6 February 2019

"Diversity of religions is intended by God". Dr Newman comments.

So PF has agreed with a Moslem cleric that religious pluralism and diversity are willed by God.

I am rather interested in what other Moslem scholars might have to say about this. Some of them are quite sound chaps when it comes to the errors of Relativism.

Fr Zed has given a characteristically fine and intelligent interpretation of PF's words. As have some others.

Having perused them, I am also rather interested in what some parts of the Jewish Community might think of any suggestion that the Holocaust was willed by God as part of His "permissive will".

What Fr Zed and others have done is (this is not irony; I mean it) absolutely essential; it is truly necessary. In the great task which some future pontificate will inherit, of putting the Papal Magisterium back up on its feet after the disasters of this pontificate, it wo'n't do just to say "That man was repeatedly, disastrously, wrong". Because the obvious corollary of this is that any pope may be horribly wrong. The standing of the Successor of S Peter will need to be restored, for the good of the Church and for however much time there will be before the End. So, surely, it will have to be said that there are ambiguities in his texts which need to be interpreted carefully and authoritatively in order to rescue them, and him, from apparent heresy.

But I do think it is outrageous that pastors and academics should have to waste their time dreaming up these 'interpretations' of yet another PF disaster. By the way: was Cardinal Ladaria shown this text?

Blessed John Henry Newman dealt succinctly with this particular heresy in the biglietto speech which he delivered on receiving the official notification that he was to be a Cardinal.

"For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth ... Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy."

Actually ... come to think of it ... you'd better keep quiet about all this. Newman is due to be canonised later this year; it would be a shame to put a spanner in the works (do Americans use that expression?) at this stage in the proceedings.

I have a terrible vision in my imagination of PF, dear poppet that he is, tottering out of S Peter's, propped up as ever by poor Mgr Marini; tearing up the text prepared for him to read (he quite likes doing that) and shouting "I'm cancelling the canonisation, and actually I'm dismissing this Newman from being a Beatus. I'd never realised what a Rigid Pharisaical Pelagian Sourpuss Elitist Coprophiliac he was. AND THAT'S MAGISTERIUM!!!"

You wouldn't want that to happen, would you? Just when we're all looking forward to having JHN on the Calendar as a Double of the First Class with a Common Octave?

So ... ... 'nuff said ... ... Shhhhhhh!


Friedlon said...

„one creed is as good as another“

Father, may I ask for spiritual advice on this matter?
My son, returning from (protestant) religion class – we live in the eastern part of Germany, where pupils have to take this or a course on secular ethics – raised a number of objections against religion, which they studied without the teacher being willing to frame them, and which – poorly catechised myself – I had difficulties to answer. Chief among them was the quote above.
Is there any reading that you could recommend to help me address the issue for the benefit of my son?

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

One of the problems with this document is the repeated use of the word "God" to mean both the "God the Father, first Person of the Holy Trinity", and the "Allah" of the Koran, who is very specifically not the God of the Holy Trinity, which is explicitly denied in that book. It really is no more helpful, in this desire to be kind, "fraternal" as PF would say, to equate these two gods as it would be to equate God the Father with Zeus. The historical argument that the Muslim faith springs from Christianity and that thus their God Allah must be the same as our God (and they don't like to be told that their religion began as a Christian heresy) is really no more sensible that to say because the Greeks became Christian then Zeus, by virtue of partial revelation, must also be the same God. This sort of relativist argument can most simply be summed up in four words, much shorter and more precise than PF's document with the Imam, but essentially the same - "God does not exist". This statement alone makes logic of all the other propositions.


Pseudo-Bessarion said...

Father, if the authentic magisterium can err, why do we have to do mental gymnastics to rescue the teachings of Pope Francis from obvious errors? I am afraid the mental gymnastics just make us look like silly. It appears to be a pitiable attempt at preserving a failed papolatry.

The authentic magisterium of future, orthodox popes, will not need defending, as they, like most pontiffs have, will speak and write in harmony with the universal and ordinary magisterium supporting their decrees (Please God).

Scribe said...

Dear Father, You will recall that in the good old English Missal some Masses were given splendid ascriptions, such as 'Double of the First Class, with Privileged Octave of the First Order.' These seem to have disappeared from the modern missals. Another sad loss is that of the station masses - 'Station at St Mary Major'. These things were treasured by folk like myself,very much proud of Romanitas. But hey! These things weren't cool, man!

cogito said...

