Thu 17th Apr 2014 | Last updated: Thu 17th Apr 2014 at 22:10pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

Debate: Do inter-religious gatherings sow confusion among the faithful?

Or is it worth running the risk in order to unite the world’s religions in the cause of peace?

By on Thursday, 13 January 2011

Representatives of 12 religions pray together during the World Day of Prayer for Peace, hosted by Pope John Paul II in Assisi (Photo: AP)

Representatives of 12 religions pray together during the World Day of Prayer for Peace, hosted by Pope John Paul II in Assisi (Photo: AP)

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), has said that he is “deeply indignant” at the Pope’s decision to hold another inter-religious gathering at Assisi.

Bishop Fellay is not alone in viewing these gatherings with suspicion. Benedict XVI himself, as Cardinal Ratzinger, chose to miss the first one in 1986. He said later that the sight of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and others praying together could give “the false impression of common ground that does not exist in reality”. But he insisted on the possibility of “multi-religious prayer”, in which members of different religions prayed at the same time for the same intention without praying together. And he did attend the second Assisi gathering in 2002.

Yet even if different religious leaders are not, strictly speaking, “praying together”, it still looks like they are: the impression is given that all religions are equally valid, that they believe in the same God.

On the other hand, to unite the world’s religions in the cause of peace is a crucial and pressing task – one that would be especially appreciated by Christians in the Middle East.

So, do inter-religious gatherings sow confusion among the faithful? Or is bringing the world’s religions closer together worth that risk?

  • Horace Zagreus

    I don’t think this should sow confusion at all. “To the pure, all things are pure” as the saying goes, and either one does not believe that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation (in which case inter-religious prayer will be seen in its proper context), or one does not (in which case such prayer will only act to confirm an existing bias).

    Providing it is made clear that there can only be unity in intention rather than unity in prayer (since none of these religions can agree exactly on what is meant by “prayer” or “God”), then any confusion can only be based on either a pre-formed belief in this, or a pre-formed desire to be scandalised, and to find fault with the Holy See (in which case, see canon 1404).

    At this juncture, the calling of another Assisi meeting is eminently prudent. The inter-religious situation in the Middle East is decidedly precarious in particular, and the call for peace (and indeed, co-operation) is very much a desideratum. It is to be hoped that this call helps to resolve problems in that region, and its clear intention is entirely praiseworthy.

    As usual, however, the SSPX looks to be offended, and casts around for jibes against the Papacy. Their attitude is very much that of the Orthodox – anything but submission to the Roman Pontiff.

  • Joe

    1. Those who pass comment on inter-religious gatherings can themselves contribute to the confusion. They do this if they are not careful to accurately represent what happens at these events. In particular, I do not believe it is helpful to play off the meeting convened by Pope John Paul II in 1986 against that due to take place in October 2011, as if the latter is radically different in nature than the former. They exist in a “hermeneutic of continuity”.
    2. Some of those criticising inter-religious meetings like those in Assisi are at root debating the legitimacy of inter-religious dialogue – this is a separate debate than one about “confusion”. Since Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church has developed its thought and action in the direction of dialogue. The critique of Bishop Fellay is in my view of this type, and therefore not one based on “confusion” as such.
    3. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious dialogue has published on the relation between dialogue and proclamation of the Gospel. Making this reflection known could help to avoid confusion.
    4. The dialogue of life – exemplified by the response of Muslims in Egypt who visited Coptic Churches for Christmas Mass in solidarity with Christians – is an important context in which to understand events such as that due to take place in Assisi. Multireligious prayer is not the same as dialogue of life, but it is proximate to it.
    5. So if there is confusion about the meeting due to take place in October, I feel that the answer is to respond to that confusion and not to let it be allowed to undermine the meeting itself.

  • Auricularis

    Just what exactly do these meeting accomplish? Christians are still savagely persecuted in Islamic countries, despite all the ecumenical rear-kissing that the Vatican does to Muslim ambassadors.

