May 10-12, 2002
volume 13, no. 90

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The Humanism of
John Paul II

Part Six:
Assisi Revisited:
Responding to a Defense (II)

          The Mass of All Ages that sustained and nourished saints and sinners for two millennia has been suppressed in favor of different confessions praying in their own traditions to false gods in direct violation of the First Commandment: "I am the Lord Thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me!"
    "So why defend the indefensible? Because, I presume, Fr. wishes to appear to be loyal to the Pope. But while this may be loyalty to Karol Wojtyla, it is not loyalty to the Pope as such. The Pope, when tolerating or defending or encouraging or even commanding evil, must be resisted and disobeyed. To resist him when he must be resisted is true loyalty. The Pope is not God, and obedience ends where evil commands start. That Assisi I and II are clearly evil needs no further demonstration, I hope (but you're going to find more in this essay). All this talk about different "confessions" praying "in their own way" merely obscures the ugly truth that there were false religions present, encouraged by the Supreme Pontiff of the Church to offer prayers and sacrifices to idols. That's what it was, like it or not."

    Time for part 2 of this originally unintended intermission to my series on John Paul II, precipitated by a Neo-Catholic critique of the traditionalist condemnations of Assisi's interfaith prayer meetings in 1986 and 2002.

   I will continue to dissect and comment on Fr. Xavier Garban's defense of Assisi I and II. Fr. Garban is the District Superior of France of the Fraternity of St. Peter, founded in 1988 after the supposedly "schismatic" ordinations of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Tragically, what we're seeing these days is exactly what Archbishop Lefebvre thought would happen to the FSSP: the systematic disintegration of a semi-traditionalist order by the Vatican Novus Ordo apparatus. But before I get further caught up in this, let me pick up where I left off last week.

   Fr. Garban writes:

    "And, in fact, every religious group for their part prayed according to its own tradition and in its own place (and in 2002, the places were simple rooms and not chapels or churches devoid of Christian symbols). At the end of the day, all the groups assembled together, everyone prayed in his own way but being separated from the whole group in order to avoid the appearance of communal prayer. Thus at the most important moment of the day, everyone listened to the prayer of the others but without associating with them in any way."

   Please note here Fr. Garban's conspicuous silence concerning one essential point: while he mentions that each "confession" prayed "according to its own tradition," what he refuses to say is that each religion actually prayed to its own false god! This is what happened. This is objective fact. It is not spin. But Fr. Garban instead talks about "confessions" (a much nicer-sounding word than "religions," because that would immediately draw attention to the fact that this whole ordeal is unacceptable because we're mixing religions) who pray according to their own "traditions," as if we were dealing with the Byzantine, Melkite, and Coptic, etc., rite Catholics joining the Latin rite Catholics in prayer but each in their own legitimate tradition. That, if it had been the case, would have been totally acceptable, of course, since the Eastern Catholic churches (not the Orthodox churches!) are fully Catholic.

   So how come Fr. Garban doesn't mention the objective facts here? Why is he hiding behind the obvious euphemisms of "confessions" and "traditions"? Because mentioning that, as one instance of those "confessions praying according to their own traditions," Voodoo witchdoctors offered up devilish sacrifices in a Catholic convent just doesn't sound very defensible - and it isn't. So why defend the indefensible? Because, I presume, Fr. wishes to appear to be loyal to the Pope. But while this may be loyalty to Karol Wojtyla, it is not loyalty to the Pope as such. The Pope, when tolerating or defending or encouraging or even commanding evil, must be resisted and disobeyed. To resist him when he must be resisted is true loyalty. The Pope is not God, and obedience ends where evil commands start. That Assisi I and II are clearly evil needs no further demonstration, I hope (but you're going to find more in this essay). All this talk about different "confessions" praying "in their own way" merely obscures the ugly truth that there were false religions present, encouraged by the Supreme Pontiff of the Church to offer prayers and sacrifices to idols. That's what it was, like it or not.