Not only the diversity of religion is intended by God, but also the diversity (LGBTQ) of "genders"
as well:
"God made you this way," PF is said to have told the gay Chilean lad.

GOR said...

I have gone from eagerly awaiting Papal pronouncements (Pope Benedict…) to actively ignoring Papal blathering (Pope Francis…). I am not happy with this situation but feel it is necessary to preserve my sanity - not to mention my faith.

The carelessness of expression and willful use of doublespeak when clarity is called for is disastrous to the right understanding of the Catholic Faith. But Our Lord warned against this: “Let your speech be yea, yea…” And if that be too rigid, then I’m happy to be so rigid.

William said...

Revered Father, over here a spaner is called a monkey wrench!

Calvin Engime said...

"Newman is due to be canonised later this year; it would be a shame to put a spanner in the works (do Americans use that expression?) at this stage in the proceedings."

This tool is called a wrench in American, therefore put a wrench in the works or often throw a monkey wrench (Br. adjustable spanner, gas grips) into the works is said instead. It's used, but most Americans will be confused by the British version because they don't know what a spanner is.

@Josephus Muris Saliensis: It seems clear, though, from certain passages in the Qur'an that Muhammad understands the Father and Allah (an Arabic cognate of a Hebrew word used very frequently for God, used even today for God by Christians who speak Semitic languages like Arabic and Maltese) to be the same. In 5:116, Christians are reproached for taking two gods beside Allah (namely, Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary). If the argument for identifying the Muslim's Allah as a god of the gentiles is that they do not believe in God's Son, then why shouldn't we conclude that Christians do not worship the same God that Jews do? Great Doctors of the Church like John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, and Alphonsus de' Liguori have had very harsh words about Islam, but who of them ever claimed that Muhammad introduced the worship of a different god?

Romulus said...

Further to interpreting and rescuing ambiguities:

Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.

Methinks it is like a weasel.

It is backed like a weasel.

Or like a whale?

Very like a whale.

John Patrick said...

Friedlon I would suggest The Catholic Catechism, by Fr. John Hardon SJ, in particular Chapter 1.

Unknown said...

Thank you Father, but i have a really tough time swallowing Father Z's take on this one.

I personally find Father Z's interpretation, in light of the context of the entire pontificate, bankrupt and bordering on moral indiscretion or scandal, that is, leading people astray by offering up an interpretation so absurd it makes a joke of the Church.
Which come to think of it, is my problem with a lot of the attempts to make Francis sound orthodox.

As for the above relating to the Pope's recent statement, I do not believe I am being uncharitable. I believe I am respecting the Pope's past statements about other religions, Islam, Luther, etc, and making the most obvious assessment thereof.

As for the spanner, yes, we get it, but we say it's a wrench in the works, or some variation thereof. "Spanner" usually refers to a wrench with two studs sticking out as used on certain flushfittings or gunstock recoil lugs, etc.

Seamus said...

"it would be a shame to put a spanner in the works (do Americans use that expression?)"

Yes, we do, but we call it a "monkey wrench." (Why, I have no idea.)

Fr. VF said...

"Spanner"? Americans use the more elegant name "monkey wrench."

Dad29 said...

It appears to be a pitiable attempt at preserving a failed papolatry.

Too much Peter, too little Catholicism, eh?

On the non-royalist side of the pond, we use the term "...throw a monkey-wrench into the works...." which is similar to your "spanner" thing. One should know that a 'spanner' is a wrench, of course.

TLMWx said...

"This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;"

We cannot have a right to believe false things about God or ourselves can we? Do we have a right to murder our neighbour if our belief system permits it? I don't understand how it is possible to salvage this by interpretation. It seems to me this is pure subjectivism. It is a recipe for chaos.

Furthermore, "must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;" so we should accept polygamy and child sexual abuse from our resident imigrants? This is mad. What if I come from a culture that believes its right to force adherence to a specific religion and culture. Is Pope France not asking that I reject my "god given" right to my religion and culture. Again, madness. I can see no way around and no means of reinterpretation to avoid error here. Happy to be corrected.

Not that I did not know already but its nice to know God willed the crusades too:-).

