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Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Al-Tayeb of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi after signing the Document on Human Fraternity, 4 February 2019.Screenshot/Vatican News

(LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican is sponsoring the creation of a “guide” to promote the “values” of the Abu Dhabi document on human fraternity — which has been described by a faithful prelate as “a betrayal of the Gospel” — to youth across the world.

The Vatican recently announced that 11 university students of various religions selected for the “Human Fraternity Fellows program for the promotion of intercultural and interreligious harmony” have been tasked with creating a “practical guide to solidarity solutions” based on the Abu Dhabi document. 

The guide aims to “brin(g) the values” of the document “to young people, starting with university communities and campuses around the world,” Vatican News reported Friday.

The “Document on Human Fraternity,” which Pope Francis signed in 2019 with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, has been slammed by critics as containing statements that are “false” and “heretical.” It infamously states that “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colors, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”

This statement was quickly condemned by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, as the document’s “most erroneous and dangerous affirmation.”

The Vatican’s decision to implement a document affirming that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God,” without correcting this statement, is tantamount to “promoting the neglect of the first Commandment” and a “betrayal of the Gospel,” Bishop Schneider said soon after the document was published.

He explained to LifeSiteNews in an exclusive 2019 interview that this statement “is in itself erroneous and contradicts Divine Revelation, since God has revealed to us that He does not want diverse religions, but only the one religion, which He commanded in the First Commandment of the Decalogue.”

He further warned that the spread of this document in its uncorrected form will “paralyze the Church’s mission ad gentes” and suffocate her burning zeal to evangelize all men,” adding, “Attempts at peace are destined for failure if they are not proposed in the name of Jesus Christ.”

When Bishop Schneider asked the Pope to clarify the statement in an official manner, Francis appeared to offer an informal clarification at his Wednesday general audience on April 3, 2019, but no official clarification or correction to the text has been given to date. It thus continues to convey that God “wills” a diversity of religion in the same way that he wills the existence of humanity.

The 11 student members of the Human Fraternity Fellows Program belong to various religions, including Islam, Hinduism, and Catholicism, and view their task as one of promoting interfaith dialogue and “peace” based on the Abu Dhabi document’s principles of “dialogue,” “fraternity,” and “coexistence.” 

Fellow Shaddy Makhlouf, a Catholic of Palestinian (Nazareth) and Lebanese descent, told Vatican News that the solidarity solutions guide will be sent to universities around the world and will highlight the problems college students face in interfaith dialogue, and propose solutions to overcome these obstacles.”

Another program participant, Ishan Datey, a student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and head of interfaith dialogue for the university’s Hindu Student Association, believes the document needs to be made more “digestible” for young people.

“We all have one Father, and so human fraternity is a value for all human beings,” he told Vatican News.

Bishop Schneider has pointed out that while the Abu Dhabi Document speaks of “the basis of our common belief in God,” this idea is founded on a theological falsehood, since people of different religions have different conceptions of God.

For example, “those who follow Islam see God as distant, devoid of a personal interrelationship, and this is a very defective idea of God,” Schneider noted. 

Datey affirmed that the Human Fraternity fellowship program is being used to proclaim religions other than Catholicism, telling Vatican News that he sees the program as “an opportunity to engage with people from around the world about religion and make the Hindu Dharmic tradition known.”

Aisha Alyassi, a Muslim from Dubai, openly advocates religious indifferentism, the idea that all religions are equal, and that it does not really matter what religion one adheres to.

Alyassi was reportedly especially impressed by the fact that the Abu Dhabi document insists on “respect for everyone’s religious convictions, among the faithful of different religions.” 

“We are all believers in one God, even if we interpret Him differently. So why argue about this anymore?” she told Vatican News.

Similarly, fellowship member Makhlouf glossed over the distinctions between major religions.

“I grew up with Christian, Muslim and even Jewish friends,” he told Vatican News. “For us there has never been a difference: my best friends celebrate Ramadan with me, and I celebrate Christmas with them.”

Such religious indifferentism has been clearly, repeatedly repudiated by the Catholic Church as contrary to its doctrine and to the salvation of souls. For example, the Syllabus of Errors, an annex to the 1864 encyclical Quanta Cura issued by Pope St. Pius IX, condemned the ideas that “Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true,” and that “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, and The Baltimore Catechism also made clear that a Catholic “sins against Faith” not only by apostasy and heresy but by “indifferentism and by taking part in non-Catholic worship.” 

The Human Fraternity Fellows Program was launched by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs in collaboration with the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity and the Muslim Council of Elders.

The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which includes Vatican prelates, was created to “fulfill the aspirations of the Document on Human Fraternity,” and counts the interreligious Abrahamic Family House among its initiatives.