Sat 25th Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 24th Oct 2014 at 18:39pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

To call the Pope’s meeting at Assisi a betrayal of the faith is an utter absurdity

It’s about building ‘fraternity and peace’: anything wrong with that?

By on Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Pope Benedict XVI speaks at a meeting of religious leaders at St Mary's University College Chapel in Twickenham, London (Toby Melville/PA Wire)

Pope Benedict XVI speaks at a meeting of religious leaders at St Mary's University College Chapel in Twickenham, London (Toby Melville/PA Wire)

The forthcoming “meeting” (the word is chosen with probably deliberate care) of the Pope with followers of other faiths and none at Assisi has reduced many traditionalists to apoplectic fury at this supposed betrayal of the Catholic religion, according to which it is only in the Church that the fullness of faith is to be found, so everyone else, to the extent they disagree with us, is just wrong. Well, that’s what I think too, about the Church, that is. I yield to nobody in my suspicion of “interfaith dialogue”, if that means negotiating what we might accept in each other’s religions, noting that nobody in other religions (especially Islam) is prepared to accept that we have anything right at all, and that if you deny the Incarnation and the Trinity, you have denied the very basis of everything we believe, so what’s the point? The recent decision of certain “top Muslim scholars” in Egypt to suspend all dialogue with the Vatican in protest against Pope Benedict XVI’s condemnation of anti-Christian violence in that country, as I wrote at the time, was “depressing”, but only to be expected.

But why was I depressed, I ask myself, if it was so inevitable? I suppose because such “dialogue” at least implies good will: and in the world we are living in, good will is beyond the price of rubies (and sometimes as rare). If we all agreed, of course, we wouldn’t go to war with one another, would we? But actually, good will has far more to do with that than holding the same religion: Colonel Gaddafi and the opposition in Libya, so far as I am aware, hold exactly the same religious beliefs: what’s missing in spades is good will. I am vividly aware, when I look at some of the comments under my blogs, that even towards my co-religionists, and even if theologically you couldn’t slip a cigarette paper between us, good will is on occasion notably lacking, for a time at least.

The Pope doesn’t believe that he will be giving an inch towards the beliefs of those he will be meeting in Assisi: nor will he be. Look, he’s even invited atheists – that in a sense proves my contention. When our new nuncio announced that he intends to open dialogue with non-believers, did anyone really suppose that he seriously intends to consider whether they might be right about the non-existence of God? “Dialogue” is just as likely to be a means of proselytising for the faith as a negotiation between systems of belief.

As a convinced schoolboy atheist, it was only when I watched a TV debate between the atheist philosopher Professor Bernard Williams (for whom of course I was rooting) and Cardinal Heenan that it began to occur to me to that there might be something in all this stuff: I couldn’t put my finger on it, but Heenan (what a great apologist he was, how lucidly intelligent; who is there like him today?) was somehow just more convincing, more reasonable, even about original sin and the real presence, both of which I naturally thought were absurdities. Afterwards, I still thought they were untrue; but that first cold little sliver of doubt had been introduced into my certainties. It was many years before I became a Christian (13 years later), let alone a Catholic (30 years later), but that was without any doubt, for me, the beginning. We have to talk to people, for God’s sake (literally; that’s not just an expletive). Because 50 years ago Cardinal Heenan entered into dialogue with the atheist Bernard Williams I am a Catholic today.

The Vatican has this week made it absolutely clear what the parameters of the Assisi meeting will be:

“Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. 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. To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no-one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the centre of reflection.

“For this reason, as well as representatives of Christian communities and of the principal religious traditions, some figures from the world of culture and science will be invited to share the journey – people who, while not professing to be religious, regard themselves as seekers of the truth and are conscious of a shared responsibility for the cause of justice and peace in this world of ours.”

To assert that that is a betrayal of the Catholic faith is an absurdity hardly worth discussing. So why am I discussing it? Because, I suppose, I feel an irrational fondness (fraternity and peace?) for one or two of those who assert it (you can’t always, thank God, be entirely rational).

  • Anthony Ozimic

    The answer to why this year’s Assisi thing is wrong (as well as Assisi I and II) is found in Pope Pius XI’s much-overlooked encyclical Mortalium Animos http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11MORTA.HTM Despite the mitigations of Assisi III compared to Assisi I and II, it will still imply giving an undue status to false religions and false philosophies. The Vatican’s statement reflects irenicism, not Catholicism.

