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Good morning Father,

I am …, more than a question I would like to ask you to enlighten me about this report regarding the words of the Pope during his missionary trip to Morocco, which does not look much like a missionary one, recalling what actually happened to Francis of Assisi.

I have several doubts about the statement regarding “Christianity not as a doctrine”.

I would be very grateful if you could read the report and let me know, since I care very much about your opinions.

I include here the direct link.

I send you a hug and a prayer.


Dear Son,

1. The report you pointed out to me goes far beyond what Pope Francis intended to do.

At a time when there are attacks happening that cause massacres, destruction, and deaths claimed by religious movements, Pope Francis has decided to be a missionary of peace.

2. He took the opportunity of the eighth centenary of the meeting of St. Francis with the Sultan.

It is true that St. Francis went to convert the Sultan.

But it is also true that he went there because he was aware of the dangers of all kinds that pilgrims ran into, in their journey to the Holy Land by land and sea.

He therefore also went there for reasons of peace.

3. The Pope did not go to Morocco to convert that population.

Had it been for this reason, the king would have told him that he could as well remain at home.

The reason was exclusively to promote dialogue, so that men do not kill and massacre each other for religious reasons.

4. The words of the Pope reported through the link you sent me are these:

“This visit is a reason for joy and gratitude for me, because it allows me above all to discover the riches of your land, your people, and your traditions. Gratitude that turns into an important opportunity to promote interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding between the faithful of our two religions, as we remember – eight hundred years later – the historic meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil.

That prophetic event demonstrates that the courage in meeting and in outstretching one’s hand builds a road for peace and harmony for all humanity, where extremism and hatred are factors of division and destruction.

Furthermore, I hope that the esteem, respect, and collaboration between us will contribute to deepening our bonds of sincere friendship, to allow our communities to prepare a better future for the new generations”.

5. When the Pope speaks of our two religions, which must have the courage in meeting and in outstretching one’s hand, he does not place himself on the theological level, but on the sociological one.

On the theological level, the Church has perfect awareness of who Jesus Christ is and who Mohammed is. At this level, dialogue – unless it stays at a very generic level – would require a common faith.

But on an operational and sociological level (even though it may not be exactly correct to call it sociological) we put ourselves at a shared level as men of good will and representatives of religions.

It is at this level that the Pope places his speech in Morocco, as he had previously done in the Abu Dhabi declaration, where he signed a “Document on ‘Human Brotherhood for World Peace and Shared Coexistence’ signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahamad al-Tayyib”.

The topic was not the common religion because religions are different, but human brotherhood for World Peace and shared coexistence.

6. Now I get to the other expression you used: “I have several doubts about the statement concerning ‘Christianity not as a doctrine’”.

Well, in this regard, I went to read what he says in the Post Synodal Exhortation Christus vivit.

I report to you the two sections 212 and 213.

Some limit themselves to reporting only 212. But the omission of 213 is unforgivable, because it risks distorting the thought that it expresses.

7. Here, then, is what the Pope wrote:

“212. As for growth, I would make one important point. In some places, it happens that young people are helped to have a powerful experience of God, an encounter with Jesus that touched their hearts. But the only follow-up to this is a series of “formation” meetings featuring talks about doctrinal and moral issues, the evils of today’s world, the Church, her social doctrine, chastity, marriage, birth control and so on. As a result, many young people get bored, they lose the fire of their encounter with Christ and the joy of following him; many give up and others become downcast or negative. Rather than being too concerned with communicating a great deal of doctrine, let us first try to awaken and consolidate the great experiences that sustain the Christian life. In the words of Romano Guardini, “when we experience a great love… everything else becomes part of it”.

213. Any educational project or path of growth for young people must certainly include formation in Christian doctrine and morality. It is likewise important that it have two main goals. One is the development of the kerygma, the foundational experience of encounter with God through Christ’s death and resurrection. The other is growth in fraternal love, community life and service”.

8. Christianity is not a catalog of truths to be known. Indeed, it is in essence the life of God communicated to man. It is an experience of communion.

Of course, this communion is conveyed by the Word, it has very precise contents. It has equally demanding moral criteria.

But that’s not essentially that.

If it were only that, it would be a philosophy or an ideology.

9. St. Thomas says: “Now that which is preponderant in the law of the New Testament, and whereon all its efficacy is based, is the grace of the Holy Ghost, which is given through faith in Christ.

Consequently the New Law is chiefly the grace itself of the Holy Ghost, which is given to those who believe in Christ” (Summa theologica, I-II, 106, 1).

Therefore, the essence of Christianity is the life of communion with God through Jesus Christ.

In a word, it is the life in grace. It is the Kingdom of God introduced into the heart of man. It is an anticipation of life in Paradise.

But since the life in grace is ordinarily communicated through preaching and celebration of the Sacraments, in Christianity there are basic Truths which are ineliminable from the life of faith. They constitute its backbone.

But Christian life is not reduced to their knowledge. It is much more.

This is the reason why St. Thomas writes further: “Nevertheless the New Law contains certain things that dispose us to receive the grace of the Holy Ghost, and pertaining to the use of that grace: such things are of secondary importance, so to speak, in the New Law; and the faithful need to be instructed concerning them, both by word and writing, both as to what they should believe and as to what they should do.

Consequently we must say that the New Law is in the first place a law that is inscribed on our hearts, but that secondarily it is a written law” (Ib.).

To avoid any misunderstanding, the word secondary is not to be understood as an optional or questionable reality, because this knowledge is necessary and conveys existence. It just means that the matter cannot be restricted to it.

After all, you can go to hell even if you are a doctor of theology.

Conversely, one does not enter Heaven if one has not begun to live the supernatural and divine life.

Thank you for the two questions that allowed me to answer so many visitors simultaneously.

I return your warm wishes, I gladly remember you in prayer and I bless you.

Father Angelo