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Quo Vadis, Petre?

'Motley Assembly' III Update

Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 10/26/11

October 27th Addendum by CF:

As AP reported today on the Assisi III ("no syncretism here!") fiasco:  

"Standing on the altar of St. Mary of the Angels basilica, Wande Abimbola of Nigeria, representing Africa's traditional Yoruba religion, sang a prayer and shook a percussion instrument as he told the delegates that peace can only come with greater respect for indigenous religions.'We must always remember that our own religion, along with the religions practiced by other people, are valid and precious in the eyes of the Almighty, who created all of us with such plural and different ways of life and belief systems,' he said."

Thus was  the Holy of Holies defiled at a major Catholic basilica.  But the Nigerian Yoruba's lecture on our duty to accept his religion is indeed the message of Assisi III, just as it was at Assisi II and Assisi I: that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy and that God is the author of them all.                

What more proof do we need that the Assisi events enshrine the very error condemned by Pius XI in Mortalium animos?  In fidelity to their Confirmation oath, Catholics have a duty to protest this outrage, no matter what approval it enjoys from the Pope.  To remain silent is to consent implicitly to the Church's surrender to the Zeitgeist and the utter relativization of her claim to possession of the one Truth revealed by Christ.  If this sacrilegious farce cannot rouse Catholics to indignation, then we are done.



"Others again, even go so far as to wish the Pontiff Himself to preside over their motley assemblies. But 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." 


Mortalium Animos, Pope Pius XI

Tomorrow the Pope will be in Assisi for another interreligious gathering of “believers” in that holy city to “pray for peace” to their assorted deities, spirits, demiurges or whatever.  The Vatican promises that the event “will show that anyone and everyone can and should be a pilgrim seeking truth.”

Earlier hopes that the Pope had cancelled his appearance at this ludicrous gathering were dashed by the announcement on October 19 that he will address the “believers” (and a few atheists) in the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, “where there will be a moment of commemoration of earlier meetings and further reflection on the topic of the day.”

Few Catholics remember how utterly unthinkable such an event would have been to any Pope before Vatican II. It is easy to forget what the Church was like before the Council and the descent of the Great Nebulosity that has rendered obscure so much of what was once clear—necessitating something called the Hermeneutic of Continuity, which itself seems part of the Great Nebulosity. Memory returns, however, upon reading landmark encyclicals by pre-conciliar Popes.

The pre-conciliar encyclical most pertinent to the upcoming carnival of religions at Assisi—the third such farce since 1986—is Mortalium Animos (1928) by Pius XI.  Warning of the danger to the Faith posed by the Protestant-born “ecumenical movement,” the Pope expressed his stern disapproval of Protestants who “go so far as to wish the Pontiff Himself to preside over their motley, so to say, assemblies.” Among these people, the Pope observed, are many “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.”

And this, mind you, is how the Pope characterized proposed gatherings limited to professing Christians of various denominations. Had Pius XI foreseen—in some vision or nightmare—that his proximate successors would routinely preside over, not only “motley assemblies” of Protestants, but pan-religious motley assemblies of everyone from Animists to Zoroastrians, he might well have required immediate medical attention to prevent his heart from stopping.

Today, still in the very midst of the Great Nebulosity, we traditional Catholics are expected to rejoice over the news that there will be no “prayer in common” by the members of the motley assembly, but rather that, as The New York Times (running an AP story) reports, “they will go to pray privately, separately in rooms of an Assisi convent.”

In other words, Assisi III = Assisi II.  We are being fed exactly the same line we were fed nine years ago: the “representatives of the world’s religions” are not coming to Assisi to pray together—oh no, never that—but rather are coming together to pray.   Get the difference?  Why, it’s huge.

As the Times also reports: “To counter the criticism that the pope was hosting yet another Assisi gathering, the Vatican newspaper has for months been featuring essays by top Vatican cardinals who have sought to put the 2011 Assisi edition in the correct light: That it is merely a pilgrimage of people of different faiths, and that it in no way will involve any religious syncretism, or combining of different beliefs and practices.”

Notice the clever misdirection involved here: there will be no syncretism at the event, no actual mixing of the prayers and rituals of different religions.  Therefore (so we are led to believe) there can be absolutely no objection to the motley assembly doing all sorts of other things together as one body of “believers” of different kinds—in what they believe hardly matters—engaged in a “pilgrimage” together for “peace.”

During the “pilgrimage” the members of the motley assembly, including “four people who profess no faith whatsoever, a novelty this year”—a novelty-within-a novelty!—will all ride together on the train from Rome to Assisi; they will walk together from the train into the town of Assisi in pilgrimage fashion; they will “sit together for speeches in Assisi’s St. Mary of the Angels basilica,” including one from the Pope, who will address the inter-religious “congregation” in person; they will have lunch together. Then they will “go to pray privately, separately in rooms of an Assisi convent,” entering the same convent together for that purpose, after which they will “come back together for a wrap-up session and light candles as symbols of peace.”  We are also told that “the Assisi event will conclude with the representatives of the delegations receiving a lamp they will light together.”

So, while the motley assembly will ride, walk, sit, listen, eat, assemble in the same basilica, enter the same convent, reassemble as one, light candles for peace and then light a lamp together as “pilgrims,” they will not actually recite a prayer together.  And no doubt snake-handling, ancestor worship, the burning of wood chips, and goat sacrifices will be strictly forbidden to Catholics, even if the other religionists involved might engage in such things. Well, clearly there is no syncretism here whatsoever! Who could possibly object to such a non-syncretistic pan-religious pilgrimage as this one?

Speaking merely of the danger posed by “ecumenical” gatherings of Catholics and Protestants, Pius XI wrote:

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.