  • http://twitter.com/RJ_London RJ

    Every time Pope Benedict engages with people of a different viewpoint, whether it is Anglicans, SSPX or other faiths, he is portrayed as betrayer of orthodoxy. Perhaps it is only history that will show the wisdom of the Holy Father’s position, as our chief shepherd gathers all, slowly but surely, into the One True Fold.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad that the Pope will not be praying in union with other faiths at this event, as I believe that’s where most people felt the previous pontiff had over-stepped the mark.

    Dialogue between people of faith, atheists and representatives from various religions can only be a good thing – especially, as you say, in today’s world, where misunderstanding and mutual mistrust leads to acts of violence and hate.

    But, of course, it would be wrong for the Successor of Peter to be seen to pray in common with those who might be worshipping false gods or following paths that lead away from the truth. By engaging in inter-faith prayer, the message being sent out is that all faiths are the same, and / or we should strive for one global religion. Sadly, it seems that JP II’s inter-faith prayers and acts damaged Catholicism’s uniqueness – watering down the truth of the Gospel. I am therefore happy to see that we now have a Pope who is not going to make the same mistakes as his predecessor.

  • Pouletictac

    In engaging wth the SSP he can scarcly be said to be flirting with heterodoxy, I think.

  • Polettictac

    Quite right!

  • W Oddie

    NO: it isn’t giving “an undue status to false religions and false philosophies”: it’s giving a TRUE status TO THOSE WHO IN GOOD FAITH BELIEVE THESE RELIGIONS AND PHILOSOPHIES “, who are just as much children of God as we are, and whom God loves as much as he loves orthodox Catholics. That’s the point of Assisi 3: actually, it was fundamentally the point of JP II’s Assisi too, despite all the awful mistakes in the way it all happened.

  • Louisa

    It does seem like the fact that at this summit the Pope will not have an ecumenical prayer proves SSPX’s point about the two Assisi meetings under Pope John Paul though. To an extent, the Holy Father must agree with them and many other Catholics that praying together with non-Catholics and non-Christians (and kissing the Koran, etc) was a grave error. I don’t know what SSPX is saying about this meeting, given the news of no ecumenical prayer, but it seems to me that the current Pope agreed at least in part that previous meetings at Assisi may have betrayed the faith, in practice if not intent.

  • RJ

    Looks like there is another RJ apart from me. RJ (the one who got into protracted arguments with EditorCT and Martyjo). However, I agree with the above RJ. Perhaps we could agree to differentiate ourselves?

  • Jeannine

    “…that first cold little sliver of doubt had been introduced into my certainties.” & eventually led to your conversion.

    I have been taught that the Holy Spirit only needs a crack to seep into an unbeliever’s heart. How many “cold little sliver of doubt” will be introduced to those hearts who are watching, participating, & reading about this Assisi dialogue?

    I am all for the Catholic Church sponsoring these interfaith services. It seems to be the only venue where people of all faiths & no faith can share sincere peace with one another.

  • Poulettictac

    Dr Oddie

    Wait, please, and observe events as they unfold before you laud the Pope. In your shoes I would not wish to give hostages to fortune and I definitely would not put out the flags in advance of the event. Only either a fool or a plain apologist would do so.

  • guest

    ‘building fraternity and peace’: are English Catholics and Franciscans planning complementary events for October?

  • Anonymous

    For (literally) Heaven’s sake, William. Are you being serious? When, tell me, in the entire history of the Church has any pope affirmed people in their false religions? When? Answer: NEVER – JPII was the first. Yip – John Paul ‘The Great’ effectively told the world that one religion is as good as another.

    And so did Pope Benedict, when, speaking in St Peter’s Basilica, he said that the aim of the Assisi summit would be “to solemnly renew the effort of those with faith of all religions to live their faith as a service for the cause of peace.”

    Peace? What kind of ‘peace’? Do you seriously believe that God will bless Assisi III any more than he failed to bless Assisi I & II? We’ve had one war, one uprising, after another, with a nuclear holocaust staring us in the face as World War III looms on the horizon.

    For if you really believe that God is pleased with these pagan shindigs, where two popes in succession have emphasised that they are not interested in converting anyone, but are relying on pagan prayers to false gods to achieve world peace, slapping Our Lady in the face at the same time, since she has told them how to achieve world peace, then you really do need to take a holiday. Try Mecca.

