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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Jan 08, 2021
Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.
A video promoting universal fraternity, posted by the Vatican on Pope Francis’s Twitter account (Pontifex), has raised more than a few eyebrows. Because the video continues Pope Francis’ now common emphasis on reciprocal respect and charity among people of all religions, the video has prompted fresh discussions of the growing problem of universalism, or the idea that there are many paths to God, and all of them are valid.
Thus, for example, the Pope states in the video that:
The Church values God’s action in other religions, without forgetting that for us Christians, the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The difficulty is that statements like this raise questions that demand clarification if they are not to be received as errors. Certainly God acts in people of other religions; He acts everywhere. But to refer to God’s action in other religions tends to suggest that these “other religions” (whatever they may be) are actively willed by God, rather than only permissively willed. Pope Francis has introduced considerable confusion into this discussion over the past two years—in his joint statement on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed along with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar; in his last encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which had very little to say that was distinctively Christian; and in this video promoting his prayer intention “At the service of human fraternity”….