Religious Indifferentism on Parade
First Dispatch from Assisi III
By John Vennari
To say the latest pan-religious event of Assisi contains the promise that it will not foster religious indifferentism is a contradiction in terms. It is like inviting all of your friends to a swimming party with the promise that no one will get wet.
The very nature of a swimming party guarantees that those who take part will get wet. And the very nature of a pan-religious event with representatives of the world, most of them pagan, is to foster religious indifferentism and religious relativism.
Yet in the months leading up to the third major Assisi affair, we have been told repeatedly by Vatican officials that this latest manifestation of religious relativism will actually be an attack on religious relativism. That this manifestation of religious indifferentism will actually avoid religious indifferentism. Such a promise does not correspond to realty.
The only way to avoid religious indifferentism in a pan-religious event is to not hold the event.
Oct. 27: The Morning Session
Assisi III takes place as I write. I am here in the town of Saint Francis to cover the latest world parliament of religions organized by the post-Conciliar Vatican.
The present meeting in Assisi is a bit more restrained than that of the former gatherings under John Paul II. At Assisi 1986, various Catholic churches were given over to non-Catholic sects to perform their pagan ceremonies; a Buddhist placed on the altar and incensed, etc. The manifold aberrations from 1986 are now well known. Among the many things that Pope John Paul II publicly apologized for (mostly for alleged ‘sins’ of his distant predecessors), he never apologized for the desecration of Assisi churches fostered by his own event.
This year it is a bit different. For 2011, there are three major happenings: an event at the Vatican on of the evening of October 26. The entire delegation of religions then board a train for Assisi, and congregates at Saint Mary of the Angels Church, just outside of Assisi. After a series of speeches, members of each religion are to pray on their own in various places within the basilica. After a reportedly “frugal lunch”, the final event is to occur in late afternoon with the delegations of the world’s religions gathering at the great basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.
The emphasis is supposedly not on joint prayer, but on truth and pilgrimage. This too is an attempt to deflect attention from the religious relativism endemic in such an event.
I arrived at St. Mary’s of the Angels this morning at about 9:30. Already a large crowd was gathered around the church, since only a select number could get in. Giant television screens were erected outside for people to see the ceremonies going on inside the church.
Around 10:00, delegates from the world religions, who had just arrived by train with Pope Benedict, filed into the church. Some came in through a side gate, others followed the Pope up the center path portioned off by barricades. The Pope himself arrived in some sort of pope mobile and greeted the delegates of each religion as they entered Saint Mary’s of the Angels.
A colorful parade of religious dress was on display. According to the press kit, the various “non-Christian” religions represented here at Assisi are Islam; Judaism; Hinduism; Buddhism; Taoism; Sikhism; Baha’ism; Confucianism; Jainism; Zoroastrianism; Shintoism; Mandaeism; and “Traditional Religions” such as those found in Africa, America and India.
At Assisi this year, as has been the case in the past, Catholicism is not even mentioned as a distinct religion. The official press package simply states that “Christianity” is represented; and this “Christianity” is comprised of representatives of the World Council of Churches; Schismatic Orthodox prelates; Anglicans, various Protestants; and the Pope.
The very manner in which “Christianity” is portrayed runs counter to the words of Pope Pius XI, who warned in his 1928 Encylical Mortalium Animos that such pan-Christian activity “gives countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ.”
This “false Christianity” is on exhibit at Assisi, since the one true Church established by Christ is portrayed as simply one representative of “Christianity” along Protestants Anglicans and Schismatic Orthodox.
Then there is the problem of religious indifferentism.
Blessed Pius IX, in line with the popes that preceded and succeeded him, taught in his 1864 Syllabus of Errors that it is an error to believe “every man is free to embrace and profess that religions which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.”
Sadly, Pope Benedict XVI appeared to foster this very indifferentism condemned by Pius IX and other popes, when on January 1, 2011, he formally invited members of various religions to Assisi “to solemnly renew the commitment of the faithful of religions to live their own religious faith as a service for the cause of peace.” [emphasis added]
At this morning’s event at Saint Mary of the Angels, Vatican Cardinal Peter Turkson welcomed the assembly. Various others addressed the group with what were called “Testimonies of Peace” Speakers included Armenian Metropolitan Zakarian; Dr. Olav Fyske, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligous Affairs of the American Jewish Committee; Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican Collective; representatives from other systems such as Islam, Native African (Yoruba); Hindu, Buddhism; and even a professed "non-believer".