  • Anonymous

    It really doesn’t matter WHAT happens at this event. The damage is done; the scandal has taken place in that we have a second pope inviting pagans, protestants and the adherents of false religions to pray to this god, that god or no god, in order to achieve world peace. These two popes have placed Catholicism on the same level as any old pagan religion – and for that, what a terrible judgment they face.

  • Anonymous

    I rather suspect that the SSPX will be saying what Christ said just before He ascended into Heaven: the popes should be urging conversions, not “dialogue” specifically designed NOT to convert. “Go into the whole world, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” That’s the mission of the Church. Not “go and dialogue for world peace.”

  • Anonymous

    Are you kidding? Do you follow the news? Don’t you know that Pope Benedict was severely reprimanded by the rabbi on his last two visits to a synagogue? Listen, I can’t be bothered listing all the examples of insults hurled at the pope by leaders of world religions and atheists (who, prior to his UK visit wanted to have him arrested, if you recall! )

    Do you really admire a pope who ignores Our Lady (sent by God) who tells us how to achieve world peace (Consecration of Russia) preferring, instead, to rely on the prayers of pagans to their false gods?

  • Anonymous

    Of COURSE it is, William Oddie. Pope Benedict has stated clearly that the Assisi meeting is “to solemnly renew the effort of those with faith of all religions to live their faith as a service to the cause of peace.”

    What does that mean, if not “live out your (false) religion well” with the implication that this religion is pleasing to God / gods? Outrageous!

    If you ever write a book, William, you must entitle is “Defending the Indefensible – An Artform”

  • Petrus

    I agree. Pope Benedict has said that the way to peace is for every “believer” to be faithful to their own religion. This is utter nonsense and a violation of the First Commandment. The only way to world peace is to fulfill Our Lady’s peace plan, given at Fatima. Pope Benedict seems to think he can bypass this, thus bypassing God, and bring about world peace through his own efforts. Absurd. A fine example of the diabolical disorientation.

    There is only one true religion – the Catholic faith. Only the Catholic faith can bring about world peace.

    “He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Luke 11:23)

    “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.” (John 14:27)

  • Anonymous

    Well said. It is just astonishing, though, just how many Catholics think one religion is as good as another. Oh, they’ll pay lip service to the necessity of the Church for salvation – but their own version of it.
    They don’t seem to believe, in fact, the words of Jesus which you quote – or these words….

    “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father, except through Me.”

    No amount of “sincerity” will save souls. Jack the Ripper sincerely believed he was improving society by ridding us of prostitutes. “Seek and ye shall find” leads souls to Catholicism. Yet, you’d never think it, listening to Pope Benedict affirming people in their false religions. Tragic.

  • Anonymous

    Some twenty years back one day I was in Varanasi (India) Cathedral Compound walking towards the Cathedral. From the other side of the compound, one saffron clad Catholic Priest beckoned to me. I myself was in Lotus color Kurta-Pijma. I went near and he said something to me as if he was revealing a great secret. He said : ‘St.Paul was a man of our own times’. After saying this he just walked away.

    I started reflecting. “Yes. He is correct. St. Paul belongs to our own time zone. He did not belong to the group of The Twelve. He did not belong to the times they lived in the physical company of Jesus. And yet St. Paul is considered the greatest of the Apostles in terms of the work, sufferings and persecutions he underwent and the fruits he produced for love Christ The Lord. If such is the case with St. Paul, we too can be Apostles like him in our own times and places if we seek to hear Jesus calling us by name and follow Him readily and gladly.

    All the more so it has to be the case with those who claim to have inherited the offices of the Apostles.

    This does not mean I deny those who choose the dialogue way, for I myself have gone that way in ignorance and good faith but later said goodbye to it as I found it was making Jesus Christ relative through my own person.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Gallacher/100001138016099 Sean Gallacher

    Before you know it the Pope will be recommending the messages of peace, harmony, good will and intellectualism that is at the heart of two new Atheist Bibles. AC Grayling wrote one and the other doesn’t have an author. The Good Book and 21st Century Testament.

  • Poulettictac

    All this started a long, long time ago and before anyone living today was born. It is indifferentism and Modernism. It has been condemned and condemned but the more condemnations the better for those so minded, all the way down from Teilhard de Chardin and George Tyrrel to Abp Bugnini, Karl Rahner and Paul VI and, in the other temporal direction to amost all the condemned heretics of the Christian era.

