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Assisi Revisited

John Cotter, RIP POSTED: 3/14/11
Reprinted from The Remnant, 2/15/87  

Editor’s Note: We’re reproducing the following article from The Remnant (February 1987) as a means of calling to mind how traditional Catholics generally reacted to the first interreligious prayer meeting held at Assisi in 1986. So scandalous was that event that to this day it is often cited as the “straw that broke the camel’s back” with respect to the breakdown in discussions between the Vatican and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who described it as “an immeasurable scandal that has no precedent”.  

With a 25th anniversary event having been scheduled by the Vatican to take place in Assisi in October 2011, we believe it necessary for Catholics to remember exactly what took place on that sad occasion, so that, if nothing else, they may more fervently pray that the anniversary celebration will not become a repeat performance of what many conservative Catholics to this day regard as a most disastrous chapter in the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II.

Let us pray for the Church and pray for the Pope. Let us urge him to use the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the prayer meeting at Assisi to make amends, if he can, for the frightful scandal that occurred in that holy city, particularly the Buddha statue that was placed atop the sacred tabernacle of a Catholic church, and let him inform the world and reassure all Catholics that this was indeed an egregious blunder, one which will never be permitted again, whether under the shibboleth of “ecumenism” or of any other no doubt well-meaning attempt at inter-religious unity. MJM

The United Nations

On June 19, 1955, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations, a U.N. Festival of All Faiths was held at the San Francisco Cow Palace.  This service was an amalgam of all religions, in which Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Bahais, and all denominations of Christianity (except two) were represented. The two exceptions were the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics.  Yet on October 27, 1986, exactly the same sort of meeting was held in Assisi, Italy, and it was summoned by the Pope himself.  Moreover, the Pope went one better – he arranged for African animists, who worship the Great Thumb, to attend!  What happened in the Roman Catholic Church in these 31 years? Is it changing?  Or is it being changed?  If so, who is it being changed by?

When the Pope visited Canada in September, 1984, two “ecumenical meetings” were set up for him by the Rev. Brian Clough, Rector of Canada’s major English-language seminary, St. Augustine’s, Toronto.  Fr. Clough included most of the same churches and religions as the above – “Buddhists, native peoples, Hindus, Bahais, Sikhs, Muslims and Zoroastrians”, wrote the Toronto Sun newspaper of July 12, 1984.  Rev. Brian Clough was hurriedly fired as Rector of St. Augustine’s because of his “soft” attitude to homosexuality at the seminary just before the Pope’s arrival, but his “ecumenical meetings” were allowed to stand.

At the meetings the Pope completely ignored the non-Christians present and treated the ecumenical service as if it were purely Christian, i.e., the traditional meaning assigned to “ecumenism”.  Even Canada’s most famous Rabbi, Dr. W. Gunther Plaut, had to admit, “That, of course, is a legitimate and accepted meaning of the word ’ecumenical’,” …(Globe & Mail, Sept 20, 1984)  For his action, the Pope was much criticized by the press – see, for example, the article in the Globe & Mail of Sept. 18, 1984, captioned NON-CHRISTIANS FELT LIKE OUTSIDERS AT RECEPTION, RABBI SAYS.  Later, the Pope was to be criticized by Canada’s senior active Cardinal, Cardinal  Carter, who said that “…with hindsight he wishes the inter-faith service at St. Paul’s Anglican Church had been better organized to allow greater representation by non-Christians – especially Jewish leaders.” (The Toronto Sunday Sun, Sept. 15, 1985).

Yet all the Pope had done – in 1984 – was to interpret “ecumenism” as Christian  unity.  A few months previously, the World Council of Churches (WCC) had held its 6th General Assembly in Vancouver.  It defined “ecumenism” as “of the whole inhabited world” (from the Greek word “oikumenous”, meaning “the whole inhabited world.” Now, at Assisi, 1986, the Pope accepted the WCC interpretation of “ecumenism” which he had refused to accept in Canada in 1984!  Again we must ask:  Is the Roman Catholic Church changing? Or is it being changed, and if so, who is it being changed by?

