The facts are these: the Archdiocese of Florence is currently in talks to sell 8,000 square meters of its property in the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino to the local Islamic community so that it can build a mosque and an Islamic cultural center.
The cardinal-archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Betori, has declared: “With the signing of this protocol, the Florentine Church has given concrete expression to the affirmation of the principle of religious liberty promoted above all beginning with the Second Vatican Council and continually restated by the Pontifical Magisterium.” The cardinal added: “The transformation of Western society into multi-ethnic, multi-cultural,and multi-religious societies is a given fact, and an inevitable future that awaits us[.] … [T]he only alternative to the civilization of encounter is the incivility of confrontation.”
We ask ourselves: but is Cardinal Betori convinced that there is only one true religion, the Catholic religion, or does he instead hold that the various religions and cultural identities are all on the same level and merit the same consideration? And that the advent of a multi-religious and multi-cultural society is truly inevitable? And if so, why does Cardinal Betori not deplore its coming?
Is the cardinal convinced that a multi-religious society is better than a Catholic society? Is he convinced that all religions have an equal value? That the Christian who believes in the Most Holy Trinity is on the same level as the Muslim who denies it, the Jew who considers Jesus Christ an impostor on the same level as the Christian who adores Him as the Son of God of the same substance with the Father, the pantheist who absorbs God into nature on the same level as the theist who believes in a God who transcends nature? But this is not Catholicism; it is relativism.
Religion cannot be imposed by force on anyone, because no one can be forced to believe, but there does not exist a right to profess whatever religion one pleases. There exists only a right to profess the true religion, because error does not have rights. Certainly, the truth exists, and errors also exist, just as good exists and evil exists. But only what is true is right, and so only what is true has a right, not what is false. If good and evil, truth and error have the same rights. It means that truth does not exist, everything is a subjective opinion, and relativism triumphs.
Cardinal Betori with his words professes not the Catholic faith, but relativism. If he wants to be coherent, Cardinal Betori ought not only to sell, but also to give all of his property as a gift to Islam, and not only to Islam, but also to Buddhists and polytheists. The cardinal should not limit himself to this; he ought to also participate in their ceremonies, as Pope Francis did when he assisted at an act of adoration of pagan divinities in the Vatican gardens. And maybe the cardinal should propose to Pope Francis that they build a mosque inside the Vatican, with the money to pay for it donated by the Archdiocese of Florence — all in homage to the principle of religious liberty sanctioned by the Second Vatican Council.
This post is published here with permission from Roberto de Mattei and translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino.
Roberto de Mattei is an Italian Catholic historian and the President of the Lepanto Foundation, an international organization based in Rome that aims to defend the principles and institutions of Christian Civilization. He directs the magazine “Radici Cristiane” and the “Corrispondenza Romana” News Agency, and was Director of the “Nova Historica” international journal from 2002 until 2013. He is the author of many books, including “The Second Vatican Council – An Unwritten Story.” His books have been translated into several languages, and have earned him an international reputation.