37 Responses

  1. carn says:

    “It saddens me that, in the midst of the pope’s praiseworthy attempt to promote peace between Christians and Muslims, Pecknold took the opportunity, upon being contacted by a Catholic journalist, to call Islam a “false religion.””

    Evidence that Pecknold called Islam a false religion?


    In this text the word “Islam” is only mentioned twice and never in any context of Pecknold saying that something about Islam is false.

    “the Holy Father is clearly referring not to the evil of many false religions”

    Pecknold does not specify, which religions he calls “false”; just that there are many.

    Which is obviously true, since there have been quite a number of clearly false religion, e.g. all polytheistic religions with special mention of the South and Central American version, which – so to say – dogmatically taught that the higher powers are to be pleased by tears, blood and the ripping out of hearts.

    It seems Pecknold’s claim that there are many false religions is true independently whether one counts Islam among them.

    “Christians can benefit from studying other religions; the wisdom contained in them helps us to adhere more closely to Christian values.”

    Would you mind being a bit more precise there, that some religions are certainly valuable for some wisdom contained therein, while other religions are mostly a useful study to learn from a bad example?

    I am always surprised about people making statements about religions without ever pondering that by their words they would also include the religion of the Aztecs.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      Carn, that’s a stretch.

      The implication by Pecknold here is not that he’s declaring certain “false religions” evil, but that he’s saying that the Holy Father is emphasizing the good, rather than the evil in “false religions.”

      He makes this even clearer in the statements that follow:

      “It is puzzling, and potentially problematic, but in the context of the document, the Holy Father is clearly referring not to the evil of many false religions, but positively refers to the diversity of religions only in the sense that they are evidence of our natural desire to know God.”

      “God wills that all men come to know Him through the free choice of their will, and so it follows that a diversity of religions can be spoken about as permissively willed by God without denying the supernatural good of one true religion,” he added.

      “One true religion.” “False religions.” Come on.

  2. Chris dorf says:

    Thank you for this.

    How important especially at a time when confrontational Christianity circle the globe that the person sitting in the chair of Peter it showing humanity how to make peace with each other through love and forgiveness…and on the 800th anniversary of saint Francis of Assisi meeting with the sultan hit a grand attempt to make peace between human beings.

    And of course none of this is an attempt at syncretism of religions but a basic Act of love which is the essence of God

  3. chris dorf says:

    Alas, I am already seeing certain Catholics and others smearing this meeting and the document.
    What gives with these folks?

  4. Pete Vickery says:

    Reminds me of the meeting of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al-Kamil. That was foundational for the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986. I remember Pope John Paul being castigated by the traditionalists for that as well. What we have seen in the last 800 years is the Holy Spirit first inspiring Saint Francis to respectfully dialogue with Islam (in the person of the Sultan during the Crusades) and more recently moving the Church towards greater respect with Nostra Aetate as well as Pope JPII’s efforts and of course Pope Francis’ efforts. You’re also correct in noting that calling other religions “false religions” is not to be found in Vatican II documents or coming from the mouth of any recent Popes (to my knowledge). I used to hear it all the time from the fundamentalists and Evangelicals who joined me in front of abortion clinics. It seems counter-productive to me to speak in that manner. Are you really trying to get someone to see the truth the way you do or are you engaging in triumphalism? Anyway, thank God for Pope Francis. I remember someone who said “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

    • David says:

      These comments are rather contrary to the facts if you know anything about the meeting of St. Francis and the sultan; it was not “a respectful dialogue” but included an excoriation of the falsity of Islam. If you know anything about islam you would know that most muslims would consider the idea of a muslim christian dialogue to be blasphemous and heretical to them. This is also shown in its history- has islam been trying to engage in dialogue with anyone since its inception? The idea is laughable if you know the smallest bit of history, especially the last 800 years. Does lepanto or mansikirt ring a bell? Christians had to repel by force islamic invasion of europe! Your comments are outside of reality. Even today, do you know how christianity is viewed and christians treated in any muslim country, including those Francis visited? The fact that recent church documents doesn’t mention the fact of false religions doesn’t mean it isn’t fact. It also reveals the rupture that took place with VII. The following is a snipet of the “dialogue” of St. Francis with the Sultan. How “mean spirited” and disrepectful he sounds:

