EWTN Priest Calls on Francis to ‘Formally Correct’ Remarks on God Willing Diversity of Religions

His Excellency Bishop Edward Scharfenberger – Diocese of Albany
April 13, 2019
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By Stephen Kokx, LifeSiteNews, April 12, 2019

Stephen KokxWASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — On April 4’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, the self-described “papal posse” spent most of their time clarifying Church teaching so viewers would not be confused by heterodox remarks recently made by Pope Francis, especially his comments on God willing a “diversity of religions,” which one panelist suggested the pope should issue a formal correction of.

Fr. Gerald Murray, Robert Royal, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing website, and show host Raymond Arroyo focused their attention on several key topics during their discussion: the appointment of Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory to the Archdiocese of Washington, the pope’s remarks on the death penalty and immigration, Christus vivit — Francis’ new exhortation on youth — and the pope’s recent trip to Morocco.

Royal told Arroyo that Gregory’s move to Washington is really “Cardinal Wuerl by other means” and that he doesn’t see it as much of a change given Gregory’s relationship with former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and close friendship with Cardinal Wuerl. Royal then wondered if the pick was an intentional effort by the Vatican to keep some continuity in the Archdiocese. Gregory, a former head of the U.S. Bishops conference, is a liberal, pro-LGBT social justice-oriented cleric. Fr. Murray expressed concern that Gregory will need to do “a lot” to earn the trust of the laity and that there has to be a lot of “cleanup duty” to ensure sex abuse does not occur in the archdiocese again.

Arroyo then also asked Fr. Murray, a canon lawyer and priest of the Archdiocese of New York, if the pope’s assertion aboard the papal plane on his way back from Morocco last month that the death penalty is not Catholic is an indication the Church has evolved on the subject. Murray flatly stated that the pope “does not have the power to change” the Church’s “perennial” position on the morality of the death penalty in some situations. “The Church does not change its teaching on matters that have been consistently taught simply because it becomes unpopular in the modern age.”

The trio next discussed remarks Pope Francis made aboard the papal plane where he suggested international populism is driven by a fear of the other. Royal pointed out that Europeans feel threatened over the loss of their cultural heritage and national identities, and that the pope is confusing the moral teachings of the church with the prudential political decisions elected officials need to make. He also wondered about the effect young people leaving developing nations would have. Fr. Murray echoed the remarks of Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has said people should be able to stay in their homeland and that they shouldn’t need to flee to another country.

Pope Francis’ exhortation on young people, Christus vivit, was also discussed. Fr. Murray said the exhortation’s use of the term “inclusive” makes him think of the language used by pro-LGBT activists. Murray said young people should be listened to, as the exhortation calls for, especially those who are fed up with clerical abuse and who want the Latin Mass in their diocese, but that they need to be taught the faith first and foremost. Royal wondered if something in the pope’s upbringing is what causes him to think the Church needs to listen to young people more.

The 23-minute discussion closed with a frank conversation on Pope Francis’ remarks in Abu Dhabi about how God wills a diversity of religions and when he told Catholics in Morocco last month not to proselytize their neighbors. The “posse” seemed to be in agreement that the pope’s remarks were confusing, inappropriate, and essentially not in alignment with Church teaching.

“The Church teaches clearly God has willed Judaism as the chosen people and then Christ, the savior of Jew and Gentile, founded the Christian Church which is the fulfillment of the hope of Israel,” Fr. Murray stated.

“Those are the only religions willed by God. Everything else is a human creation. We believe that. We do not believe that other people who are leaders of religions did that under divine inspiration to create rivals interpretations of the meaning of salvation. The permissive will of God means God lets human beings make free choices on their own that God would not have otherwise chosen for himself to do.”

Murray suggested the pope “issue a formal correction” of his statements and instead say, “There is only one Church established by God, that is the Catholic Church, and that Judaism was the chosen people brought into the world in order that Christ might come, and save Jew and Gentile. Those are the only religions revealed by God.”

Royal was worried that average Catholics would be confused by the pope’s comments on other religions and wondered if Fr. Murray was “maybe” right in calling for the Pope to formally correct his remarks.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis informally clarified his controversial statement in unscripted remarks to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, stating that God merely “permits” other religions according to his “permissive will.”