Larry said...

No, Father, we do not use the word "spanner" nor the word "poppet."

My vocabulary enlarges.

Athelstane said...


"These seem to have disappeared from the modern missals."

They have, and yes, it is a fairly recent development.

The English Missal derived its festal ranking system from that of the Calendar of the Traditional Roman Rite. That ranking system was radically simplified (along with the annihilation of all but three of eighteen octaves) by Pius XII in 1955, and then further by John XXIII in 1960, after which the Roman Calendar classified feasts instead simply as first, second, third, or fourth class. And this is the system (alas) used in the Calendar of the Extraordinary Form, which employs the 1962 Roman Missal, issued after this five year flurry of reforms.

And then along came Paul VI and the Novus Ordo just a few years after *that*, and simplified things even further.

Alas, the Anglo-Catholic milieu followed "what Rome does," and since Rome gutted its calendar and missal, Anglo-Catholics often did likewise, too - a few hoary and noble holdouts notwithstanding. My old Ordinariate parish here in the U.S. was one of the very few still using the English Missal when it swam the Tiber en masse.

Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

However, Father H and Larry, we do say 'throw (or put) a monkey wrench in the works', monkey wrench being the Yankeeism for spanner.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Frielon
Nobody is tempted to respond to your need!

The basic point is first to demonstrate that all systems are not as good as each other. You could cite Hitlerism; and the Aztec religion in which there was a lot of human sacrifice, and victims were skinned alive.

If your son can be brought to admit that he does not like such cults, then he has already admitted that all religions are not as good as each other.

You would perhaps be able to take it from there!

Best wishes and best of luck!..

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear me! 'Monkey wrench' sounds kinda crool to me.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Ibn Warraq on the Catholic Church'e effete ecumenism: 

Nearly ten years ago, I was the guest of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) of Rome. PISAI is dedicated to interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims. But as the director at the time said to me, "There is no real dialogue, since Muslims never reciprocate the goodwill gestures made by the Christians. The result is we sit down together, and the Christians say what a wonderful religion Islam is, and the Muslims say what a wonderful religion Islam is."

Mahomet, as aptly described by Serge Trifkovic, was part David Koresh, part John Gotti, and the reality the Catholic Church has applied the universal solvent of ecumenism to every single thing in the church increases the chances some adept of Mahomet will blow-up your church or your family if you take then to a sporting event.

The willful blindness about the well-documented history of our ancient and continuing enemy (which history Nostra Aetate tells us to FORGET) along with such things as Pope Benedict XVI facing Mecca and praying with an Imam inside the Blue Mosque makes ABS wonder if our Hierarchy is capable of making any distinctions anymore or have they just collectively pitched their tent in the desert of Indifference?

Well, include ABS out. Mahometans do not worship the same God as Catholics as their Koran teaches.


Between their succoring of sodomites and their embrace of those who intend us evil, it is a wonder the hierarchy still has time to continue to destroy the Mass.

Has anyone in there Hierarchy bothered to study the muslim faith?

The hierarchy appears to be completely ignorant of the role of Taqiyya


MaryP said...

The argument that Francis' document speaks of God's permissive will overlooks the text itself, which says that it is God's creative wisdom that willed the diversity of religions, not just that God [permissively] willed them. That is a whole different ball of wax. I grant that there is confusion, as there always is right at the heart of every document he writes. But one cannot pick one phrase and not look at another which contradicts it (which is exactly what Francis wants us to do, I feaar).

Woody said...

I must confess that I find the estimable Father Z twisting his brain into the shape of a pretzel over the Pope’s and the Imam’s statement. The common use of “will” connotes an active desire for the result willed, so use of that word and phrase in the declaration would in ordinary speech connote God’s active, or positive, will. Presumably the drafters of the text could have easily employed a phrase more easily interpreted to include permissive will by merely saying something like, “mysteriously, a multitude of religions are included within the plan of God”.

To me, anyway, the tortured explanations of papal pronouncements already condemns the magisterium, along the lines suggested by you, dear Father. If this particular tortured reading must be employed to explain the papal text, then what other past papal texts are also exotric pronouncements for the masses, but hiding esoteric meaning for those in the know? What is to be believed?

Michael Ortiz said...

