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October 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In a recent interview, Bishop Athanasius Schneider discussed the link between the inter-religious meetings that have taken place since 1986 with the active participation of Popes in Assisi and the worship of the Pachamama statues in the Vatican Gardens in the presence of Pope Francis. While the latter is worse – since the idolatry took place in the presence of a Pope – the prelate explained, the multiple inter-religious gatherings in Assisi were in a certain way a “preparation.” These words by Schneider might be also helpful in light of the new papal encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

Speaking on September 20 with Gloria.tv's Eva Doppelbauer, Bishop Schneider explored in depth the question of the October 2019 Pachamama veneration in the Vatican in light of the previous inter-religious gatherings in Assisi that started in 1986. 

For this Kazakh bishop of German origin, in Assisi, there took place a sort of “ingratiation,” but not in the “gross form,” as it then later took place in 2019 in the Vatican Gardens with the Pachamama worship, “in the presence of the Pope.” With the help of the Assisi meetings – the first of them taking place in 1986, followed by the same events in 1993, 2002, and 2011 – Catholics got used to the notion “that all religions are on the same level,” Bishop Schneider explained. But this is an “erroneous teaching against the First Commandment, against the entire Gospel,” he added.

All these other religions that come together with Catholics at these prayer meetings are “false and not willed by God,” Schneider expounded. God allows them to exist, however, just as He allows us to commit sins. But it “it is not His Will that there exists Islam and Buddhism.” 

“The Catholic Faith is the only way,” the prelate stated.

The Assisi meetings, where different religions came together in order to pray for world peace – at least on the visual level – showed that “the Pope is with the other religions on the same level,” and this was the “cause of a great confusion,” Bishop Schneider explained. It was Pope John Paul II who initiated this Day of Prayer in Assisi. Subsequently, Catholics got “habituated” to this impression of equality.

One can only invite other religions to pray together, if one “prays to Christ,” the prelate insisted. “There is no other way.” “All the other prayers are not willed by God.” One could, of course, Bishop Schneider continued, have access to a natural religion, in the sense that one can recognize the existence of God the Creator, without any further information, “only on the natural level, but that is not sufficient”; one needs to reach the “supernatural level” of adoring God as the Holy Trinity.

Exactly here lies the problem with the Assisi meetings, according to Bishop Schneider. The Pope at the time invited the different religions “in their own ways” for peace. “When the Pope invites Hindus to pray, they can only pray to an idol.” 

“I cannot invite anyone to perform idolatry,” the German bishop insisted, even if one has a good intention. “These prayers are repugnant to God,” he added. As the Catholic Church, “we cannot do that, [because] it would seem that we indirectly recognize their cults,” and “that is against the entire Gospel, against the entire proclamation of the Church of 2,000 years.”

Therefore, with such practices, Bishop Schneider explained, “one prepared already the ground, be it in Assisi or at other gatherings, for the terrible, awful event with the Pachamama worship in the Vatican.”  This was the “logical consequence” of Assisi, when one says: “you may worship the idols in Assisi, for the sake of peace.” Even though, at the time, one did not “pray together,” he continued, one did not invite these religions either “to return to the absolute loyalty to the First Commandment and to the Gospel.” 

With respectful tones, we should remind others that “all are called to believe in Christ.”

“Very clearly, we have to become missionary again,” Bishop Schneider said.

These words of Bishop Schneider seem to stand in stark contrast to many of the words written by Pope Francis in his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti. The Pope explicitly states in it that he had been “encouraged” to write this document “by the Grand Imam Ahmad Al[-]Tayyeb, with whom I met in Abu Dhabi, where we declared that ‘God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.’” 

That controversial document of Abu Dhabi also contains the statement that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God,” a statement that had provoked Bishop Athanasius Schneider to issue a public critique of it, asking Pope Francis to correct it publicly. 

Furthermore, Pope Francis, in this document, does not once mention the urgent need to promote the salvation of souls. The word salvation is not once used in its supernatural meaning, and the Seven Sacraments as the Church's means of salvation are not mentioned once. The papal document has a tone of religious indifferentism, for example when the Pope says: “From our faith experience and from the wisdom accumulated over centuries,” he writes, “but also from lessons learned from our many weaknesses and failures, we, the believers of the different religions, know that our witness to God benefits our societies.” 

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.

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