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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 04: Pope Francis is welcomed at Presidential Palace on February at Presidential Palace on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Francois Nel/Getty Images

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VATICAN CITY, August 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — An Italian bishop has stated that Pope Francis’ next encyclical will be about “human fraternity,” a secular virtue extolled by the Masonic brotherhood. 

Italian Franciscan online magazine Il Cattolico has reported that Bishop Domenico Pompili of the Diocese of Riete has said the pontiff’s next encyclical will appear soon. 

“Soon the Pope himself will release an encyclical on the theme of human fraternity,” Pompili said during a recorded address on Wednesday. 

The bishop made the remark as he signed the “charter of intent” with which he established a committee for the celebration of the 800th anniversary of both the Franciscan Rule and the first “presepe” or Nativity scene. St. Francis himself created the first manger scene in the village of Greccio in 1223. 

The author of the article, Fr. Pietro Messa is certain that this new encyclical will build upon the document on “human fraternity for world peace” that Pope Francis signed with Islamic leader Ahmad Al-Tayyeb in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2010. 

Mess noted also that this will be Pope Francis’ third encyclical, following “Lumen Fidei” in 2013 and “Laudato si’” in 2015.   

According to Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service, the Vatican has not confirmed Pompili’s statement. 

“The Vatican has not confirmed that an encyclical is in the works, but it would make sense that a social encyclical on a post-COVID vision would build upon an affirmation that all human beings were created by God with equal dignity and that solutions to the world's most pressing problems must be found together and must benefit all,” she stated. 

Pope Francis’ Abu Dhabi document on “human fraternity” was widely criticized for stating, among other things, that the “pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God.” This statement appeared in the following passage: 

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept. 

Some object to this pronouncement on the grounds that it contradicts the Fourth Lateran Council and magisterial teaching from Pope Gregory XVI to Pope Pius XI. Bishop Athanasius Schneider told LifeSiteNews that the phrase was “erroneous and contradicts Divine Revelation, since God has revealed to us that He does not want diverse religions, but only the one religion […] .” 

Italian historian Professor Roberto de Mattei noted that the word “fraternity” describes a secular virtue extolled by the Masonic brotherhood. 

“Fraternity is … a dogma of Freemasonry, which in its ideology and rituals offers a parody of Christian doctrine and liturgy,” he wrote soon after the signing of the Abu Dhabi document.  

“It is no coincidence that the Grand Lodge of Spain, with this tweet, thanked Pope Francis for his Message of December 25, 2018, “Todos los masones del mundo se unen a la petición del Papa por ‘la fraternidad entre personas de diversas religions’ [“All the Freemasons of the world join the Pope’s request for ‘fraternity between people of different religions.’”] 

The historically anti-Catholic brotherhood apparently views the pontiff’s statement as approval for their sect. De Mattei reported that the Freemasons saw Pope Francis’ reference to “universal fraternity” as rejection of Leo XIII’s warning against them. They wrote:

In his Christmas message from the central loggia of the Vatican Pope Francis asked for the triumph of universal fraternity among all human beings. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture. Fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting each other and listening to one another. Fraternity among persons of different religions. (…) The words of the Pope demonstrate the Church’s current departure from the content of Humanum genus (1884), the last great Catholic condemnation of Freemasonry.

“In reality Freemasonry continues to be condemned by the Church, even if the men of the Church, at the highest levels, seem to embrace its ideas,” De Mattei replied.

“But the teaching of the divine Master continues to resound in faithful hearts: there, love for one’s neighbor can only be based on love for God. And without reference to the true God, who can only be loved within the Church’s Ark of Salvation, fraternity is only an empty word that conceals hatred of God and neighbor.”

Acknowledging the controversy, Pope Francis subsequently told pilgrims and then bishops that they could interpret the statement to describe the “permissive will” of God.