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: