In a joint statement signed last February 4 with a prominent leader of the Islamic world, Pope Francis said that “pluralism and diversity” of religions is “willed by God.”
The Pope signed the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” with Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque, during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi last February 4 as part of the Pope’s three-day apostolic visit to the United Arab Emirates. The historic journey marked the first time a Roman Pontiff has visited the Arabian Peninsula.
The document on Human Fraternity invites “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”
The controversial passage reads:
Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.
The Pope’s signed declaration caused a worldwide controversy, with numerous bishops and Cardinals publicly correcting the Pope for comments which put Christianity on equal footing with all other religions in the world. Christianity is fundamentally irreconcilable in its core tenets with other major religions, such as Islam (which denies the divinity of Christ and the Holy Trinity), Judaism (which denies Jesus as the Messiah and Second Person of the Holy Trinity), and Hinduism (which teaches a multitude of “gods” instead of a One God).
The Church teaches that salvation can only be attained through Jesus Christ, who said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).