      “And Blessed Francis answered: “It seems to me that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in its entirety. In fact it says elsewhere: “if your eye causes you sin, tear it out and throw it away” (Mt 5 , 29). With this, Jesus wanted to teach us that if any person, even a friend or a relative of ours, and even if he is dear to us as the apple of our eye, we should be willing to repulse him, to weed him out if he sought to take us away from the faith and love of our God. This is precisely why Christians are acting according to justice when they invade the lands you inhabit and fight against you, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and strive to turn away from his worship as many people as you can. But if you were to recognize, confess, and worship the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves instead.” OUCH! From: Verba fratris Illuminati socii b. Francisci ad partes Orientis et in conspectu Soldani Aegypti (Codex Vaticanus Ott.lat.n.552):

      • Mike Lewis says:

        So you don’t accept Vatican II as legitimate? I am not sure what you are trying to say.

      • Pete Vickery says:

        The Codex Vaticanus dates to the 4th century. Since it is the inspired OT and NT it is reliable. Footnotes added a thousand years later from an unknown society mean what? If you took the Catholic Church seriously instead of rejecting Vatican II then maybe someone would take your sources seriously. Please enlighten us with a description of who the “Verba Fratris Illuminati” society is and what position of authority they have wrt the Catholic Church. Did they transcribe Saint Francis verbatum fresh from his meeting with the Sultan, or did you just lift this from Father Z’s website?

  5. Peter Aiello says:

    The God who made the universe also want us to be with Him. His Son is the way, the truth, and the life. Anyone can protect the poor and the marginalized.

  6. David says:

    As this piece dismisses the “out” offered by Pecknold it is extremely problematic. If one says God positively wills different religions, that is utterly false, which should be a no-brainer as it is minimal doctrine. The logical corollaries are that all religions are or could be equal paths to God or that there is a path to salvation independent of Christ and His Church; and that God also wills false beliefs, such as those found in false religions. Rather, God cannot actively will false beliefs, which is also to say, actively will evil; and he cannot actively will the contradictory notions of himself claimed in different religions. There is no way around this. It is also basic doctrine that non-christians are still implicitly ordered to Christianity and the Church, which would be negated by implying God wills people to be members of other religions. It is also basic and just Catholic common sense, that the diversity of religions- just as is the fracturing of Christendom- is, in fact, due to sin, another categorical reason God cannot will or desire such. (for the latter things cf. Fourth Lateran Council, Unam Sanctam; Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos; Leo XIII, Satis cognitum; Pius XI, Mortalium animos.) To put it negatively this would mean that God did not will to have only one Tradition, one supernatural revelation of himself, but did so to multiple traditions, which are opposed to one another in their basic claims; and the consequence is that God contradicts himself or there is not one God but many. At the least we have a very sloppy, strange statement that in itself, on face value, gives a heretical interpretation, in which case “critics” have a valid point. And the average Joe is going to see the statement and may very well say to himself, ‘the head of the catholic church just said God wants there to be different religions. Is Christianity just one of many valid paths? Is any other religion just as good?’ He is not going to bother to read some piece trying to explain what Francis “really” meant.

    So, it is utter madness to “celebrate” religious diversity just as it would be to celebrate the fracturing of Christendom. Does God want Christians to be divided into various groups, with conflicting beliefs? Is that a positive thing? No, of course not. Even more so would God not want such fracturing among other, greater lines, and especially when other religions are sometimes the precise obstacle to the embracing of Jesus! So does God will people not to come to his son by willing they believe in something else, which would be a logical corollary of all this? If Jesus is the only mediator and the religion he founded we believe to be THE one, why would you want people- which is what celebrating such infers- to be outside of that? You would be “celebrating” others not being followers of Christ! Madness! Here is where the piece really refutes itself- if such notions are the conclusion from what pope francis said, as the article claims, then the “critics” have a point.