    Will the necessity of accepting the divinity of Jesus be mentioned or conveniently side-lined, for fear of offending other “religious traditions” (formerly known as false religions)?

    I am by no means a rabid SSPX supporter but at least their criticisms of such gatherings (if anyone bothers to read them) is logical and makes Catholic sense – not this charade in pursuit of some nebulous notion of common peace.

  • Alan F.

    This is not a matter for debate but a matter of objective Christian (i.e. Catholic) teaching:

    “3. But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians.

    4. Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity? Who would dare to say that he loved Christ, unless he worked with all his might to carry out the desires of Him, Who asked His Father that His disciples might be “one.”[1] And did not the same Christ will that His disciples should be marked out and distinguished from others by this characteristic, namely that they loved one another: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another”?[2] All Christians, they add, should be as “one”: for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith. This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.

    5. Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil; for We are confident that by the writings and words of each one of you the people will more easily get to know and understand those principles and arguments which We are about to set forth, and from which Catholics will learn how they are to think and act when there is question of those undertakings which have for their end the union in one body, whatsoever be the manner, of all who call themselves Christians.”

    -Pope Pius XI
    ‘Mortalium Animos’

    Do read the rest:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19280106_mortalium-animos_en.html

  • Alan F.

    This is not a matter for debate but a matter of objective Christian (i.e. Catholic) teaching:

    “3. But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians.

    4. Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity? Who would dare to say that he loved Christ, unless he worked with all his might to carry out the desires of Him, Who asked His Father that His disciples might be “one.”[1] And did not the same Christ will that His disciples should be marked out and distinguished from others by this characteristic, namely that they loved one another: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another”?[2] All Christians, they add, should be as “one”: for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith. This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.

    5. Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil; for We are confident that by the writings and words of each one of you the people will more easily get to know and understand those principles and arguments which We are about to set forth, and from which Catholics will learn how they are to think and act when there is question of those undertakings which have for their end the union in one body, whatsoever be the manner, of all who call themselves Christians.”

    -Pope Pius XI
    ‘Mortalium Animos’

    Do read the rest:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19280106_mortalium-animos_en.html

  • GFFM

    I simply don’t see the downside to inter-religious dialogue if it’s done without sacrificing the identity of one’s belief system. Often it can turn out to be an exercise in moral equivalency or some false understanding of tolerance. But neither happened in 1986 and it won’t happen with Benedict. As I have said elsewhere, he is in search of the the just and the righteous in the religious traditions of the world who are in good faith and whoauthentic peace. He is right to search them out and to lead.

  • Alan F.

    “10. 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. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: “The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly.”[20] The same holy Martyr with good reason marveled exceedingly that anyone could believe that “this unity in the Church which arises from a divine foundation, and which is knit together by heavenly sacraments, could be rent and torn asunder by the force of contrary wills.”[21] For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one,[22] compacted and fitly joined together,[23] it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head.”

  • G. Sarto

    “Do inter-religious gatherings sow confusion among the faithful?”
    Of course they do.
    And let’s have none of that silly nonsense (Mr. Oddie et al.) about being “more Catholic than the Pope”. It is the Pope whom I am obeying, or Popes, to be precise: Pius XII, Pius XI, St. Pius X, Leo XIII, I could go on…

  • G. Sarto

    Incidentally, regarding the other question:
    “…Or is it worth running the risk in order to unite the world’s religions in the cause of peace?”

    In his Papal Encyclical Quas Primas, Pius XI teaches that there can be no peace worthy of the name without the Social Kingship of Christ over every man and every nation.

    (Quas Primas, 1925 – http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_11121925_quas-primas_en.html)

  • CPKS

    Yes, we Catholics affirm those words of S. Cyprian. Do you dispute them? Do you allege that the mystical Spouse of Christ is being or has been contaminated?

    Having read Mortalium Annos, as you recommended us, do you not see that the basis of the prohibition therein defended was a “most grave error”? Do you accuse the Church, or the present Pope, of that error? Do you see what that error is? Do you see it espoused in present Church teaching (e.g. in the CCC)?

