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Swiss bishop: Abu Dhabi declaration signed by pope, imam, eclipses Jesus as mediator, savior

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September 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A Swiss bishop has come out strongly against the Abu Dhabi Declaration signed by Pope Francis and a Muslim leader earlier this year, which among other things, states that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.” Bishop Marian Eleganti stated that the “unique and universal mediation of Jesus Christ is eclipsed” in the declaration.

“From a Christian point of view, the unique and universal mediation of Jesus Christ is eclipsed in the Abu Dhabi Declaration, due to the double signature. This is astonishing for a Pope,” said Bishop Eleganti, the auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland, in his statement. (Read full statement below)

Bishop Eleganti criticized the declaration for making impossible statements about God. 

“Since God is not a Being that is contradictory in Himself,” Eleganti stated, “He cannot want a heterogeneity of ideas about Him and thus the plurality of religions which contradict each other.” Islam is “an explicitly anti-Christian religion that denies exactly what constitutes the essence of Christianity: the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ and the Trinity of God associated with it,” he explained.

In his later reflections upon the matter of establishing a “kingdom of peace” without Christ, the prelate pointed out that a similar “egalitarian, relativistic, ecumenical kingdom of peace” is promised by the character of the “Antichrist” in Vladimir Soloviev’s 119-year-old apocalyptic tale.

“The only one who is God and who can truly renew the human heart from within is Jesus Christ and His Gospel,” the bishop stated.  

“Ironically, the all-reconciling Antichrist in Soloviev's narrative of the same name promises such an egalitarian, relativistic, ecumenical kingdom of peace, in which none of the participants in the discourse need to sacrifice the least in their own views to the absolute truth, but, rather, get to hear from the Antichrist exactly what he likes to hear and what he already believes in. The peaceful coexistence of the religious contradictions among them in the kingdom of brotherhood has only one catch: the denial of the mediation of Jesus Christ as a condition of the existence of the kingdom of peace,” he added.

Critics of the February 4, 2019 declaration also include Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The latter only recently repeated his critique and stressed that this declaration is tantamount to “promoting the neglect of the first Commandment” and a “betrayal of the Gospel.” 

Bishop Eleganti pointed out that since Islam rejects that Jesus is the Son of God, such a joint declaration is only possible at the expense of Christ's unique salvific role. He wrote that “as always, the new fraternity is established at the expense of the universal mediation of Jesus Christ: His claim to truth and His mediation must step into the background. This is the prerequisite for the Declaration. Otherwise the Grand Imam would probably not have signed the Declaration.”

Eleganti called it a “pious wish” when the declaration states that “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.” 

A look “into the self-understanding of the religions based on their basic documents and their history shows us that this is an assertion that is not covered by historical facts and that therefore remains an illusion or a pious wish.” For example, the idea to love one's enemy – a Christian tenet – is, according to the Swiss bishop, alien to Islam. “Such an idea, e.g., also to love the so-called ‘enemies’ or ‘opponents’ of Islam, seems to Islam to be completely unreasonable and incomprehensible.”

The prelate goes on to explain that “only Muslims are genuine (faith) brothers to the believing Muslim. They form the Umma (religious community). The non-believers and the unbelievers in Islam are per se second class citizens.”

The bishop said that one has only to “look to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Indonesia” to see how Islam, in fact, treats non-believers and the unbelievers.

Bishop Eleganti warned that a “kingdom of peace” was being established with such a declaration, but at the cost of Christ's unique mediation, promoting a sort of religious relativism. He pointed out that a true reign of peace and a “brotherhood of all human beings,” however, would, “from a Christian point of view,” only be possible in the Universal Church.

“It is also not surprising,” the Swiss prelate goes on to state, “that the Freemasons applauded, for the Document proclaims exactly that theistic brotherhood between all people which they propagate, and with the simultaneous relativization of all religious claims to truth except their own, Masonic ones.”

Bishop Eleganti indicated that there is danger in the attempt to create a reign of peace without Christ. 

“Such humanitarian, basically purely political, concepts of peace,” he stated, “have been proclaimed and implemented by revolutionary means again and again in the course of history. In reality, they are built from parts of the Christian Faith, or, rather, of the Gospel. Until now they have all failed and did not keep what they promised and aspired to. The best example of this is Communism.”

