Does Bp. Schneider’s call for Pope to ‘correct’ Abu Dhabi statement lend weight to heresy accusations?
Editor's note: Catholic Philosopher Paolo Pasqualucci is one of the first 19 signatories of the Open Letter to Bishops accusing Pope Francis of committing heresy.
May 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – It seems to me that the recent, courageous and explosive interview released by Bishop Athanasius Schneider May 8 on LifeSiteNews objectively and effectively vindicates the correctness of the Open Letter to the Bishops accusing Pope Francis of committing heresy, specifically with regard to number VII in the list of papal heresies. According to number VII on the list, Pope Francis holds that “God not only permits but positively wills, the pluralism and diversity of religions, both Christian and non-Christian”. Pope Francis made such a claim on February 5 in a joint statement he signed in Abu Dhabi with a Grand Imam which stated, among other things, that a “pluralism and diversity” of religions is “willed by God.”
It seems to me that the stand taken by Bishop Schneider against the Abu Dhabi statement represents in itself a very good refutation of the criticism raised by those who say that there must be a way of interpreting this statement without resorting to accusing the Pope of heresy.
The stand taken by Bishop Schneider represents an impressive development. He is not asking the Pope to grant official status to the (contradictory) private statement given by the Pope to Schneider – in which the Pope clarifies that God only permits but does not positively will a “diversity of religions.” What Bishop Schneider is saying in this interview is that the Pope has the duty to “correct” in a “clear and authentic way” what he has signed in the Abu Dhabi statement and proclaim instead the revealed truth, which is absolutely incompatible with that same statement.
In the Abu Dhabi statement, says Schneider, “there is being proclaimed a new Gospel, a Gospel that is not the one taught by the Incarnate Word of God, that was loyally preached by the Apostles and passed on to the Church. There can be no doubt, that Saint Paul would say today, concerning this controversial formulation in the Abu Dhabi statement: ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema’ (Gal 1:8-9)”.
Bishop Schneider is openly accusing the Pope of teaching – in that specific statement – “a new Gospel”, a Gospel that is not the one taught by Our Lord and consequently not the one “loyally preached by the Apostles and passed on to the Church”. This means that, according to Bishop Schneider, the new doctrine taught by Pope Francis is objectively “disloyal” to the Deposit of the Faith. We must conclude, thereof, that it does not and cannot belong to it. Inter-religious statements like those signed by the Pope endanger the whole Deposit of the Faith. In fact, continues Bishop Schneider, “the truth about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Redeemer of Mankind and, subsequently, the Faith in Him as the only religion willed by God is being relativized. This way, the danger grows increasingly that the essence of the whole Gospel and, with it, of the depositum fidei is being denied”.
In conclusion, the Abu Dhabi statement requires “a clear and authentic correction within the Church”. Instead, it is being “spread out” in all the Church’s universities! In Bishop Schneider’s accusation, don’t we hear the voice of the Ecclesia perennis, damning the errors in the faith that have, unfortunately, penetrated into the present Hierarchy?
Back to number VII of the Open Letter. The Abu Dhabi Statement is hopelessly contradictory and in essence amounts to apostasy, as emphasized from the very first by prof. Joseph Seifert. To claim, he has written, that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God”, implies “the rejection of the Christian Faith." Continues Seifert: "How can God bind eternal salvation to the Faith in Jesus Christ and then, from the time of Creation, will religions which reject this Faith?” He adds furthermore: "How can He mandate us to go out into the world to teach the Gospels to all nations and to baptize them, but at the same time wills religions which reject the Gospel and Baptism?”
To this concise abstract of Seifert’s stand, I would like to add the following on my part: We must remember that, according to Catholic traditional teaching, the “permissive will” of God is a notion that has always been used to accept the existence of evils that must be tolerated for the sake of a superior good, like the one represented by the Conversion of all the Nations to Christ. The “positive will” of God cannot be interpreted as if it were permitting the existence of an evil reality that this same will of God is supposed to simultaneously approve as a good reality, foreseen by Him ante saecula. Either the “diversity of religions” has an ontological character, in as much as (according to the Abu Dhabi Statement) it is “positively willed” by God since the Creation, or it is merely “permitted” by God as a temporary evil that the Conversion to Christ aims at eliminating, even if only partially (see Mt 13: 36 ff). Tertium non datur : it can’t be simultaneously both ways, as Pope Francis seems to pretend, privately.