “historic meeting”. Historic in shame, blasphemy and heresy, yes. But to extol such a goddamn mess as an example of virtue seems to me – even allowing for the explicit clarification that this time, things are going to be made in a radically different way – way out of the mark. Again, Pope Benedict tries to repair a toy already irreparably damaged in the eyes of orthodox Catholics and no amount of totschweigen und schoenreden of the unspeakable shame of 1986 will change an iota in this.
3) this time, atheists are also invited. They are invited on the ground that they “regard themselves as seekers of truth” and feel that they “share responsibility” for this planet. This sounds rather strange to me. I’d have thought that the gathering would have a religious aspect in that it shows people of different faiths but united by their belief in the supernatural. If you extend this to atheists, well why not to homo and lesbian organisations, or neonazis, or wiccans, or the like? They all “see themselves” as “seekers of truth”, let alone think that they “share responsibility”….
Next thing you know, Satanists will asked to be invited. Hey, let’s dialogue!
4) (Achtung! Pure Mundabor-esque point!) I don’t know about you, but I still have a slight impression of easy populism whenever I hear about a “peace” event. Peace is easily said and more universally liked than football, or chocolate. It doesn’t make any news that a religious leader promotes peace. Rather, it seems to me that peace is getting too big a place at the Christian table. In my eyes, it would be high time – for a change – to start re-instructing the faithful about the doctrine of war instead of feeding them the easy fare of cunning politicians and senseless dreamers. We can’t close our eyes in front of simple realities of the human condition just because it is more convenient or popular to do so. The Truth must, I think, be said whole, not only the convenient bits. Marches for “peace” are not very scarce; nor is the message controversial; nor is there any need to stress it.
All in all, one can – I think – safely say that the worst fears have been dissipated. But one can also – I’d say, with equal security – say that this initiative still reeks a bit of that easy populism that played such a massive role during the pontificate of the late JP II.
I still wished this had never been started.
I have already written a blog post about Bishop Fellay’s intervention in favour of Summorum Pontificum.
In the same interview, he deals with Assisi III and this is probably worth of separate consideration.
Bishop Fellay points out to the following problems:
1) That Pope Benedict heavily criticises relativism in religious matters (and rightly so, of course) but indirectly promotes the same relativism by starting the Assisi 2011 initiative.
2) That Pope Benedict is now celebrating an initiative which he himself clearly boycotted in 1986.
3) That in his idea that it be impossible for Catholic and non-Catholics to pray together, but that it be possible for them to gather together as members of different religious affiliations he is “splitting hairs”.
I find his criticism perfectly right on all points and whilst we will have to wait to see how Pope Benedict organises and shapes this meeting (that is: how he limits the damage that he has already done, the bomb of “interreligious gathering” being one which always causes a powerful explosion however orthodox your intentions), it is interesting to note that Bishop Fellay makes a supreme effort of explicate the inexplicable and theorises a desire to counteract the recent spate of persecutions as the real motive of this initiative.
Personally, I cannot see this as a real motive. Christians have always been persecuted and they always will; to water down the Christian message and to try to appease the persecutors will in my eyes only have the effect of increasing their aggressiveness. You just don’t fight religious intolerance by watering down the Christian message.
If you ask me, I can only see one – or all – of these three motives:
1) Pope Benedict wants to re-make in the right way what Pope John Paul once made in the wrong way, thus erasing as far as possible the bad memory of Assisi I and II with a theologically impeccable Assisi III. This seems to me a bit like trying to make dung smell good but one can – with a stretch of the imagination – understand the logic.
2) Pope Benedict thinks that conservative Catholics are becoming too cocky (utter and complete dominance on the Internet; vast support among young clergy; resurgence of the popularity of old, once forgotten or ignored heroes like Pius XII and Fulton Sheen) and wants to help the “other side” a bit. The beatification of JP II before the beatification of Pius XII, the oh-so-liberal sounding convocation of Assisi III and, perhaps, a restrictive interpretation of the scope of Summorum Pontificum would all be parts of the same thinking.
3) Pope Benedict is simply trying (in the wrong way, if you ask me) to promote the JP II brand as he sees in it a powerful instrument of evangelisation. Again, one understands the logic. I just wonder why he would allow himself to be persuaded to pick the most controversial of JPII’s many controversial inititatives to do so. It seems to me a bit like promoting Bill Clinton’s presidency by remembering the Lewinsky affair.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, I allow myself the comment that Pope Pius XII would have never dreamt of an initiative like Assisi (whatever numeral you may put to it); that Fulton Sheen would have never dreamt of encouraging interreligious gatherings of any sort, but exclusively Catholic gatherings of every sort; and that Padre Pio would have never dreamt of the necessity of a Novus Ordo mass, however “reformed after the reform” it may be.
In recent months, Pope Benedict seems to have been skating on rather thin ice. More the reason to pray for him.
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.
The SSPX has criticised in a rather harsh way the Pontiff’s decision to hold a new Assisi meeting.