An American novelist Ron Hansen has a novel out re Fr Hopkins SJ and in the third paragraph there is a reference to The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. He’s a fine writers but should demand a new copy editor for that howler. Ah, on another note, how I miss the limpid mind of Papa Ratzinger and his penchant for truth!

Bill Murphy said...

I agree with the comment on Father Z's beyond-desperate attempt to put a truly Catholic interpretation on this "Declaration of Human Fraternity" to which Pope Francis put his signature. Father Z did not help his case with his comment on a reader's comment where he asked if his readers had been afflicted with an attack of obtusity. It reminds me of the examiners' comments on the answers to a question on a Computer Science paper: "75% of the examinees misunderstood this question".

Also another of the comments highlighted a problem with the sentence: "The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language..."...er...does "diversity of sex" include all the LGBTQ/etc variations?? I suspect that Pope Francis and Father Jimmy Martin may be open to this interpretation. I also suspect that the very learned Imam and his fellow Muslims may be open to a merciful execution of all followers of the LGBTQ path.

There is a further massive problem with the presentation of Pope Francis and the very learned Imam as joint signatories to this Declaration. It suggests that they are of equal authority within their religious communities. The passage "Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West," suggests that the Imam is speaking on behalf of all Muslims. Which is being economical with the truth, to put it politely. As a Sunni, he obviously cannot speak on behalf of the Shia, who comprise around 15% of Muslims. He probably does not represent the Ahmadis, who are not even recognised as Muslims in Pakistan. The Imam probably does not represent the Pakistan Muslims shouting for Asia Bibi's death. Or the hard line Wahabis in Saudi Arabia. In fact, does he speak for all those Egyptian Muslims, such as himself, in his own country who seem keen on executing apostates?


Christoph Hagen said...

@Friedlon: Ich bin nicht der Angesprochene, und mir fällt aus dem Stehgreif auch keine Leseempfehlung für Sie ein, aber ich denke mal nach. Möchte indes doch gleich fragen, weshalb Ihr Sohn als katholischer Schüler nicht am Ethikunterricht, statt am protestantischen Religionsunterricht teilnimmt? Gerade, wenn ich voraussetze, dass die EKD diesen Unterricht inhaltlich verantwortet. Selbst nominell katholischer Unterricht ist nicht automatisch auch inhaltlich gut, insbesondere in höheren Klassen. Eigentlich würde ich spätestens dann eher den konfessionell neutralen Ethikunterricht vorziehen. Gute katholische Katechese muss mE heutzutage längst außerschulisch organisiert und geleistet werden. In der Familie und in einem wirklich zuverlässigen, katholischen Umfeld, zB in einer Gemeinde der Petrus- oder ohne weiteres auch der Piusbruderschaft. Letztere treffen Sie in Berlin, Dresden oder in der Nähe von Weimar an. Wenn Sie in der Gegend von Berlin wohnen, würde ich mich für die Katechese Ihres Sohnes und etwaiger, weiterer Kinder natürlich auch mal an das Institut St. Philipp Neri wenden. Viele Grüße aus Innsbruck!

Cosmos said...

It makes perfect sense to discuss permissive will in regard to religious freedom (something along the lines of, "God, in his wisdom, doesn't force the truth on us, so we shouldn't force it on others either"). But it is very hard to agree that this is what the document actually meant. Why?

The statement says: "Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings."

So the document is talking about God's will in terms of the great good of the modern world: "freedom." It is the "right" of every person to "enjoy" the freedom of "belief, thought, expression and action." That is the setting.

It then talks about the "pluralism and diversity" of "religion" as willed by God in a list of other things that were willed by God in "pluralism and diversity": "colour, sex, race and language." Can we really conceivably imagine the Pope, or any Catholic theologian, asserting that the plurality and diversity of "color," "sex," or "race" are things that are willed by God only permissively (i.e., are merely tolerated for the sake of freedom)? Of course not. No one would dare utter such nonsense, especially not this Pope with his background. Those things are obviously to be understood as "goods" that God actively willed.

So the much more natural construction of the sentence is to construe "religion" as one thing in a list of the good things God willed to be freely experience in a beautiful variety. Otherwise, you have to assume that the author meant the term "will" to cover both the "permissive" and "active" at the same time--which frankly does not fit the positive tone of the paragraph.