    If religions such as Islam are true, then Christianity is false, e.g., Islam asserts Jesus is not God, there is no Trinity, the bible is not God’s word. If one begins to pick apart certain beliefs, then the whole argument falls apart, i.e., ‘well, certain or many parts of Islam or hinduism are not true, but some are.’ Well, which parts may be false? The ones which make claims about its being God’s revelation? That which denies who Jesus is? Then it’s a false religion! It is not part of God’s revelation; it makes claims about God, His creation, that are not true. (Here one must distinguish between natural and supernatural religion and natural truths and those divinely revealed. Other religions may have some natural truths in them but they are not divinely revealed ones. But it is quite correct to say they are false- they are false in their most basic claims about God, revelation. And also very importantly, as is Church teaching, the “belief” that flows from them is not the supernatural virtue of Faith, but opinion. Technically they do not involve Faith in God, so they are not religions in that basic sense either. This is yet another reason it is wrong and silly to say God wills different religions and we should celebrate this.

    One could go into how previous Church statements thru history label religions such as islam as false, even of diabolical origin. Has Islam changed? Were previous popes and others ignorant of what Islam teaches? Unwittingly here the piece posits a post-VII rupture: it specifically states that VII and after there is a “different” approach and one is only supposed to look at this period of time for sources. Only the last 50 years of Church teaching count? Noooo. Along these lines the “spirit of V2” reference by Francis is also telling. Such an idea was dismissed by JPII and B16, for it created the notion of a para-council that claimed things of it which it did not say, and has been used to justify many erroneous things. This is another instance in which Francis resurrects something negated by his predecessors. The only reference the piece cites for its claim is a prior document of Francis, nothing from the entire previous teaching of the Church. The citation from N. Aetate says nothing of god willing different religions or this being a desired situation, etc. This is another indication of the divorce from prior teaching under this pontificate. One must also remember that N. Aetate was never meant to be any authoritative or doctrinal statement: “As to the character of the declaration, the secretariat does not want to write a dogmatic declaration on non-Christian religions, but, rather, practical and pastoral norms.” (Statement of the secretary for the Unity of Christians on 18 November 1964 in the Council Hall)

    Of course, all of this is window dressing to a great extent as we know for many Muslims it would be heretical to think that Christianity is a religion one can fully tolerate or work with, as the goal of islam is to submit everyone to it, to allah. We also know the Imam doesn’t really agree with this as we know, for example, that he thinks death for any muslim wanting to convert to Christianity is okay. (And he is considered a “moderate” muslim.) And this Imam is also no real authority whatsoever in Islam, and one can easily find another, and no shortage of muslims, who might think this agreement is blasphemous against Islam. The very notion of christian-muslim “dialogue” would be one refused by many, perhaps most, muslims themselves. In fact, in the very countries Francis visited, Christians are still highly persecuted by muslims and it is either illegal to practice christianity or at most it is tolerated, and christians are treated like second class citizens, not to mention just about everyone aside from muslim men. But we can’t let the facts get in the way, can we- the imam signs an agreement while every reality around him contradicts it. One notes the unfortunate use of political terms in the piece- “islamophobia.” Most westerners are quite ignorant of Islam and what it really teaches.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      To whom is it problematic? I think this piece lays out a case pretty clearly that aligns well with Nostra Aetate.

      Here’s a question for you: (1) given that God wills that people have free will, and (2) given that God does not will us to convert to Catholicism through violence and coercion (at least I hope you believe that), and (3) Given the reality of the human situation and the inevitable result of free will is that people will wind up in different religions — does God actively will that these different religions coexist in a situation of cooperation, peace, and harmony?

      Your response looks as if it was ripped straight from LSN and the radical Traditionalist blogosphere. If your desire is to be a faithful Catholic, I’d advise you to stop relying on those heterodox and dissident sources.