    Potentially good and fertile soil is easily turned to wasteland, occupied by poison ivy. It requires one thing viz. human neglect. The clergy, high and low, neglected the common herd for too long. Catholics were kept in lamentable and sinful ignorance of their faith by clerics who saw no need for the people to learn latin beyond the needs of the altar boy. The limit of thological learning for most was the Penny Catechism and knowing how to sing Credo III and the Missa de Angelis. Relative clerical ignorance has only added to our woes. The crypto Modernists lay silent, beavering away and waiting for their day to come. When John XXIII convened his Eumenical Pastoral Council they took full advantage of all the opportunities for ‘reform’ that presented themselves and after the Council they created those that had not presented themselves during the Council, itself. Liberal neo-protestants are the ‘theological experts’ who today tell us what we must think and how we must view what happens at Rome and elsewhere.This, people, is where we are now and we are fools if we do not reaslise it and reckon with it.

  • Weary Convert

    Just for once I felt myself agreeing with an article by William Oddie and then read down to the standard hysteria of the ultras. Please write more articles like this Mr Oddie and ignore these poor people even if you feel an “irrational fondness” for them.

  • Poulettictac

    No, no! please don’t encourage him :-)

  • Weary Convert

    Oh dear. Never mind. On a more positive note I see in the newspaper today that in a speech at Fez, Prince Charles has recalled how he has also been subject to ridicule in his efforts to promote inter-faith dialogue between different religions around the world. He said, “One of the hardest things is to remind people of the great truth of traditional Islam, not distorted Islam, and trying to remind people of the great truth of traditional Christianity, not distorted Christianity, and we know there are problems in both religions.” How very sensible! Of course, the main critics of the Prince are the chattering classes and the media who feel obliged to sneer at anything he tries to do but at one time I would have hoped that readers of the Catholic Herald in print or on the internet, might stop and think of the truth behind his address. However, having now read so many wild comments here, I doubt if the ultras could abide such commonsense.

  • Poulettictac

    Who are ‘the ultras’?

  • Weary Convert

    With respect, perhaps you might look in the mirror.

  • Poulettictac

    Now, it is always a disrespectful and snide comment that follows ‘with respect’, isn’t it?

  • Poulettictac

    Not, myself, having had the advantage of being a convert – weary or not – I cannot imagine what you feel about now being catholic or what you thik gives you the right to label people ‘ultras’ or whatever. If being and loving to be a member of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is to be an ‘ultra’ then I most willingly and proudly plead guilty. If holding the Teaching of that Church to be as the Teaching of Christ Himself then I am happy to plead guilty. All that, Wear Convert, makes me a Catholic.

  • Weary Convert

    I accept that mine was a snide comment and I apologise for that. I have suggested before that the devilish effect of these websites is to bring out the worst in people and I really must not let that continue to happen to me. My use of the word “ultra” is to suggest the approach Catholics best described as irresponsible dogmatists – perhaps similar to the utras that for a while dominated France after the Bourbon resporation.

    If one trawls though this website you will find claims that all bishops are apostates, the last two Popes have betrayed the church by meeting (and praying?) with other eligions, Anglicans comeing from the C of E should never have been allowed to be made Monsignori etc etc.

    When I look at these comemtnsthcome we I think that that is still a fair descripion and such an approach is very evident on this CH website.

  • Weary Convert

    I am sorry – an old man like me can never really understand how to navigate on computers. This posting is full of typing errors etc and was not intended to be sent in this state. I hope that is is vaguely understandable. Elsewhere I have even left a box open that I cannot get rid of.

    The post was supposed to conclude,

    “With kind regards, further apologies and also “with respect” – sincerely meant this time.”

    But even that I messed up! Oh for the old postal system where letters could be sent and answered the same day.

  • Poulettictac

    Catholicism, being what it intrinsically is, should bring out the very best in us but we do not allow it to do what it is intended to do. The fault is a happy one since it may give us reason to do better but success, here, depends upon our good will and we all too often fall down here, again. If holding and teaching the Catholic and Apostolic faith – plainly, simply and unapologeticlly – then I would be an ‘ultra’ but I am an ultra who is firmly rooted in communion with all my family who went before me and with all those who have been raised to our altars. There is no shame in that. That is a reason for happiness and gratitude. I will by God’s Grace both continue to live and, I pray, to die in that Faith. Others may do as they list, Thank you for your apology. It shows no meanness of spirit and every reason to believe your sincerity. I am most grateful.

