Pope John Paul and Koran-kissing incident

Pope John Paul and Koran-kissing incident

One of the incidents I often hear about from sedevacantists and even people who just don’t think Pope John Paul II was a good bishop was the supposed Koran-kissing incident. A few years ago, some Iraqi Muslims were received by the Pope in an audience and at the end, they gave him a gift of a big green book with Arabic writing. The Pope took the book and kissed it. So what are we to make of this?

In his own logical and methodical style, Jimmy Akin examines the incident and asks what it might mean? Do read the whole thing, but I think it all boils down the question: So what? By that I mean, so what is your point in bringing it up?

After all, I have experienced that in most such instances the questioner (I’m not specifically referring to the guy emailing Jimmy) is not really interested in what happened or why, but is using the incident to advance a thesis, usually that the Pope isn’t a real pope, that the Church since Vatican II is not the real church, that all efforts at interreligious dialogue or ecumenism are actually a form of syncretism, and so on.

So while Jimmy’s blog is great because he logically steps through the whole question, I’m afraid there are some people who will not be satisfied because they were not interested in the answer to begin with because they had already made up their minds.

Still, Jimmy’s answer goes in my bookmarks for the next time I have to deal with this very question.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Did you even bother to read Jimmy’s post? Did you click on the link? This is what I was saying earlier. People would rather pontificate and spout their own preconceived notions than to consider carefully what someone else is saying before writing.

  • The strategic decision was taken years ago at the Vatican, under JPII, that the Church would try to accommodate Islam – and learn to try to point to the better parts of it, and to ‘get along’ – that it would be a mistake to take Islam on, front-forward.

    And you know this because you got a copy of the secret document outlining this nefarious plan?

    I’m not saying that John Paul didn’t make a mistake (and neither is Jimmy, I think), but that too many people see this as an example of John Paul selling out the faith intentionally and being proof that everything in the post-Vatican II Church is a fraud.

  • I am NOT a Sedanvacantist.  And I have a JPII screensaver on my computer.

    That being said, the problem with the “Quran Kissing Incident” is that it added to the confusion of the Church’s current positition regarding salvation outside the Church, ecumenism, interreligious dialog, “subsists in”, and a few dozen other confusing messages the Church, and JPII have been sending for the last forty years.

    I did read Jimmy’s post, and it reminded me of a scene in “The Man With Two Brains,” where Steve Martin arrives home with his new wife (Kathleen Turner), and upon seeing Martin’s housekeeper and gardener waving to them, and welcoming them home, asks,“Who are those ****holes?”  Martin, not able to believe his beautiful wife could actually say something so unkind, turns in the direction she is looking and laughs.  “Oh, you mean ‘azaleas’!”

    In short, he’s putting a dress on a pig.

    I don’t care what JPII’s intention was.  I love the man, and don’t question his motives.  What I do have a problem with is syncretism that has gone unaddressed for forty years.  The horror of Assisi!  On and on.  To take this one event and try to draw any conclusions is silly and unncessary.  There are HUNDREDS of examples of peculiar messages coming from Rome, directly and indirectly for decades now.

    Jimmy mentions that JPII allowed the publishing of “Dominus Iesus”.  Pardon, but this document was specifically meant to address the “confusion”, and outright heresy that has been tolerated during my entire lifetime.  My point is that even the Vatican can see that there is a problem.  But why wait forty years?

    And then you have the Assisi issue:

    Sacred Scripture teaches, “For all the gods of the nations are devils.”(Ps. 45:5) Yet JPII called upon pagans whose “gods are devils” to come to Rome and invoke these false deities for the sake of “universal values of peace, justice, solidarity and brotherhood.”

    Here is what else he said:

    “The Day of Assisi, showing the Catholic Church holding the hands with the brothers of other religions, was a visible expression of [the] statements of the Second Vatican Council.”

    As apposed to Pope Pius XI, who said:

    “So it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics, for the union of Christians can only be promoted by the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it.”

