What should we make
of Assisi 1986?
3. A Lack of Justice and Charity Towards the Infidels
"Jesus Christ is not
optional," said Cardinal Pie. There are not some men
who are justified by faith in Him, and others who are justified without regard
to Him: Every man is either saved by Christ or is lost without Him. Nor are
there any purely natural ends for which a man can opt instead of his unique
supernatural end. If, gone astray in sin, he finds himself out of Christ, the
unique Way (Jn. 4:6) by which to attain the end for which he was created,
all that is left him is everlasting ruin.
Real faith, and not mere
"good faith," is the subjective condition for
salvation for everyone, even for the pagans. Since it is a necessity of means, "if it is lacking (even involuntarily) it is absolutely impossible to
effect eternal salvation." Voluntary infidelity, St. Thomas explains,
is a fault and involuntary infidelity is a punishment. In fact, the infidels who
are not lost because of the sin of incredulity, that is, by the sin of not
having believed in Christ about whom they never knew anything, are lost by their
other sins, the remission of which cannot be given to anyone without the true
Nothing, then, is more important for man than to accept the Redeemer and
union with the Mediator: it is a matter of eternal death or life. This is what
the infidels have a right to hear announced by the Catholic Church, in
conformity to the divine command. And this is what the Catholic Church has
always announced to the infidels by praying, not with them, but for them.
What will happen at Assisi? They certainly wonít pray for the infidels, thus
presuming implicitly and publicly that they no longer need the true faith.
Instead of that, they will pray in union with them, or rather, according to the
rabbinical subtlety of Radio Vatican, they will pray near them, presuming thus
implicitly and publicly that prayer dictated by error is received by God as much
as prayer made "in spirit and in truth." "It involves respecting each oneís
prayer," Cardinal Etchegaray explained in his brief declaration. That means
that the infidels who will gather at Assisi, who, let us be clear, are not
"savages brought up in the forest" who have "never known anything about
the faith," as the theologians hypothesize when discussing the problem of
the salvation of infidels, will be "respectfully" left "in the
darkness and in the shadow of death" (Lk. 1:79).
Authorized to pray in their distinctive costumes as
the other religions" and in conformity with their erroneous religious
beliefs, they are even encouraged to persevere in sins, at least material,
against the faith: infidelity, heresy, etc.... Invited to pray for peace
in the world, defined as a "fundamental" and "supreme"
they are turned away from the eternal goods towards a temporal good, towards a
secondary natural end, as if they didnít need to procure their supernatural last
end, which really is fundamental and supreme: "Seek first the kingdom of God
and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33).
For all these reasons, the "prayer meeting" of Assisi is, at least viewed
from the outside, a lack of justice and charity towards the infidels.
4. A Danger and a Scandal to Catholics
True faith is indispensable for salvation. Catholics are thus obliged to
avoid every proximate danger to their faith. Among the exterior dangers is
contact with infidels when it is not the result of genuine necessity. This
contact is illicit in virtue of divine and natural law even without considering
ecclesiastical law, and even in the case where ecclesiastical law does not
prohibit it, for example in social relations: Haereticum hominem devita (Avoid
the heretic) (Tit. 3:10).
Moreover, out of maternal concern, the Church has always forbidden not only
what might be a danger to the faith but also an occasion of scandal. As for
the false religions, the Church has always refused them the right to public
worship. She has tolerated it when it was necessary, but tolerance always means "in relation to an evil to be allowed for a proportionate
any case, she has always avoided and forbidden any apparent approval of
What is going to happen at Assisi? Catholics and infidels
"will gather to
pray" (even though it will not be "to pray together"...). That simply
means that they will pray together at Assisi, first simultaneously in their own
residences, and then, by turns when united at the closing ceremony before the
basilica of St. Francis. And this is not being done in order to protect the
faith of Catholics or to at least avoid scandalizing them. Rather, it is to
allow all to pray "according to their own manner and style," and to
"respect each oneís prayer" and to "allow everyone to express himself in
the fullness of his faith, of his belief." All this constitutes at
least an exterior approbation of:
false religions, to which the Church as always denied any right;
religious subjectivism, which she has always condemned under the names of
indifferentism or latitudinarianism, and which "seeks to justify itself
under the pretended claims of liberty, failing to recognize the rights of
objective truth which are made manifest either by the lights of reason or by
Religious indifferentism, which is
"one of the most deleterious heresies"
and which "places all religions on an equal footing," inevitably leads
one to consider the truth of religious belief as merely a matter of utility for
a well-regulated life...