The World Council of Churches

Will the Roman Catholic Church now join the WCC?  Bear in mind that the WCC (represented at Assisi) is heading towards syncretism at great speed. At its 5th General Assembly, Nairobi, Kenya, November 1975, representatives from non-Christian religions were invited and allowed to read short papers to the Assembly.  But in Vancouver, July-August 1984, non-Christian religions were invited not as mere observers, but as fully participating members!  Moreover, the WCC is now almost totally Communist.  Time magazine, August 21, 1983, under the caption “The Curious Politics of Ecumenism,” wrote:  “To the World Council of Churches, the Soviets are sinless.”  No original sin for Communists! Finally, the Vatican is still considering the WCC Lima Liturgy (BEM. B =Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry, manufactured at Lima, Peru, in January 1982 by 120 theologians, mainly Protestant, but including 12 Catholics also under the general leadership of Protestant Max Thurian of the “ecumenical monastery” in Taize, France.  The Barque of Peter is indeed sailing on treacherous seas!


The chief organizer was Roger Cardinal Etchegaray, the President of the far-left Justice and Peace Commission, but he was aided by the United Nations World Conference on Religion and Peace (see later). 155 religious leaders participated from 12  major religions – Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians, African animists (including snake worshippers), from Togo, Sikhs, Shinto priests from Japan, Jains, two American Indians (one being the medicine man of the Crow Indians, Montana) and the Bahais (who believe that Christ was just one of nine divine messengers and not the most important one).  The Christians included Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Emilio Castro, the present Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, and Patriarchs of the Russian, Bulgarian and Czechoslovak Orthodox Churches, and the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople.  The Dalia Lama “God-King´” exiled from Tibet was also there.  Of him the N.Y Times of Oct. 28, 1986, wrote:

The day produced some extraordinary cultural encounters.  For example, the Buddhists, led by the Dalai Lama, quickly converted the altar of the Church of San Pietro by placing a small statue of the Buddha atop the tabernacle and setting prayer scrolls and incense burners around it.

The Buddhists then turned their backs on the Blessed Sacrament left in a side chapel.

While the meeting was held, ostensibly “to pray for peace”, why would God listen to prayers from those who profess other gods?  Pope John Paul II may not have broken the First Commandment by worshipping strange gods himself, but he convened the Assisi meeting at which many others were present amid world-wide and almost totally favourable publicity from the media.  And some of the gods were indeed “strange” – “an immeasurable scandal that has no precedent” was how Archbishop Lefebvre put it.  St. Paul said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?”

Vatican II Responsible

We quote from the Canadian Catholic Register,  January 10, 1987, quoting NC News Service, “The unity shown by world religious leaders who prayed for peace in Assisi, Italy, last October (1986) was “visible illustration” of the Second Vatican Council’s call for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, Pope John Paul II said.”  This speech was laced with quotations from the  documents of Vatican II, which he said showed how “such a great event sprang from the teaching of the council.”  Here we have the source of all this – Vatican II – and there can be no question of “misrepresentation” since the Pope himself has interpreted it.  Our Lord did not call for “ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.”  Our Lord said: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

St. Paul Defines the Real War

The Assisi meeting was held “to pray for peace.”  While there are certainly many nasty wars, all Soviet-inspired, now raging in the world, e.g., Afghanistan, let us see how St. Paul himself defined why:  “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians, 6:12)

Now with the best will in the world we have to admit that Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Bahais, African animists, and these other religions do not accept that Christ is God.  Since Christ IS God, these religions – with the best will in the world – must be considered as anti-Christians and therefore anti-God.

