VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – In a recent address to members of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, Pope Francis ignored mentioning the primacy of the Catholic faith as taught by previous popes, highlighting instead the theme of “universal conviviality” as the basis for ecumenical endeavors.
“Conviviality” was the recurring theme of Pope Francis’ June 6 address to the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, which is holding its plenary assembly in Rome. Referencing Pope Paul VI’s ecumenical pronouncements, Francis tied these to his own recently enforced reform of the Roman Curia as contained in Praedicate Evangelium.
“Globalization and the acceleration of international communications make dialogue in general, and interreligious dialogue in particular, a crucial issue,” Francis said.
Drawing from Praedicate Evangelium as well as his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Francis told the Dicastery that its “mission” is to “promote, with other believers, in a fraternal and convivial manner, the journey in search of God; considering people of other religions not in an abstract way, but in a real sense, with a history, desires, sufferings, and dreams.”
The Pontiff did not mention the priority of the Catholic Church in such ecumenical dealings, or whether the Dicastery was to promote the Catholic faith in its attempts to develop “conviviality” with others. Instead, he promoted what he described as “the conviviality of differences.”
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The Pontiff also warned the Dicastery away from “colonizing” others, in phrasing that echoed Pope Francis’ long record of dissuading people from converting to Catholicism:
Being convivial with someone also means imagining and building a happy future with the other. Indeed, conviviality echoes the desire for communion that resides in the heart of every human being, thanks to which all people can speak to each other, exchange projects and outline a future together. Conviviality unites socially, but without colonizing the other and preserving his or her identity. In this sense, it has political relevance as an alternative to social fragmentation and conflict.
The topic of “Interreligious Dialogue and Conviviality” was chosen by the Dicastery as the theme for its plenary assembly, which Francis praised, saying there was a “great need” both in the Church and the world for the “the spirit and style of conviviality.”
“Let us remember that the Lord Jesus fraternized with all,” added Pope Francis, selectively drawing from Scripture to defend his theme of conviviality. “He associated with people considered to be sinners and impure, and shared without prejudice the table of the publicans.”
Christ is “the Risen One, the Living one who gives us the grace of universal conviviality,” the Pope closed.
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However, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 address to the newly formed Secretariat for non-Christians (as the Dicastery was then known), from which Francis quoted in his speech, warned that “any danger of irenicism and syncretism must be avoided, and any false idea of the equal value of the various religions must be discarded.”
Pope Pius XI, in his 1928 encyclical Mortalium animos, pre-empted Paul VI’s words, writing that Catholics cannot accept “that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule.”
Speaking to LifeSiteNews, Matt Gaspers, managing editor of Catholic Family News, said that “Pope Francis told the members of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue that their ‘mission’ is ‘to promote, with other believers, in a fraternal and convivial manner, the journey in search of God,’ but what about the Church’s actual mission of saving souls?”
Contrary to his implication, the Church is not a fellow traveler “with other believers” (adherents of false religions) who are “in search of God.” She is the Mystical Body of Christ, constituted and commissioned by her Divine Head — Himself the definitive revelation of God (cf. John 1:1-18; Heb. 1:1-3) — to call all men to conversion, not “conviviality.”
Gaspers added that “the urgent need for conversion was on tragic display yet again in Nigeria, where gunmen — identified as Muslim herdsmen by eyewitnesses, according to Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan — brutally massacred at least 50 people, including children, on Pentecost Sunday.”
Gaspers criticized Pope Francis’ “telegram of condolence to the local bishop, saying that he ‘prays for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence,’” noting that the Pontiff “refuses to call Muslims to renounce the errors of Islam, including jihad, and embrace the Catholic faith.”
“If he truly wants those Nigerian gunmen to ‘choose instead the path of peace and righteousness,’ as he said in his telegram, he needs to repeat the truth proclaimed by Pope Pius XI: ‘Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ’ (Quas Primas, n. 1),” Gaspers said.