Joint prayer with heterodox: a path to unity or a "new identity"?
The Vatican has set out to create a new religion to unite people of different faiths – without the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation.
On January 26, 2020 in the Uniate Church, built in honor of St. Basil the Great, the so-called "interfaith prayer for the unity of Christians" took place.
This event was led by Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), and Alexander (Drabinko), former Metropolitan of the UOC and currently the hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). Both “hierarchs” were wearing special priestly robes (homophores and epitraches), which testifies to the fact that the “prayer service” was joint. The “orderly sequence” of this event was quite traditional for Orthodox prayers – with the reading of the Gospel, the proclamation of litanies, and prayer at the end.
Members of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), the Armenian Church, Malabar Christians, Protestants, Messianic Jews and, unfortunately, a layman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, prayed with the representatives of the OCU and the UGCC.
Of course, someone will say that this is not a liturgical service but only a prayer service. But the canons of the Church urge Christians to refrain even from such “prayers”, performed together with those who fell away from Orthodoxy. According to the 45th apostolic canon, “Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, who has only prayed with heretics, be excommunicated: but if he has permitted them to perform any clerical office, let him be deposed.” Other canons of the Church also testify to this.
Someone will say that this is not a liturgical service but only a prayer service. But the canons of the Church urge Christians to refrain even from such “prayers”, performed together with those who fell away from Orthodoxy.
Canon 33 of the Laodicean Council reads: "No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics." Canon 10 of the holy apostles: "If anyone shall pray, even in a private house, with an excommunicated person, let him also be excommunicated." The 64th apostolic canon: “If any clergyman or layman shall enter into a synagogue of Jews or heretics to pray, let the former be deposed and let the latter be excommunicated.”
Canonical rules exclude the possibility of even private (“even in a private house”) prayer with those who are excommunicated. In other words, if you cannot receive the Holy Gifts with a person from the same Chalice, then you cannot pray with him. Recently, however, this principle has been increasingly violated.
Unity via “new identity”
The issue of the unity of the Churches – Orthodox and Roman Catholic – has long been a priority for the Patriarchate of Constantinople in its relations with the Vatican. However, to date the papal curia has apparently decided to expand the list of those who need "unity".
Ukraine in this sense has long been declared the "ecumenical experiment area". That is why believers from Protestant and "non-Chalcedonian" religious associations attended the "prayer" in the Kiev-based Uniate temple.
The former (Protestants) reject the ecclesiastic understanding of the Sacraments and hierarchies, while the latter (Armenians) reject most of the church dogma. Naturally, being so different in terms of the perception of religious reality, these people simply cannot get united around their traditional principles. Therefore, it is necessary to create a new religious reality for them having “one-size-fits-all” principles. This is what the "Pontifical Council for Christian Unity” is obviously engaged with currently.
This is not just an assumption. At the aforementioned “moleben”, ex-metropolitan of the UOC Alexander (Drabinko) stated, “Today, some perceive Catholic identity in cultural symbols and traditions. For example, in the celibacy of the Catholic clergy ... I am not completely competent and will not touch on these topics but will focus on the ingenious, in my opinion, idea cultivated by the current Roman pontiff – Pope Francis – that modern Catholic identity should rest not on particular values, institutions or symbols but ... on Christian love."
According to Drabinko, it is about a "new Christian identity" based "not on confessional ‘treasures’, but on effective gospel love.” He emphasizes that this "identity of love" "does not reject other ‘small’ identities."
“Identity of love”?
An example of such an “identity” for Drabinko is Pope Francis. The ex-metropolitan of the UOC says, “We live in an era when the actions of a person of the pope’s scale become known mainly through the media, inevitably making a question arise with us – what are we dealing with? With the true image of a person or his media projection? ... In our media world it is quite difficult to distinguish the true from the apparent. But the actions of the pope are so imbued with the energy of love and mercy that our heart unmistakably feels that this is really true.”
