Will Pope’s Visit to Holy Land Encourage Religious Indifferentism?

Pope Francis will be accompanied on his first visit to the Middle East by Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud — two friends from Buenos Aires.Image

It is the first time a pope has made an official visit accompanied by members of other faiths, and it underscores the interfaith focus of Francis’ trip to the Holy Land, the Vatican said Thursday.

“This dimension of interreligious dialogue has great significance,” the Vatican’s official spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, told the media.

Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and Abboud, president of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue in Buenos Aires, are part of the official delegation for the May 24-26 trip, which will include Jordan, the West Bank and Israel. Both men are longtime friends and collaborators from Francis’ days as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Lombardi outlined details of the pontiff’s trip, which will include celebrating Mass with 1,400 children at a stadium in Amman and meeting the children of Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

Pope Francis will follow in the footsteps of his immediate two predecessors, Pope John Paul II, who made the pilgrimage in 2000, and Pope Benedict XVI, who went in 2009.

During this visit the pope will meet the king and queen of Jordan, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Francis planned this visit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of the Orthodox church in 1964.

He will meet the current patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, on four different occasions during his stay.

Lombardi strongly condemned recent attacks by Jewish extremists on a church and the Notre Dame Center, a Vatican complex, in Jerusalem ahead of the pope’s visit. Source

Comment

It strikes me as very sad that the Pope would visit the Holy Land accompanied by two non-Christian leaders, when he knows full well that Christ’s final words on this earth to his infant Church were an instruction to go out into the whole world and spread the Faith, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It seems to me, therefore, that for a pontiff to visit the Holy Land in the company of two non-Christian religious leaders is to give the impression that all religions are equal. It is a further step along the road of religious indifferentism. And that, it seems to me, is a calculated slap in the face to Our Lord.  Am I wrong?  

27 responses

  1. Is it possible to have anything other than contempt for Papa Francisco? He gives lie to the old chestnut, ‘Is the Pope Catholic’!!

    • Mikidiki,

      While I fully understand why you say that, I think we need to fight such sentiments with all our might. Pope Francis is not a good pope – that is obvious to anyone with a Catholic soul. However, while we object vehemently to the scandalous things he is saying and doing, we cannot “hold him in contempt”. We don’t have to like him, and we don’t have to respect the things he says and does – in fact, we must reject, outright, most of what he has said and done so far in his pontificate, words and deeds which should lead any thinking Catholic to refuse to “respect” him in his exercise of the pontifical office, but if we allow ourselves to think and speak of him as a “contemptuous person” then the devil will use that little crack in our armoury to push us further and further into hatred, which cannot be pleasing to God. In short (at last!) we cannot hold anyone in contempt – not even this awful pope!

      As to your final point – I have been saying for a long time now, right through the pontificate of Pope John Paul II certainly, that if we wish to keep the Faith, we MUST be “more Catholic than the pope”!

      • “We cannot hold anyone in contempt” – not even this awful pope -. That very remark is a contemptuous one.

        • The word HYPOCRITE was removed from my original post. Would you like to explain why???

          Ed: Not that I owe you any explanation but you caught me in a good mood…I removed your description of me as a “hypocrite” because personal nastiness and name-calling is not permitted on this blog – I suggest you read, carefully, the About Us section of this blog where you will find our in-house rules. Indeed, it’s because you persist in ignoring that key rule (no nasty personal remarks) that your posts are moderated. No-one else on this blog has to have their posts scrutinised before publication, so I suggest you reflect carefully on your behaviour on this blog. After all, if I were to indulge in name-calling YOU, under your various usernames, Chasdom, Domchas, whatever, you might be very surprised to know what I think of you. But we don’t do that here, as it tends to cause a nasty atmosphere. Please and thank you.

          • Please, be assured that what you think of me is totally and utterly irrelevant and immaterial, and of no consequence to me whatsoever, good or bad.

  2. Good one and I agree with you. The comments link isn’t working! My iPhone at fault May I suggest you put share buttons to widen your readership? Twitter is powerful plus google plus and Facebook. We could then share the posts to a much wider audience I am reading fr Gruner’s biography and the latest from Rome is further scandal and confirms corruption in the Vatican

    Dominie Mary Beatrice Stemp

    Catechist Freelance writer

    On Twitter @DominieStemp

    • Violetwisp,

      Rather a strange thing to say, since – as the very earliest Christians believed – “God created the world for the sake of His Church… To give everyone a share in His divine life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 760)

      So, worry not about the Catholic Church “isolating itself in the world” – not a chance. Never has done, never will do. The only danger is that this pontiff may be giving the impression that the Catholic Church is no different or no better from any other religion – wrong.

      By definition, there can only BE one true religion. And it ain’t Judaism, and it ain’t Islam (these religions and all the others don’t even make this claim for themselves) so by asking a rabbi and Muslim leader (presumably an imam, not sure) Pope Francis is in danger of leading ignorant souls astray by giving the impression that one religion is as good as another, instead of proclaiming, as he must, that “God created the world for the sake of His Church” so that His divine life (grace) is communicated to souls through that Church.

      Get it now?