    Or from the Council of Carthage (a.d. 298)

    “None must either pray or sing psalms with heretics; and whosoever shall communicated with those who are cut off from the Communion of the Church, whether clergymen or laic, let him be excommunicated.” (Coun. Carth. Iv 72 and 73) 18

    Congar intentionally fought to insert the phrase “subsists in” in Gaudium et Spes, in order to keep the document vague, and open to interpretation.  THAT is why JPII’s kiss is a problem.  Because it was set against a backdrop of 40 years of confusion.  And JPII just added to it.

  • Sergio Magister:

    He carried out the first of these very special events at Assisi on October 27, 1986. He called to his side representatives from the most varied religions in the world and asked them to pray for peace – each to his own god. The multicolored swath of religious men in Piazza San Francesco, with the pope among them dressed in white, was a potent symbol.

    But it was a dangerous symbol as well. Even though the idea was far from John Paul II’s intention, the message that came out of this meeting, for many, was one of a kind of United Nations of faiths. It seemed to speak of a multireligious coexistence in which each faith was as good as the other, and among which the Catholic Church took its place as an equal.

    Years later, in fact, on August 6, 2000, Pope John Paul II and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger felt it their duty to make a declaration that would act as an antidote to this relativistic poison. It was titled “Dominus Iesus,” and it recalled a basic, fundamental Christian truth: that man finds salvation only in Jesus. The declaration triggered an earthquake. From without, the champions of secularism accused the Church of intolerance. From within, charges of anti-ecumenism sprang forth. This was a sign that “Dominus Iesus” had pinpointed a real malady in the Church, one that was discovered in Assisi and that had its destabilizing effects in Asia, and even more so in the Indian subcontinent.

    But at the same time, critical reservations about the event were taking shape. The event in Assisi added fuel to the fire through some of its more excessive gestures. Some of the city’s churches were allotted for the prayers of Buddhists, Hindus, and African animists, as if these buildings were neutral containers, void of any indelible Christian value. The Buddhists set up a shrine of Buddha on the altar of the local Church of Saint Peter. The absence from Assisi of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the prefect for the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was not improperly interpreted as the self-distancing of the cardinal who, by his office, is the custodian of sound Catholic doctrine. The pope himself did not escape criticism. There were those who recalled that in February of that same year, during his voyage to India, he had given speeches of unprecedented openness toward that country’s religions, and at Bombay had even let a priestess of the god Shiva anoint his forehead with a sacred Hindu symbol. A few of those who complained about this were Indian bishops. One of them, from Andra Pradesh, said, “The pope knows Hinduism from books, but we, who live with it and see the damage it does to our good people, would never make certain speeches.”


    Do you begin to see that “the kiss” was a drop in the bucket?  And how Cdl. Ratzinger wasn’t happy about it either?

    So it isn’t just whacked out Sedanvacantists that question the prudence of what JPII did with this whole interreligious stuff.

  • I am not a sedecavantist. I go to a normal parish.  I loved PJP2 and went to see him speak 5 times.  I thought, overall, he was a good pope and did what had to be done in the timeframe he had as pope.

    But I have a HUGE problem with that picture.  One wonders if, for all his knowledge, PJP2 didn’t realize that book is a lie. 

    I also wonder if he knew it would pop up on the Internet—maybe he thought he could get away with it.  I don’t know.

    There were things like this that happened and they were false ecumenism—a sign of too much eagerness to embrace the false to get along.  The meetings at Assisi are another example.  That basilica should not have been used for pagan worship—another similar problem.

    Those two events alone make me doubt some of the claims made about him, pure and simple.  He was very much the showman. 

    I think Benedict XVI is much better.

  • “Putting a dress on a pig” is a good way to describe what we’ve corporately done for 25 years.  And mind you, I’m no sedecavantist or Latin mass purist.

    We have spent uncounted hours trying to explain away all manner of aberrations (take your pick!), and everyone here knows it.

    This is the problem with the last papacy and there is no denying that.  PJP2 may have personally been very holy, but huge mistakes were made and he refused to govern until after an issue got completely out of control and sometimes not even then.

    Blame the times we lived in, ok.  But it was out of control.

  • For those of you who think that I said Jimmy “whitewashed” the incident or that I was denying John Paul was wrong, you weren’t reading what I wrote very carefully.