    Can your world-view allow the possibility that the Church, and its current Pontiff, might very clearly recognize the danger of that most grave error, and yet, even so, determine that the disciplinary recommendations in Mortalium Annos might no longer be invariably the best way? And is that a problem?

  • Christina

    Inter-religious dialogue, yes, if the ultimate intention is to bring all men to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but inter-religious prayer, most certainly not, for reasons given especially in the papal encyclicals quoted and cited above.

    Some posters here are confusing dialogue with prayer, but the two are totally different. If Pope Benedict calls upon representatives of other religions to join him for dialogue in a public place, in order to discuss ways of achieving world peace and freedom from persecution for his worldwide flock, then I would indeed thank God. However, I shall be scandalised anew if he reruns Assisi 1986 exactly as his predecessor did, with its open, if unintentional, invitation to very unholy influences.

    Pope Benedict has made it clear that hopes for world peace and freedom from religious persecution are currently and urgently very close to his heart. Furthermore, from what I have read recently, he was far from approving much that happened in Assisi in 1986, and I am hoping against hope that if the proposed event takes place this will become clear.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  • John

    It is the exact opposite of what the Catholic Church as always taught. See, e.g.,
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/46116957

  • John

    It is the exact opposite of what the Catholic Church as always taught. See, e.g.,
    scribd.com/doc/46116957

  • James H

    “10. So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics…”

    This is not a non-Catholic assembly. It’s an assembly called by Catholics. Foreign gods will not be invoked by the Church, no heathen scriptures will be approved.

    You are entitled to your opinion; but if a theologian of the Pope’s calibre has no problem with it, that’s good enough for me.

  • James H

    So, those Popes were ‘more Catholic’ than the present one? And if you follow those Popes, that makes you…?

  • http://bibliaytradicion.wordpress.com/ Alejandro Villarreal

    Ut Unum Sint -On commitment to Ecumenism- of John Paul II:
    +
    “18. Taking up an idea expressed by Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Council,31 the Decree on Ecumenism mentions the way of formulating doctrine as one of the elements of a continuing reform.32 Here it is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today. The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth.”

  • Dr. John Smythe

    Fantastic link!!!

  • Kyriakos

    Not to all.Only to the faithful who are misinformed and or ignorant of Catholic teaching.Like the liberals(misinformed) and ultra-orthodox(mostly ignorant).

  • Anonymous

    On the Monday evening before the start of the last conclave, the Magnificat antiphon at Vespers (prayed immediately before the Cardinal electors entered the conclave) was: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, and these I must also lead. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd, alleluia. I am convinced that the Holy Father has reflected on this text every day of his pontificate.

    For me, this is a trust issue; either we trust Peter, or we don’t. If we don’t trust Peter, where are we?

  • Kyriakos

    Let us not pre-judge the coming Assisi peace summit Auricularis.We shall wait and see if good comes out of it. In addition to that, let us pray.After all God created all in his image likeness even the Islamic terrorists. We should not forget that there are rays of truth in other belief systems though not the fullness of it.

  • Auricularis

    What on earth have “rays of truth” got to do with anything? Did Our Lord settle for anything less than “rays of truth” in other belief systems?

  • Berenikebationah

    Yes.

  • Kyriakos

    Well that is why we have the Catholic Church.Let us not deny that God hears the voice of others who call him even non-Christians.We should not forget to appreciate the truth found in other belief systems. Such summits if done in the proper way help people of different creeds to work together in peace and harmony.The 2002 Assisi peace summit was an example.Such summits does not necessarily sideline Christ’s divinity or uniqueness of the Christian faith.