If it was really meant as Fr. Z reads it, it is so poorly written as to seem intentionally deceptive.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Some theologian must compile a list of clergy who are willing to speak the truth publicly and to seek their protection as an ecclesiastical species threatened by extinction.

Nearly extinct is that cleric courageous enough to say what is necessary to correct error or heresy and so most modern men in the Church - Pope, Prelate, Priest- will not condemn heterodoxy or heresy.

It seems as though the intellects of those in authority have become infected with the willful liberalism of Pope Paul VI who confessed publicly tp the Clergy of Rome on February 17, 1969:

 t would be easy, and even perhaps our dut to rectify…but…let  the good people of God do it themselves.... You will have noticed, my dear friends,  to what extent the style of Our government of the Church seeks to be pastoral, fraternal, humble in spirit and form. It is on this account that, with the help of God, We hope to be loved. 

In a more pointed and precise recapitulation of one of the key concepts of the opening speech at Vatican Two (rumored to have been written in part by Montinii of Milano) Pope Paul VI, the Pope (now, of course, a Saint) tells the Roman Clergy that he will not defend the Faith once delivered but, rather, let the wolves run amuck amongst the Faithful so that he might personally be an object of love.

Does not this describe the revolution with the form of Catholicism in the 1060s - a revolution that overturned the then existing order - and a revolution that resulted in the Church becoming, in effect, La Cosa Nostra (our thing) to be used by the new theologians and modernists for their own personal pleasure, proclivities, prejudices, and political programs?

Dad29 said...

Because the obvious corollary of this is that any pope may be horribly wrong

Yes, but that is true. Any Pope MAY be horribly wrong. Pp Francis is a good reminder of such. So what? The Faith does not depend on any Pope, and--similarly--keeping the Faith should not be contingent on spotless priests in your parish, either!

What Fr. Z. has to say about it may be admirable, but the fact of the matter is that the Pope's written words here (and in lots of other places) are ambiguous at best. Whether the Pope or Z likes it or not, a plain reading of the plain words produces an unhappy result. THAT is something that the Vatican should have realized in advance--so they should have put out a document which 'splained that "'permissive will'" is what we're talking about here!"

Grant Milburn said...

So much of what the Holy Father says, seems to me to be covered by Wolfgang Pauli’s supposed dictum, “It is not even wrong”, supposedly said of a colleague's incoherent hypothesis.

In this latest debacle it seems that each party was secretly thinking “God has (positively) willed my (true) faith, and (permissively) willed your (false or at least deficient) faith.” Only each party was too polite and diplomatic to say aloud the words in parentheses.

I fear that in the future, we are going to have to resort to increasingly Mottramesque solutions to save the Holy Father from expressing positive error. Enjoy the spiritual rain.

tonyroma12000 said...

I think we should assume a) it was intended to mean what it seems to mean, b) the Holy Father did not intend to change Church teaching, c) the Holy Father is not a theologian or particularly smart, d) his advisors possibly intended what has happened.

tonyroma12000 said...

ps sign in to a Google account AND prove I'm not a robot?

Fr Martin Fox said...


The Church's doctrine of infallibility is often misunderstood as God directing things. Hence the notion that the Holy Spirit picks popes. But this is not what we believe, and this present situation is why it's important to get it right.

Better to think of infallibility as guardrails on either side of the road. The Church may careen back and forth, and take quite a lot of battering, but the Holy Spirit will keep it on the road.

Of course, it's very possible, and indeed likely, that God is even more active; but this is what the doctrine assures. Beyond that we do not know and cannot assume.

John F. Kennedy said...

Is Bergoglio an apostate when he publicly signs a document which contains such a statement?

Matthew F Kluk said...

Father: On the blog Dymphna's Road the latest article is entitled The Higher the Monkey Climbs the More He Shows His Tail. I now believe that Pope Francis is showing his tail even more egregiously. The cardinals rightly or wrongly, well intentioned or evilly intentioned, in clear conscience or simoniacally, chose for Pope an opportunistic and evil man.

Sadie Vacantist said...

If the Americans and the British spent less time murdering Muslims on behalf of Israel then we might get less of these grandiose gestures towards our brothers and sisters of the Levant. I would prefer it the Pope simply told the Americans to lay off the endless wars. He could easily accomplish this via his twitter account.