One ends by considering religion as an entirely
individual thing which can be adapted to the dispositions of each one, letting
everyone form his own personal religion, and by concluding that all the
religions are good even though they contradict each other.
But with this
point of view we are outside the Catholic act of faith, and have reached
something... like an act of incredulity towards divine Revelation. Revelation is
a reality, a fact, a truth accredited by God by sure signs, because error in
this domain would have had disastrous consequences for men. But in the
presence of an undeniable fact or of an evident truth, one cannot be tolerant to
the point of approving the attitude of those who consider them to be
non-existent or false. That would suppose that we do not really believe or are
not fully convinced of the truth of our position, or that we are (or deem
ourselves to be) dealing with a matter that is absolutely banal or indifferent,
or that we would consider truth and error to be purely relative positions.
And since the "prayer meeting" is characterized by all of that, it is
an occasion of scandal for Catholics and of grave danger to their faith. Because
of ecumenism, they find themselves united to the infidels, but in their
5. Betrayal of the Mission Confided to Peter and to the Church
The Churchís mission is to announce to all nations that:
there is one true God, who revealed Himself for the benefit of all men in
our Lord Jesus Christ;
that there is only one true religion, the only one by which God wishes to
be honored, because He is Truth, and everything in the false religions which
goes against the truth is repugnant to Him: doctrinal errors, immoral laws,
that there is only one Mediator between God and men, by whom men can hope
to be saved, because all are sinners and remain in their sin if they are
deprived of the Blood of Christ;
that there is one true Church, the perpetual guardian of this Blood, and
that "it is necessary to believe that no one can be saved outside the
apostolic Roman Church, which is the unique ark of salvation, and those who do
not enter it will perish in the deluge"; moreover, among their moral
dispositions must be the desire, explicit or implicit, to fully accomplish the
will of God, if their ignorance is truly invincible..
The Churchís proper mission is to announce all this:
teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you (Mt. 28:19-20). He that believeth and is baptized
shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned (Mk. 16:16).
So that the Church could accomplish with assurance this mission throughout
the centuries, our Lord Jesus Christ conferred on Saint Peter and his successors
the mission of visibly representing Him (Mt. 16, 17-19; Jn. 21:15-17):
The Vicar of Jesus Christ is not charged with establishing a new doctrine
with the help of new revelations, nor of creating a new order of things, nor of
instituting new sacraments: such is not his function. He represents Jesus Christ
at the head of His Church, whose constitution has been finalized. This essential
constitution, that is to say, the creation of the Church, was Jesus Christís
proper task which He, Himself, had to conclude, and of which He said to the
Father: "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (Jn.
17:4). Nothing more needs to be added; it only remains to maintain this
creation, to assure the Churchís work and preside over the functioning of its
organs. Two things are necessary for this: govern it, and perpetuate the
teaching of the truth. Vatican Council I reduced to these two points the supreme
function of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. Peter represents Jesus Christ under these
There is no power in the Church like Peterís, but it is power as vicar, and
as such, is no wise absolute, but limited by the divine right of Him whom he
represents. "The Lord confided to Peter, not Peterís sheep, but His own in
order to pasture them, not in his own interest, but Godís." It is not
within Peterís power, therefore, to promote initiatives in disaccord with the
mission of the Church and of the Roman Pontiff, as clearly is the "prayer
meeting" of Assisi. The Vicar of Him who said: "Begone, Satan, for it is
written, ĎThe Lord thy God thou shalt adore, and him only shalt thou serveí"
(Mt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13), cannot invite "the representatives" of the
false religions to pray to their false gods in places consecrated to the faith
in the true God. The Successor of him who obtained the primacy by his act of
faith when he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt.
16:16; cf. Jn. 6:69-70), cannot authorize anyone to treat Jesus
Christ as irrelevant. The Successor of him who received the commission to
confirm his brethren in the faith (Lk. 22:32), has no right to be a
stumbling block for their faith.
Bishop Fellay's press release concerning Assisi III (January 24, 2002)