  • Gordon S

    What risk? Inter-religious gatherings are wonderful and more should be held. For many years the Catholic church has allowed Catholics to marry in protestant faiths with joint clergy. This has been a great eccumenical time for our people.
    We do all believe in the same God. Each religious faith shows their belief in their own tradition, But it is the same basic belief in the awesome mystery that we ‘all’ call God.
    All of these religions are valid in their own way and in their hearts and minds. It is time that we allow ourselves to firstly love one another and join together in prayer and fellowship. A catholic must always put love first as Jesus did… blessings… Gord

  • Anonymous

    Our Lady of Fatima has revealed what the Pope must do if peace is to be given to the world. He must join together with his bishops in a public and solemn consecration to Her Immaculate Heart. There will be no true peace until this is done.

    Why do these Conciliar Popes think they know better than heaven, embarking on forbidden pan-religious gatherings that have no precedent in Catholic history? They act as though it is not essential for souls to enter the Catholic Church if they would be saved. It’s almost as if their whole energy is concentrated on worldiness, human respect and geopolitical gain. What about the silenced dogma ‘outside the Church no salvation?’ Is it not the Pope’s duty in charity to preach this from the housetops, as his predecessors did without ambiguity?

    Well did Sister Lucy reveal that the punishment of the Third Secret of Fatima, i.e., the punishment for refusal to obey heaven’s request for a consecration of Russia to Our Lady, is a “diabolical disorientation” that has reached high levels in the clergy. She even directed us to Apocalypse, Chapters 8-13, werein is described a dragon whose tail hurls a third of the stars of heaven down to the earth, commonly understood by theologians to refer to a great apostasy within the clergy, not to mention millions of fallen laity. I believe we are living through this particular punishment today. That’s why they cannot see the almost total destruction of the Catholic Faith in Europe since Vatican II, but rather continue to push forward with their liberal agenda, one of the errors of Russia.

    Our Lord said to Sister Lucy, comparing this modern refusal of the high clergy to consecrate Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart with King Louis’ refusal to heed St. Margaret Mary’s message to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart, “Since, like the king of France, they choose not to obey, then like him they will fall into misfortune.” That’s why the Church is in decline and Communistic Socialism now rules almost every nation on earth.

  • Paulmck

    Bp Fellay is right!
    That a protestant, Moslem, or even worshiper of the big toe, can pray in all sincerity to their false gods, and be heard by the one true God, I do not doubt, provided that they are innocently ignorant of the Truth. That such persons can even find their way into Heaven, I do not doubt, provided that they are innocently ignorant of the Truth. If they are in all sincerity serching for the Truth, and trying to conform their lives to the truth, they are implicitly Catholic.
    But to publicly acknowlege their false religion by such events as Assisi, gives the appearance of validity to that which is opposed to the Truth. It is a sin against the Faith for which we must do penance.
    I pray the Pope will change his mind and try a little harder to remove the wooly remnants of his modernist youth from his head.
    PM

  • Anonymous

    I absolutely agree, Paulmck. The Church declares that the mercy of God extends to those non-Catholics, in life, had no way of knowing the truth of the Catholic religion, but who nevertheless lived their lives uprighly and morally in accordance with their lights. In other words, some may be saved in their false religions, but never by them. One must generally belong to the Catholic Church if one is to be saved.

    I share your hopes and prayers that the Pope will abandon this planned interfaith venture at Assisi and instead invite these poor non-Catholics to embrace the true religion, lest their souls perish for eternity. One soul lost in eternity is more catastrophic in the eyes of God than the death of millions of bodies.

  • Kyriakos

    Well this is a commnet of an ultra-Orthodox Catholic who is not much happy of Vatican 2 and a believer in Fatima conspiracy theories.He seems to be a fan of Malachi Martin also.I hope and pray that he does not become a sedevacantist or a member of cranky sect like the Palmarian Church.Hope he does not leave the Church like Milingo to join a cult like Moonism. I will pray for you brother,I am concerned of the very ultra-orthodox way you thinking. It is not true Catholicism(Orthodoxy).

  • Anonymous

    as an Muslim, you must realise that your arrogance in proclaiming all other religions as false and your God as the true and only one as quite arrogant, and insulting. My faith equally rejects the idea of Jesus as a God, and I obviously feel I do not believe in the same God as you, but I do like to show I care about your freedoms to practise your religion in this country, and hopefully you also share this with me.