    I was saying that while John Paul was wrong or imprudent to kiss the Koran, that is a far cry from those who claim that what he did was intended as an act of syncretism, of saying that Catholicism is not unique, and so on. In other words, those who think that John Paul’s actions were malicious.

  • Akin’s thesis: “3) John Paul II kissed the Quran but didn’t know the nature of the book he was kissing” is just weird, but we saw this Boston with the apologists for the homo rapists didn’t we?  It reflects a deep seated state of denial, a willingness to manufacture deniability to preserve naive assumptions.

    It’s a tad disingenuous to suggest that only “sedes” are perterbed by the Koran kissing.  But then again, I put it all in perspective what’s worse? 1) Appointing chief sybcretist Cardinal Kaspar to his position 2) Protecting rapist enablers in the form of Bernie Law or 3) Smooching the Koran.

    I don’t see Pope Benedict following that act, whew!

  • That wasn’t Jimmy’s conclusion. It was one of the possibilities. If you read carefully, you’d see that he dismissed that as unlikely.

    Again, you have proved my point that most commenters dont read anything carefully. I did not say that only sedevacantists are perturbed by the Koran kissing. I have said a half dozen times in this thread alone that I think it was a mistake. What I said was that many sedevacantists and others automatically attribute malice to John Paul’s actions rather than consider that it was just imprudence.

    This is the point that so many of you keep proving.

  • Back in the early years of Muslim ‘conversins,’ if Christians (or Jews)  did what JPII did (kiss the Koran) they would have prevented their heads from being chopped off or being sold into slavery.  Back then it was called renouncing the faith not ecumenism.

  • Dominic –

    You make you own point:  This is cut and pasted from his website “The most likely one of the three, to my mind, would be (3), because so far as I know, John Paul II was not an Arabic speaker and may not have understood the nature of the book that he was being presented with.”

    Akin points out that # 3 is most likely.  Not sure what blog you are reading.

  • Thomas Coolberth, two paragraphs down, Akin writes of hypothesis #3:

    “While this [i.e., #3] is possible, I think it likely that an interpreter explained the nature of the gift that was being given on this occasion. This still leaves the possibility that the pope kissed it as part of Middle Eastern politeness rather than as a gesture of respect for the book itself.”

    He continues on with other speculations based upon the possibility that the Holy Father knew that the book was indeed the Koran.

    On the issue as a whole, I share a point of view similar to DaVinci’s—it’s not this particular incident that is so troubling to me, but rather the fact that it is part of a larger body of events, statements, and approaches (e.g., “ecumenism”) that have, as I observe it, blunted the teachings of the Church, confused the faithful, and in some cases, given scandal.  Pope John Paul II was a great and holy man—of that I have no doubt.  And wearing the Ring of the Fisherman is the most difficult task on earth.  But I honestly do not know what to do with these many issues that are at variance, sometimes startlingly so, with the Faith I was raised in.

    I am not trying to advance a thesis, I am not a sedevacantist, and I would not be considered a traditionalist.  I am blessed by being able to attend a solidly orthodox parish in my city.  But I am deeply troubled by these things, and, to tell the truth, they have chiseled away at my faith as well.

  • The problem is that we’ve all given this lots of thought and tried to dress the pig a million times already.  This is old news.

    It happened.  It was crazy-looking.  We don’t know what PJP2 had in his head when he did it, but he shouldn’t have done it.

    No Muslim would kiss a bible.  Rather, they kill Christians because it’s illegal to be Christian in their lands.

    If PJP2 doesn’t get canonized this picture will be one of the reasons.  It was imprudent in the extreme.

  • And AC is correct.  It happened with a backdrop of that whole crazy Assisi spectacle with the Buddha on a Catholic altar and the animists doing whatever animists do.  Enough. 

    Does anyone really want to claim that was *all* accidental?  Someone was responsible for it and I don’t know who.  But I know who’s watch it was on and who had the authority to pull the plug and didn’t.

  • We are already canonizing martyrs who have died at the hands of Moslems.  I attended the canonization of one a few years ago, in fact, an Armenian.  He was a bishop and they lopped his head off with a machete because he would not convert and denounce Christianity, if I remember correctly.

    This will only happen more and more often now that Islam is invading demographically the lands of the west and becoming more militaristic in the middle east.

