Pope Francis: God Only 'Permits' Islam To Exist
The Pontiff's statement attracts huge criticism from Catholic theologians
Pope Francis has clarified his provocative statement issued in Abu Dhabi, which seemingly suggested that God “wills” the existence of many religions.
The statement appears to contradict the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church, which teaches that the “one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men.”
Frances said in a joint statement with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb that the mixture of religions “are willed by God in His wisdom.”
The statement ignited huge criticism from Catholic theologians who claimed it implied that God actively wills error, or that all religions are equal in paths to God.
The former head of the U.S. bishops’ doctrinal office, Father Thomas Weinandy, said he felt the statement disturbing for its seeming reduction of Jesus Christ to just another guru.
Speaking to LifeSite News, Father Weinandy said, “What I find very sad and scandalously troubling."
“is that, in the midst of it all, Jesus is being insulted. He is reduced to the level of Buddha or Mohammed when in fact he is the Father’s beloved Messianic Son, the one in whom the Father is well pleased.”
“The only religions that God positively willed are Judaism and Christianity for he himself founded these religions through his own positive divine actions and revelation,” Weinandy added.
But according to various scholars, Islam, was born as a Christian heresy, and would be strange for God to will the heresy being proclaimed.
The Pontiff, on Wednesday, tried to explain that what God wills is fraternity among everyone, while only allowing a plurality of religions.
“But someone may wonder: why does the Pope go visit the Muslims and not just Catholics? Why are there so many religions? How is it that there are so many religions?” Francis said.
“With the Muslims, we are descendants of the same Father, Abraham. Why does God allow there to be so many religions? God wanted to allow this. Scholastic theologians referred to God’s voluntas permissive [permissive will]. He wanted to allow this reality: that there are so many religions,” he said.
“Some are born from culture, but they always look at heaven, they look at God,” he said.
“But what God wills is brotherhood among us and in a special way – and this is the reason for this journey – with the Muslims, our brothers, and sisters, children of Abraham.”
“We must not be frightened by the difference: God allowed this,” the pope continued.
“We should be frightened if we do not work in brotherhood, to walk together in life.”
But Father Weinandy thinks Francis's clarification does not help.
“The problem is that more than likely, the vast majority of the media and many other theologians and bishops will continue to interpret the original document in the manner that, as God willed Judaism and Christianity, so he also willed other religions – full stop,” he said.
Back in 2017, Father Weinandy made public a letter he wrote to Pope Francis which criticized him for “intentionally ambiguous” teaching, the scorn of conservatives, and resistance to constructive criticism.
Weinandy said the letter was made public because it “expresses the concerns of many more people than just me, ordinary people who’ve come to me with their questions and apprehensions.”