    The day of prayer is an exercise in respect and a celebration of being able to practise religion without persecution or restriction. We obviously do not believe in the very same deities, but we all want to freely practise and for neither religion or state to act in repression of the people. We also, you would be surprised, share many of the same moral teachings and books from your Bible. We look at Jesus as a respected prophet.

    Praying together may be a superficial act, but the general premise of the event is good if it is to increase tolerance and understanding between different faiths and also pursuit of mutually beneficial objectives

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps we could have a little less of the “ultra-orthodox” and “Fatima conspirator” dismissal from you and a little more in the way of a substantial response.

    If your knowledge of the faith is not in-depth enough, i.e., your knowledge of the Papal Encyclcials, the teaching of the saints, the Church Fathers and Councils, etc., then please just admit to it without accusing me of extremism. If you think I’m wrong then respond with objective comments, and perhaps a few facts.

    For your information, what I wrote with regard to Fatima is not “conspiracy,” but uncontested fact publicly recorded by experts in the field. If you disagree with this, then tell me why and give me corrective information. Otherwise, you would do better to hold your peace.

    As for the accusation that I am “ultra-orthodox,” could you please explain? What is “ultra-orthodox?” How do you define the term? Is there a precedent in history, perhaps a Papal condemnation of a heresy called “ultra-orthodox?” We know that liberalism is heretical, bur I have never heard of the Church condemning anyone for being “ultra-orthodox.”

    Now be at peace and be assured that I am neither sedevacantist, nor Palmarian. Indeed, I am a well-established Catholic writer who has written many times against these particular extremes. You see! I do recognise extremes at both ends of the spectrum, liberal at one end and sedevacantist at the other.

    As for myself, I am what Archbishop Lefebvre said of himself, i.e., a Catholic faithful to tradition, neither to the left nor to the right.”

  • Profidebookstore

    In principle, I don’t find anything objectionable if leaders of religions come together to pray; I wouldn’t have any even they came to pray together, provided that the content of a mutual prayer doesn’t compromise the Catholic Faith.

    In principle, I say; but whether it is prudent is another matter. The problem is how to avoid the faithful being mislead to believe that all religions are the same, that the Catholic Church is not necessary for salvation, how to avoid upsetting those who would mistakenly see in such event a betrayal of the Catholic faith.

    On the other hand, we are asked to spread the Gospel to all nations, while the Church teaches that an assent of faith is expected to be a free assent, not imposed by any pressure. How that assent can be given if they see us as enemies, not in the sense of political enemies but in the sense of hostility toward their religion which would be evident if we did not want to establish a respectful contact with them.

    We must always keep in mind that a man must never act against his conscience even if that conscience is in error. If one acts against his conscience he commits formal sin. Granted that the members of other religions sincerely believe that their way is the right one, i.e. that what they do is done in good faith, we must apply to them what we apply to ourselves: they must never bring themselves in situation in which their faith might be weakened, still less lost. So, if they realize from our actions that our intention is to do exactly that, they have to stay away from us to preserve what they believe to be holy. Otherwise, they compromise their conscience, and commit formal sin, and we commit sin by persuading them to compromise their conscience.

    So, the question arises, how to evangelize them? And we are called to evangelize them – otherwise we commit sin of omission, and are uncharitable if we leave them in the state of formal and material separation from the true faith from which alone their salvation can come.

    I can see no way of helping them except by establishing a respectful contact with them, the contact the aim of which is in no way aimed to induce them to act against their conscience. And that contact must be sincere, not accompanied with a second thought behind their back. So, the prayerful meeting in which we join together to pray can be the way of establishing such contact.