    One cannot canonize the martyrs of Islam and kiss the Koran too.  It is inconsistent and scandalous.

  • Ah, also Africa.  One of the fastest growing areas for Catholicism is Africa, also Asia.

    In Africa, in the past 10 years, many people have been faced with ultimatums over converting to Islam.  Many people have been killed in these religious confrontations—at the hands of Muslims.  Using machetes.  Because they would not convert.

    It is time to take this seriously.

  • Cornelius:

    Great post.  I agree completely (making it truly great) AND you used the word “ultramontane”!

    I have to admit that I looked it up.  I’ll use it ten times today :o)

    By definition, I guess I am an ultramontane (is the noun capitalized?), but that doesn’t mean that I can’t scratch my head from time to time.

  • A lot of the messages from JPII were confusing.  His writings are difficult to understand.  I’ve even had a priest tell me that. 

    None of the arguments Jimmy Akin presents convince me.

    There is only one explanation I can buy for all of those confusing messages.  John Paul II came from an Eastern bloc country.  With that background, his thinking was not like the thinking of a Westerner.  I believe that he was capable of holding two opposing truths in tandem and not be bothered by the dichotomy.

    I think he believed both that the Catholic faith is the one, true, fullness of faith and that Jesus Christ was the sole and only Savior of mankind.  In ecumenical/interreligious situations I think he also believed that other religions were sufficient to save. 

    Theologically the two are unreconcilable, and he never tried to reconcile them.  What he did do was promote events like Assisi while also promulgating Dominus Iesus, and those actions speak of his dual beliefs to me.

    This ability to hold dual beliefs also, it would seem, applied to the sexual abuse scandal.  He believed that homosexual activity is always wrong, yet he also did not discipline those priests who were practicing it, even when it damaged minors.  And he encouraged the bishops to cover it up rather than to confront it.

    He was a popular pope.  He could draw crowds who adored him, not unlike rock stars are adored.  I tend to believe a lot of Catholics confuse this popularity with holiness. 

    When people say that he was a very holy man, I always want to ask them what evidence of this holiness they have in mind.

    I suppose I need to add the non-sede and non-traditionalist oath here.  I’m not a schismatic.  I just didn’t hold JPII to such high esteem as so many other Catholics did.

  • Carrie – You are not alone; it’s just that not many will admit it.  In most circles it’s the flag,  mom, apple pie and JPII.

  • Carrie,

    I, too, agree with you. 

    JPII’s position on Universal Salvation is, at best, vague.  I have read HIS words on this subject in over twenty documents and addresses, and I can’t really tell you what his position is.  Historically, Universal Salvation has been considered heterodox.  It seems like JPII was sort of re-positioning the phrase/concept to nudge it towards Catholicity, but…well, I’m not really qualified to be anything but confused on the subject, quite frankly.  But that is sort of my point.  He did NOT clear things up.

    So, when you add the Assisi fiasco and the Koran Kiss on top of his confused messages, is it any wonder why the flock is flummoxed?

  • He was certainly a great lover of people—all people of whatever color and nationality and religion.  He didn’t want to alienate anyone, and he knew religious difference would alienate.  I think it was not a lack of love of God and of Jesus, but just an inability to separate himself from any of his fellow men that motivated this dual belief which I think he held.

    If we talk about and dissect it and analyze it from now until we die, I don’t think we will ever be able to separate out the elements of his beliefs.  They are stirred together in an inseparable mix, and only God can judge whether that mix was acceptable or not.

    We have no choice but to take him as he came and to move on.  Perhaps that is the very nature of his chosen philosophy of phenomenology.  He lived in the moment and responded to whatever he found with compassion born of the love of God.  If we are still determined to judge him, perhaps we will have to use the same criteria that we apply to our parents when we are grown and they are growing old.  They tried to the best of their ability.  They made mistakes.  They always wished what was best for us, even if they failed to provide it.  They acted out of love.

    Certainly I have moments of real anger that he did nothing to stop the heresy in the Church or to end the scandal that he knew was taking place.  But of what use is the anger?  It will not generate the least bit of change.  The yesterdays are written in history.  Only tomorrow can be different.