  • Julia Nutwood

    Yes, I agree Antony. I don’t enjoy criticising Pope Benedict but the whole Assisi thing has led to the impression….widespread amongst catholics (and I mix with a lot of catholics at my children’s primary school..).that catholicism is just one religion among many. If you say that the Catholic Church is the one true Church nowadays you are looked upon as some sort of fascist! Assisi was a mistake and should be buried. I know priests, in good standing with the Church, who take this line. I am entitled to take it too (and reading the comments here it seems most fellow catholics agree with Antony not William). This does not mean that I have no concern for my fellow man but how many conversions have come from Assisi??

  • Charles Martel

    Dear Dr Oddie
    I think it is a generally wholesome and praiseworthy instinct to try to give the benefit of the doubt to the Holy Father in his words actions when they seem to contradict Catholic teaching. Happy are those who are never faced with this dilemma. I can also see how conservative Catholics understandably, in view of the anarchy and insanity raging within the Church, take up a position alongside Peter and effectively deny the possibility that he can ever err. However, this is not what Vatican I taught. The Pope is not an oracle; The Catholic Faith does not come from him. It belongs to each and every Catholic just as much as it belongs to the Pope. Even if the Popes from now till the end of time stopped saying or writing anything, we would be in no doubt as to what the Church teaches.
    To criticise the Pope with respect when his actions scandalise the Faithful is not to be in any way less Catholic than to fawn over his every word. We must accept that Peter betrayed Our Lord and hence it should not surprise us if some of his successors do too. Pope Paul VI was plainly wrong to give his ring to the self-proclaimed Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, just as Pope John Paul II was wrong to give a pectoral cross to Rowan Williams – and kiss his ring – and wrong to kiss the Koran. Likewise it is wrong for a Pope to summon leaders of the world’s religions to a gathering in which he will appear as just one among many and to exhort them “live their faith as a service for the cause of peace”. The problem with these things is that they lead to indifferentism, they insult our martyrs and they weaken our Faith. The Pope’s job is to build up our Faith, not to weaken it.
    When some conservative Catholics accuse traditionalists of being protestant in their approach, they indulge in a facile ultramontanism and ultimately do the Church no favours. There is a radical difference. Traditional Catholics look to the dogmatic magisterium of the Popes and Councils first and foremost and then to the overwhelming consensus of the Popes in the ordinary magisterium. We then sometimes have to make a prudent judgement (yes, that’s what God gave us our consciences for) on certain words or actions of our Church leaders. Protestantism, on the other hand, ignores the magisterium and tradition of the Church and elevates the individual believer into his own Pope.
    Yes, it is sad that we Catholics cannot always unite around the Pope in everything he does, but it is not by mechanically defending all his actions that we serve him best. Instead, let us follow his humble request that we pray for him, that he ‘not flee for fear of the wolves’.

  • W Oddie

    I was converted from atheism because fifty years ago a Catholic Cardinal entered into “dialogue” with an atheist philosopher. Conversion happens by many different routes: but rarely, I suspect, through anything so simple or identifiable as an effort to convert. How do you know that no conversions will flow from Assisi? When Pius XII ordered the protection of Jews in Rome, he wasn’t trying to convert them. He was simply being true to his faith. But the Roman Chief Rabbi became a Catholic because of it.Life is more complex than you seem to think; so is faith. The Pope is not affirming their pagan religions: he’s affirming THEM.

  • W Oddie

    I’ve written 8 books, actually. You’ll even find the title of the last one at the top of this article. Look it up on the OUP catalogue: it’s just out in paperback.

  • In Our Times

    Ok Weary, respectfully, it seems I was drawn back here to ask what exactly you mean by “chattering classes”?

  • In Our Times

    Surely, no-one can tell you what you must think? “Theological experts” are all around us. Thank God for Free Will.