   Now, Fr. Xavier says that

    "everyone listened to the prayer of the others but without associating with them in any way."
Without associating with them in any way? One's very presence in these interfaith meeting associates one with what's going on there! Does anyone think that being present at a Masonic lodge during one of their black masses is not equal to endorsing what's going on? Of course it is! So why insist that being part of Assisi does not associate one with the idolatrous prayers? Secondly, being present at Assisi at the very least means tolerating the prayers and sacrifices of false religions. In other words, being present there implies tolerating idolatry. That's a sin against the First Commandment, folks. Ironic, isn't it, that people who have no trouble defending and endorsing the Assisi scandals nevertheless would never set a foot into an SSPX church because they fear that by this action they might appear "schismatic." How about that for having things backwards! But the Scriptures warn: "Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter" (Isaias 5:20).

   Fr. Garban further:

    "Only the Christians of various confessions were given a time for 'ecumenical prayer,' of course, non-liturgical, centering around the Creed and the Our Father which are common to all."
Ah, now that's encouraging! I guess the Vatican isn't at the stage yet where we pray together with all the religions (but see Redemptor Hominis No. 16 - it's coming!). For now it's only the heretical and schismatic non-Catholic "Christian" sects. I hate to be sarcastic, but I think it is entirely warranted at this point.

   Despite the obvious novelty introduced by the Assisi events, Fr. Garban assures us that John Paul II did nothing new. Get this:

    "The fact is generally unknown that John Paul II didn't invent anything new in calling upon all men of good will to pray, whatever their confession."
Uy! For the first time since the revolution began, we are now going to hear a defense of the interreligious abominations in terms of tradition. Fasten your seatbelts, everyone. Here's what Fr. claims:
    "In 1986, in a study published in the review, 'La Pensee Catholique,' l'abbe Luc Lefebvre brought to light several anterior pontifical declarations which already announced what John Paul II would do in Assisi. Thus in 1937, Pope Pius XI in his encyclical 'Divini Redemptoris' wrote: 'Against the violent effort of the powers of darkness which would snatch from the hearts of men the very idea of God, we hope very much that Christians shall come and join all those who, and they are the greater part of humanity, believe that God exists and who adore him.' Pius XI didn't invite anyone to a reunion, but the idea was still the same."

   Now, at first sight, this quote may seem rather supportive of John Paul II's Assisi meetings. However, the correct translation here is crucial. The translation of the encyclical Divini Redemptoris that Fr. Garban has used is not the Vatican translation, at least not the one used on the Vatican web site. Let me quote to you the passage in question as it is translated into English on the Vatican web site:

    "But in this battle joined by the powers of darkness against the very idea of Divinity, it is Our fond hope that, besides the host which glories in the name of Christ, all those - and they comprise the overwhelming majority of mankind, - who still believe in God and pay Him homage may take a decisive part. We therefore renew the invitation extended to them five years ago in Our Encyclical Caritate Christi, invoking their loyal and hearty collaboration 'in order to ward off from mankind the great danger that threatens all alike.' Since, as We then said, 'belief in God is the unshakable foundation of all social order and of all responsibility on earth, it follows that all those who do not want anarchy and terrorism ought to take energetic steps to prevent the enemies of religion from attaining the goal they have so brazenly proclaimed to the world'" [Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, No. 72].

   I think you can see how different this translation here is, and it is the Vatican's. Here, Pope Pius XI asks all people who believe in God to take a decisive part in combating atheism. In the translation Fr. Garban used, the Pope asks all Catholics to join the non-Catholic theists in combating atheism! The difference between the two translations is profound! In the Vatican's translation, there is not even a hint of ecumania. Rather, if read in context, the Pope merely expresses his desire that even non-Catholic theists fight the evil of Communism, which is by nature atheistic. In other words, he says to those of other faiths: "Look, all you who believe in God, you too must fight against Communism because it says there is no God." He didn't tell them to pray to their idols or to offer sacrifices to their demon gods. He told them to fight, apparently politically and socially.