How, then, would their prayers help in the real war, i.e., the war as defined by St. Paul, of which the wars on earth are merely the effect and not the cause? Jesus said, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”  (Mark, 2:23)  Remember  “wars are a punishment for sin,” Our Lady said at Fatima. And who should be making us sin and thus causing the wars now plaguing our tormented and threatened world:  “The rulers of the darkness of this world.”  The Pope in his undoubtedly sincere desire for peace should rather listen to Our Divine Lord Himself, who said, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come  unto you.” (Matt. 12a;28)

Syncretism Denied

 “What will take place at Assisi will certainly not be religious syncretism,” said Pope John Paul II on October 22, 1986.  According to the Pope, the difference lay in the fact that they had not “come to pray together” but “to come together to pray.”  The well –known Religion Commentator for the powerful Toronto Star newspaper, Tom Harper, wrote after Assisi:  “There was too much fear that the various groups might be seen or thought of as actually praying together, thus suggesting they viewed each other as equals in truth.  This is why Pope John Paul II kept insisting they had not come to ‘pray together’ but had come together to pray. But who cares?”      (Toronto Star,  Nov. 9, 1986)  Yes, there’s the rub -         WHO CARES? Who will even notice these essentially ‘fine print’ reservations, in effect a question of mere semantics?  It would seem as if some malignant hand behind the Pope is determined to stampede Catholics into Syncretism, while technically not committing the Pope to it.

It could hardly be otherwise since Pope Paul VI condemned syncretism in his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi, Dec. 8, 1975.  BUT GOD IS NOT MOCKED.  The vast bulk of Catholics may now rush off into syncretism, or exotic religions such as the GREAT THUMB, the Bahais, various Hindu cults, Zoroastrians, etc., or in disgust to Fundamentalism.  Remember, the well-known American Fundamentalist leader, Dr. Carl McIntyre called Assisi “the greatest single abomination in church history” – the same sentiments as expressed by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who called it “the supreme imposture, the culminating insult of Our Lord” and also “in my view, this is a diabolical act.” 

Syncretism Defined

“The astonishing variety of the invited group also raised suspicions among some Christians that Assisi represented  a heretical step towards syncretism, the amalgamation of various conflicting religions.” (Time, Nov. 10, 1986), which explains why the Pope had previously said, “What will take place at Assisi will certainly not be religious syncretism”.  Let us here digress a moment to see what syncretism is.

The best definition, ironically enough, was given by the first Secretary General of the World Council of Churches (1948-1966).  Dr. W. A. Visser’t Hooft in his excellent book, NO OTHER NAME: The Choice between syncretism and Christian Universalism (The Westminster Press Philadelphia, 1963, and also by the SCM  Press Ltd. London, in 1963. On page 11 Dr. Hooft wrote:

The word syncretism should be reserved for another type of religious attitude, which deserves to have its own name because it is such an important, persistent and widespread religious phenomenon.  This is the view which holds that there is no unique revelation in history, that there are many different ways to reach the divine reality, that all formulations of religious truth or experience are by their very nature inadequate expressions of that truth and that it is necessary to harmonize as much as possible all religious ideas and experiences so as to create one universal religion for mankind.

On page 10, Dr. Hooft had written:

Many of the best among us are deeply anxious about the inability of the human family, now forced for better or worse to live in close contact, to find a common ethos, a common standard for human relations.  It is realized that such an ethos must be rooted in common convictions about the ultimate issues of life.  Does it not follow that we must somehow force the religious leaders to come to agreement and to develop one universal  world-religion?  Is therefore syncretism in some form not inevitable?


It is precisely this plausible, rationally almost self-evident character of the syncretistic answer to the needs of the world that makes it a more dangerous challenge to the Christian Church than full-fledged atheism is ever likely to be.


Dr. Hooft’s book is now unfortunately out of print.  In the absence of a reprint (unlikely because Dr. Hooft died in December, 1985), the reader is referred to A Study in Syncretism (The Background and Apparatus of the Emerging One World Church) by the present writer and obtainable from the Canadian Intelligence Publications (Box 130, Flesherton, Ont, NOC 1EO,) The United Nations has an official syncretic body called the World Conference On Religion and Peace (WCRP) and its office is Suite 777 (sic) at the United Nations Plaza.  (Some feel Suite 666 would be appropriate.)