      • Not really. The chances of your religion being ‘correct’ aren’t great, especially given that many of the practices in the Catholic Church don’t originate from the Bible, but from practices formalised by men over the centuries. However, the chances of your minority interpretation of your nominated denomination of Christianity being ‘correct’ are even slimmer. How many Catholics think they are closer to the god God than the Pope?

        “The true religion with Allah is Islam” Surat ‘Ali `Imran 3:19
        That sounds just as convincing as your claims.

        • Violetwisp,

          Since it was the Catholic Church which gave us the Scriptures in the first place, I’m afraid you’re not on the winning side with your opinion on that one. This article might help clarify things for you on that score.

          And – no disrespect – but the idea that anyone can ever claim to be closer to God than anyone else, pope or no pope, is all I would need to remind me (not that I’d forgotten) that you are one of our occasional atheist visitors. I don’t mean that you are an occasional atheist, but you’ll get my drift…

          As for your concluding claim about Islam – wrong again. It is a basic tenet of theology that God is unchanging and unchangeable. It is, therefore, impossible for Islam to be the true religion, since God does not contradict Himself. The message He sent via the Archangel Gabriel in the first century, to tell Mary that she had been chosen to the mother of the Messiah, contradicts the alleged message from the same Archangel Gabriel to Muhammed 700 years later. Given that Our Lady could hardly have made up the story based on a visit to come 700 years in the future, one is forced to the conclusion that if the Archangel Gabriel appeared to anyone back then, it was to Mary in the first century. Indeed, St Paul’s letters to the infant Christian communities were in circulation by the end of the first century so his exhortation “Even if we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a [different] gospel to you, let him be anathema” (Galatians 1:8) was already “out there” by the 7th century.

          God could not possibly send an Archangel to two different people, 700 years apart, with two different messages about salvation. Impossible.

          Good try though 😀

            • Olaf,

              To be fair, when I made the same point on Sunday Morning Live a couple of years ago, I had a very interesting email from (and subsequent correspondence with) a Muslim gentleman. He was extremely pleasant and we had some good paper discussions.

              I do, however, always lock my door at night. When one lives in sunny Glasgow, one knows better than to retire for the night with an unlocked door about the place. 😀

  3. Pope Francis is already sold on inter-faith activity. These two religious leaders are old friends of his from Argentina. I think we need to brace ourselves for his wild utterances on that trip. I dread to think what he will be saying over there.

    • That was exactly my own thoughts on reading this report about his trip to the Holy Land with a rabbi and Muslim.. Goodness knows what rubbish he’ll be spouting over there.

  4. i don’t understand why an atheist should be interested in whether or not the Catholic Church ‘isolates itself in the world’, or in the journeyings of a religious leader or in the Bible, or in the Koran.

    Don’t worry Josephine. We’ll all hear soon enough from the adoring media.. I wonder how many of its representatives will descend on the Holy Land – bet they can’t wait.

    • Westminster Fly,

      I did see that but don’t think I read it right through, given the volume of stuff being reported about Pope Francis, not surprising. Thanks, though – shocking stuff, in the extreme.

  5. Madame Editor,

    I am not so sure it will encourage Religious Indifferentism – at this stage in the game, who cares about ANY religion (except thee and me and those present, of course)?

    My guess is that it will provide a big fillip to those who favour a One World Religion to go with the New World Order – they are the ones who will be seeking new recruits from the “Oh-this-looks-new-let’s-try-it brigade”.

    It will also bring dismay to all those good Catholics who thought that the pope’s remit was to feed Christ’s sheep.

    • Leprechaun,

      It seems “Holy Father Francis” hankers after the one world religion – if in doubt, read the link provided by Westminster Fly at 10.48.a.m.

  6. I just read that linked article and indeed it is chilling. I also tried to view the linked “Secrets of the Vatican” but couldn’t view it. Anybody know how to view it in the UK?

  7. One World Religion and New World Order – surely that’s the goal of Freemasonry. Now I’m getting REALLY worried.

  8. Today the Pope entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque (sans shoes) and prayed at the Wailing Wall. Religious indifferentism absolutely gone made. I am the one who is wailing. Darkness Visible?

    • I saw that on the news and thought about the saints who were martyred rather than offer a drop of incense to a false god. Seeing the Pope take off his shoes out of respect for a false god just left me open mouthed.

        • Agreed Josephine. I honestly think that this ecumenical business is the work of Satan. I’m surprised he didn’t prostrate himself as the Muslims do when in the Mosque, like John Paul II did in the Blue Mosque in Constantinople. I wish I could have asked John Paul and Francis which God, or ‘gods’ they were praying to when they prayed either in the Mosques, Synagogues and the Wailing Wall. It wasn’t the God I pray to when I say my Rosary. I wish these people would learn that we do not worship the same God. My dad is a staunch atheist, but he concurs with the SSPX’s position regarding this, speaking as an outsider. It also concerns me because if we all worship a post-Vatican II ‘super-deity’, along the lines of the Masons, this must be the ‘God’ worshipped at the New Mass (given that many Priests hold heretical opinions on God and who worships Him). In the meantime, I’m going to mail a copy of Mortalium Animos to the Pope. If Pius XI doesn’t make him wake up and smell the Maxwell House, I don’t know what will.

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