  • Aaron, you say he was a Thomist.  He was also a phenomenologist.  Are they compatible?  Phenomenology accepts things at face value.  Thomism promotes absolute truths, which means that there are also absolute falsehoods.

  • It is mysterious for those who receive the grace, because they do not know the Church and sometimes even outwardly reject her.

    In order to reject the Church, one must know the Church.  One cannot reject what one does not know.

    In order to take effect, saving grace requires acceptance, cooperation, a yes to the divine gift. This acceptance is, at least implicitly, oriented to Christ and the Church.

    What he seems to be saying is that some “hate the Church that they love.” It’s like saying my keyboard is the English Cyrillic alphabet.  It’s not possible.  What’s more, I think Cardinal Arinze kept putting in the word “mysteriously” because he hadn’t a clue how to explain what he was talking about.  It’s rather a New Agey explanation, afterall.  Or a phenomenological argument.

    When men of multiple religions come together to meet and pray, called together at the behest of the Pope, there is an implicit endorsement of all of the gods being prayed to—as though all of them can answer prayers.  If this were not so, what would be the point of calling the prayer event?

    So did JPII believe that all gods are really the same God, and people just called them by different names?  That concept would be consistent with the Assisi event and still true to Jesus.  What it would not be is true to the teachings of the Church prior to John Paul II, and some of that teaching was promulgated in infallible encyclicals.  There is also the matter of “strange gods” in the First Commandment.  If all gods are really the God we believe in, how can there be a strange god as we have been told that there are?

    Yet opposing this is the obvious evidence we find that people who do not accept Christ are still capable of goodness.

    I can’t reconcile all of this in a way that is faithful to the Tradition, faithful to the teaching of John Paul II, and consistent with sense data.  One point invariable negates another.

  • Actually, Aaron, PJP2 wasn’t a Thomist.  He was a phenomenologist of a sort, I believe.  His philosophical training was definitely of a 20th century type—somewhat Vienna circle, I expect—Husserl/Heidegger vintage.

    He should have known the basic principle of non-contradiction.  All philosophers do.  But to some views, it doesn’t matter as much in some senses……

  • Thomism can be easily identified.  Phenomenology is something different to every person who subscribes to it, or so it would seem from the material I’ve read about it.  It’s associated with occultism sometimes.  I don’t recall seeing it associated with Catholicism until JPII.  Doesn’t mean it wasn’t, of course.

    JPII was a phenomenologist.  I don’t know if he was a Thomist or not, but I don’t see how the two could co-exist.  But then I don’t see how Catholicism and the Assisi event can co-exist either, yet apparently we are to believe that they do.

    JPII’s interest in Mickiewicz and Soloviev open a potential Pandora’s box!  If he was representative of Slav Catholicism, it’s certainly different!

  • Chris K,

    Wow.  That is some SERIOUS spin.

    Not praying together, but together praying.  I guess it depends on what you think “is” is.

    When you are done trying to reconcile the unreconcilable, please read this article, and notice that Cdl. Ratzinger was seriously unhappy about this event (I can find you other articles that talk about Cdl. Ratzinger’s response to this). 


    No matter how you spin it, it was a mess.  That is why we are still squawking about this a few decades later.

  • James, you needn’t go to Khandahar for your stomping, 97th and Third Avenue, or parts of Brooklyn will do for the reaction you seek.

  • JPII’s Thomism may have undergirded his particular phenomenology, yet phenomenology itself does not allow for that undergirding, grounded as it is in the here and now.  If you can’t apprehend God with your human senses, a strict phenomenologist cannot accept that He is there.  IMHO the two systems are incompatible.  However, I am aware that phenomenology is open to various interpretations, unlike other philosophical system.

    Phenomonology is comfortable with the metaphysics of the channeler, for instance, since the evidence presents itself to the senses.  I think that JPII was fascinated by visionary experiences.  His enthusiasm for Fatima is a good example of this.  His failure to condemn Medjugorje in spite of the Bishop’s disapproval, is also evidence of this, IMHO.  What’s more, I suspect that this is an aspect of Slavic thinking that we in the West are not fully aware of or comfortable with.