    • Reading this I’m reminded of a great quotation from Rufinus, from the end of the preface to his Latin translation of the third book of Origen’s De Principiis: “Men prefer to remain in ignorance and to pronounce rash judgments on things which are difficult and obscure rather than to gain an understanding of them by diligent study.”

      • David says:

        I notice your and Lewis’ reply fail to address the substance but resort to essentially ad hominem attacks- I must be repeating what those evil “traddie” blogs say, personal insults/condescension. Of course, this can only be because you can’t address and refute the arguments. Lewis also tries a classic deflection tactic by asking a question in place of answering. Please address the issues: Does God positively will false beliefs/error (and thus any given religion which may contain such)? Does he thus positively will evil? Does he positively will contradictory beliefs about Himself (as found in different religions)? Does God actively will that people not believe in His Son (and thus adhere to another religion)? Does God positively will/desire for humanity to be divided in it’s beliefs about Him (thru different religions)? Is Christianity only the preferred or optimal religion/mode which God wants people to adhere to?

        As I assume you won’t answer, the reply to all of them is a resounding no, noting this is the most basic Catholic teaching, and I even provided various papal documents for it, while there are others too, e.g, dominus iesus. If you say it isn’t or that the answer to such questions is yes, then please provide citations. You will not find any magisterial statement- aside from the claim by Francis, in which case Francis contradicts the entire previous teaching- stating that God positively desires there to be different religions or something of the sort. Ironically it is thus you folks who are dissident. At least I provide a logical argument and have citations. You just resort to demonizing in the end.

        The answer to Lewis’ question is no: God clearly desires that all people be part of His One True Church, that all people come to profess belief in His Son. Or is that false? Does God not desire that everyone come to believe in Jesus? For someone to actually say that it is not desired is utterly astounding, contradicting the words of Christ Himself and the most basic of Christian beliefs, e.g., go into all the world and preach the good news…I desire that we may all be one, etc. Why even be a Christian then? Why evangelize? Do we not want hindus or muslims to come to believe in Christ? If yes, then God clearly does not want different religions just to co-exist. Utter madness, all for the sake of propping up the image of someone, no matter what they say and do, rather than a defense of the Truth.

      • Mike Lewis says:

        Your comments are longer than the original post. Most of your arguments are addressed explicitly or implicitly in the original post. To suggest that we must reply again to each point you make, and if not, that we are incapable of addressing your arguments is absurd. I asked the question about Vatican II in order to establish a baseline for discussion. If you find Nostra Aetate and teachings that followed it problematic, then we aren’t going to get anywhere with the discussion of this quote.

        If that’s the case, my piece on the imagisterium is probably more pertinent.

  7. chris dorf says:

    As a practical matter of our Catholic Faith; I have been in an ecumenical men’s prayer group for 30 years, and invariably the Evangelical Protestant segment of men ALWAYS want to damn non-Christ believers to hell! 30 years I have had to argue about Hindus and Buddhists and, well, everyone, having a last judgement and our only job from Jesus was to proclaim Him, not condemn others. The term ‘saved’ has caused a lot of christians over the 2 millenia to condemn every non-christian to hell. That there is one gate, Jesus, into the sheepfold is not debated as Jesus said it. That there is a final judgement explains a lot.

  8. Chris dorf says:

    One also me like to take a look at the documentary made as a joint venture between Muslims and Christians on the 800 hundredth anniversary …sultan and the saint.


  9. QED says:

    I just see 2 options at this point. Either submit to the pope though the things he says make little sense to me, or stop being Catholic. Every hundred or so years there is some bishop or group of bishops who claim to be defending the truth and tradition from the apostate mainstream Church by resisting Church authority. If you are Catholic today you accept that they are schismatics, so why should it be any different today? It’s clear in my mind that the center of unity cannot reside in bishops or groups of bishops, since they’ve been squabbling since the Church was founded and splintering off.

    Though I can’t understand what the pope says, I refuse to break communion with him, because to do so now seems to just say “Jesus could not keep his word.” Then that would mean Christianity is a sham and my hope and faith are in vain.