    As the Decree Nostra Aetate asks of us, we must sincerely welcome all that is true and good in their faith, and support it whenever possible if it is possible without compromising our faith. How much truth and good there is in other religions we cannot know unless we learn about it from them, and that again demands respectful contact, the aim of which is not to seek errors and evil but truth and good. Failure to do this is the sin of omission. And much of it we can learn from the prayer, because it is reasonable to assume that the principle “lex orandi – lex credendi” is applicable to them too. Yet another reason to meet and pray.

    In the end, the Church must decide between doing nothing and respectful contact – that is certain; an aggessive evangelization has to be ruled out. An assessment of what would be more prudent in the present situation in the Church cannot be but in he hands of the Holy Father and the bishops who are in communion with him. He must have our support

  • Jacques

    Paulsays,
    I thank you very much to acknowledge that the Christians have the freedom to practise their own religion without restriction nor persecution.
    Unfortunately many muslims don’t think so and approve making kamikaze strikes and bombings against the Christian churches (in Irak and in Egypt fo rexample)
    In addition everybody knows that a muslim who converts to the Christian faith must be killed.
    That is the Sharia law. Is this what you name “freedon of religion”?

  • Anonymous

    No doubt their are extreme elements in the Muslim community, that cannot be denied. You can also find extreme rhetoric in our texts. However, to not forget however that your New Testament and your Old Testament are part of our Holy texts, in the Torah and the Engel, which are our words for those books.

    Also the Bible also harbours information that I would hardly feel a responsible Christian would feel comfortable with. Such as the genocide of the tribes of Israel, as aided by God, Jesus not speaking out against slavery, God’s mass genocide in the form of Noah’s flood and the child killing en masse in Egypt of the first born.

    What matters is that we split myth from truth, and that we split cultural references and from values we still respect. As far as Sharia law is concerned, bear in mind that many Muslims, such as myself, reject an alternate religious law to the nation state – as it contravenes democracy and freedom. Look to the millions of moderate American Muslims who are proud to live in a secular democracy.

    The truth about Sharia law is that it is outdated, but for its time it for forward thinking and encouraged judges to use reason and logic to come to rulings of justice.
    The idea of conversion being punishable by death is based on a technicality in the 7th century in which apostasy was seen as treasonous and a man was put to death. Apostasy is no longer considered a crime by Muslim states, so generally those that convert are not due any criminal sanction today.

    Consider, in the crusades Christian soldiers raped, murdered and pillaged, no doubt they would have applied the same logic to those that would have tried to convert them to Islam. All of our religious texts are historical documents somewhat, and both our religious texts and yours show sides of humanity we would not want to emulate.
    Religions can be hijacked for evil, you can see this in all religions.

  • Profidebookstore

    “In other words, some may be saved in their false religions, but never by them. One must generally belong to the Catholic Church if one is to be saved.”
    COMMENT: The “some” and the “false” apart, we are in conformity with Vatican II (LG 14).
    However, God only knows how many, and there are no “false” religions – I don’t know of any at any rate – but only those that are false in some of their tenets, or defective.

    To “invite” in Assisi, the ” non-Catholics to embrace the true religion” ,
    COMMENT: would be, – if you mean explicitly, and not by showing to them a respect, love and help (if asked) – would be a scandal. We have already heard of this “invitation” in Mortalium Animos.

