The Pope in Favor of a “Theology of Reception and Dialogue”

Source: FSSPX News

Pope Francis went to Naples, Italy on June 21, 2019 to participate in a symposium called “Theology After Veritatis gaudium in the Mediterranean Context,” promoted by the Pontifical Theology Faculty of Southern Italy. Promulgated on January 29, 2018, Veritatis gaudium is the latest apostolic constitution on universities and ecclesiastical faculty. The remarks by the Sovereign Pontiff closed the symposium.

FRANCIS: AN “EVANGELIZATION THAT IS NOT PROSELYTISM”

“The Mediterranean has always been a place of transit, of exchanges, and sometimes even of conflicts,” noted Francis in his remarks. In the context of this multicultural and pluri-religious reality, it is proper, he exhorted, to implement with discernment a “theology of reception” requiring a “sincere dialogue” between us. Calling for “a style of life and proclamation that is without a spirit of conquest, without a desire to proselytize—which is baneful!—and without an aggressive intent to disprove the other,” the pope informs us that this “evangelizing, which is not the same thing as proselytizing” can lead “to the point of sacrificing one’s own life, as shown by the luminous examples of Charles de Foucauld, the monks of Tibhirine,” etc.

For the Bishop of Rome, students of theology must be formed to dialogue with the other religions, particularly with Judaism and Islam. The Muslims, he says, must be seen as “partners” with whom to construct a peaceful future. Dialogue is not a “magic formula,” and requires a “conscious listening.” Concretely, this extends to teaching Arabic and Hebrew in the ecclesiastical universities in the Mediterranean region. And the pope makes a stand against the “decadent theology” that he studied, “the decadent scholasticism, during the time of manuals.” Against monolithism, Francis supports “theological freedom.” In fact, he explains, “without the possibility of experimenting with new paths, nothing new is created.”—St. Pius X shows, in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis (1907), that contempt for scholasticism and love of novelty are the characteristics of Modernism.

The successor to Peter has encouraged “work towards a ‘theological Pentecost.’” Full of “compassion” and fed by prayer, it must help “the women and men of our time to hear ‘in their own native language’ a Christian message that responds to their search for meaning and for a full life.” This theology, rich in  “ancient edifices of thought” which are “are mines of theological wisdom,” requires learning “to work together and in an interdisciplinary way,” some of the essential points of the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium (2018).

BARTHOLOMEW: “RECEPTION MUST BECOME MAINLY INTEGRATION, BUT NEVER SYNCRETISM”

Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, not being able to participate in the symposium, sent a message to Fr. Pino Di Luccio, vice-dean of the Pontifical Theology Faculty of Naples. In his message, Bartholomew greeted the presence of his “beloved brother bishop of ancient Rome, Pope Francis.”

“Reception must become mainly integration, but never syncretism,” emphasized Patriarch Bartholomew. Because if there exists “the evangelical and humane duty to receive people in trouble,” “there is also the duty of those who are received to respect the traditions, the customs, and the faith of those who are receiving them.” Recalling that Christianity is the highest expression of reception of strangers, he pointed out that, in the current context, Christians are tackling the “causes” of poverty so as to “eliminate the causes which create social problems,” reported the Zenit news agency.

He said that part of his anxiety about, “the transhumance of entire peoples, or worse, of complete generations,” who desert the countries of the South. Christians, he recalled, must create theological and anthropological frameworks that allow for an “eco-responsible” economy that is respectful of people so as to avoid these mass migrations. He explained, “If there is a need for world justice for many peoples on the move, there is also justice for the peoples who open their own borders.”

“NAÏVETÉ  FACED WITH ISLAM IS SUIDICAL”

To the pope, to whom Muslims must be seen as “partners” with whom to construct a peaceful future, we will recall a letter that he receive on December 25, 2017 from Muslim converts to Catholicism, and which may be found in the dossier in Nouvelles de Chrétienté, “Le pape et les migrants” [The Pope and the Migrants] (no. 169, January-February 2018). [The English translation of “The Open Letter to Pope Francis,” may be found at http://exmusulmanschretiens.fr/en/ .]

“Allow us to say frankly that we do not understand your teaching about Islam, as we read in paragraphs 252 and 253 of Evangelii Gaudium, because it does not account for the fact that Islam came AFTER Christ, and so is, and can only be, an Antichrist (see 1 Jn 2.22), and one of the most dangerous because it presents itself as the fulfillment of Revelation (of which Jesus would have been only a prophet). If Islam is a good religion in itself, as you seem to teach, why did we become Catholic? Do not your words question the soundness of the choice we made at the risk of our lives? Islam prescribes death for apostates (Quran 4.89, 8.7-11), do you know? How is it possible to compare Islamic violence with so-called Christian violence?  ‘What is the relationship between Christ and Satan? What union is there between light and darkness? What association between the faithful and the unfaithful?’ (II Cor. 6:14-17)In accordance with His teaching (Lk. 14:26), we preferred Him, the Christ, to our own life. Are we not in a good position to talk to you about Islam?”

“We do not confuse Islam with Muslims, but if for you ‘dialogue’ means the voice of peace, for Islam it’s only another way to make war. Also, as it was in the face of Nazism and communism, naiveté in the face of Islam is suicidal and very dangerous. How can you speak of peace and endorse Islam, as you seem to do: ‘To wring from our hearts the disease that plagues our lives (…) Let those who are Christians do it with the Bible and those who are Muslims do it with the Quran.’ (Rome, January 20, 2014)? That the pope seems to propose the Quran as a way of salvation, is that not cause for worry? Should we return to Islam?”

”Certainly, the temptation is strong to think that speaking in an Islamophilic tone will prevent more suffering for Christians in those countries that have become Muslim, but apart from the fact that Jesus has never indicated any other way than that of the Cross, so that we must find our joy therein and not flee with all the damned, we do not doubt that only the proclamation of the truth brings with it not only salvation, but freedom as well (Jn. 8:32). Our duty is to bear witness to the truth ‘in season and out of season’ (II Tim. 4:2), and our glory is to be able to say with St. Paul: ‘I did not want to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ (I Cor. 2:2).”

“The pro-Islam speech of Your Holiness leads us to deplore the fact that Muslims are not invited to leave Islam, and that many ex-Muslims, such as Magdi Allam, are even leaving the Church, disgusted by her cowardice, wounded by equivocal gestures, confused by the lack of evangelization, scandalized by the praise given to Islam…We are under the impression that you do not take your brother Bishop Nona Amel, Chaldean-Catholic Archbishop of Mosul in exile, seriously, when he tells us: ‘Our present sufferings are the prelude to those that you, Europeans and Western Christians, will suffer in the near future. I have lost my diocese. The headquarters of my archdiocese and my apostolate have been occupied by radical Islamists who want us to convert or die.’ (August 9, 2014). This is a matter of life and death, and any complacency towards Islam is treasonous. We do not wish the West to continue with Islamization, nor that your actions contribute to it. Where then would we go to seek refuge?”

The signatories conclude their letter with a pressing request for a truly Catholic synod, “Allow us to ask Your Holiness to quickly convene a synod on the dangers of Islam. What remains of the Church where Islam has installed itself? If she still has civil rights, it is in dhimmitude, on the condition that she does not evangelize, thus denying her very essence.”