    Consider the thinking of the Russian Orthodox.  It is much closer to JPII’s thinking than the rationalist Western mindset.  John Paul II loved anything mystical.

  • ChrisK,

    What you are proposing is a new interpretation of the First Commandment.  IMHO that is dangerous territory in a culture that is reviving Paganism.

  • Chris K,

    I still have a problem with it, because I don’t see how we reconcile “other gods are devils” (and the rest of the 4000 years of prophetic and Magisterial teaching on the subject), and “Soteriological root”, but I’m not a theologian, and have the humility to defer to others on this.

    But it isn’t for the Pope or the Vatican to decide what IS and what is NOT confusing.  This is up to the confused, among whom I count myself.

  • Chris K,

    In your comment to Carrie, I basically agree with most of what you said except that you don’t make a distinction between interreligious dialogue and the theological ideas JPII brought to it.

    I’m all for interreligious dialogue, and for all the reasons you mention.

    But when Catholics see and hear what appears to walk and quack like a syncretistic duck, some clarification is in order.  When I read JPII, I don’t come away with a greater understanding of my Faith.  I actually feel like I am losing my Faith.  I have, basically, ducked my head and submit to the Church’s authority, but I half the time I can’t explain to you why. 

    If other religions do not acknowledge the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross for their sins, how are they any different from any pagan religions mentioned in the Old Testament.  If they had the means of salvation then, why did Christ come at all?

    Are the gods of other religions devils, or not?  How much are we to distort the scriptures to fit an idea that wasn’t explicit until VII?

    I know that the Church now says that atheists can be saved.  That was not always the Church’s position.  What about Satanism.  Can there be nothing in Satanism that is “holy and true”?  Who decides?  And when will they?  What if they advocate a strong family life.  Are they good to go?

    If Christianity has become a religion that finds salvic truth in poly-theism, false prophets, atheism, I have to really question the whole point of it.

    I know that I am not alone in my confusion, and believe that Iesus Dominus was an attempt to stop the bleeding.  But until JPII’s confusing message is either cleared up or forgotten, the best I can hope for is, as PBXVI has predicted, a very small Church.

  • While JPII was busy finding Catholic truths in all other religions, the Catholic faith in the Western world was disintegrating both from the sexual abuse scandal and from a watered down belief.

    Either the First Commandment is wrong when it states that there are false gods, or JPII was wrong when he gave the impression that he encouraged prayer to a variety of gods.  You can’t have it both ways no matter how much mysticism you apply. He who prays to Kali does not pray to the Trinity.

    How do you define “men of good will” apart from the specific religion?  Religion defines what is good, and religions simply do not agree on this subject.

  • You argue valiantly, ChrisK.  Unfortunately the evidence of the state of the Catholic Church in the West argues against you.

  • My point remains.  If PJP2 doesn’t get canonized, this picture will be one of the reasons why.  I simply cannot get past it when I know that the very same year he kissed the Koran, Christians died in the Middle East and Africa merely because they were not Muslim.

    He had no business kissing it.  And he had no business allowing the desecration of Assisi.

  • Chris K,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.  You have presented a solid, Catholic response.

    I am of the opinion that JPII had an intense inner spiritual life, and often lost sight of Tradition in the brilliance of his own vision.  Many of the ideas you mention serve as examples.  For example:

    “JPII looked sympathetically to the heart of the individual believer who may just be where he is due simply to family tradition (as even some nominal Catholics are), cultural influences…”

    I can dig it.  Very St. Thomas Aquinas.  The difference is that for 1,970 or so years, this idea used to be the foundation for evangelization, not “dialog”.  And I don’t think anyone would argue that evangelism hasn’t taken a back seat to ecumenism and dialog in the last 30-40 years.

    In the article I mentioned:

    “As often happens, this encyclical (Redemptio Missio) was not produced in a vacuum, but was given in response to a real or feared straying from the mark: a stroke of the rudder by the successor of Peter to put the barque of the Church onto the right course.

