August 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A multi-faith “higher committee” was announced this week to implement the “Human Fraternity” document signed by Pope Francis and a Grand Imam in February that stated, among other things, that a “pluralism and diversity” of religions is “willed by God.”
Prominent members of the committee that has been set up in Abu Dhabi include Pope Francis’ personal secretary Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, Advisor to the Grand Imam.
News of the committee’s formation was announced by Emirates News Agency, the state news agency, on Monday and confirmed by Vatican News, the Holy See’s news website, the following day.
The Committee has been tasked with “developing a framework to ensure the objectives of the global Declaration of Human Fraternity” for World Peace and Living Together are realized.” These objectives include the promotion of the “ideals of tolerance and cooperation,” according to Vatican News. It remains unclear at this point who formed the committee and gave the committee its mission.
Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif said the formation of the higher committee comes at a time when all peace lovers are required to unite and join the efforts to spread coexistence, brotherhood, and tolerance throughout the world, reported Emirates News Agency in an August 22 report.
The Grand Imam urged the committee members to spread the principles of the “Human Fraternity” document across the world so as to achieve security, coexistence, and peace for everyone, stressing that spreading the principles of the document would contribute to security and stability around the world.
The Declaration has been widely criticized for claiming that a “diversity of religions” is “willed by God,” a statement incompatible with Catholic doctrine. It says: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”
Critics say this amounts to putting the Catholic faith and its worship of the God of revelation on a same plane with religions that do not worship the true God and deliberate reject Him. It also contradicts the teaching according to which there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church.
In a direct exchange between Pope Francis and Bishop Athanasius Schneider that took place in March 2019, Pope Francis said that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions meant “the permissive will of God,” giving explicit permission to Bishop Schneider to quote his words.
Following his meeting with Pope Francis, Bishop Schneider told Diane Montagna of LifeSiteNews:
“I tried to go more deeply into the question, at least by quoting the sentence as it reads in the document. The sentence says that as God wills the diversity of sexes, color, race and language, so God wills the diversity of religions. There is an evident comparison between the diversity of religions and the diversity of sexes.
“I mentioned this point to the Holy Father, and he acknowledged that, with this direct comparison, the sentence can be understood erroneously. I stressed in my response to him that the diversity of sexes is not the permissive will of God but is positively willed by God. And the Holy Father acknowledged this and agreed with me that the diversity of the sexes is not a matter of God’s permissive will.
“But when we mention both of these phrases in the same sentence, then the diversity of religions is interpreted as positively willed by God, like the diversity of sexes. The sentence therefore leads to doubt and erroneous interpretations, and so it was my desire, and my request that the Holy Father rectify this. But he said to us bishops: you can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions means the permissive will of God.”
This private acknowledgment on the part of Pope Francis was not followed by any public clarification or rectification of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, which as it stands, still contains this troubling assertion that some critics say amounts to material heresy.
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