  • Anonymous

    Below at the bottom is an article about some very prominent Italians calling on Pope Benedict not to repeat the great sin John Paul 11 committed at Assisi, a sin that will without any doubt bring down a great Chastisement. I rely on the following in support of this.
    In 1918 just one year after Our Lady came to Fatima, the very great Cardinal Mercier of Belgium said that the First World War was a punishment for the crime of men placing the one true Catholic religion on the same level with false creeds. Cardinal Mercier said “In the name of the Gospel, and in the light of the Encyclicals of the last four Popes, Gregory XV1, Pius 1X, Leo X111 and Pius X, I do not hesitate to affirm that this indifference to religions which puts on the same level the religion of divine origin and the religions invented by men in order to include them in the same sceptism in the blasphemy which calls down chastisement on society far more than the sins of individuals and families.” So according to this great Churchman this Spirit of Assisi, this false ecumenism is the blasphemy that will incur Divine Chastisement!
    Now truly, it can be seen that we are entering the final phases of the Fatima Prophesies, that phase Our Lady warned us about when She said
    “If they heed My requests, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not, she shall spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church; the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated; in the end, My Immaculate Heart shall triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be given to the world.”
    Or as Fr. Malichi Martin said in an interview back in 1998 in relation to The Third Secret of Fatima “We have passed the either stage we are now entering the or stage.” (Either you do this OR)
    For not only have the good as well as the bad ignored Our Blessed Mother, but rather than obey the requests of Our Lady of Fatima the Diabolical Disorientation of the upper Hierarchy now propose to ignore the promise of world peace given by Our Lady on the fulfillment of Her requests and repeat one of the great sins of the Church and pray for world peace instead with all the false man made creeds of the world. This is unbelievable when you consider that as recent as May 11th 2010 Pope Benedict while on on his way to Fatima stated to the press in relation to the Fatima Prophesies that “Not only from the outside come the attacks to the Pope and the Church, but the sufferings of the Church come right from the inside of the Church, by the sins committed inside the Church itself.” (See the Fatima Crusader, Fatima Challenge Conference Edition for the full text of what the Pope said on that occasion).
    On December 10th, 1925, Our Lady and the Child Jesus appeared to St Lucia in the Convent at Pontevedra. Our Lord said to St. Lucia “Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an Act of Reparation to remove them.” Our Lady went on to ask for people to make the Five First Saturdays with the intention of making Reparation to the Immaculate Heart. When St, Lucia at Tuy on May 29th asked Our Lord (As instructed by her confessor Fr. Goncalves) why Five First Saturdays. Our Lord responded “My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offences and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
    1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception; ……….Guilty as charged; Most Protestants, most of the Eastern Orthodox, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Freemasons, Communists, Socialists, secular humanists etc.
    2. Blasphemies against Her Perpetual Virginity;……….Guilty as charged; Most Protestants, , Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Freemasons, Communists, Socialists, secular humanists etc. In fact many “Catholics” today do not believe in Her Perpetual Virginity.
    3. Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as the Mother of men;……….Guilty as charged; We know that Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists reject this teaching, especially because they do not believe that Jesus Christ is God.
    4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children indifference or scorn or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother;…Guilty as charged; Protestants, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Freemasons, Communists, Socialists, secular humanists etc. Sadly also many “Catholics”.
    5. The offences of those who outrage Her directly in Her Holy Images.”;……….Guilty as charged; This includes those who would actually destroy Her images, ridicule them, or those like Protestants who accuse Catholics of idolatry for having statues of Our Lady in places of honor
    Our Lord clearly is not taking the modern ecumenical approach here that led to Assisi 1. He is not emphasizing those points that unite us with false religions. He is emphasizing those points that divide us from non-Catholics! He is telling us these points are far more important than any superficial ecumenical unity. Clearly and in the objective order He is accusing all these false man made religions of BLASPHEMY AGAINST HIS MOST HOLY MOTHER! He is emphasizing that these blasphemies against Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart are not to be taken lightly. They are, in fact sins against the Faith! This is an indictment against all non-Catholic religions. This is truly a call by God for all Catholics to do Penance and make Reparation (For the full story of these visions please read The True Story of Fatima by John de Marchi, I.M.C.)
    Even the very dogs of the street can sense something is wrong with the state of the world today. We can see looking around the world that every country now hangs on a knife edge, ready to descend into complete chaos and anarchy. The Mystery of Iniquity is poised to unfold before our very eyes.
    The clock is ticking. Please do promote and spread this message, They are the Requests of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
    Please promote the Message of Our Lady of Fatima with Catholic fervor.
    Make Reparation for the Blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
    Do Penance.
    Pray the Rosary.
    “The Holy Father,” “Pray, pray a great deal, for the Holy Father. He will do it, but it will be late. Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. It has been entrusted to Her.” Our Lord to St. Lucia.
    “In the end My Immaculate Heart will Triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be given to the world.” Our Lady says only She can bring peace to the world!