Well, we want to remind the “hierarch” of the OCU that it is not that unambiguous, and very often the actions of the pope are a far cry from his media image of “the all-loving Christian”. It is enough to recall the pontiff hitting a Chinese woman's hand with bitterness and anger. This incident, by the way, is not the first outbreak of uncontrolled anger on the part of the pope. For example, in 2018, video cameras recorded him hitting a nun.
We are not trying to somehow denigrate Francis but simply say that the example of Drabinko, on the one hand, is very unsuccessful, but on the other – very indicative. After all, the new Christian "identity of love", whose main brand figure allows himself such tricks, is a hypocritical Pharisee "Christianity". In this sense, the new “identity” has nothing to do with genuine Christianity, which is described bluntly by both the pope himself and many Catholics.
On January 18, during the vespers at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Pope Francis announced the beginning of a “week of prayers for the unification of Christians.”
The ecumenical delegation from Finland, students of the Bosset Ecumenical Institute, Orthodox students studying in Rome with the support of the Committee for Cooperation in the Field of Culture, which operates under the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, took part in the pontiff-led prayer.
In his sermon addressed to the participants in the “prayer service", the pope said several things which directly contradicted Christian soteriology and Catholic dogma. For example, he stated that “belittling or despising the gifts sent by the Lord to other brothers, considering them in some way less pleasing to God, is a grave sin. If we feed such thoughts, we agree that the grace itself should become a source of pride, injustice and separation. So how can we enter the promised Kingdom then?”
This passage clearly indicates that, in the opinion of the pope, there are “blessed gifts” not only in other faiths, but also in other religions, the importance of which we, Christians, have no right to downplay.
The new “identity” of today has nothing to do with genuine Christianity, which the Pope himself and many Catholics speak bluntly about.
There is no need to scour for evidence of such an attitude of Francis towards non-Orthodoxy – just recall the “catechetesis” of Pachamama and the participation of the higher Catholic clergy in pagan rituals.
On January 16, Callista Gingrich, US Ambassador to the Holy See, announced the launch of the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative, designed to foster "interfaith dialogue."
Earlier, on January 14, under the leadership of Pastor Bob Roberts, Imam Mohamed Magid and Rabbi David Saperstein and with the support of US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, the American non-profit organization Multi-Faith Neighbors Network (MFNN) organized a meeting of Callista Gingrich with several world religious leaders.
And already on January 16, 25 senior world religious leaders representing various Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities arrived for a two-day working dialogue at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Addressing the participants in this meeting, Pope Francis said that only "human brotherhood" is the basis for the development of peace across the globe, while "all differences must fall into line with generic humanity."
However, the Holy Scriptures say that all the tribes of the earth must obey Christ, Who is the source of the true peace ...
The above facts say that the whole teaching of the Church about the salvation of man in Christ is of no worth to Pope Francis. A new religion is his goal.
Is the Pope against the Faith?
Traditional Catholic theology, expressed, for example, in the decrees of the Council of Trent, states: “The wicked is justified by God through His grace, deliverance in Christ Jesus” (Con. Trid. Sess. VI, 6). In other words, without “deliverance in Jesus Christ” the justification of the wicked is impossible.
The catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says: “This Church, wandering the earth, is necessary for salvation. Christ alone is the mediator and the path to salvation, and He is present for us in His body, which is the Church; directly teaching us the need for faith and Baptism. He simultaneously confirmed the need for the Church itself, which people enter through Baptism, as if through a door. Therefore, they who know that the Universal Church was founded by God through Jesus Christ as necessary, and yet they do not want to enter into it or remain in it, cannot be saved.”
However, all this does not seem to have any serious significance to Pope Francis. Therefore, he continues, “We must humbly admit that the blessings received do not belong to us rightfully but by virtue of the gift, and they were granted to us so that we share them with others.”
Again, these words can be interpreted as the possibility of access to the Sacraments of the Church (which are, in fact, God's blessings) by representatives of other faiths and, possibly, other religions. For example, the pope himself admitted that when he was a simple Jesuit in Denmark, he replaced the pastor of the Lutheran community, which, again, contradicts the canons of the Roman Catholic Church.
The whole teaching of the Church about the salvation of man in Christ is of no worth to Pope Francis. A new religion is his goal.