“The peaceful coexistence of the religious contradictions among them in the kingdom of brotherhood has only one catch,” Eleganti wrote, that is: “the denial of the mediation of Jesus Christ as a condition of the existence of the kingdom of peace. I personally therefore do not believe in its success – also because the indispensable help of the Sacraments, of God's justifying Grace in the Faith, and of the mediation of the Virgin Mary – who is highly cherished in Islam – is simply missing.”

***

Full text of Bishop Eleganti's statement

The Abu Dhabi Declaration has weaknesses. I shall limit myself to the following ones:

1. Why do the Muslims not simply sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without any Sharia reservation? In contrast, what can such a declaration do that has been signed by authorities who are neither recognized by all Muslims, nor by all Christians?

2. Since God is not a Being that is contradictory in Himself, He cannot want a heterogeneity of ideas about Him and thus the plurality of religions which contradict each other. Above all, Islam is an explicitly anti-Christian religion that denies exactly what constitutes the essence of Christianity: the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ and the Trinity of God associated with it. Here, it is about God's self-revelation.

3. The assertion that “religions never incite war, do not arouse feelings of hatred, hostility, and extremism, nor do they call for violence or bloodshed” is an inadmissible falsifying simplification, a generalization of heterogeneous, incommensurate beliefs within the different religions and therefore a false claim and a misrepresentation of history. It contradicts in particular the founding documents of Islam (Quran and Hadith) which explicitly call people to violence. Also Christians have loaded guilt upon themselves and did not always act in accordance with the Gospel. The Church's Just War doctrine cannot be discussed here, but it certainly signifies a cultural progress.

4. In the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, the sonship with God is not founded on natural belonging to the human family (not based on the will of the flesh), but on Faith in Jesus Christ and on Baptism in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (born of the Spirit and water, that is to say, born of God). Only the recognition and the acceptance of the unique  mediation of Jesus Christ enable this sonship with God: “But to all who received Him, He gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in His name, who are not born of blood, not of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) One cannot have God as Father if one does not have the Church as Mother (Cyprian of Carthage).

This brings me to my central point of criticism. In the foreword, the Abu Dhabi Declaration begins with the first sentence: “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.” At this and other places – as I have said – it speaks indiscriminately of “faith” (in Christianity: a supernatural, poured-in Grace, not a natural-religious attitude). Whose faith? The one of the Muslims? Of the Hindus? The Buddhists? The atheists? Any kind of true religious faith (what distinguishes such a one?)  establishes – according to the assertion and the desire of the Declaration – a universal brotherhood among all human beings, inasmuch as God is the Creator of all human beings. But a look into the self-understanding of the religions based on their basic documents and their history shows us that this is an assertion that is not covered by historical facts and that therefore remains an illusion or a pious wish. 

The phrase that faith lets the faithful see in the other a brother could also be signed by faithful Muslims in this wording if it refers exclusively to Muslims. Who guarantees that it is being understood by the Muslims in the world in the universalistic, Christian sense, and that it has also been signed with this sense in mind?  In any case, this idea is completely foreign to Islam, to see a brother in every human being, that is to say also in Christians, in Jews and in unbelievers (Kuffãr). How the Abu Dhabi Declaration could change the self-conception of Islam, which divides the world into a House of Peace (Dãr al-Islãm), where Islam rules, and a House of War (Dãr al Harb), where this is not the case, can be doubted. Christians, on the other hand, have internalized the parable of the Good Samaritan, on the basis of which they see a brother in every neighbor. This is absolutely normative and necessary for them, and it is also a reason why Christianity has contributed to the humanization of the world as no other religion has. Christ Himself, in the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), has shown solidarity with every human being who, in principle and always, can become my neighbor. Jesus died for all people. For Christians, this establishes a completely different relationship to all people, regardless of their faith and world view. The charity of Christians goes so far as to include their enemies (inclusion). Such an idea, e.g., also to love the so-called “enemies” or “opponents” of Islam, seems to Islam to be completely unreasonable and incomprehensible. What can a declaration change here that is not at all of an authority that is normative and that can speak for all Muslims and for Islam as a whole? Why is it that the Pope does not explicitly mention in the Abu Dhabi Declaration Jesus' teaching to love all mankind – a teaching which has implicitly to be the source of the idea of a universal brotherhood among all man? At least, Jesus is also considered by Islam to be a prophet, but, paradoxically, without thereby truly incorporating His teaching and His self-conception. 

