Join our e-mail list

What should we make of Assisi I (1986) & Assisi II (2002)?

What should we make of Assisi 1986?

Part 2

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."[15] 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 faith.[15]

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.[16] 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,[17] will be "respectfully" left "in the darkness and in the shadow of death" (Lk. 1:79).

Authorized to pray in their distinctive costumes as "representatives of 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" good,[18] 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.[19] 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 reason."[20] In any case, she has always avoided and forbidden any apparent approval of non-Catholic rites.

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."[21] All this constitutes at least an exterior approbation of:

  1. false religions, to which the Church as always denied any right;

  2. 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 Revelation."[22]

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.[23]

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.[25]  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.[25]

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 "common ruin."[26]

5. Betrayal of the Mission Confided to Peter and to the Church

The Churchís mission is to announce to all nations that:

  1. there is one true God, who revealed Himself for the benefit of all men in our Lord Jesus Christ;

  2. 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, unseemly rites;

  3. 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;

  4. 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"[27]; 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.[28].

The Churchís proper mission is to announce all this:

Going therefore, 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 two aspects.[29]

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."[30] 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.

read Bishop Fellay's press release concerning Assisi III (January 24, 2002) >

14 Dizionario di teologia morale, p.66.

15 See Mk. 16:15-16; Jn. 20:31; Heb. 11:6; Council of Trent in Denzinger 799 and 801; Vatican II, Dz. 1793. Cf. Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 11, Art. 1.

16 Mk. 6:16; Mt. 28:19-20.

17 St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, 11.

18 John Paul II and Cardinal Willebrands in LíOsservatore Romano, April 7-8, and Jan. 27-28, 1986, respectively.

19 See the 1917 Code of Canon Law, canons 1258 and 2316; and Summma Theologica, II-II, Q.10, Art. 9-11.

20 Dizionario de teologia morale, p.1702.

21 See the declarations of Cardinals Willebrands and Etchegaray cited above.

22 Dizionario de teologia morale, p.805.

23 Ibid.

24 Pope Leo XIII, encyclical letter Libertas, 1888.

25 Dizionario di teologia morale, p.1703.

26 Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, 1950.

27 Pope Pius IX, Dz.1647.

28 Ibid.

29 Dom Adrien Grea, De líEglise et de sa divine constitution; cf. Vatican I, constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch.4.

30 St. Augustine, Sermon 285, No.3. © 2013                    home                    contact