“We are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi”, declared Bishop Fellay and one can only wonder what Bishop Williamson would say if he were allowed to do so freely without being confined in some remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
I have already written about the matter and it seems to me that whilst I agree with Bishop Fellay on the fact that this is not a brilliant decision, the choice of words is not a particularly happy one. In my eyes, Bishop Fellay talks and speaks as if Pope Benedict were another John Paul II. I do not think this is the case. Besides the fact that even Pope John Paul II had to see that things had gone far too far in 1986 and took care that the worst excesses were not repeated during the second Assisi gathering in 2002, it is very clear after almost six years of pontificate that Pope Ratzinger has nothing of the “let’s be hip”-mania, of the desire to be perceived as modern and in synchrony with the times that made so much damage during his predecessor’s pontificate.
During these years we had no Koran kissing, no kissing of the ground, no rock concerts and no search for easy ways to please the crowds. Nothing in Benedict XVI’s demeanour says “I will accommodate your need to be entertained or to feel good in the cheapest possible way”. The Assisi-mentality is clearly not his and this (in my eyes, ill-advised) renewed Assisi-gathering a tribute to the good intentions of his predecessor, whose beatification is clearly imminent and who is still a powerful weapon in the Church’s evangelisation effort.
At the same time I must disagree with the generally excellent William Oddie, who in his reaction to the SSPX’s utterances exaggerates in the other direction and calls the SSPX on their way to the funny farm.
What happened in 1986 must never, ever happen again. It was a damned shame and a show of breathtaking TV-fuelled ecu-maniac orgy of the worst kind. That excellent defenders of Catholic orthodoxy like the SSPX be concerned is certainly understandable, though the way of expressing these concerns might be (and in my eyes, certainly is) open to criticism.
Let us also say that “when the mills were white” Catholics were not allowed to pray with non-Catholics and this for the simple reason that such an exercise generates confusion among Catholics and can easily lead to the perception that what faith one subscribes to is of no great importance. By all talking of peaaace and looove, we should never forget that whoever isn’t Catholic is in the wrong shop , however saintly he may be.
I also disagree with Oddie that an orthodox Catholic should not think that he is more orthodox than the Pope. Of course he should, and he should every time that this is the case. The Holy Ghost guarantees infallibility to the Pope only when he speaks ex cathedra; it doesn’t guarantee at all that the Pope may, in his behaviour, frontally go against Catholic teaching. Pope Benedict IX sold his Papacy, and no one says he is not a Pope for that. The same goes, of course, for the kissing of Korans. A Pope is infallible but nor impeccable. Sometimes, Popes make a mess of things and sometimes they make a huge mess of things (Paul VI comes to mind). To say this is not un-Catholic in the least and doesn’t call for any farm, funny or not.
Assisi 2011 will, I am rather sure, be nothing similar to the catastrophe of 1986. But this doesn’t seem to me sufficient reason to go back there anyway. The risk of awakening ghosts from a shameful past is too big.
I gather from “Rorate Coeli” that in today’s Angelus the Holy Father announced that
on the 25th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Assisi for the meeting of different religious leaders in 1986, he will visit Assisi in October 2011 for a meeting with “Christian brothers of the different confessions, leaders of the world’s religious traditions, and, ideally, all men of good will”.
My first observations, a caldo as we say – are as follows:
1) I wonder how long will it take before the Church stops repeating JP II’s mistakes, just because he made them. JP II’s “franchise” might still be strong, but whether it is useful to orthodox Catholicism is a different matter altogether. Methinks, it isn’t. Not in the least. The old Assisi gatherings were a goddamn disaster and a shame. They should be remembered only to be ashamed about them. For details even more shocking than the photo posted above, please follow here (yes, it’s about “interreligious” projects in Fatima. No German? Ahiahiahi….).
2) I am absolutely sure that this will not be allowed to become another new-age-cum-Buddha heretical fest like the former occasions, particularly 1986. Pope Benedict is the one who stopped the original Assisi-gatherings (of which a further one was planned already when he became Pope) in the first place. In the matter of orthodoxy, nothing untoward is going to happen. Those who have experienced the Pope’s visit in England & Scotland know that he can talk very, very straight.
3) I do think, though, that this is a mistake. Whilst the Pope is never shy of pointing out that to him ecumenism means “you come to me”-ism, in this case the choice of the historically and emotionally laden Assisi seems to me the worst possible. It will easily – nay, surely – become a battleground among conflicting tendencies: the Holy Father’s desire to come to Assisi to point out what real ecumenism is, and the Birkenstock-clad cohorts of pacifist, third-worldist, socialist and covert-liberation-theology troops (many of them, I am afraid, Franciscans) that will unavoidably try to hijack the event for their own agenda.
In my opinion, the Assisi gatherings should have been left alone as an example of how not to do ecumenism. This initiative is bound to create false hopes in all those who don’t really get the Pope’s message and are always waiting for an excuse to say that the Holy Father is aligned on their position.
If you ask me, this is a bad start of the year.