The practice of Eucharist of the laity without confession and thus, without clarifying their religious affiliation and religious views, is common for Catholics. Representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are rapidly moving toward the same practice of housel for all. Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago said that priests have no right to say no to those who wish to receive the Holy Communion sacrament.
Consequently, the pope is far from being alone in his beliefs. That’s why he confidently says that "we need to recognize the value of grace revealed to other Christian communities."
Actually, these words of the pontiff are quite logical. From now on, in order to receive the grace of God, one does not need to belong to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Moreover, one does not need to belong to any Church – it is enough to “believe in one’s soul” and “feel God in oneself”. This “religion” no longer requires sacraments, prayer, repentance, and the Church as it is. On top of that, God as a Person disappears, His place being taken by an impersonal substance or a philosophical concept.
Catholics ring the alarm bell
The problem of the actual destruction of the Christian faith by Pope Francis and its replacement with something else is also seen inside the Catholic Church itself. Roberto di Mattei, a well-known historian and theologian of the RCC, believes that Catholicism has ceased to be monolithic, as two religions simultaneously exist inside it.
One of these “religions”, according to the historian, is represented by German Cardinal Marx and his adepts. They support married clergy, feel loyal to LGBT people, support liberal principles and oppose the traditional Catholic theology. It is Cardinal Marx that Pope Francis sides with. According to di Mattei, this “religion” can already be called German-Amazonian rather than Catholic.
In turn, Robert Mutsaerts, Catholic Bishop from the Netherlands, is sure that the Vatican mocks at faith, breaks with traditions and brings idolatry into the Church. Commenting on the conclusions of the so-called "Amazonian Synod of the RCC", the Cardinal noted that in the final document, "even Jesus is barely mentioned, but religious peoples and their vision of the cosmos are mentioned instead. Shouldn't we bring Christ to Amazon? On the contrary, it seems that the Synod brought Amazonian idolatry to Rome.”
The statements made by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, a former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the RCC, sound even more slamming, “The militant atheist Eugenio Scalfari shows off his friendship with Pope Francis. He collaborates with the pope because they are united by the general idea of a man-made world religion (without the Trinity and Incarnation).”
World Religion and the Church
Given all of the above, it can be stated that Pope Francis alongside the majority of the Roman Catholic Church, in search of ways of unity for Christians and representatives of other religions, are destroying the faith in Christ, which was passed down to us through the Holy Scripture and Tradition, and creating a new “identity” being actually a new religion.
It is also understood by the Catholic Church itself. For example, a woman who the pope hit on the arm asked him, “Why are you destroying the faith? Why are you destroying the Chinese? Think about their feelings. Talk to me!"
Unfortunately, a lot of those, who consider themselves Orthodox Christians and are even at the top of the “hierarchy”, do not understand this. Their participation in "ecumenical" or "interfaith" prayers is unacceptable and cannot be justified by anything. Achieving unity with other Christians or representatives of other religions is possible only in the way offered by Christ, the Gospel, and the Church: faith, repentance, Baptism, and participation in the Eucharist. And it is rather sad that certain Orthodox hierarchs and laity, who support joint “prayers”, do not understand this.
Catholic Bishop from the Netherlands Robert Mutsaerts is convinced that the Vatican mocks at faith, breaks with traditions and brings idolatry to the Church.
However, maybe they are perfectly aware of what will come of it – the complete destruction of cultural and religious differences and the creation of a special kind of spirituality to be based not on personal relationships with God but on the principles of impersonal and sterile love or “universal values”. In this new “identity” there will be no place left for Christ and true love, which hates a sin but loves a sinner. Yet, it offers a convenient place for representatives of LGBT, atheists and haters of both Christ and His Church.
Uniting everyone and everything is really possible and necessary – but only in Christ. This can be done not through the destruction of confessional differences, cultural traditions or dogmatic principles, but exclusively through repentance and joining the Body of Christ, which is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Its doors, like the doors of Noah’s ark at one time, are open to each and everybody. It is only necessary to enter Her through the gate offered by Christ. “I am the gate,” says the Lord. “Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” All the other paths are predatory.