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By David Martin
On February 4, 2019, Pope Francis incited controversy by signing a joint statement with the head of Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque, which states that “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”
The passage inciting controversy read:
“Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. 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. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.”
Following this, the pope came under fire from faithful Catholics throughout the world who alleged that Francis was professing heresy by saying that God wills other religions.
At the General Audience of April 3, Pope Francis appeared to offer clarification of his February 4 statement, saying that God merely “willed to permit” Islam and other religions. His statement reads:
“Some may wonder: but why does the Pope go visit the Muslims and not only the Catholics? Because there are so many religions, and why are there so many religions? With the Muslims we are descendants of the same Father, Abraham: why does God allow so many religions to exist? God wanted to allow this: the Scholastic theologians referred to the voluntas permissiva [permissive will] of God. He willed to permit this reality: there are many religions; some are born of culture, but they always look to heaven, they look to God. But what God wills is fraternity among us, and in a special way — hence the reason for this journey — with our brothers, who are sons of Abraham, like us, the Muslims. We must not be afraid of the difference: God has permitted this. We ought to be frightened if we do not work in fraternity, to walk together in life.”
Without directly mentioning the February 4 statement, Francis now appears to argue that he was referring to God’s “permissive will,” that God simply permits Islam to exist. And while the Church teaches that God in His permissive will allows evil and error to try us—to see if we will resist—this obviously is not what Francis means.
While purporting to uphold the truth of voluntas permissiva, he is validating Islam by saying that Muslims are our spiritual “brothers, who are sons of Abraham,” that with us they “are descendants of the same Father, Abraham.” He’s saying Islam is a valid religion of God, as if it were an extension of the One Universal Church.
Hence the pope is not speaking of God’s permissive will but of what he sees as His ordained will. Note the context in which he made his February 4 statement:
“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.”
Francis obviously meant that diversity of “colour, sex, race and language are willed by God” in the ordained sense, which they are, so we can only assume he meant “diversity of religions” the same way.
He now reverts to this “permissive will” explanation, seemingly to escape censure, yet he skillfully seizes on the opportunity to dignify Islam and other religions, saying that “they look to God,” as if we were all brothers of the same fold.
There indeed are non-Catholics who look to God, many of whom will convert in time, but the god that is named and called upon in Islam is no God but a demon with a mask. Mohammad’s linking himself to “God” and “Abraham” was only done for deceptive purposes. He was a false prophet so why is Francis dignifying his legacy?
The Demonic Nature of Islam
The fact is that the Quran, the Bible of Islam, rejects the person and divinity of Christ and teaches that non-Muslims and Christians should be “slain.” Consider these two excerpts from the Quran:
“Kill them [non-Muslims] wherever you find them.” (Quran 2:191) “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush.” (Quran 9:5)
Unfortunately, Islam is driven by the devil and has been a major battering ram against the Church for fifteen centuries, and while God in His permissive will has allowed this to try our patients and charity, and our resolution to separate ourselves from its pestilent errors, He certainly hasn’t allowed it for the purpose of “walking together” with them and being one.
As Catholics, our oneness is with God, not the world, as expressed by the Apostle James who said, “the friendship of this world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4) and that “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God.” (4:5)
True Fraternal Brotherhood
Catholics need to remind Francis that it is only through CONVERSION that we can become brothers and sisters in Christ. We must reach out and convert Islam and the world, yet Francis told Catholics in Morocco last week NOT to do this, arguing that the Church’s mission does not consist in baptizing and converting people but in generating “change.” Pope Francis warns Moroccan Christians against ‘proselytism’ This is contradictory, since the Church’s commission from Christ is to change the world through conversion.
Hence it does not appear that Francis believes in being brothers and sisters in God. But let him prove himself. If he will preach that the mission of the Church is to bring the knowledge of God to the world and “teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19), and if he will extend the charitable invitation to all peoples to leave their particular creeds and miseries and convert to the Catholic Church, then we can believe him.
The Church infallibly teaches that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church (extra ecclesiam nulla salus), so unless Francis believes that diversity of religions is permissively willed by God to elicit the Church’s response to reach out and convert these religions, he is denying dogma, dignifying fake religion, and withholding the mercy of God from mankind.