    • Peter Aiello says:

      When our hope and faith are directly in Christ, the conduct of His representatives on earth matters less. Paul, the apostle, says in 2Corinthians 1:24: “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand”; and Peter, in 1Peter 5:3 says to the elders: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock”.
      These verses seem to have a different tone than what we hear today.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        My faith, as a Catholic, is certainly directly in Christ. I know, very well, that it is not the Pope (or any other leader in the Church) who has done, or even *could* do, what Christ has done for me and for all believers. The Pope (including Francis, but *any* Pope) is obviously not the perfect, divine, Redeemer and Saviour.

        Christ did found a Church, though, and in Matthew 16, he used very strong language about the earthly *and* eternal reach and importance of Peter’s ministry– words about Peter being given “the keys of the kingdom,” and that for him, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” In light of such verses, it would seem that the official teaching (and, at least to some degree, the conduct) of Peter, and of the successive Popes, down through history, should be matters about which Catholics should care– *if* we want to take Christ’s words to Peter seriously.

        The Pope is a servant of Christ, and he is the “servant of servants” for all of the Church. He is also the Vicar of Christ. This entails a Magisterial role in *teaching us in an authoritative way* that the Catechism clearly describes:

        85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

        86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”48

        87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”,49 the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        The expectation of unity in the New Testament church was based on allegiance to Christ, and not to His human ambassadors (1Corinthians 1:11-13). The ideal of the organizational unity of all Christianity under the pope may be unrealistic. It has never existed in all of Church history. When all of Asia turned away from Paul, all he could do was acknowledge it, and nothing more. I see no other alternative today.
        I suspect that this is why Scripture has such a prominent place in both Judaism and Christianity; or it should in spite of those who believe that it should not; but even with Scripture being the regulator of Christianity, all of the divisions continue to exist; but at least we have something to refer to if all else fails.
        It’s true that the concept of the Church has become more nuanced. I wonder if the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church is not necessarily an over-arching presence, but is instead the presence of the Holy Spirit within the individuals in the Church. The Church may actually be made up of only those who have the Holy Spirit. This would include those who are not under the pope.
        I often remember the event in the gospels where an individual was casting out devils in the name of Jesus Christ, and the apostles forbade him because he was not part of the group. Jesus had no problem with him casting out the devils (Mark 9:38-40).

      • Christopher Lake says:


        Scripture is the regulator within the Catholic Church, in that the Church’s official doctrines exist either explicitly (the divinity of Christ), or implicitly, by implication (Mary as Mother of God), in Scripture. The Church cannot teach anything, doctrinally speaking, which is contrary to Scripture. This does not mean that every single thing the Church teaches can be *explicitly found* in Scripture by referring to a particular verse or passage.

        Your *personal interpretation* of Scripture, i.e. whether or not you think a particular Church teaching agrees with Scripture, *cannot be* the regulator within the Catholic Church. Neither you nor I can say that we are ordained priests within the Magisterial teaching authority, which alone has the role as the authoritative interpreter of Scripture and Tradition within the Church. You explicitly reject some of what the Church teaches (such as certain things about Mary’s role in our spiritual lives), because you believe these things to be unScriptural.

        Vatican II teaches that Protestants are our separated brothers and sisters in Christ. I was once a happy and committed Protestant myself. They are *related to* the Catholic Church, but, by definition, they cannot literally *make up* part of the Church, because they either explicitly, or implicitly, reject (at least) significant parts of it. In my experience, most Protestants do not even *want to be* considered as members of the Catholic Church. I definitely did not, when I was a Protestant, nor did any Protestant whom I knew.

        The ideal of all Christians coming into visible unity within communion to the Pope may seem very far away and unlikely at this point. As a Catholic, I admit that I struggle mightily with discouragement on this subject, even as I still pray for it. However, there is no way for Christians to *ever* have full, visible unity within an “invisible church” ecclesiology which states that the Church is simply made up of all who believe in Christ. Certain groups within Protestantism have been advancing that exact ecclesiology for quite a long time. Those very groups continue, to this day, to split into different denominations which teach wildly conflicting things.

