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Monday, September 19, 2016
With Bergoglio the “Spirit of Assisi” Triumphs. But Ratzinger Is Ruining the Party
With Bergoglio the “Spirit of Assisi” Triumphs. But Ratzinger Is Ruining the Party by Sandro Magister
Francis reruns the encounter with men of all religions inaugurated by
John Paul II thirty years ago. But the objections of the cardinal
prefect of doctrine back then are still alive. And even more radical
ROME, September 18, 2016 – The memorable encounter in Assisi, thirty
years ago, between John Paul II and men of all religions (see photo) was
perhaps the only moment of disagreement between the holy Polish pope
and his absolutely trusted chief of doctrine at the time, Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger, who didn’t even go.
Ratzinger himself recalls
this in his book-length interview published in recent days: “He knew,”
he says, “that I was following a different approach.”
that Pope Francis, the successor to both, is preparing to replicate that
event in Assisi on September 20, the contrast is reemerging even
stronger than before.
A dialogue among the religions on an equal
footing - Ratzinger has in fact warned even after his resignation of the
papacy - would be “lethal for the Christian faith.” Because every
religion “would be reduced to an interchangeable symbol” of a God
assumed to be equal for all:
Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not identify with this kind of egalitarian
dialogue, nor has he ever thought that the Catholic Church should give
up preaching the Gospel to every creature.
But some of his
actions and words have effectively bolstered such tendencies, starting
with his definition of proselytism as “solemn foolishness,” without ever
saying how this is to be distinguished from genuine mission. There are
no few missionaries on the frontiers, having spent a lifetime preaching
and baptizing, who now feel betrayed in the name of a dialogue that
makes almost any conversion useless.
Also with other Christians, Protestant and Orthodox, Francis moves at a different pace compared to his predecessors.
for example Benedict XVI encouraged and facilitated the return to the
Catholic Church of Anglicans in disagreement with the “liberal” pivot of
their Church, Francis does not, he prefers that they keep to their own
home, as revealed by two Anglican bishops who are his friends, Gregory
Venables and Tony Palmer, whom he discouraged from becoming Catholic:
it has been above all a brief video from January of this year, released
on a large scale in ten languages, that has most given the idea of a
surrender to syncretism, to the equating of all the religions:
it, Francis urges prayer together with men of every faith, for the love
of peace. And along with him, in fact, appear a Buddhist, a Jew, a
Muslim, with their respective symbols, all on equal terms. The pope
says: “Many seek God and find God in different ways. In this broad
spectrum of religions there is only one certainty for us: we are all
children of God.”
Nice words, but in effect not in keeping with
those of the New Testament and in particular of the Gospel of John,
according to which all men are creatures of God, but the only ones who
become his “children” are those who believe in Jesus Christ.
Assisi, on September 20, Francis will again find himself beside
Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and still others. And it is likely that his
speech will be more circumspect than in the video.
But there is
an impact of the images that will be difficult to contain and
rationalize. It is that which has been extolled by many since 1986 as
the “spirit of Assisi,” a formula that Ratzinger always sought in vain
to defuse, as cardinal and pope, so that it would be taken in a manner
opposite to how so many understand it, meaning not in the “syncretistic”
and “relativistic” sense:
over Assisi there will again loom, in all its drama, the perfect storm
that shook the Catholic Church in the summer of 2000, when the
congregation for the doctrine of the faith, headed by Ratzinger,
published the highly contested declaration “Dominus Iesus” precisely to
contrast the idea that all religions are on a par and to reiterate
instead that there is one way of salvation for all men, and it is Jesus:
In two millennia, never had the Church felt the need to recall this elementary truth of the Christian faith.
fact of needing to issue a reminder of this in our time tells us the
extent of the gravity of the current situation,” warned a cardinal named
Giacomo Biffi on the verge of the conclave of 2005, the one in which
Ratzinger was elected pope:
guests at the encounter in Assisi on September 20 do not include the
Dalai Lama, who however was present at the 1986 event with John Paul II.
Holy See has said nothing in justification of this exclusion. But one
indirect confirmation that this was dictated by the desire not to
irritate the Chinese authorities is what happened in recent days
following the invitation issued to the Dalai Lama by a political
representative of Taiwan for a round of conferences on the island.
spokesman of the Chinese office for external affairs, Ma Xiaoguang,
reacted by threatening “the gravest consequences,” which he justified as
“The Dalai Lama is a wolf dressed as a monk who, with
his gang of independence activists and terrorists, is seeking to
destabilize China and separate Tibet from it. But we will not stand by
watching: anyone who supports him is an enemy of ours.”