In the self-understanding of Islam, the statement that faith lets the believer see the brother in the other refers first and foremost to Muslims. Only Muslims are genuine (faith) brothers to the believing Muslim. They form the Umma (religious community). The non-believers and the unbelievers in Islam are per se second class citizens (people?), because man was born, according to the conception of Islam, as Muslim, by virtue of his creation (Islam as primeval religion of Adam or Abraham), and Jews as well as Christians have falsified the true faith in the course of history, according to Muslim conviction, otherwise they would have remained Muslims. This is the foundation for a fundamental inequality between them and believing Muslims, which the Abu Dhabi Document will not eliminate. One would have to ask the converts, e.g., in Egypt – where the faith school or the so-called University Al Azhar is located – or to look to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Indonesia.

From a Christian point of view, the unique and universal mediation of Jesus Christ is eclipsed in the Abu Dhabi Declaration, due to the double signature. This is astonishing for a Pope. As always, the new fraternity is established at the expense of the universal mediation of Jesus Christ: His claim to truth and His mediation must step into the background. This is the prerequisite for the Declaration. Otherwise the Grand Imam would probably not have signed the Declaration. This is not only the case in this context. It is also not surprising that the Freemasons applauded, for the Document proclaims exactly that theistic brotherhood between all people which they propagate, and with the simultaneous relativization of all religious claims to truth except their own, Masonic ones. Once again it is about the attempt at a peaceful coexistence of all religious and philosophical contradictions (religions) as the maximum that can be dreamed of politically (coexistence). But the fact that all creatures come from the same Creator has never before in history led to a brotherhood of all human beings in peaceful coexistence. This is – from a Christian point of view – only possible in the Universal Church.  But since the Christian idea of the mediation of Jesus is foreign – even repugnant – to Islam and to other religions, the universal brotherhood of all people remains for them a desideratum without justification in their self-understanding and in their own, non-Christian, religious foundations (e.g., Koran, Hadith and Sharia). The rights and duties associated with universal brotherhood (human dignity and human rights) remain without viable foundations. 

The Abu Dhabi Declaration propagates a kind of secular “Kingdom of God” idea, which does not presuppose the Christian Faith (the rebirth in Spirit and water), but, rather – as explained above – a universal brotherhood alien to Islam, but nourished from Christian roots. It is presented as a naturalistic, generally human and political kingdom of peace. Such humanitarian, basically purely political, concepts of peace have been proclaimed and implemented by revolutionary means again and again in the course of history. In reality, they are built from parts of the Christian Faith, or, rather, of the Gospel. Until now they have all failed and did not keep what they promised and aspired to. The best example of this is Communism.

This is the case because they did not convert man's heart to the truth about God and man, but because they followed human theories falsified by their own revolutionary history at the cost of acts of violence of unknown proportions and of millions of deaths (cf. The Black Book of Communism). 

The only one who is God and who can truly renew the human heart from within is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. 

Ironically, the all-reconciling Antichrist in Soloviev's narrative of the same name promises such an egalitarian, relativistic, ecumenical kingdom of peace, in which none of the participants in the discourse need to sacrifice the least in their own views to the absolute truth, but, rather, get to hear from the Antichrist exactly what he likes to hear and what he already believes in. The peaceful coexistence of the religious contradictions among them in the kingdom of brotherhood has only one catch: the denial of the mediation of Jesus Christ as a condition of the existence of the kingdom of peace. I personally therefore do not believe in its success – also because the indispensable help of the Sacraments, of God's justifying Grace in the Faith, and of the mediation of the Virgin Mary – who is highly cherished in Islam – is simply missing.

I remember here the considerate words by Pope Francis, which he himself spoke at his first Holy Mass, on 14 March 2013. One should assess the Abu Dhabi Declaration according to these words:

Thirdly, professing. We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.

Translation by LifeSiteNews' Dr. Maike Hickson

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Maike Hickson

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.