It is unfortunate that the Pope in recent months, including at Assisi, called repeatedly for the closest possible collaboration with the United Nations, a godless and Masonic organization now fast coming under total Soviet control – a Marxist world government.  Assisi was in fact held to “mark the U.N. International Year of Peace”.  The WCRP has had four meetings so far:  at Kyoto, Japan, in 1970; at Louvain, Belgium in 1974; in Princeton, U.S.A. in 1979; and lastly at Nairobe, Kenya, in August, 1984, the current media darling, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a supposed Anglican, was elected as President of the WCRP.  The present Secretary General of the  WCRP is Dr. John B. Taylor, formerly Director of the World Council of Churches Sub-Unit for Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies (the DFI)), who has said that “the world conference (on religion and Peace) has supported the Assisi meeting from the beginning and has been involved in the planning stages.”  (The Toronto Star, October, 18th, 1986).  Dr. Taylor was also quoted as saying, “The patronage of such people as the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to encourage some of those who are perhaps a little bit hesitant or suspicious to get together at the local level”. (Star, October, 18th, 1986)  Exactly what we had feared.

The Pope’s Travels Encourage Syncretism

The basic principle behind syncretism is that all religions are of equal validity.  While the Pope does not actually say this, his praise and uncritical deference towards heathen, man-made religions and to Judaism will certainly convey to many that basic principle, i.e. his incessant travels must serve to reinforce the syncretism of Assisi.  Consider:  he smoked sweet grass with Canadian Indians on his Canadian tour, 1984. In 1984 he visited a Buddhist Temple in Thailand.  In 1985 he apologized to Moslems in his Morocco visit and also heaped great praise on them.  That same year he visited the sacred forest near Lohomay, Togo, in the company of Aseno or Great Priest of the Sacred Forest.

During his Togo visit the Pope met with snake-worshippers who were later to participate at Assisi.  In 1986 he visited the main Rome Synagogue on terms and seating posture of absolute equality with the old and superseded Covenant of Judaism.  In India, 1986, John Paul II allowed the ‘tilak’, a sandal wood paste mark, to be applied to his forehead by a Hindu “Priestess”.  Everywhere he went in India, he quoted from the Hindu scriptures and actually partook in pagan rites.  He praised the Hindu syncretist Gandhi to the skies.  Gandhi said “I am a Christian and a Hindu and a Moslem and a Jew” and the Bahais acted as religious advisers to the movie on Gandhi.  Moreover he recited the so-called “peace prayer”, the “asothama satgamaya” whose introduction by Cardinal Hume in England the great Hamish Fraser tried so hard to prevent.  What chance did Hamish have when the pope himself used that prayer?  In Suva, Fiji, November, 1986, the Pope drank “kava” a drink once condemned as a tool of devil worship.  The Pope downed it in one swallow.

Hans Kung Approves

Hans Kung, who was deprived of his status as a Catholic theologian in 1979, is a strong supporter of the Assisi initiative.  We quote from an NC report, Catholic Register (Toronto), April 19th, 1986:

Fr. Hans Kung, the Swiss-born professor of theology who has accused Pope John Paul II of having a pre-Vatican II mentality, has praised the Pope for his ongoing contacts with Christian and non-Christian religious leaders.  “In this the Pope is certainly within the policy of Vatican II”, Fr. Kung said in an interview… “Many consider me as if I were an opponent of this Pope in everything.” “This is false,” said Fr. Kung.  “I am happy to learn that the Pope speaks in favor of dialogues with other religions and that he commits himself to favoring these in his voyages”, he added.  Regarding dialogue with non-Christian religions, it is necessary “to avoid every impression that behind these new initiatives is hidden the old spirit of Roman imperialism”, he said.  (In other words – no converts!)… “I hope that the event of Assisi will be a meeting of equal dignity and not a manifestation of papal triumphalism,” he said… “Pope John Paul II, in calling for unified prayer by men of all faiths, shows he believes there is a common foundation for all religions”,  he said.


