Pope Francis’ trip to Kazakhstan on September 14 and 15, 2022, to participate in the Congress of Spiritual Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, aroused severe but lucid comments from several Vaticanists. Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana also reacted.
Pope’s speech and Bishop Schneider’s reaction
In the end, the congress of religious leaders did not take place in the Pyramid of Peace and Concord, but in the Palace of Independence, another building built under Nursultan Nazarbayev. The relocation of the place of the meeting would have been due to “reasons of space”.
It was therefore in this building that, on September 14, the pope delivered a speech with strong syncretist overtones: “Religions are not problems, but part of the solution for a more harmonious coexistence.
“The quest for transcendence and the sacred value of fraternity can indeed inspire and enlighten the choices to be made in the context of the geopolitical, social, economic, ecological but, at the base, spiritual crises that cross many current institutions, even democracies, jeopardizing security and harmony between peoples.
“Religion must therefore respond to the thirst for peace in the world and to the thirst for infinity which dwells in the heart of every man. » – In this statement, “religion” is supposed to quench “the world’s thirst for peace” and every man’s “thirst for infinity”; “religion” without distinction, and not the religion of Christ of which the pope is the vicar.
Parallel to this speech, the pope addressed a message on Twitter “Faced with the mystery of the infinite which dominates and attracts us, religions remind us that we are creatures: we are not omnipotent, but women and men on the way to the same celestial goal. » – Do all religions offer “the same heavenly goal” as the religion of the only Saviour, with reincarnation, nirvana or a paradise populated by voluptuous houris?
It is in this context that Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, reacted: “The Congress rightly seeks to promote mutual respect and understanding in the world today.
“But there is also a danger, because it could give the impression of a supermarket of religions “, adding:” in this meeting, the Catholic Church appears, from the outside, like a religion among the others. (…) This is, from my point of view, a negative and dangerous aspect,” the prelate lamented, because the mission of the Church is to announce the unique and absolute nature of Jesus Christ to all nations.
Asked by journalists about his disagreement with Pope Francis, the Kazakh bishop replied: “As bishops, we are brothers. He is the eldest brother, the head of the Church, but when, in conscience, I see that something is not correct, or is ambiguous, I must tell him with respect, brotherly. »
The expression of disagreement with the pope is the mark of “true brotherly love”, because being a bishop does not amount to “behaving like an employee with your boss”. On the contrary, “to speak when one considers that there is a danger for the Church, is to offer real help to the pope”, he recalled.
We remember that Bishop Schneider strongly criticized the Abu Dhabi Document on “human fraternity, for peace in the world and common coexistence”, signed in 2019 by Pope Francis and the Egyptian Ahmed al-Tayeb, great Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo.
On the subject of this Document, we will recall the declaration of Father Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X of February 24, 2019, vigorously denouncing “an impiety which despises the first commandment of God, and which makes the Wisdom of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross, that “the pluralism and diversity of religions” is “a wise divine will”.
“Such statements are opposed to the dogma which affirms that the Catholic religion is the only true religion (cf. Syllabus, proposition 21). If it is a dogma, what opposes it is called heresy. God cannot contradict himself. »
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