    • Christopher Lake says:


      I hear the struggle in your words. I have been there. I still am there sometimes. I love Pope Francis. I also honestly struggle to understand some of the ways in which he articulates some of his thoughts. Like you, though, I am not about to break my communion with the Pope (and therefore, with the Church) over my honest struggle, at times, to understand some of his words.

      Earlier today, I was thinking of the many statements, throughout Catholic history, that seemed to view the Church’s teaching of “No Salvation Outside the Church” in quite literal terms. Reading these statements, there can appear to be little to no hope for the salvation of anyone other than Catholics.

      As we know though, as the centuries progressed, and the Church developed a deeper understanding of various realities in the world, the Church’s understanding of this teaching also became much more nuanced. The teaching, *itself*, was never renounced, and it is still reaffirmed in the Catechism, but in the Catechism’s current formulation of the teaching, tt is undeniably more nuanced now, within the Church’s greater body of teaching, than it was for centuries.

      Of course, some radical (maybe even many) traditionalists reject the Catechism’s very nuanced formulation of “No Salvation Outside the Church.” They seem to want to hold to a very literal and rigid interpretation of that teaching, an interpretation which the Church’s teaching authority has, over time, come to reject (in the course of the *legitimate development of doctrine* within the Church).

      When I first encountered the more nuanced formulation of this teaching, I admit that I struggled with it. In some ways, it made little sense to me. Over the years, with more study, and also, crucially, with more observed experience of how God actually works in the intricacies of peoples’ lives, the Catechism’s teaching has come to make much, much more sense to me.

      Hang in there. It’s not always easy. You’re on the right track, though, in staying within communion to the Pope and the Church, even when you don’t understand some things. God bless you and keep you!

      • QED says:

        What keeps me going is that saints have called obedience a sacrifice. When you disagree or cannot understand, when it is disagreeable to you, and you sacrifice your own will. Somehow it seems to me Adam forfeited everything because the devil enticed him to do the one thing God forbade.

        God said that the pope is the rock. God said that whoever would reject His Church would reject Him. God promised that the gates of hell would never overcome. God said His Spirit would be with His Church always.

        I reject Age of Enlightenment propaganda that you should only accept what you understand or know. I don’t understand or know what the Pope is going on about God willing all religions. To me it seems like an error. I will obey, because it make even less sense that God would providentially permit His instrument of salvation, His Church, to transform into the instrument of damnation. I just hope if it is true God has mercy on my soul, and accept my obedience as a virtue rather than spiritual blindness.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        I hear you on all counts. I was an atheist for years. I couldn’t understand God and His ways, so I fiercely rejected even the possibility of His existence. He had to radically humble me– and break me of my intellectual pride, in many ways– to bring me to a place of surrendering to Him and putting my faith in Him. I didn’t check my brain at the door to become a follower of Christ (and, eventually, a Catholic follower of Christ), but I did come to accept that what my mind can understand *simply cannot always be* the measure of my submission to Christ *and* my acceptance of the Magisterial teaching authority which He has left for us.

        Regarding the Pope’s words about God “willing a diversity of religions,” I am still thinking over them and their implications, but Francis has emphatically stated that they are in line with “Nostra Aetate” and the theological thinking of Vatican II in general. The Pope even asked a Dominican theologian to look over this new document on Christian-Muslim relations, and the theologian’s conclusion, after the evaluation, was apparently a positive one. I’m still thinking about the document and what it says (99% of which causes me no theological problems at all), but in the end, I accept that the Pope, and the Magisterium in general, have been studying, and actively working through, these and similar issues for longer than I have been alive, and it would be ludicrous for me to refuse to assent to the Pope’s teaching authority in this document, because I am struggling with the wording in one or two sentences of it. (To be clear, I know that you’re not refusing to assent to it either– I’m just speaking for myself here.)