We fear Hans Kung had in mind the Golden Rule – for significance see later.  It will be remembered too that Hans Kung, while Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto, echoed the familiar stench of  syncretism when he wrote, “Let them (the Catholic Bishops) work for the final understanding among Christian Churches, for an unprejudiced dialogue with Jews, Moslems, and other religions.” (The globe and Mail, October 5, 1985)

The Golden Rule

Thanking the delegates for traveling long distances and making sacrifices to attend Assisi, the Pope said the “golden rule” taught by Christ, ”Treat others as you would like them to treat you”, is a foundation for peace in all religions.  (Our Sunday Visitor, November 16, 1986).  It is true that the Golden Rule is to be found in all religions.  There is also some evidence that the United Nations will proclaim the Golden Rule as the spiritual basis of its intended syncretist one world religion to be called World or Universal Brotherhood.  In which case the Soviet Union in particular and Communism in general having conquered the world by treachery, trickery, especially legalistic trickery, and outright aggression, would be able to quote the Golden Rule to protect their ill-gotten gains.  Just like the Robber turned Religious who quotes the 7th Commandment (Thou shalt not steal) to protect the swag he has already stolen!

Now the Golden Rule is an example of religious indifference par excellence.  Do you really want religious indifferentism as the spiritual basis of the emerging one world state?  Remember that with the Golden Rule you don’t necessarily get Christ at all:  you could get Krishna, Zoroaster, Confucius, or Hillel, etc.

Jews usually attribute the Golden Rule to Hillel, although it occurs in Leviticus (19:18) Hillel was President of the Sanhedrin and died about A.D. 10. He is greatly honoured today by the B’Nai B’Rith.  Bishop Fulton Sheen in his Life of Christ, McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1985, wrote that Hillel “may have been present in the Temple to join the discussion of the divine child”.  We also find in A Catholic Dictionary, 1949, it was said, “By Jewish and modernist writers that Hillel has been put forward as a rival to Christ…”

Nearly 80 years ago, the Catholic Encyclopedia, published in New York,  1910, had to affirm that Hillel “for personal character and spiritual insight and permanent influence cannot in any way compare with, much less equal or surpass, as some have affirmed of late, Christ, the Light and Saviour of the World”.

Christ  (not the Golden Rule!) must be the spiritual basis of future world order.  For with Christ you automatically have the Golden Rule but not vise-versa. Pope Pius XII put the only solution for our tormented world as follows:

A call to revival, and cry for insurrection – a Christian insurrection – is heard throughout the world.  The world will have to be rebuilt in Jesus.


St Francis of Assisi

Let’s see how St. Francis himself approached the same problem in the 6th Crusade in 1219.  Oh yes, St. Francis wanted peace and he was “ecumenical” too!  After great difficulties and hazards, the Saint approached the Soldan (i.e. Sultan).  The following quotation is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

In the meantime St. Francis, burning with zeal for the conversion of the Sacracens, desired to pass to their camp, fearing no dangers for Christ.  He was seized by the scouts of the infidels, to whom he cried out, “I am a Christian; conduct me to your master.”  Being brought before the soldan, and asked by him his errand, he said with wonderful intrepidity and fervour, “I am sent, not by men, but the most high God, to show you and your people the way of salvation, by announcing to you the truth of the gospel.”  The soldan appeared to be moved, and invited him to stay with him. The man of God replied, “if you and your people will listen to the word of God, I will stay with you.  If yet you waver between Christ and Mahomet, cause a great fire to be kindled, and I will go into it with your Imams (or priests) that you may see which is the true faith.”  The soldan answered that he did not believe any of their priests would be willing to go into the fire, or to suffer torments for their religion, and that he could not accept his condition for fear of sedition.


Assisi Assessment

Archbishop Lefebvre has said of Assisi, “In my view, this is a diabolical act” and “the supreme imposture, the culminating insult to Our Lord”.  We feel that Assisi will be repeated every year because, in his annual Christmas message, 1986, the Pope said, “The event at Assisi can be considered as a visible illustration, a lesson of facts, a catechism intelligible to all, of what the ecumenical commitment and the commitment of inter-religious dialogue presupposes and signifies”. (“A Model for Cooperation”,  was the heading (Globe and Mail, Toronto, December 24, 1986)…

Pope John Paul II is our Pope and we must pray for him as never before.  We must invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Lily of Israel, constantly, and under her titles “Conqueror of Heretics”, “Queen of Victories” and “Queen of Peace”…

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