“Infidels”: ultra-conservative Catholic groups criticize Pope Francis for interfaith prayers

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Pope Francis: “We do not pray against each other, one tradition against another … (but) as brothers”

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VATICAN CITY • Pope Francis joined an interfaith day of prayer on Thursday to call on God to end the coronavirus pandemic, dismissing criticism from ultra-conservative Catholic groups, with one accusing him of associating to “infidels”.

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A multi-faith committee formed after the pope’s historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula last year proposed that Christians, Muslims and Jews pray, fast and perform charitable work on Thursday.

“Maybe there will be someone who says ‘This is religious relativism and it cannot be done,’ Francis said in the homily at his morning Vatican mass on Thursday.

“But how can we not pray to our father? Each one prays as he knows, as he can. We do not pray against each other, one tradition against the other… (but) as brothers, ”he said.

The nine-member Higher Committee on Human Fraternity, based in Abu Dhabi, promotes dialogue between religions. It includes Muslims, Jews and Christians, including a Vatican cardinal and one of the Pope’s private secretaries, who is an Egyptian priest.

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In Thursday’s initiative, the Committee expressed support for medicine and scientific research, but also called on people to pray “according to the teachings of their religion,” as well as to fast and do deeds of God. charity to ask God to end the pandemic.

“Poisoned fruit”

Not all Catholics heeded the call.

In a series of tweets, traditionalist Catholic blog Rorate Caeli mocked the Pope. One tweet called the interfaith day of prayer “Francis’s fast with the infidels”.

Rorate Caeli accompanied his tweets with photos of lavishly set tables overflowing with food, suggesting Catholics should feast, not fast, on Thursday.

One was accompanied by a photo of a roast piglet. Muslims and observant Jews do not eat pork.

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Another influential traditionalist group, the Society of Saint Pius X, called the Pope’s promotion of the day of prayer a “poisoned fruit” of the Catholic Church‘s dialogue with Islam.

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Traditionalists, a noisy minority in the 1.3 billion strong Roman Catholic Church, have consistently criticized the Pope since his election in 2013, especially for his overtures to the Muslim world and his call for a Church that puts emphasis on mercy rather than doctrinal rigidity.

They also opposed his support for agreements aimed at limiting global warming.

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Despite their tweets, the reaction to the committee’s call among Catholics – as well as Jews, Muslims and other Christian denominations – was overwhelmingly positive, with the hashtags #HumanFraternity and #PrayTogether going viral on Twitter.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, tweeted, “Our hearts are united with those of our brothers and sisters of Muslim, Catholic and other religious traditions.

In his own tweet, Francis said, “May God have mercy on us and end this tragedy, this pandemic, as well as the pandemics of hunger, war and uneducated children. This is what we ask as brothers and sisters, all together.

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