   On the other hand, in the translation Fr. Garban uses, the Pope is portrayed as telling Catholics that they ought to join in with non-Catholic theists in fighting atheism, and that does indeed have at least a bit of an Assisi ring to it. But I see no reason to prefer Fr. Garban's translation - wherever it may have originated - over the Vatican's translation from, presumably, the very time the encyclical was written. So, I'd have to say that there are no grounds for claiming Pius XI had the same idea as John Paul II. That would be stretching the encyclical into absurdity. Pius XI would shudder at any such interreligious scenario as has become standard for John Paul II. So, no, Fr. Xavier, the idea is not the same between Pius XI and John Paul II.

   By the way, if, for the sake of argument, we accepted Fr. Garban's notion that Pius XI held to an Assisi theology, why has John Paul II not referred to Pius XI as having encouraged the same or similar action? It is entirely customary for a Pope, incl. John Paul II when he teaches something that is traditional, to refer to one's "venerable predecessor of happy memory" who taught the same thing. However, in Ut Unum Sint, John Paul II's mammoth encyclical on "ecumenism," there is not one, not one (!), reference to either Popes Pius X, XI, or XII. Out of 162 footnotes, the overwhelming majority refers to the period after 1962. Folks, if this does not smack of novelty, what does? If John Paul had been able to find just a single affirmation of his new theology by Pius XI or any other recent pre-Vatican II Pope, I am sure he would have done so. It seems to me that Fr. Garban's reference to Divini Redemptoris was a desperate shot at trying to find something in traditional Catholicism that might vindicate John Paul II. So, if Divini Redemptoris is the best Fr. Garban can do, then he might as well give up.

   Fr. Garban continues:

    "Christ is the Lord of all, including those who still do not know Him. And he calls all men. His vicar-the meek Christ on earth-received the divine mission to transmit this call. The fact that he was visibly listened to at Assisi-was this not a grace falling directly from heaven to sink, in a way, into the depths of hearts? And that through this, the participants, perhaps without admitting it, recognized Christ and His vicar with a certain preeminence?"

   Oh, come on! Preeminence? Are you kidding? Let me ask you honestly: was anyone at Assisi challenged to forsake his idolatrous ways and convert? Was anyone told that salvation can only be had through Jesus Christ and that all others are charlatans, false prophets, demons, and evildoers? Of course not. Now, granted, you may not want to say things this bluntly to some misled souls, but one can still get the same message across, perhaps a bit more covertly, and this is certainly not done by affirming these people in their errors. If we truly love these misled people, and we do, then we ought to help them convert, not do the "politically-correct" thing and affirm some "bond of brotherhood" with them or advance some other masonic idea.

   Was the Successor of Peter listened to at Assisi? Yes, I guess so, but so were the other religious leaders who were allowed to speak! And guess who listened to them: the Vicar of Christ! Don't think for a minute that all of these idolaters that were invited were desperately waiting to hear the Christian Gospel. Rather, I suspect many were happy they finally got a chance to publicly lecture the Pope!

   Here, let me share with you some of what these representatives of the false religions had to say:

    "May I become at all times, both now and forever, a protector for those without protection, a guide for those who have lost their way, a ship for those with oceans to cross, a bridge for those with rivers to cross, a sanctuary for those in danger, a lamp for those in need of light, a place of refuge for those in need of shelter, and a servant to all those in need. As long as space endures, as long as sentient beings remain, until then, may I too remain and dispel the miseries of the world."

   That's the testimony of the Buddhist Geshe Tashi Tsering. So much for Christ's "I am the light of the world." But hold your breath, because now comes the testimony of Chief Amadou Gasseto, the Voodoo High Priest:

