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Inadmissible Concessions, Once Again

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

My friend Jan though that “things would change” with the election of Card. Joseph Ratzinger as Pope in April 2005. “He always talks against religious relativism. You’ll see,” she assured me, “he will make it clear there is only one true faith. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more Assisis.”

She was speaking, as I am sure my readers know, of the scandalous ecumenical encounters in Assisi in 1986, 1993 and 2002 where Catholics, Protestants, Schismatics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and even Animists all gathered together to pray. She was also referring to criticism expressed by Ratzinger in 1987 about the 1986 Assisi summit, where he stated “This cannot be the model!”

I did not share her optimism. Despite that vague remark, not a criticism, Card. Ratzinger was present at the 2002 Assisi encounter and expressed his satisfaction with it. And almost as soon as he was elected Pontiff, he was affirming his commitment to the ecumenism promoted by his predecessor, and resolving to carry on in the same spirit.

Assisi 2006

If ever there was a window of opportunity for a paternal correction, it would have been the latest 2006 interconfessional meeting, organized by the inter-faith Community of Sant’Egido and realized in Assisi to mark the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s initiative. Again, scores of Muslims, rabbis, Buddhists, Shintoists gathered at Assisi on September 4 and 5 to dialogue and pray for peace. But the “correction” that so many conservatives were predicting has never come. No, not even a word of criticism.

Various religious leaders sitting in a row

Above, religious leaders of every brand meet for prayer in Assisi in 1986; below, Assisi 2006

Assisi 2006

Le Monde des Religions, May-June 2005 - 30 Giorni, January 2002
Instead, recalling the first such meeting on October 27, 1986, Benedict had words of praise and approval, describing it as a “vibrant message furthering peace and an event that left its mark on the history of our time.”

In his message read to the religious leaders gathered at Assisi, Benedict XVI reaffirmed the same inter-confessional and Masonic goals addressed so often by John Paul II:
  • Faith in God, the Father of all, should encourage relations of universal brotherhood among all men;

  • No more religious war;

  • The value of prayer in building peace;

  • The importance of the personal relationship of each person of all faiths with God;

  • The supposed good effect of interfaith encounters and dialogue for the youth.
You can read the whole message if you like here.

After this powerful support for a Panreligion, Pope Benedict reminded the religious leaders of the care taken at the Assisi meeting 20 years ago to ensure that "the inter-religious prayer meeting did not lend itself to syncretistic interpretations based on relativist concepts." He insisted that the same concern was present today.

Should we piously believe that the Dalai Lama and his Buddhist monks placing a statue of Buddha over the tabernacle of St. Peter Church in Assisi did not promote religious syncretism and relativism of concepts? Of course it did. If in fact that Buddha display – as well as many other incidents at the various Assisis – did not serve to promote syncretism and relativism, then those words have lost their meaning. So, when Benedict warned against syncretism and relativism, was he really concerned about defending the purity of our Holy Faith, or was he playing with words? It is my opinion that the latter is more probable.

The “spirit of Assisi” continues under Benedict XVI.

No conversions in Russia, please

Pope Ratzinger of his own admission is following in the footsteps of JPII. Let me give you another example.

Regarding the so-called Orthodox Russian Church, there has been no policy change. Under JPII missionaries were forbidden to proselytize the “Orthodox” people in Russia. Why this unorthodox directive? Well, Ukrainian Catholics were teaching the Catholic doctrine and many Schismatics were embracing the Catholic Faith; this was upsetting patriarch Alexis II and placing obstacles in the way of ecumenism. Therefore, the Vatican put aside the words of Our Lady at Fatima calling for the conversion of Russia; and for the sake of dialogue, no more conversion in Russia.

Alexis II and the Roman Clergy

Alexis II, at left, dictates the terms of dialogue. At right, Card. Tettamanzi in Moscow on October 1, 2006 - AP photo
Has this policy in Russia changed under the new pontificate? The answer is no. At a meeting in Moscow with Alexis II early this month (October 2006), Vatican representative Card. Tettamanzi expressed regret for the Catholic Church’s missionary activity in Russia. He affirmed that such activity was “insulting” to the Schismatics and “not always proper from an ecumenical viewpoint.”

Tettamanzi expressed “anguish” that some Catholic missionaries had “failed to discern and recognize the incomparable spiritual richness of holy Russia and to appreciate and respect the religious and cultural heritage of the great orthodox tradition.” He also said that today proselytism is condemned by many Catholics.” (“Italian cardinal voices regrets for missionary work in Russia,” CWNNews online, October 4, 2007)

The impression given is that the ones in error are not the Russian Schismatics, but rather the Catholics who are trying to convert them. This impression is blatantly fallacious, because the Schismatics still hold their old errors. They still continue to deny the dogmas of Filioque in the Trinitarian procession, the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady and Papal Infallibility.

These are just a few recent examples. I could cite many more, Jan, that demonstrate that in Benedict XVI’s pontificate there is no return to Tradition as you imagined. There has been no change in any considerable point. The same inadmissible concessions are being made, once again.

Posted October 6, 2006

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