How many marbles has the Pope got left? He seems to have lost quite a few over the summer.
The Washington Post reports that Pope Francis told a Roman Catholic audience on 27th July:
“Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed
to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world.
For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to
segregate our faiths.
“This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people,
as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring
about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a
state is respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God
regardless of the name we choose to address him by.
“We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our
faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we
slaughter our neighbours over differences in reference to their God.”
Before we decide what sort of psychiatric treatment the Pope should receive for his psychotic delusions – Freud, Jung, Adler, operant conditioning or perhaps ECT? – we really ought to correct the factual errors in his extraordinary statement.
Jesus Christ is not the same as Mohammed. Jesus Christ is not even the same as Jehovah. The world faiths are not the same. The New Testament, The Koran, the Upanishads and the Torah are distinct texts with their own narratives and particular teachings. Mohammed did not rise from the dead, as Jesus did. Jesus Christ did not make a pilgrimage (hegira) from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. It was Mohammed who did that. Certainly a Muslim would rightly be offended if anyone suggested – as Pope Francis suggests – that Mohammed is the same as Allah.
Of course, devotees of the world religions should respect one another’s faiths and abide by a mutual etiquette – but that is not all the Pope proposed in his statement of 27th July.
There are further questions. For instance, would the Pope extend his wider ecumenism to Christian Scientists, Scientologists, Spiritualists, Ancestor Worshippers and the rest of the myriad cults and sects which claim to be true religion?
Does the Catholic Faith have any truth value, as the Fathers, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and all the great theologians have taught down the Christian centuries – and, by the way, as The Catechism of the Catholic Church still teaches? If not, then it is hard to see why anyone should pay any attention to it.
Even more importantly, why does the Pope reject the teachings of Our Lord? Specifically, what does he make of Jesus’ commandment to his followers: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (St Matthew 28:19)?
I find all this papal incoherence most fascinating for a personal reason. I think Anthony Burgess’ Earthly Powers is among the best of all novels. I now see that it is also true prophecy, for it features a Pope who intends precisely what Francis has proposed.
Send for the men in white coats.