    "As a leader of the traditional Vodou religion, I believe that peace is not possible as long as there are rifts, divisions and antagonisms between people. We must begin by achieving mastery over ourselves, so as not to speak words which lead to feelings of opposition, exclusion or violence. We must be responsible for the spirit which our words produce. This should be a spirit which gives rise to harmony, friendliness and fraternity. Peace will then find a favourable ground in which to grow among people. I am convinced of one thing: peace in the world depends on peace among people. Man's responsibility in the world has its influence not only on society but also on the whole of creation. When there is no peace among people, neither is there peace between the rest of creation and man. But when people work for peace in a nation, its land becomes generous and the herds multiply for man's greater good. This is a key law of nature which comes from the Creator, who has linked creation's destiny to man's responsibility. This is why it is good to invite people every year to a change of heart by renouncing hatred, violence and injustice. Leaders of world religions should neither forget nor neglect this practice. It is a matter of making amends for the harm done to creation by man, of asking forgiveness of the protecting spirits of regions affected by the violence and the evil committed by man, and of asking forgiveness, carrying out sacrifices of reparation and purification, and thus restoring peace. I affirm that this purification of nature is essential in order to restore peace among people and with the rest of creation. In ancient times, in the time of the kings, Benin scrupulously respected this practice and the country enjoyed peace and the benefits of nature. The leaders of the present time should be concerned about this. And we shall remind them of this when we return from Assisi, as a way of producing in Benin what we will have experienced together at world level in Italy."

   Heard enough? I certainly have. But this is by no means all. I cut the guy short before my guts turn entirely. You can read more of this trash at the Vatican web site at

   But back now to Fr. Garban. I don't think we need any more evidence that to try to attribute the "spirit of Assisi" to the great Pius XI is a sin of the highest degree. But don't worry, Fr. Garban has found another supposed instance of a John Paul II-Pius XI connection. He says:

    "Pius XI speaks again in 1932, at an hour of mounting peril, in his encyclical, 'Caritate Christi,' clearly evoking all men who turn toward God. It is precisely prayer which, following the Apostle, must bring peace. Prayer which is addressed to the heavenly Father of all men; Prayer, which is the sentiment of this great family that extends beyond the borders of all countries and continents."

   Is that what Pius XI says? Let's see:

    "Let all, then, join together, if need be even at the cost of serious loss, so that they may save themselves and all human society. In this union of minds and of forces, those who glory in the Christian name ought surely to take the foremost place, remembering the illustrious examples of the Apostolic age, when 'the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul' (Acts iv. 32). But besides these, all whoever sincerely acknowledge God and honor Him from their heart should lend their aid in order that mankind may be saved from the great peril impending over all" (Pius XI, Caritate Christi, No. 12).

   Now, let me ask you: does this say anything about prayer? Is Pius XI encouraging any false religion to pray or to offer sacrifice or to desecrate a Catholic basilica? Of course not! There is, in fact, no appeal made to anything supernatural as far as the non-Catholics are concerned. I think this is comparable to the abortion epidemic in our country right now. Of course we ought to work together with Protestants and even Muslims and Hindus, if need be, to end this horrific holocaust which has eclipsed human reason. But that doesn't mean praying together with them or encouraging them to pray to their gods. It simply means working together with them socially, as you would with an atheist.

   Fr. Garban concludes his defense of Assisi as follows:

    "Now let the Holy Spirit, Who is no stranger to any humble and sincere prayer from no matter where it comes, ripen the fruit."
No, thanks, Fr., this kind of fruit we've had to endure for too long, and the Holy Ghost has nothing to do with it. It's a rotten fruit because it comes from a rotten tree. Unfortunately, trees like this have been planted in way too many Catholic backyards already, and so many people still don't recognize the bad fruit.

    John Paul II teaches in Redemptor Hominis No. 16 that we ought to come "closer together with the representatives of the non-Christian religions, an activity expressed through dialogue, contacts, [and] prayer in common. . . ." Prayer in common with non-Christian religions! No, thanks. Not me. Because the Lord our God is "a jealous God" (Deuteronomy 5:9), and "as for me and my house we will serve [the] Lord" (Josue 24:15).

Mario Derksen

    Editor's Note: So many of the post-conciliar bishops today refer to those clinging to the true Roman Catholic traditions that were in vogue for 2000 years prior to the reforms of Vatican II as 'fossils,' 'dinosaurs,' 'old folks who will die off soon.' We beg to differ and offer as proof the youthful wisdom and enthusiasm of the younger generation in the Traditional Insights of Mario Derksen who exemplifies the thinking of many more young men and women today who realize the new thinking of the post-conciliar church does not add up to true Catholic teaching. Thus they long for those traditions so tried and true. His insight shows great promise, optimism and hope for the future of Holy Mother Church.

      Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]

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volume 13, no. 90
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