    The straying in question is, more specifically, the impoverishment of Catholic missionary vitality, its dilution into a vague dialogue with other religions and cultures, or even worse, into a dialogue stripped of the will to proclaim the truth and to solicit conversion to Christ, the only savior. In effect, beginning from the affirmation of the Second Vatican Council in the decree “Nostra Aetate,” according to which “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in other religions,” the period after the council saw the widespread approval of the idea of transforming the missions into a simple commitment to foster the maturation of the “seeds of truth” present in the various religions – in other words, to help the Hindu be a good Hindu or help the Muslim worship his one God – as if these seeds were themselves distinct ways of salvation, independent of Christ and even more independent of the Church.”

    I don’t really understand JPII, because his writings seem to be at the vanguard of this indifferentism.  They seem to support the drift, not counter it.  That is why everyone was surprised with “Iesus Dominus”.

    I think his “Theology of the Body” is brilliant.  As I said before, I just think his brilliance sometimes glossed over lots of traditional teaching.

  • Some other examples:

    “humanity, subjected to sin in the descendants of the first Adam, in Jesus Christ became perfectly subjected to God and united to him.”

    All men?  What about Baptism, confession of sins, belief, etc?

    “The unity of all mankind…has its roots in the mystery of creation and acquires a new dimension in the mystery of the Redemption, which is ordered to universal salvation. Since God “wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4), the Redemption includes all humanity and in a certain way all of creation.”

    OK, but by what means?  His silence on what and how gives the DISTINCT impression that it is free, in all circumstances.

    “Wherever people are praying in the world, there the Holy Spirit is, the living breath of prayer. It is a beautiful and salutary thought to recognize that, if prayer is offered throughout the world, in the past, in the present and in the future, equally widespread is the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, who “breathes” prayer in the heart of man in all the endless range of the most varied situations and conditions…. Prayer through the power of the Holy Spirit becomes the ever more mature expression of the new man, who by means of this prayer participates in the divine life.”

    So Baptism isn’t the means by which we are made “new men”?  So the Holy Spirit is part of pagan prayer too?  Again, why be a Christian?

    And instead of Baptism, and the Church (as percieved by 2000 years of OTHER Christians), the Church in JPII’s writings became:

    “the sacrament…of the unity of all mankind”

    See?  No need to believe, be baptized…just be a good Muslim.  JPII, and even PBXVI are now talking about the Church as “borderless”, so that, in affect, no one is outside the Church.  Sorry, but that is a break from Traditional Catholic teaching.  Yeah, they are using the same WORDS, but the meaning is pure UNIVERSAL SALVATION.

    “Iesus Dominus”, as i said earlier, was a band-aid meant to stop the bleeding.  When you read it, though, its call for evangelization seems to lack real urgency.  It’s more like we’re (Catholics) supposed to feel bad for the people that belong to clubs that don’t have the cool pool table, like ours.  Big deal, right?

    “For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation” (par. 20)

    Good Lord!  Stop whatever you are doing and get those poor bastards in this Church!  They don’t have a pool table!

    “If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation”

    Get them a pool table, quick!!!  Become a Priest, be celibate, because it is imperitive that those people get a pool table.

    It’s a tough sell.  I would argue that this is ONE reason for the drop in vocations.  What is the point?  What is the urgency?

  • Chris K,

    I get it.  This same idea, of ongoing revelation is used by every heretic for the last 2000 years.  The reason we have “the deposit” is to keep people from going off, into the weeds.  You have, obviously, bought into JPII’s vision.  I’m happy for you.  I see problems with some of what he wrote, and I don’t feel bad about it.  It will fall to others, better educated than I, to work it out.

    I have walked into the theological fog, wandering deeper to the point that nothing really means anything.  I ran into a few things, though.  First, pride.  Then dispair.

    Jesus said:

    At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

    2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

    3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

    6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.


    Nothing about theological sophistication getting us into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And someone in JPII’s shoes (of the fisherman) should have been more careful about shaking the faith of “less sophisticated” believers.

  • DaVinci Decoder Ring,

    “Nothing about theological sophistication getting us into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And someone in JPII’s shoes (of the fisherman) should have been more careful about shaking the faith of “less sophisticated” believers.”
    Thanks, I’ve been thinking about this very point as I pondered this thread and all of the various responses. It seems to me this is pecularly a problem of the present age. We live in a time of almost universal literacy. It is now expected, especially in this country, that a college education is available to anyone who wants it.

