I saw also the relationship between the two popes. . . I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness… ”
– Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich, May 13, 1820
Mohammedanism was a heresy: that is the essential point to grasp before going any further. It began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. It vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was_not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.
– Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies
Something very odd will be happening in the Vatican tomorrow. From Vatican Insider:
It will begin with three distinct prayers – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – the “prayer for peace” that will bring together, on Sunday evening in the Vatican gardens, Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres, the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It will be a “pause from politics” and the delegations, which are still incomplete, will not include representatives of the respective governments.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio invited the two Middle East leaders in his “home” during a recent trip to the Holy Land. Today in the Vatican press office the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presented the program for the event which begins late Sunday afternoon with the arrival of the two presidents in the Vatican: Peres at 18.15 and Abbas, from Egypt, at 18.30. Bergoglio will welcome them to his home, Santa Marta, for a brief talk, first with one and then with the other. At approximately 18.45, in the lobby of the residence, the three will be joined by the Patriarch Bartholomew who will have arrived in Rome the night before. A vehicle will then take the four to “a beautiful triangular lawn located between the “Casina Pio IV”, the Academy of Sciences, and the “Vatican Museums”, said Lombardi, an area “that points towards the dome of St. Peter”.
And what will they be doing, you ask? Here’s more. I’ve emphasized the parts that particularly caught my attention:
The public part of the meeting will then take place in the presence of the press: a musical opening, a brief introduction in English to explain the course of the event, and then three distinct moments of prayer in the three religions, first Jewish (in Hebrew), then Christian (in English, Italian and Arabic), and lastly Muslim (in Arabic). “We do not pray together, but we stay together to pray avoiding any form of syncretism” said Pizzaballa. “Some may observe that the two presidents are not religious, but they are believers: it is not necessary to wear the religious habit in order to pray”, he said, noting that “Abbas knows the Quran very well and Peres the Jewish scriptures” and anyway, the two presidents are present as “representatives of their people” and not religious leaders. Bartholomew, on his part, will recite part of a Christian prayer. All three prayers will, however, have the same structure: a passage on creation, a request for forgiveness and a cry for peace interspersed with short musical passages. Lastly, the three interventions of the Pope, President Peres and President Mahmoud Abbas “who will recite the words they deem appropriate, and their cry for peace”. The public portion of the meeting will end with “a gesture of peace, probably a common handshake” said Lombardi, and then the four protagonists will plant an olive tree, a symbol of peace.
Some thoughts on those highlighted sections:
First, it is interesting that it was “Jorge Mario Bergoglio” who invited these Middle East leaders, not “Pope Francis.” Why the editorial choice to revert to his given name? Because he was in a foreign country and that’s the name that is on his passport?
Further, I fail to understand how members of three (really four, since Patriarch Bartholomew is a schismatic, and arguably through his denial of the Petrine Primacy, a heretic — and it is he who will be offering the Christian prayer, not the Holy Father) religions can pray in the same place for the same thing but not be engaging in syncretism simply because they are not praying simultaneously. They are praying together. They are supporting by public example and by the assent of their intellect and will the praying of prayers, according to the expression of multiple faiths, for the same intention.
It is worth recalling the words of Pope Pius XI, who explicitly condemned interfaith prayer, even for the purpose of attaining peace:
[A]ll the same, although many non-Catholics may be found who loudly preach fraternal communion in Christ Jesus, yet you will find none at all to whom it ever occurs to submit to and obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ either in His capacity as a teacher or as a governor. Meanwhile they affirm that they would willingly treat with the Church of Rome, but on equal terms, that is as equals with an equal: but even if they could so act, it does not seem open to doubt that any pact into which they might enter would not compel them to turn from those opinions which are still the reason why they err and stray from the one fold of Christ.
This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. Shall We suffer, what would indeed be iniquitous, the truth, and a truth divinely revealed, to be made a subject for compromise?
These pan-Christians who turn their minds to uniting the churches seem, indeed, to pursue the noblest of ideas in promoting charity among all Christians: nevertheless how does it happen that this charity tends to injure faith? Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment “Love one another,” altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ’s teaching: “If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.” For which reason, since charity is based on a complete and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united principally by the bond of one faith. Who then can conceive a Christian Federation, the members of which retain each his own opinions and private judgment, even in matters which concern the object of faith, even though they be repugnant to the opinions of the rest?
How so great a variety of opinions can make the way clear to effect the unity of the Church We know not; that unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief and one faith of Christians. But We do know that from this it is an easy step to the neglect of religion or indifferentism and to modernism, as they call it. Those, who are unhappily infected with these errors, hold that dogmatic truth is not absolute but relative, that is, it agrees with the varying necessities of time and place and with the varying tendencies of the mind, since it is not contained in immutable revelation, but is capable of being accommodated to human life.
You will note by the language that Pope Pius was using that he was referring to interfaith gatherings with other Christians, to say nothing of interfaith gatherings with Muslims or other religions. If praying in common with Protestants for unity or peace “gives countenance” to false Christianity, what does praying in common with faiths which do not worship as we worship or believe as we believe do? Is this indifferentism not the very thing he warned against? A modernist neglect of true religion that embraces relativism, an adaptation of divinely revealed truths to the circumstances of any given period in history?