        With all of the above being said, we can give our assent to the Pope and still, certainly, continue to try to better understand aspects of his teachings and statements. In that vein, yesterday, I found this very thoughtful and careful essay by a Byzantine Catholic, Henry Karlson, on the thinking of Francis regarding religious pluralism. I hope that it may be of some help to you, as it was for me: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/henrykarlson/2019/02/pope-francis-and-plurality-of-religions/

    • carn says:

      “Either submit to the pope though the things he says make little sense to me”

      How do you do that?

      Submitting to the teaching of the Church is not just a “Yes, whatever you say.”

      It is accepting it.

      How are you to accept something, when what is said does from one’s own perspective does not add up to a single item, which one could accept, but instead leave room for multiple and contradicting options?

      Just take the present example; Pope Francis not only suggests something via the document signed; he also suggests something at the same time via the Catechism, which is his to change at any moment, and thereby is at any moment ALSO what he teaches.

      And now lets combine what Pope Francis teaches via the present document, via Evangelium Gaudii AND via the Catechism and then submit to that … and now we are submitting to what exactly?

      I have no idea.

      And all people here at WPI can try is to turn themselves into pretzels to add the different sources together and then say “Accept that, you dissenter”; which has absolutely no authority whatsoever and therefore i might think to myself “Sorry, that doesn’t add up, so again nothing i can submit to” and am back to square 1 of not knowing what i am supposed to submit to.

      Listening to Bishops? Ok, so let’s play the “who understood Pope Francis”-game. Ok, Burke is out; but Müller? Kasper? Am i as a Catholic free to select any Bishop as the winner of the “who understood Pope Francis”-contest as long as Pope Francis did not clearly indicate that the theology of said Bishop is off tracks? Or am i to take indirect hints like giving some Bishop an important job or removing him therefrom also into the contests?

      I know, some WPI might pen an extensive article trying to argue who supposedly the winners are in the “who understood Pope Francis”-contest; but again: they have no authority and i might disagree with them who the winner is.

      So i really do not understand how one should submit to something which according to one’s own understanding of the matter might be one of several things, which are contradictory to each other.

      • QED says:

        I have been having a dialog with a non-believing friend. I used to be an atheist, a child of my generation, who refused to accept something he cannot understand. I think that there is a confusion between epistemology and ontology. Just because I cannot understand how something is true, doesn’t mean it can’t be true.

      • carn says:

        “Just because I cannot understand how something is true, doesn’t mean it can’t be true.”

        That is not the issue i describe; because in that case you are aware what that specific “something” is, that supposedly is true.

        I attempt a hypothetical example; for sake of example presume that the Arian heresy had not yet happened and therefore the theology regarding the exact relationship between Father and Son had been undeveloped/dormant the last 2 millenia.


        The controversy sets in, the two sides fire off their arguments at each other; the hypothetical me observes the situation and concludes that the two sides have incompatible positions; so at least one side is wrong and hypothetical me starts to get cautious, cause one should not believe in something false.

        Then the Pope makes statements on the matter, even in Exhortations or other rather formal way.

        So hypothetical me checks what the Pope has to say on the matter and – after some pondering – comes away with:

        It is for hypothetical me not possible to determine, whether the Pope suggest that the Arians or the Anti-Arians are wrong.

        And in further inquiry, i get explanations that the Pope is pro- or anti-arian that might be correct or might be false, but which independent upon that do not carry Papal authority, so are no better than my own reasoning; and that stays even after all the explanations at the point, that i cannot discern from the Pope’s words whether Arianism is false or not.

        And then somebody comes along and requires me to submit in the matter of Arianism to the Pope.

        No idea how i could possibly do that. After all, i do not know whether the Pope is pro or anti Arianism. And as at least one of them is wrong, i would have to flip a coin to decide to which of the two i assent.

      • QED says:

        Maybe the pope is right and our understanding, however clever or intellegent we are, is not what we lean on. God made many promises concerning his Church. Not if I had to trust in myself rather them I would rather submit to the promises than my own theological view.