  • W Oddie

    But how do you convert them if you don’t already have something in common with them on which you can build? A heretic isn’t someone who thinks entirely differently from you: he’s someone who may already believe 80% of what you believe, but denies 20%: at the reformation, Protestants believed revelation and Trinitarian Christianity: but they denied the sacraments. An effective apologist (Newman, Chesterton) was someone who could convince a protestant that you couldn’t have one without the other. One thing Vatican II was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about was that non-Catholics, even non-Christians, MIGHT HAVE PART OF THE TRUTH, even though it was only in the Catholic Church that the whole truth “subsisted” (awful word).What you had to do was establish a community of interest with them, then show, or even merely suggest, in whatever way was open to you, that you didn’t deny EVERYTHING they believed: but that only you had the “Fullness of faith”. But if there was no point of contact, you couldn’t even begin on the sometimes decades-long process of conversion. Do you see what I’m saying?

  • In Our Times

    And what, pray tell, would be so wrong with that? It’s thanks to people of goodwill like that & those amongst the secular mental-health masses also, that I & (some) of my Catholic ancesters remained sane at all, & managed to survive the atrocious spritual & actual brutalities which still are affecting us all today. The suicide of my uncle, who was severely abused in childhood (who in turn, wrested the behaviour on some of his younger sisters) is still something my Mother can’t talk about. And she was pretty devout. Oh & not forgetting; due to the suicide, my uncle was denied a Catholic burial.

    There are stories like this all over the UK. People who have accepted this as God’s will for them & also those who cannot utter the words even; let alone take any action. And those rocking back & forth on mental health wards. I can’t carry on with this; it’s just too distressing. Please wake up & see God in everyone people, like your Pope is suggesting you ought.

  • Anonymous

    W Oddie,

    Catholics, for centuries, have been speaking to non-Catholics about the Faith – but the current emphasis is not on conversion but on convergence. Eventually, the theory goes, if we “dialogue” enough, all the main things that we all believe in, will converge and the differences will disappear. It’s a nonsense.

    I’ve never said we must not talk to non-Catholics – I specifically condemned “dialogue designed NOT to convert.” To speak with them in a dialogue that suggests we’re all brothers and sisters together and (the myth) we have more that unites than divides us (baloney – what could be “more” than the Real Presence?)

    And when the Pope himself affirms non-Christians in their beliefs, that is the kind of “dialogue” which is explicitly NOT seeking converts. The Pope will allow all these pagans to pray to their false gods, in rooms put at their disposal by him, while he is praying to the only God there is, separately. Will he even address one prayer to God the Father surrounded by the Animists, Hindus, Muslims etc? Let’s wait and see. I seriously doubt it but we’re assured this one is gong to be different. Let’s see how different.

    How are these pagans and Protestants ever to even THINK about converting, if the Pope himself is affirming them in their false faith?

    For the record, when I speak to Protestants, I make a point of saying that, of course they have some of the truth, but that they only have this truth because they got it from the Catholic Church. It was, after all, apostate priests who set up their ecclesial communities, so they have some of the truths that these bad priests stuck with, but they’ve lost the rest – some of the central Chrsitian doctrines not to mention books of the bible – because Luther & Co. either explicitly rejected them or they gradually disappeared.

  • W Oddie

    When a protestant tells me he believes in the Holy Trinity, I SHOULD affirm him in his belief. That doesn’t mean that I want convergence between us, unless he is prepared to accept the sacraments and the authority of the Magisterium. But if he suggests that we pray together to the Triune God through his Incarnate Son, should I deny him? God forbid. The Church, however, once said that we should. Are you really saying that was right?

  • W Oddie

    HE ISN’T OPEN TO THEIR FALSE BELIEFS, you truly silly woman. Why the **** do I bother?

  • Rpienne

    Desperately sad that the place of St Francis, who I believe wanted to convert people to the faith, is to be used for prayer by non-Christians. As Christians we believe that all true prayer and peace some from Jesus and not from the many pagan deities. It is wrong to encourage prayer in a false faith.This is the sort of thing that makes me want to give up communion with the Holy Father, rather like his Middle East visit when not once did he call on Jews and Muslims to convert. “Make disciples of all nations….”

  • Anonymous

    William,

    I often wonder why I bother – but here we go again. The Pope urged those “with faith of all religions to live their lives as a service for the cause of peace.”

    What’s that if not “open-ness” to false beliefs? It is, at the very least, giving the impression that he’s open to their false beliefs.

    Can we agree on that?

  • Ratbag

    You are spot on, W Oddie.

    However, I think the problem we are up against, as Catholics, is that it is felt that the ‘give and take’ aspect of mutual respect for people of other faiths or none is somehow ‘one sided’ in favour of the other faiths.