    But the thing is the quality of the education we are giving people has pretty much gone down the toilet. Just consider the legendary 8th grade graduation test from the turn of the century which has circulated through the internet in various forms and which few college graduates today could pass. We have a veneer of education, but lack the real tools that one could once have expected college educated people to have. Especially logic, critical thinking, philosophy and theology.

    And most people have the illusion that we should be able to understand these complex issues that are really beyond our grasp. And many people think they understand but have missed some key component because they really don’t have the tools in their intellectual toolbox to grapple with deep theological truths.

    The hard part is, though, that in one sense Pandora’s box has already been opened. The pope simply cannot decree a return to simpler days when people just accepted that the Church’s teaching was the final say. Too many of our “less sophisticated believers” are unaware of their condition and think that they are more sophisticated than they are. They think they can read and understand for themselves and do not realize they are walking on thin ice.

    Both Dom and my sister have studied theology in college and have been told by their teachers that it is a very dangerous occupation. You are putting your mortal soul in danger by trying to understand these matters. There is the danger of misunderstanding, there is the danger, as we see with many theologians, of setting yourself up as your own magesterium, proclaiming that you know better than the Church.

    How many people are now self-taught in theology—after all, the books are all so readily available to anyone with an internet connection—and inadvertantly falling into the errors that at least students of good teachers are to some degree protected from by the very structure of the formal program of study?

    I think you are right in pointing to the problem, but I’m not sure I see another course of action for JPII to have taken. All he could do, it seems to me, was attempt to teach and teach clearly and publicly the truths of the faith and pray that the Holy Spirit to protect the faith of these “less sophisticated children.

  • I’m thinking specifically of St Teresa of Avila. A while back as I was reading her commentary on the Song of Songs I was amazed to realize that she didn’t know Latin, and in her day the Bible was not available in the vernacular. So when she prayed her daily office she didn’t even understand the words she was saying. Her knowledge of the Bible came spiritual books in Spanish that excerpted passages and then explicated them and from the preaching that she heard.

    And yet through the grace of the Spirit this humble nun was moved to write beautiful and insightful commentary on one of the most enigmatic books of the Bible.

    But still she apologizes for her ignorance and for daring to set her humble, uneducated woman’s mind to the task reserved for the educated of her day.

    I think it is very difficult for any person living in the 20th century to recapture that kind of humilty. The humility of a person who doesn’t dare even read the Bible on her own lest she endanger her soul.

    I think we have both gained greatly and lost much in the intellectual revolution. We have gained great knowledge, which is indeed a blessing. But as Genesis reminds us, the primal sin was wanting to have the mind of God, the knowledge of good and evil. And grasping for that knowledge can imperil our souls.

  • Prayer to a pagan god that doesn’t exist isn’t prayer.  It’s talking to yourself.  Or worse, it’s confiding in the devil if the person goes out of himself after evil.

    Assisi should never have been used for such evil doings. Churches that have been used in such a manner need to be reconsecrated ASAP.

  • Here you go.  In today’s new (Good Friday, 4/14):

    Worshippers attacked at 3 Egyptian churches
    1 dead, 17 wounded by knife-wielding assailants

    CAIRO, Egypt – Worshippers at three Christian churches came under attack from knife-wielding assailants during Mass Friday.

    Police said one worshipper was killed and more than a dozen wounded in the simultaneous attacks in the northern city of Alexandria.

    Police were searching for three men, one in each attack.
    Hundreds of Christians gathered in angry protest outside the Coptic Christian churches, and witnesses said clashes erupted between Christians and Muslims.

    Initial police reports said a total of 17 people were injured: 10 at the Saints Church in downtown Alexandria and three at the nearby Mar Girgis Church. A third attacker wounded four worshippers at a church in Abu Qir, a few miles to the east.

    Link to the remainder of article: 

  • What do you think you’re proving? It’s not like it’s the first incident of Christians being attacked by Muslims.

    This has nothing to do with the topic of this post.

  • Sorry, Dom.  I thought it had something to do with the (to me) obvious problem of kissing the Koran. 

    Muslims have no such tolerance of us as can be seen by their behavior.