And you will note that Pope Pius forbade participating in assemblies with those of other faiths, not merely holding those assemblies and praying at different times during them.
He made serious claims about what such assemblies do, and the falsification of belief which they promote. Is what was true then not true today? Does truth change given the context? The last statement from the excerpt above bears repeating for those who believe a pope can treat as praiseworthy what a predecessor of his condemned:
“Those, who are unhappily infected with these errors, hold that dogmatic truth is not absolute but relative, that is, it agrees with the varying necessities of time and place and with the varying tendencies of the mind, since it is not contained in immutable revelation, but is capable of being accommodated to human life.”
What are we playing at here?
Some will undoubtedly enter my comment box to tell me that we worship the same God as the Muslims.
Which God is that? Jesus Christ? The Holy Trinity? Is that who they worship? If not, I must not understand the meaning of the word “same”.
Pope St. Pius X attempted to explain the mind of the modernist obsession with an “ecumenism” that consists of little more than these showy displays of solidarity on an issue where members of disparate faiths can find common ground. He wrote:
Thus far, Venerable Brethren, We have considered the Modernist as a philosopher. Now if We proceed to consider him as a believer, and seek to know how the believer, according to Modernism, is marked off from the philosopher, it must be observed that, although the philosopher recognizes the reality of the divine as the object of faith, still this reality is not to be found by him but in the heart of the believer, as an object of feeling and affirmation, and therefore confined within the sphere of phenomena; but the question as to whether in itself it exists outside that feeling and affirmation is one which the philosopher passes over and neglects. For the Modernist believer, on the contrary, it is an established and certain fact that the reality of the divine does really exist in itself and quite independently of the person who believes in it. If you ask on what foundation this assertion of the believer rests, he answers: In the personal experience of the individual.
How far this position is removed from that of Catholic teaching! We have already seen how its fallacies have been condemned by the Vatican Council. Later on, we shall see how these errors, combined with those which we have already mentioned, open wide the way to Atheism. Here it is well to note at once that, given this doctrine of experience united with that of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true. What is to prevent such experiences from being found in any religion? In fact, that they are so is maintained by not a few. On what grounds can Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? Will they claim a monopoly of true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed, Modernists do not deny, but actually maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all religions are true. That they cannot feel otherwise is obvious. For on what ground, according to their theories, could falsity be predicated of any religion whatsoever?
On what grounds indeed?
How can anyone deny that Pope Francis embodies so many of the descriptions of the Modernist heretic that his predecessor of saintly memory warned us about in Pascendi? How can it not be an issue of concern?
The faith isn’t going to be diminished as foretold in so many prophecies in one fell swoop, but by a thousand small gestures, omissions, and changes. Doctrine isn’t changed by the enemies of the Church. It can’t be. Instead, it is simply transcended. It doesn’t matter what was always taught, understood, or believed. Rules and rubrics are treated as little more than guidelines to those who seek to move beyond them as artifacts of the past. “The Church is not a museum,” they’ll say, and Christians “should not be museum pieces.” People who adhere to traditions and conform to doctrines are “rigid“, making them somehow less Catholic than those who are “docile to the Holy Spirit.” believing He will accomplish “unity in diversity, freedom, and generosity.”
Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense — with some modification when needful — should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed.
What is going to happen tomorrow is something that shouldn’t, no matter how noble the intention. We should pray that it doesn’t. That the pope recognizes the example he is giving. That he is giving countenance not just to false Christianity, but to a false conception of truth, and the place of Catholicism among other world religions. We should pray that he have a conversion of heart, and recognize the deeply problematic symbolism of what he is doing. A “road to Damascus” moment, as it were.
The prophecies about these times continue to be chillingly applicable. More from Sister Emmerich:
“I saw the fatal consequences of this counterfeit church: I saw it increase; I saw heretics of all kinds flocking to the city. I saw the ever-increasing tepidity of the clergy, the circle of darkness ever widening…”
You’re going to see a lot of people telling you “I can’t get worked up over this. It’s no big deal.” This is wrong, but it’s to be expected. People either don’t want to believe that it could be a problem, or have been so conditioned by decades of the modernist infiltration of the Church and the religious pluralism of society that they have simply become indifferent. And if lightning and fire don’t rain from the sky tomorrow (hint: probably not gonna happen) then they will see this as further evidence that God doesn’t have a problem with it either. (Of course, if He really worked that way, I’d never make it to the confessional. I’d simply be a steaming pile of ash.)
Pray for those who keep telling you that everything is fine, that none of this matters. Not just in the sense that you see them as enemies. They are fellow Catholics, however meager our connection may seem at times, and we want them on our side. Perhaps they are afraid to see what their heart tells them. Perhaps they are blind. It doesn’t matter. We need them. We need our brothers in Christ to see the crisis in the Church with clarity so that they will motivated to pray for its swift conclusion and live lives of holiness that work toward that end.
Saints Athanasius and Pius X, Orate Pro Nobis!
Update: This post by John Vennari at Catholic Family News entitled “Francis and four points of Apostate Action” is worth a read. Noteworthy is this quote from Pope Pius VIII 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.”
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.