France: Interreligious Meeting of Assisi Repeated at Lyon

Source: FSSPX News

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon, France.

In “the spirit of Assisi”, the 19th interreligious meeting organized by the Italian Sant’Egidio community took place in Lyons between September 11 and 13, 2005.

Around 4,000 to 5,000 participants were gathered from France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Eastern Europe… Around ten different religions were represented. Nicolas Sarkozy and Simone Veil were guest-speakers. The mayor of Lyon, Gérard Collomb, who makes no secret of his links with Freemasonry, lent his support to the event: “I am one of those people who consider that religions can be agents of dialogue and enrichment.”

During the closing ceremony at the basilica of Fourvière, on the evening of September 13, a “concrete gesture of reconciliation” between Catholics and Protestants was made. At the suggestion of the Lutheran pastor of Lyons, the cardinal archbishop Philippe Barbarin fraternally addressed the people, saying that the mosaic of the basilica – representing Martin Luther as a heretic, describing him as a “plunderer” and a “thief” – could be offensive. The Cardinal and six representatives of Protestant and Orthodox Churches of Lyon together unveiled a plaque expressing their joint wish  of the “Christian Churches” of the city to overcome their painful history and to work together for Christ and the Gospel. Thereupon followed a meditation led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, Jean-Arnold de Clermont, the president of the Protestant Federation of France and the Orthodox Patriarch Seraphim Kikkotis.

On September 8, Fr. Sylvain Lamerand, prior of the Society of St. Pius X in Lyon, addressed a letter to Cardinal Barbarin, the main parts of which follow:

 “1) Peace is a gift of God, and like all Christians and all men of good will, we desire and pray for this. But what peace? From a Christian perspective, the peace proclaimed by the Gospel is that of the Truth and Charity given by God to men who are willing to receive it: it heals souls and brings peace into men’s hearts and creates peace among men. The peace sought at the meetings which are planned at Lyon claims to be realistic – and therefore attainable – in a world marked by differences. We think that this kind peace is too human and most certainly illusory: Our Lord, who gives His peace to the world, does not give it “as the world gives it”. There is a great risk, with such efforts, to forget that peace is a gift of God which also depends on our acceptance of His Truth, of his Grace, of His Love – and it does not depend only on the efforts of men among themselves (even if this is important, which we do not deny!), but also on men’s efforts with regard to God, because the Truth alone sets us free and gives us peace.”

“2) The notion that religion is incompatible with war comes from a very dangerous oversimplification. The Church has always taught that there is such a thing as a just war, when it is the only means, alas, of rectifying a grave injustice: in this case, the war is the servant of peace. It was truly in the name of peace that St. Pius V encouraged Christian Europe to repulse, by prayer and with arms, the Muslim invasion which was then threatening both body and soul!

“3) These interreligious meetings lead to religious indifferentism, even if this is not the intention of those who organize them . It has to be said that our contemporaries, more and more used to these meetings, no longer ask questions about the Truth, and the latest opinion is that, from now on, “all religions are valid”. What would simple souls think, seeing the common march of religions to the Forum in celebration of peace? In 2003 at a prayer meeting in Acquisgrana, the Sant’Egidio community announced: “We do not wish to convert anyone. It is a good thing that each person grows in their own religion”. (Si Si No No, May 2005). As you know, Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Mortalium animos of January 6, 1928, condemned this kind of meeting which “gradually leads to naturalism and to atheism.” He also said that “Catholics may not in any way approve of these attempts.” The danger of syncretism has furthermore been evoked and condemned several times by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, both before and after his accession to the Sovereign Pontificate.

“4) Finally – and it is here that we express our greatest reservations – at these meetings, other religions are invited to pray and to worship in their own way. This will soon be happening on the hill of Fourvière, consecrated, in fact, entirely to the Mother of God…

“If God alone knows the truth of all prayer and the sincerity of the believer, it is nevertheless, objectively speaking, a violation of the first commandment to encourage people to pray in error.

This was the principle reproach which Archbishop Lefebvre addressed to John Paul II in 1986. In the Assisi meeting, he saw “a public sin against the uniqueness of God, against the Word Incarnate and His Church” (letter to the pope December 2, 1986). For his part, Cardinal Oddi, at that time, the prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, wondered if such a meeting did not fall under the blow of the condemnation of Pius XI (Le Figaro, April 2005).

 “These days between September 11 and 13 in Lyon, are exactly along the same lines as Assisi, and we repeat here our same concerns and we make these words, written in 1978 to Cardinal Seper, our own: “liberal ecumenism corrupts the fundamental mission of the Church, which goes through all the nations in order to convert souls to Jesus Christ. This is true dialogue emanating from true charity”. The founder of the Society of St. Pius X knew what he was talking about, after his long missionary experience in Muslim territory, where he left behind him the memory, which is still alive, of a man of God, a man of peace.”