The details of their talks are not the focus here and may be spotlighted at a later date. Mostly, they spoke of the need for peace; the call for commitment to an undefined “justice”; and of course, lots of celebratory praise for John Paul II who gave us the first Assisi in 1986. A speech by Pope Benedict closed the session.
So far, the music was dignified: either choral or classical. Though on the way back to the Franciscan basilica, I saw the rehearsal of a pop ensemble singing about peace, love and togetherness. I guess that’s what’s in store this evening.
The “Lethal System of Religious Indifferentism”
A good pastor told me years ago that the priest has the duty to not only avoid scandal, but to avoid even the appearance of scandal.
This necessarily applies to Assisi. The error of religious indifferentism – the belief that any religion is good enough for salvation – which is the central error of our age, is of such magnitude that nothing should be done to foster it in any way whatsoever.
The Popes throughout the centuries, and especially since the time of the French Revolution, condemned any activity that places the Catholic Church on equal footing with false religions.
Religious indifferentism is one of the many reasons for the Papal condemnations of Freemasonry, since Masonry places all religions on the same plain. Pope Leo XII taught in his inaugural Encyclical, Ubi Primum:
“A certain sect, certainly known to you, [Freemasonry] and wrongfully arrogating the name of philosophy for itself has stirred up from the ashes the disorganized collections of almost all the errors. ... it teaches that ample liberty has been granted by God to every man to join any sect or to adopt any opinion which may be pleasing to him according to his own private judgment, without any danger to his salvation ... it would be really impossible for the completely truthful God, who is Sovereign Truth itself, the best and most wise Provider, and Rewarder of the good, to approve of all sects that are teaching dogmas that are false and frequently opposed and contradictory to one another and to bestow eternal rewards upon the men who join these sects ...”
Pope Pius VIII forcefully condemned this error in the encyclical Traditi humilati nostrae:
“And this is the lethal system of religious indifferentism, which is repudiated by the light of natural reason itself. In this light we are warned that, among many religions which disagree with one another, when one is true, that there can be no association with light and darkness. Against these repeaters of ancient errors, the people must be assured, Venerable Brethren, that the profession of the Catholic Faith is alone the true one, since the Apostle tells us that there is one Lord and one baptism. As Jerome says, the man who eats the Lamb outside of this house is profane, and the man who is not in the ark of Noah is going to perish in the deluge. Neither is there any other name apart from the Name of Jesus given to men by which we must be saved. He who believes will be saved, and he who shall not have believed will be condemned.”
Yet due to the new pan-religious orientation from Vatican II, and now on display at Assisi III, Catholics never hear these crucial magisterial statements. As the eminent theologian Father Edward Hanahoe warned in 1962, the ecumenical approach blankets with “significance silence” any Catholic teaching that stands in the way of the new pan-religious orientation.
It is now to the point where pan-religious activity is regarded as a truly Catholic enterprise. The Catholic taxi driver who drove me from the train station into Assisi was overjoyed that the meeting was about to take place in his town. A Catholic woman said to me on Wednesday, “Tomorrow the Pope is coming here to Assisi with all the other religions. Beautiful!”
The end result is that most modern Catholics recoil in horror when any one of us reiterates the true papal doctrine against religions indifferentism. Thanks to the new orientation, the Catholic language of the centuries is now a foreign tongue to the average Catholic.
The latest Assisi gathering only perpetuates this disorientation. The press, television and Internet media are now broadcasting the images of this event throughout the world.
And as anyone in media knows, it is the image that sells. It is the image that tells the story. It is the image that has the impact. It is the image that sends the message.
And the image broadcast the world over is that of the Christ’s one true Catholic Church placed on the same level as false creeds. No matter what verbal caveats may show up in one or two of the speeches, it is religious indifferentism on parade.
If the duty of the priest is to avoid not only scandal, but also the appearance of scandal, then Catholics have a right to insist that our highest Church leaders must avoid the appearance of scandal and religious indifferentism that the Assisi gatherings televise throughout the globe.
As noted earlier, the only way to avoid religious indifferentism in a pan-religious event is to not hold the event.
I hope to post more news from Assisi later today, along with what other Popes solemnly taught against the “lethal system of religious indifferentism”; and how this indifferentism does not bring upon the blessings of God, but punishment.*
Meanwhile Our Lady of Fatima’s true peace plan is ignored. It is eclipsed by the Assisi counterfeit. This too will be discussed at a later date..
Text and photos copyright 2011/John Vennari ( Catholic Family News)
Second Dispatch from Assisi III
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* This, the contrast with Fatima (and more) will actually be contained in the final report on Assisi III scheduled to appear in the December 2011 print edition of Catholic Family News