    We go out of our way to understand where people of different faiths are coming from but the outdated, outmoded, laughable stereotypes about Catholics and our faith are often thrown in our faces – for example, the outmoded, hopelessly outdated, laughable stereotypes which came to the fore prior to the Holy Father’s visit to England and Scotland last year.

    We need to be more informed about our faith; we need to strengthen our self esteem; we need to be more confident in our faith, not coy about it…

  • In Our Times

    And I did mean respectfully, respectfully; not just because you’re one of my favourites.

    Well if the Prince would out himself as the Unitarian he seems to be, & affirm truths also within Paganism, Druidry & other of our more indigenous spiritual heritage I may well be tempted to become a Royalist! (They’d need to reign in their budget somewhat though, for my vote…).

    I’m not sure splitting our country into ‘two’ (Islam & Christianity) is particularly practical though, with the way things are on the ground. What do you think? And of course, if one were to (Heaven Forbid), come under ones canopy of the ‘chattering classes’, whatever they maybe: I would still permit myself to have an “irrational fondness” for old Charlie. He talks to plants; has made himself happy in his personal life; the Princes Trust seems pretty excellent & Duchy organics would be all well & good if us ‘prollies’ could afford such luxury. What’s not to like? He’s probably a bit of a poppet really.

    So are you an aristocrat Weary? Or maybe more painfully perhaps; a fallen one? I mean, you keep telling us (all of a sudden), how very incredibly old you are, struggling on your pension & all. But I’m sure all those souls wittering away beneath would forgive your snobbery, if they knew the real story. I mean you’re so very very old now, like you keep saying. Do let us in on it while you’re still able!

    I’d be happy to correspond via Royal Mail if I knew where to post things. You must write very late at night, maybe. By candle-light even? Do you know what an emoticon is? ;-) Forgive my wild comments Weary; it means I like you…

  • Michel Roi

    I agree. Most of my friends would describe me as being in the “middle” of the church spectrum. That said, I have real misgivings about the Assisi gatherings. To the average Catholic, these events communicate the messgae that one religion is basically as good as another. I talk to a lot of Catholics and I don’t think many have a clue as to what the Church actually teaches about herself and other religions.

    Though I am personally attracted to what the Council taught about ecumenism, it represented quite a shift from what the Church had previously taught. I am willing to accept that the previous teaching was not infallible (and was thus therefore reformable), but how is it that such a big “reform” was made without explanantion or apologetic? If non-infallible teaching can be changed so quickly and easily, why should I assent to such teaching as the Church ask? What other positions I feel obliged to defend as a loyal Catholic will be changed and cast aside at the next ecumenical council? It’s good that there’s a whole body of teaching that has been believed “semper, ubique et ad omnibus”, it gives me the sense there’s some solid ground I can stand upon.

  • Peter

    You will never spread the Good News to the rest of humanity if you turn your back on it.

  • Anonymous

    Dear EditorCT,

    a disciple of Christ was reprimanded in a synagogue… why not meditate on that thought for a moment before you next pray the rosary.

    I do not mean to give offence, but there is a danger that one might lose oneself in what can seem to be quasi-idolatrous worship of the Blessed Virgin, which is sometimes the impression given, for example, in the way you express your commitment to the faith to others.

    God bless

  • W Oddie

    NO. NO. NO. NO. We can NOT agree on that. What this is really about is your refusal to accept the conclusions of an ecumenical council (and don’t give me all that crap abut it being ONLY a pastoral council, the then Cardinal Ratzinger did NOT mean to say, as you are well aware, that the council had no doctrinal authority). What you don’t like or accept is Nostra Aetate. That’s what you are rejecting in all this. In other words, you reject precisely the conciliar document which has been the basis of our reconciiation with the Jews. So: I would like to know what you think about THAT? And how do you feel about Bishop Williamson? I make no accusation of any kind: but at this point i think i’m entitled (we’re all entitled) to some clarification. Are you against Nostra Aetate? And if so, why? And what relationship does THAT have with the well-documented anti-semitism of SOME SSPX supporters (by no means all, I know). I want simply an explanation o0f what lies behind all this.You could begin by setting out what Vatican II documents you are actually prepared to ACCEPT. Have you actually read any of them? And please note, when and if you reply, that we are not fools. This a serious question. Your usual polemics will not do.