Francis went to Astana (Nur-Sultan), Kazakhstan to participate in the VII Congress Of the Leaders Of World And Traditional Religions.
That Congress issued a final declaration, surely prepared ahead of time and distributed to the signatories ahead of time.
This declaration is reproduced in The Astana Times.
After a string of whereas-es, there is a string of declarations…
We, the participants of the VII Congress – spiritual leaders of world and traditional religions, politicians, heads of international organizations,…
10. We note that pluralism in terms of differences in skin color, gender, race, language and culture are expressions of the wisdom of God in creation. Religious diversity is permitted by God and, therefore, any coercion to a particular religion and religious doctrine is unacceptable.
Francis signed this. I don’t think he should have signed any such thing, but they didn’t ask me.
NB: Permitted by God and not willed by God.
It may be that some people will not read this carefully. While I don’t like the wording as it is, at least he didn’t sign something that said that God willed diversity of religions. Diversity is permitted by God.
THE PROBLEM HERE IS…. differences of “gender” (aka “sex”), are not just permitted by God, they are WILLED by God. To have the same verb in one sentence applied to “gender” and also “religion” is a problem. “Permitted” does NOT mean the same thing in the cases of “sex” and “religion”!
Diversity in religion is permitted in the sense that it is tolerated by God. A diversity of religions is an evil, so God cannot have willed it.
Diversity of sex is permitted in the sense that it is actively willed by God. A diversity of sex is a positive good, and God wills it to be so.
In 2019 Francis had in the UAE accepted a statement that diversity of religions was willed by God, but he backtracked and explained that it was God’s permissive will that there are various religions, not God’s active will. As a matter of fact, Bp. Athanasius Schneider obtained a clarification from him. HERE
Bp. Athanasius Schneider is not only an alumnus of my school in Rome, the Augustinianum, he is also Auxiliary Bishop of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, Francis did say all sorts of goofy things during his time in Astana. He has an earworm these days – perhaps in the person of a Wormtongue – and has to wedge it into everything. Get this in an address to clergy and religious. Talking about “memory and future”…
Yet we need to be attentive. It is not about looking back with nostalgia, getting stuck in the past and letting ourselves be paralyzed and immobile. When we do that, we are tempted to take a step backwards. [Can’t even keep it in house.] … If we look more closely at this inheritance, what do we see? That the faith was not passed down from generation to generation as a set of ideas to be understood and followed, as a fixed and timeless code. No, our faith was passed on through life, though witnesses who shed the light of the Gospel on different situations in order to illumine and purify them, and to spread the consoling warmth of Jesus, the joy of his saving love and the hope of his promise. By remembering, then, we learn that faith grows through witness. Everything else comes later. This is a call that is addressed to everyone. I want to repeat this: to everyone, to the lay faithful, bishops, priests, deacons, and the consecrated men and women working in various ways in the pastoral life of our communities. May we never grow weary of bearing witness to the very heart of salvation, to the newness of Jesus, to the newness that is Jesus! Faith is not a lovely exhibition of artefacts from a distant past or a museum, but an ever-present event, an encounter with Christ that takes place in the here and now of our lives. So we cannot pass it on by simply repeating the same old things, but by communicating the newness of the Gospel. In this way, faith remains alive and has a future. As I like to say, faith is transmitted through the “mother tongue”.
Through the “mother tongue”. However, when you translate something from, for example, Latin that has been handed down for some 1500 years into a modern “mother tongue” you change the meaning by translating it. Change the meaning and it isn’t the same. Without a stable point of reference, you fly off into a whole new vector that doesn’t point at your destination.
This is redolent of Card. Kasper’s approach that permits one to say that, back in His time, Jesus was right about divorce, or in another age, the Church was right about just war theory or the death penalty, but times change and, while neither Jesus nor the Church are wrong, exactly, they aren’t right – now. We have, therefore, to reinterpret what Jesus and Church said about everything in light of present lived experience. It may look like they are asking us to accept that up is really down, black is really white, or 2+2=5, but that’s just a sign that you aren’t nuanced enough to get the deeper meaning. They will explain it to us over time. And if lots of confused people drop out? Well, you have to break eggs to make an omlete.
At the conclusion of the aforementioned Congress Francis said:
Brothers and sisters, in thinking of this shared path, I asked myself: What is our point of convergence? Pope John Paul II, who visited Kazakhstan twenty-one years ago this very month, stated that “for the Church all ways lead to man” and that man is “the way for the Church” (Redemptor Hominis, 14). I would like to say that today man is also the way for all the religions. Yes, man, men and women, concrete human beings, weakened by the pandemic, worn out by war, wounded by indifference! Human beings, frail and marvelous creatures, who, “once God is forgotten, are left in darkness” (SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 36) and apart from others cannot survive! The good of humanity should be taken into consideration ahead of strategic and economic objectives, national, energy and military interests, and in advance of crucial decisions.
This is a little eerie.
Consider inculturation, which is permanent, unavoidable and indeed desirable in the Church. There is an ongoing. simultaneous exertion of influence of the world on the Church and – according to Christ’s will and command – the Church on the world. It must be so. When what the Church has to give to the world has logical priority, human welfare and different cultures flourish. However, when the logical priority is given to the world in this mutual exchange, disaster results. This is what we see going on today.
How to reverse this? A recovery of Catholic identity is necessary. If we don’t know who we are, we can’t explain who we are or give reasons for why others should even listen to us, much less join us. Hence, the Church’s role in the public square is massively eroded. Just witness the feckless irrelevance of the USCCB in public life in these USA, or bishops in their dioceses, or once-Catholic universities, etc.
The recovery of Catholic identity must start and continue with a renewal of our sacred liturgical worship… and all three of those terms have their import.
We are our rites.