        I went full sede circa-2015. After all that I realized that in faith we accept hard sayings not because they seem reasonable but because we trust God, which entails trusting the magisterial authority. I don’t want to be a disciple walking away from Christ after He tells me that we must eat him and it makes no sense or scandalizes. If something is not easy to grasp now, it does not mean that it cannot be ontologically true.

      • carn says:

        Apparently you do not understand the issue i try to explain.

        “Maybe the pope is right”

        The issue would not be whether the Pope is right or not, but – in the hypothetical example – whether the Pope has a pro-arian or contra-arian position.

        If one is uncertain whether some statements of the Pope mean that he is pro-arian or anti-arian, one – at least as i understand the matter – cannot assent to the teaching of the Pope, cause one is not sufficiently sure what the teaching of the Pope – pro-arian or contra-arian – in that case would be.

        The hypothetical case of course is a simplification of the actual situation, which gets complicated by some people being absolutely certain that any supposed “i do not know what the Pope teaches” is actually dishonest cause no reasonable person could honestly suggest that there is anything so unclear about what the Pope teaches. But other people disagree with that.

      • QED says:

        Every heresy has a degree of truth. It’s not all right or all wrong. Were every heresy 100% wrong nobody would believe it. I don’t think it is hypocrisy to suspend judgement on what the pope and bishops in union with him teach, especially since the role of the laity is to obey and not teach or stand in judgement of what is taught. It used to bother me very much to think of Saint Pope John Paul II praying with all sorts of religions in Assisi. But since then I’ve learned to trust Christ and therefore His Church. It of course is possible that what I perceive to be error will be resolved some day, like religious liberty or ecumenism, and be explained in a coherent way by the Church. I accept that my understanding is fallable and I can err. My own reasoning and judgements can be wrong.As seen throughout history all these schismatics breaking communion with the Church taught that they had the true infallible faith and the institutional Church was the fallible one.

      • carn says:

        “especially since the role of the laity is to obey and not teach or stand in judgement of what is taught.”

        Obviously, i failed to sufficiently explain, that this is NOT what i was talking about.

      • QED says:

        “And then somebody comes along and requires me to submit in the matter of Arianism to the Pope.

        No idea how i could possibly do that. After all, i do not know whether the Pope is pro or anti Arianism. And as at least one of them is wrong, i would have to flip a coin to decide to which of the two i assent.”

        How about this: assent to accept anything the pope would teach because you believe Jesus.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        If you assent to accept anything the pope would teach you would be violating Vatican II.
        Dignitatis Humanae 3 says: “Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it. On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind.”
        Lumen Gentium 12 says: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, (111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.”
        How can you exercise your own infallibility if you defer to the pope’s?

  10. Ed De Vita says:

    Wherever there is truth, it is due to the Holy Spirit. It follows then that God certainly wills the truth that is found in all of the non-Christian religions of the world. But to say that God wills the diversity of religions seems, on the face of it, either wholly untrue, or at the very best, misleading. Certainly, God wills that people seek him and honour him. And to the extent that the many religions teach people to do that, they are willed by God. But certainly, the diversity as such is not willed by God. For what makes the religions diverse is their different beliefs. God does not will that some men believe in the Holy Trinity and that others do not. He wills that all should believe in the truth.

    • Peter Aiello says:

      “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
      This sounds like the will of God.

  11. Frank Hannon says:

    It is said that Adolph Hitler was fond of dogs, which certainly would be widely seen as being a humanizing trait, and yet changes not a whit the inarguable fact that the man was fundamentally an evil brute.

    Yup, Islam, despite maybe a convergence with a Christian ideal here or there, is fundamentally a false religion that God cannot will, the Pope’s regrettable assertion to the contrary.

    I suspect that Dr. Rasmussen is not being disingenuous, but is rather showing the effects of prolonged sequestration in his academic ivory tower, where there exists a correlation between the length of one’s stay, and the (ahem) creativity of one’s reasoning.

    • Adam Rasmussen says:

      Your anti-intellectualism is showing, but thanks for the ignorant attack on the pope’s teaching.

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