Vatican archbishop criticizes Pope

Vatican archbishop criticizes Pope

Talking about the slamming the door behind you on your way out. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald was recently reassigned from heading the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to become nuncio to Egypt, which most people saw as a demotion, perhaps because Pope Benedict didn’t like Fitzgerald’s role in the disastrous Assisi interreligious meetings. Then, Pope Benedict made Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, also head of Interreligious Dialogue, leading some to think those councils would be merged.

Fitzgerald is apparently unhappy about that and is making his unhappiness with the Holy Father’s decision known. He told a seminar in Rome that inter-religious dialogue shouldn’t be seen as just another aspect of cultural discussions. That sounds rather mild, and perhaps it is by American standards where we’re used to seeing priests flaunt heretical opinions in the mass media. But in Rome, that’s a big no-no.

I wonder if this will have repercussions for him in his new job. The Holy Father doesn’t strike me as the type to remove Fitzgerald over this, but it could happen.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • If he gets called on this one, I say he tries to “Copt” a plea…rimshot!

  • It’s gonna be a long Lent for Abp. Fitzgerald!  grin

    Nah: I think Pope Benedict is a pretty forgiving type who doesn’t mind expressions of disagreement on prudential matters.

  • “On the Christian side, too,” he said, “there are preachers who preach without respect for the culture.”

    Yeah, I’m sure there were not a few Pharisees and Sadducees in Our Lord’s day that thought that about Him also…

    “Tear down the Temple…?”, “Whited sepulchers…?”, “I like broad phylacteries – thank you very much!”

  • He argued, for instance, that Italians who convert to Islam do not leave their Italian culture behind.

    Actually, in so far as their Italian culture is based on Christian traditions and the Christian moral law, yes they do leave their Italian culture behind. OK, so they still eat fettucine, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t said farewell to so many of the Christian morals and traditions enmeshed in their Italian culture.

    I see very little evidence that Fitzgerald has a burning desire to bring all men to Christ.

  • pian:

    If Fitzgerald is guilty of espousing any heresy it would be syncretism; the idea that all religions are of similar merit and there’s no real urgency in attempting to convert anyone. Rather, we simply attempt to come to some sort of mutual understanding. This is the piece which caught my eye:

    Speaking about discussions with Islamic religious figures, he said, “the dialogue is not done to change Islam, but for us to change ourselves.” Discussions with Islam in particular, he said, should be understood not as an effort to reach some agreement—which he judged unlikely—but as a search for better mutual understanding.

    Surely the ultimate aim, if not the immediate aim, of discussions with any other religion is to bring it to the full knowledge of Christ’s plan of salvation. The Church exists for no other reason, does it? What happened to Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to all nations? Improving relations and striving for a better mutual understanding is fine but it’s a stopping off point on the route to a final destination.

    God doesn’t disappoint those with no faith. If you believe your prayers and efforts will yield nothing, they usually do. Those who believe that conversion is not possible for Moslems will predictably not be disappointed.

  • I didn’t say the Archbishop said something heretical. If you gave me even a tiny benefit of the doubt and read more carefully, you’d see that what I said was that when Americans see their bishops ignoring the rantings of heretical priests in their own country, the open disagreement by a curial archbishop with the pope seems relatively mild by comparison. It’s the priests being ignored by US bishops who are heretical, not the archbishop.

    Pian, I think it’s you who need to admit that you went off half-cocked and posted something that shouldn’t have been posted. You read that sentence with the expectation of finding something to make you angry. That’s your mistake, not mine.

  • pian:

    You don’t know the difference between interreligious dialogue and conversion.

    OK, so enlighten my soft-thinking mind.

    What is the difference? What is the aim of inter-religious dialogue? Is it to “change ourselves” as Fitgerald suggests?

    The archbishop has nowhere in his writings or speeches advocated syncretism.

    If the Archbishop holds to the opinion that there is no reason for the Holy Catholic Church to pursue its mission among Moslems, then he is indeed advocating syncretism. His comment quoted in the article about the aim of inter-religious dialogue having nothing to do with changing Islam seems mighty close to it. Fitzgerald’s comments indicate that his idea of inter-religious dialogue can be reduced to a “can’t we all just get along?” plea. The answer from Islam, as recent events show, is a definite “no”.

    You can be sure of one thing. Moslems most certainly do not share Fitzgerald’s opinion. They are aggressively pursuing the expansion of their own faith into all areas of the West and as the recent “death to the convert” episode in Afghanistan shows, they are totally unapologetic about it.

    He should like it in Cairo. I await the Pope’s next move.

  • Pian, give it up. The horse is dead, flogging it won’t make it move.

    I teach English. In college. I regularly edit Dom’s writing for him. And, sure, I catch plenty of typos and errors. This is a blog, he writes quickly and posts quickly.

    But there is nothing wrong with the sentence. It does not say what you want it to say. Period. End of story.

    When the author tells you you are misreading his intention, that is pretty much all you need to hear. 

    What are you trying to accomplish here?