But how could anyone think that Assisi III will convey the impression that “all religions [are] more or less good and praiseworthy”?  The Pope was certainly not suggesting anything of the kind when he invited to Assisi to pray and light candles for peace “a record 300-plus delegates representing dozens of faiths... a Hindu delegation, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, a delegation from Israel's rabbinate authority… a Buddhist from mainland China... some 48 Muslims... a Bahai, a Zoroastrian, three Jains, five Sikhs, and a Yoruba.”  What’s a Yoruba?

And certainly there can be no question of a mixing of religions when the Pope has expressly requested the attendance of notable atheists, “including Julia Kristeva, a famous French psychoanalyst” and other “atheist intellectuals” whose names have been provided “by the Cardinal Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the creator of the Courtyard of the Gentiles, a think tank for dialogue with those who are ‘distant’ from the church.”

Ah yes, the Courtyard of the Gentiles®—not to be confused with Courtyard by Marriot.®  This is the latest Vatican version of that smashing success, “dialogue with the world,” which has gained so much respect for the Church and the cause of the Gospel since Vatican II.  (Why ever did the hierarchy wait nearly 2,000 years to get the dialogue going?)  One might object that the concept of a Catholic Courtyard of the Gentiles® could create confusion, given that the original Courtyard of the Gentiles—as one critic of “ultra-traditionalists” is happy to point out—was “the nearest a Gentile could approach  to the sacred precincts of the Temple without punishment by death.”  Gee, that’s strict! Is this really the right moniker for whatever the Vatican has in mind with this latest dialogue initiative? Then again, what’s a bit more confusion in the midst of the Great Nebulosity!

Besides, as our critic so rightly assures us, we can hardly expect to get anywhere by preaching the Gospel to unbelievers as Christ and the Apostles did, for “today our situation is very different... If we begin by preaching to them directly we will lose them straight off. But by treating them with love and the respect that flows from it, we can set up a contact that gently opens their hearts and minds to the Truth.” Who can deny that by showing all that love and respect to unbelievers since 1965, the Church has been making droves of converts and now exhibits a robustness she never had in the bad old days before the Council when Churchmen suggested such unseemly things as the necessity of the Church for salvation? Nor must we be concerned by illusory statistics that seem to indicate a dwindling Church in which the remaining members have a dwindling faith. Pay no attention to the seeming collapse of the Faith in former Christendom or such offhand remarks as John Paul II’s lamentation of “silent apostasy” in Europe.  The Courtyard of the Gentiles® is open for business, and Assisi III promises new breakthroughs for peace and harmony!

The Times gently mocks the upcoming circus in Assisi, noting that according to the program the motley assembly will “have a ‘spare’ lunch together—obviously heavily vegetarian...”  Very funny.  And it is funny—to an outside observer who can recognize a farce when he sees one.  But even the Times is now recognizing that for the Catholic faithful the Assisi events are no joke but a grave scandal: “Traditionalist Catholics, in particular, were horrified at some of the images broadcast from the 1986 event, where non-Christians were seen praying in Catholic churches and in one, a small statue of a Buddha was reportedly placed on an altar.” Further, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, head of the Vatican’s justice and peace office, admitted he “had received e-mails from concerned Catholics, including one promising that the sender would celebrate 1,000 Masses of reparation for the harm done in Assisi.” What?  A thousand Masses of reparation for an event pioneered by John Paul the Great? 

Cardinal Turkson explains that the theme of this entirely non-syncretistic event—no syncretism, we must remember—is that “The path of religions to justice and peace, as a primary commitment of conscience that longs for the true and the good, can only be characterized by a common search for truth.”  A common search for truth?  What is this truth for which the Pope and his fellow Catholics will be “searching” tomorrow in Assisi along with a motley assembly of  “believers” who, between them, reject practically every belief of the one true Church?

What of the truth the Catholic Church already possesses: the Word made flesh who dwelt among us?  What of the teaching of Pius XI, found on the Vatican’s own website, that there is no peace worthy of the name but the peace of Christ?  Wrote Pius: “We do not need a peace that will consist merely in acts of external or formal courtesy, but a peace which will penetrate the souls of men and which will unite, heal, and reopen their hearts to that mutual affection which is born of brotherly love. The peace of Christ is the only peace answering this description... Nor is there any other peace possible than that which Christ gave to His disciples ...” (Ubi Arcano Dei).

Will the “common search for truth” at Assisi stumble across “the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ” at some point during the candle lighting, the lamp lighting and the other ridiculous proceedings?  Will the “pilgrims” ever be told by the Pope or by Cardinal Turkson that the end of any religious pilgrimage really seeking the truth is Christ and only Him?

Two days ago the Society of Saint Pius X issued a communiqué on Assisi III in which it expressed this hope and prayer: “May the Lord remove the veil that is covering the hearts of Churchmen, and make them recognise that only one Peace is possible between men: that of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.”  What but a veil covering their hearts could persuade Catholic churchmen that the vain and bizarre spectacle to unfold tomorrow in Assisi could be anything but a mockery of the Gospel and a reduction of the Church to a pathetic captive of the Zeitgeist? And how could this be anything but a sign of diabolical disorientation in the Church? 

After two years of talks with the Vatican to “clarify” doctrinal concerns about Vatican II and the crisis in the Church that followed the Council as night follows day, the Society has been presented with a “Doctrinal Preamble” which suggests that nothing has been clarified and that the talks were a complete waste of time.  In a Church suffering the worst crisis of faith and discipline in her history, the Society alone is said to be lacking “full communion” with Rome.

That really is a joke—one over which both Catholics and non-Catholics ought to be able to share a good laugh. Perhaps even the participants at Assisi III would find it amusing.

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