Pope Francis has decided to begin announcing his monthly intentions by video presentation. The choice to adopt a new technological means to teach the faithful although a novelty is not necessarily problematic. Pope Pius XII adopted the practice of addressing the faithful over the radio. The problem with Pope Francis’ newest novelty lies not in the means but in the disturbing content of the video.
Since just before the Council, January has become a month consumed by Ecumenical Madness. As the only “tradition” Francis seems to hold in esteem is the fabricated practices of Vatican II, he does not break with Post-Conciliar “tradition” but rather uses this short minute and a half video to take Ecumenical Madness to new heights.
The pope addresses the audience not seated on a papal throne with insignia of his authority but rather from behind a desk, like a modern president. From the very first words of the video, the pope introduces the false idea that all religions basically direct men to the same god. “Most of the planet’s inhabitants declare themselves believers.” Believers in what? This sentence is meaningless. It means that most people claim to believe in something. But the object of belief is critical to evaluating the moral value of the belief. If I believe I have the right to drive your car off a cliff, that may be a belief but it is a dangerous belief, particularly for you and your car. The video then provides an answer of sorts to this question. A Buddhist Llama, a Jewish Rabbi, an Islamic leader, and a Catholic Priest all appear saying in Spanish I believe in god. Yet, non-Christians seem to understand the nature of reality more than Francis himself. They understand that they believe in very different things and that simply using the Spanish word for god is insufficient. The Buddhist adds Buddha and the Muslim adds Allah. The dialogue the pope has with these men in the video undermines his entire point. These men do not believe in the same god (Buddha does not even claim to be a god) and they know that. Yet, Francis attempts to persuade through sentimental music and images that notwithstanding nomenclature, these beliefs are more or less the same.
After showing these images of different people professing their different beliefs the pope makes it clear that he sees these “religions” as merely different paths to God. He comments that “Many people think differently, feel differently seeking God or meeting God in many different ways.” The only reasonable meaning of such words spoken in the context of what has just appeared is that Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and Catholics all meet God in different ways (through these different beliefs).
In making this suggestion, Francis again shows himself to be following in the footsteps of an older “tradition,” albeit an erroneous one. This idea that all people believe in the same god under different names was condemned almost a century ago by Pope Pius XI who identified men of his day who “hold it for certain that men destitute of all religious sense are very rarely to be found, they seem to have founded on that belief a hope that the nations, although they differ among themselves in certain religious matters, will without much difficulty come to agree as brethren in professing certain doctrines, which form as it were a common basis of the spiritual life.” (Pius XI, Mortalium Animos). Francis’s remarks bear striking verbal similarities to these partisans of error described by his predecessor and condemn this video in advance.
Pope Francis announces his intention for the month is to pray for dialogue. More than praying he urges Catholics to collaborate “with those who think differently.” Francis’s conclusion is the same one as those who believed in the 1920s like he does now. Like Francis, the Catholics condemned by Pius XI thought that there was no material difference among religious beliefs and therefore collaboration was simple. In the same encyclical Pius XI observes they are organizing meetings in which people of all religions or none at all participate on equal terms. Pius XII unequivocally condemned such collaboration thus:
Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little. turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.
Pius XI makes clear that those who believe in the inherent goodness of all religions are not only imprudent or naïve (deceived) but are abandoning the divinely revealed religion. These dialogue sessions are not only imprudent and pointless but they are wrong. Although he does not state so explicitly, the logical conclusion is they violate the First Commandment. The Old Testament tells us that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). He will not tolerate people holding other (false) gods beside Himself. And he that is jealous is not some amorphous force (like in a science fiction movie) taking form in different apparitions but is a real Being, a Person (in fact three Persons). Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims do not believe in the Blessed Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but very different beings. To dialogue with them in a way that accepts the premise that these other beings are equivalent to the Blessed Trinity is to violate the First Commandment. Rather than calling all people to the certainty of the First Commandment, Pope Francis ends his commentary by stating that in the midst of this “crowd” and “range” of religions “we have only one certainty for all: we are all children of God.” Yet, how can Francis as a Catholic have this certainty since it is contrary to the Catholic Faith. We are not born children of God since all of us are born without sanctifying grace, God’s life within us. We only become adopted children of God through a second birth, through baptism. Our Lord told Nicodemus: “unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Thus, we do not have a certainty that all are children of God. In fact we have the opposite certainty.
This shocking video comes to a conclusion by the Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, and Catholic repeating “I believe in Love.” This sappy ending is meant to imply that anyone who acknowledges the seriousness of these differences does not believe in Love. Yet, Pius XI warns against this same trick of sentimentality as the partisans of this type of indiscriminate dialogue attempted the same appeal to “Love.” He states: “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.’" He reminds us that love must be rooted in truth so that the principle bond of unity is “the bond of one Faith.”
How is it that God can permit his Vicar on earth to broadcast over the internet such a confusing video? It is, as Bishop Bernard Fellay has said on many occasions, a great mystery, much like the great mystery of the Passion. We must believe that God permits such things as this so as to bring greater glory to Himself by bringing some good out of it. Perhaps the good will consist of further proof of the indestructibly of His Church: It can survive even this. Although we should possess an appropriate spirit of reparation for the offense to Almighty God of this public video of indifferentism, we need not loose our peace of soul. God has provided in advance for our time. He gave us Pope Pius XI almost 100 years ago to pen such clear words as in Mortalium Animos, and that appear almost prophetically to be written in response to this video. He transmits to us clear principles so that we will not be deceived by this confusion. May his words be a consolation in the face of such desolation.
Various (2010-02-18). The Douay-Rheims Bible (Halcyon Classics) (Kindle Location 33975). Halcyon Press Ltd.. Kindle Edition.
Brian M. McCall holds the Orpha and Maurice Merrill Endowed Professorship in Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. A Professor of Law, he received his B.A. from Yale University, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1991. He also received his M.A. from Kings College University of London, Fulbright Scholar, 1992 and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Summa Cum Laude, Order of the Coif, 1997. Brian has been a regular contributor to The Remnant since 2004 and his most recent book, The Church and the Usurers, was published in 2012. Along with his wife and six young children, he lives in Oklahoma.