  • Anonymous

    My apologies below is the letter I refer to in my previous comment

    Italian Catholic Intellectuals Beg Benedict XVI To “Flee the Spirit of Assisi”
    01-22-2011
    Filed under Documents

    Pie XI
    On January 11, Catholic Italian journalists and academics caused to appear in Il Foglio a supplication to the Pope, begging him not to go to Assisi next October. Here are some of the most significant extracts.

    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… onthe 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

    (Sources: messainlatino.it, in italian. The bold print is from this edition – DICI 228, Jan. 20, 2011)
    http://www.dici.org/en/news/we-will-not-pray-together-in-assisi/

  • Dallasgreenberg

    The Catholic Church needs to return to how it was pre-Vatican II. We for sure have to pray for the Church, the Church hierarchy, and union for all Christians under Catholicism. Christ only established One Truth, One Church.

    I myself support the SSPX, reason being it has nothing to do with what’s convenient for me but more to do with the bad fruits being produced in the post-Concillar Church, and doing what the Church has always intended since Christ gave the keys to St.Peter.

    You have many so called “Catholics” who pick and choose to believe what’s convenient for them. No humility, I know this because I used to be one, and in many instances I still struggle, but I go to confession and try to make an effort to turn away completely. To think that all people receive salvation is contrary to the faith.

    This whole ecumenism is just but one issue destroying the faith (thank you Freemasons). No priests except and handful in the Novus Ordo churches that I’ve met teach that hell exists and that there’s purgatory.

    You have a problem in the faith when confession lines are nearly empty and all people are receiving communion meaning either everyone is in a state of grace, or that mortal sin does not exist. You have a problem when people are clapping at the end of mass like it’s a concert. You have a problem when the rosary is not being promoted by post-concillar priests. You have a problem when you have priests talking about issues contrary to the faith like homophobia. You have a problem when priests are mentioning that people in other religions are saved denying the dogmas of baptism of water, baptism of desire and baptism of blood. Mind you if anyone is saved outside the Church though the church never teaches that it will only be by God’s mercy for that person, but we as faithful can’t rely on that because it was never taught.

    The best thing to do, is to pray for the Church and the Pope that they turn from their errors.

  • Dallasgreenberg

    We have to remember as well that TRUE LOVE, is not about this faux idea of human respect and respecting religions. TRUE LOVE in a CATHOLIC sense is about desiring what’s best for the person which is the salvation of their soul.

    Catholics show love by helping, taking care of people (Almsgiving) but also by being principled without comprimise on the faith and desiring for others to be saved even if its inconvenient for them to believe.

    By having these heretical meetings… what’s the point of being Catholic then… what was the purpose of martyrs spilling their blood for the faith… what’s the point of Christ dying on the Cross and establishing One Church that we might all be saved.

    The Catholic Church is love, it is the One Church in which all is done for the glory of God and the salvation of others.

  • Rtsully1297

    From the comments I have read, the answer to the question, ‘does it cause confusion’. The answer is clearly YES.

  • Paulinhongkong

    The moment a Christian believer admits in his mind the idea that non Judaeo Christian religions are good, at that moment he falls into unbelief. He can no longer declare that Jesus is the only Saviour of the world. He no longer has the authority to command demons to leave and he falls into every manner of trouble. The Bible teaches this on every page and it really mystifies me how the leadership of our Church can have got it wrong on this issue. I have seen people getting into a terrible mess from honouring other religions. We need to get back to what the word of God says. Faith in Jesus is salvation. There is no other. The idea that you can be ‘saved’ in some other way is a complete nonsense.
    To answer the question: the modern Catholic Church’s interreligious policy is not only causing confusion, it is causing demonization, unspeakable trouble in the lives of those it is meant to be protecting from such things. Dear Pope Benedict, do what we trust you to do: teach us only what is right.