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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis' call for a multifaith day of prayer asking God "to end this pandemic" has provoked a blistering backlash, with thousands of Catholics accusing the pontiff of "syncretism," "blasphemy" and "sacrilege."
"I would like to remind you that on May 14, believers of every religion are invited to unite themselves spiritually in a day of prayer, fasting and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic," the pontiff announced Tuesday.
"The only 'spiritual' union that Christians recognize is the communion of the Holy Spirit with those baptized into the Body of Christ," Deacon Nick Donnelly told Church Militant, announcing on Twitter: "I will not be joining this syncretistic effort to create a false 'one world religion.'"
Francis reiterated the call for all people "according to the teachings of their religion, faith or sect," to implore "the All-Creator" God to "lift this pandemic off us and the entire world" before his Regina Coeli on May 3 — as announced earlier in a Vatican press release.
The Vatican issued its summons on behalf of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, an inter-religious body created to implement the initiatives proposed by the Abu Dhabi Declaration signed by Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in February 2019.
"Just think for one moment what Francis is asking Catholics to do. He's asking us to unite ourselves on the level of spirit with those who worship idols and demons or who venerate false prophets that deny the divinity of Christ. What an appalling thing to ask us to do!" Deacon Donnelly told Church Militant.
The popular British author and journalist added:
Of course, we can cooperate on the natural level with people of other religions to combat COVID-19, but union on a spiritual level is completely out of the question. To do so would risk the danger of syncretism — the creation of a false religion that blasphemously attempts to combine Christianity with the beliefs and practices of false and pagan religions. The Pachamama spirit is rearing its ugly head again in the Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, we must reject it.
Catholics are using the hashtags #syncretism, #freemasonicfraternity, #Chrislam, #OneWorldReligion and #FrancisIsNotOurPope to protest the pan-religious day of prayer.
Speaking to Church Militant, theologian Gavin Ashenden lamented the call for "all believers of all religions" to "unite spiritually" as "nothing less than blasphemy for a Christian."
"There are a number of dreadful errors here," the recent convert to Catholicism noted. "First, it makes a distinction between 'all believers' and the rest, who are presumably a mixture of atheists and agnostics — the gnostic error of presuming that anything spiritual is good and non-spiritual is bad, or less good. Jesus does not teach this."
"It makes the second error of presuming that truth does not matter. Jesus taught us that truth consisted in Him alone and His relationship with the Father. But the Committee describes 'God' as 'All-Creator' — superimposing Allah onto Yahweh. Even Wikipedia offers a choice of 135 wholly different notions of Creator God to choose from," Dr. Ashenden, who resigned as Queen's Chaplain in protest at the Koran being read in St. Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow," remarked.
"Any promotion of this committee is the promotion of syncretism at the expense of the uniqueness of Jesus," Ashenden asserted.
The Oxford dictionary defines syncretism as "the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures or schools of thought."
John Gravino, author of Confronting the Pope of Suspicion: The Key to Church Reform told Church Militant he wouldn't participate in Pope Francis' interfaith activities "because I cannot be sure that he won't plunge us headlong into mortal sin."
"Go back and look at the pictures of the Amazon Synod. Catholic clerics were bowing down to a South American fertility goddess! Folks, that's not interfaith cooperation. That's idolatry," the popular Catholic speaker and commentator stated.
"Pope Francis wants a [pan-religious] day of fasting on the feast of St. Matthias — the one saint that proves that if a bad apostle can be replaced, certainly God will throw out a lousy pope. I'm celebrating the feast of the apostle [on Thursday]," he said.
Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a member of the Higher Committee, was forced to defend Pope Francis against accusations of "syncretism" in August 2019.
"It is not about creating a 'melting pot' in which all religions are considered equal," he said, "but [recognizing] that all believers, those who seek God, and all people of goodwill without religious affiliation are equal in dignity."
But Dr. John Zmirak, author of bestselling The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism told Church Militant: "It's one thing to join non-Christians for simultaneous (not common) prayers for our country, or for peace. It's quite another to cobble together some lowest-common-denominator, minimal Theist petition, and offer it as one prayer."
"That's the kind of syncretism and indifferentism which led popes to condemn Freemasonry and past ecumenism. Seeing it enshrined now at the very heart of the Church is chilling," he observed.
Progressive Catholics are vigorously pushing Francis' day of prayer. Brooklyn diocese asked its members to respond, tweeting the pontiff's call as "Relief Through Belief!" Bishop of Nottingham Patrick McKinney has also called on Catholics in England and Wales to support the pope's summons and said he would be participating.
The archdiocese of Glasgow announced that the Bishops' Committee for Interreligious Dialogue and the Shia-Muslim Ahl Al-Bayt Society in Scotland will join in prayer on Zoom in response to the pope's invitation.
The Hindu community in Abu Dhabi, led by Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, has also announced its support for the day of prayer.
The pontiff's endorsement of "syncretism" has triggered a renewed outburst of anti-Catholic rhetoric among Protestants who quote the book of Revelation to label the Roman Catholic Church "the whore of Babylon" and accuse the bishop of Rome of being the "Antichrist" who will lead the movement for a one-world religion.
"Remember Pope Francis told us that The Lord of the World, which depicted a syncretist globalist Antichrist, was his favorite novel. Was he warning us? Trolling us? I get a creepy feeling just thinking about that," Dr. Zmirak commented.
In an essay "The World Neo-Religion Will Have its Temple: With the Pope's Approval," Vatican whistleblower Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò slammed "the Abu Dhabi apostasy" as "the fruit of pantheistic and agnostic neo-modernism that tyrannizes the Roman Church, germinated by the conciliar document Nostra Aetate."
"In the garden of Abu Dhabi," Viganò wrote, "the Temple of the world syncretistic Neo-Religion is about to rise with its anti-Christian dogmas. Not even the most hopeful of the Freemasons would have imagined so much!"
Francis had originally planned to host an interreligious and international event for young people under the banner "Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance" on May 14 "to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity." The Wuhan virus forced the Vatican to cancel the conference.