Thursday, October 27, 2011


Press here to read "Dominus Jesus" as it is of import to this post below.

The following is an extract from a letter written by Pope Benedict XVI on March 4, 2011 to Lutheran pastor Peter Beyerhaus, a longtime friend who had told him about his fears over the new convocation of the day of Assisi:

"I understand very well," the pope writes, "your concern about participating in the encounter of Assisi. But this commemoration would have been celebrated in any case, and, in the end, it seemed to me the best thing to go there personally, in order to try to determine the overall direction. Nonetheless, I will do everything I can to make a syncretistic or relativistic interpretation of the event impossible, and to make it clear that I will always believe and confess what I had called the Church's attention to with 'Dominus Iesus'."

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, who said:

"There are a number of dangers that such an encounter could bring in terms of the mass media communication of the event, of which – as it is clear – the pontiff is well aware. The means of mass media communication will say, even with the images alone, that all religions have come together to ask God for peace. A poorly formed Christian could draw from this the gravely mistaken conclusion that one religion is as good as another, and that Jesus Christ is one of the many mediators of salvation."

Plain fact, the Catholic Church believes that she is the true Church and the true religion. Fact also is that since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has seen Protestant denominations while not in full communion as a part of the Catholic Church (and thus the true Church) through the Sacrament of Baptism validly celebrated and beliefs that are in continuity with the Church's Scripture and Tradition. Foundational to that would be belief in the Most Holy Trinity and in Jesus Christ as the one Mediator between God and Man and the sole Savior of the world.

Other religions cannot be the true faith, but can share in the truths of God, but do not have the fullness of truth. Obviously the closest to the Catholic Church of the non-Christian religions is Judaism. As Pope John Paul II asserts they are our "elder brothers," and the foundation of the Catholic Church for the Old and New Covenants are linked and the Jews are God's chosen people whereas Catholics and Christians are adopted in Christ.

However, even prior to Vatican II, the Church acknowledged that if through no fault of one's own or the fault of the Church in not living the Faith properly or evangelizing energetically, that one was not a Catholic, one could still go to heaven/be saved, but only through the saving Life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Real Presence of Christ communicated through the ministry of Word and Sacrament of the Church.

Syncretism within Judaism was deplored by God and God felt that it polluted the true religion of Judaism when the Jews borrowed from the Pagan religions of their time. The golden calf comes to mind and the wrath of God this brought about.

Syncretism creeps into the lives of Catholics in many areas today too. How many read and believe in horoscopes? In Central and South American African religions are mixed with Catholicism.

Are there other examples of syncretism as it concerns Catholicism that pollutes our religion?

True too is the genius of the Catholic Church to take from the cultures where she is "incarnated" and to make Christian if these do not conflict with the Church's mission or belief.

The dates for Christmas, Easter and All Saints comes to mind. The Church took the prevailing festivals of the Pagan World, The Winter Solstice, the Pagan Rituals of new life in the Spring, the rites of the Druids as it concerns death in the Fall and baptized these and gave a completely new and Christian meaning to them.

I think it would be difficult to do that for horoscopes, soothsaying and palm reading. Some religious orders have dabbled in the religions of the earth such as Wicca and have brought their ecological concerns to the Catholic faith and some of their devotions. However, it makes the Christians who do it look silly as it is more blending Catholicism with Wiccan customs thus polluting Wicca and Catholicism together!

Care for the good earth though could certainly be seen as a Christian virtue but not the deification of the good earth or the egalitarianism of all creation, for example animals and humans on an equal footing.

Wiccan and Christian symbols co-mingled:


Robert Kumpel said...

Unfortunately, it is likely that most Christians ARE poorly formed as Cardinal Burke laments. If more of us read documents like Dominus Iesus we would have a clearer idea of Catholic belief, but we've allowed secular forces to define our faith for us. For this reason, many people who claim to be Christian claim that the entirety of the Bible can be reduced to two words, "Don't Judge". But where does this reduction of our faith come from? The very secular media that hates us. Over the last couple of decades they have attempted to shame Christianity into silence by defining us as hypocrites guilty of ignoring Jesus' words if we dare speak out against the sexual revolution, abortion, perverse "lifestyles" and other sinful practices. And, apparently, we've bought it.

It is difficult to imagine Jesus Christ participating in any kind of religious practice that would deviate from the purity of His role as our mediator with God the Father and even harder to imagine that He would remain silent about the moral sewer we live in. But hey, I don't wanna judge!

Ave Verum said...

Excellent comments, Robert. We need to understand that we are part of the Church Militant; the Church Triumphant is yet to come. What is the job description of the Church Militant? TO HOLD FAST to the Truth revealed by our AUTHENTIC Church fathers and passed on to us, and as AUTHENTIC Church authority instructs us in the present.

Discernment is the key and a gift. We don't have to scream, we don't have to condemn (God's job, not ours), but we must hold on and not be beguiled by the false prophets. The "devil is in the details", so we let God be God and work out the details. Meanwhile we must be courageous and clear in our witness to the Truth--to the end. We must finish the race honorably as Jesus did. Dare I say, like Bp. Robert Finn is doing...?

Ave Verum said...

re: Father's "true religion" question, I have to add one more thing. The real battle (hidden and therefore extremely dangerous), I believe is within the Church herself. This is a quote I read today from another source:

"In other words, these 'Catholics' want none of the guidance or restrictions placed by the Commandments of God or the Catholic Church. They want an institution made in man's own sinful image and likeness: a Church of Man."

Ah, there is the true enemy.

William Meyer said...

To believe otherwise would put is in the mode of selective belief. To be Catholic is to believe all that Holy Mother Church teaches is true.

The question really has no meaning, except from outside the Church.

Marc said...

Good point, William Meyer. To believe the Catholic Church is not the true religion is to believe a heresy and to, therefore, cease to be Catholic.

Why does the Church seem so afraid of conveying this idea to the world these days? There are ways to make this point pastorally while retaining Catholic Truth. Obviously, you don't want to go into a Protestant Church and tell them their religion doesn't save them (which it doesn't), but in order for them to begin to consider the Truth of the Catholic Church, they need to moved to consider the falsity of their religion and the Truth of Catholicism. This is charity at its most basic...