For Pope Francis, religious fundamentalism diverts us from the true God [CNA] City, Sep 16, 2015 / 06:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious fundamentalism keeps God at a distance, and keeps believers from building bridges with others, Pope Francis reflected on Sunday during a radio interview.

“Our God is a God who is close, who accompanies. Fundamentalists keep God away from accompanying his people, they divert their minds from him and transform him into an ideology. So in the name of this ideological god, they kill, they attack, destroy, slander. Practically speaking, they transform that God into a Baal, an idol,” he said in a radio interview that aired Sept. 13.

“No religion is immune from its own fundamentalisms,” he said. “In every religion there will be a small group of fundamentalists whose work is to destroy for the sake of an idea, and not reality. And reality is superior to ideas.”

The Pope said that no religion is immune from the possibility of fundamentalism. He said fundamentalism, instead of creating a bridge, creates a wall that blocks encounter with another person. It seeks ways to disagree. With fundamentalism, he said, “you can’t have friendship between peoples.”

His comments came in a wide-ranging interview with Marcelo Figueroa, an evangelical Protestant who is a personal friend of the Pope and journalist at Buenos Aires’ Radio Milenium.

In his other comments, the Pope noted that many of the faithful pour out their lives to him when he meets them.

“A priest has to be a bridge, that’s why they call him a pontiff,” he said, alluding to the original, literal meaning of “pontifex” as “bridge-builder.”

He warned of the temptation for priests and bishops to withdraw from “from those kinds of people Jesus spent Mathew 25 talking about.” The Pope compared them to legalists, the Pharisees and the Sadducees who taught the law and thought themselves to be pure.

The Pope also discussed his encyclical *Laudato si'*, on care for our common home.

“It’s obvious we’re mistreating creation. We’re not the friends of creation, we treat her sometimes like the worst enemy,” he said.

He noted problems like deforestation, water misuse, the depletion of fertile croplands and mineral extraction using poisonous chemicals. He stressed mankind’s mission to care for the earth and warned against “misusing creation to carry out his purposes.”

Mankind is also part of creation, and the Pope’s concerns include abuse of mankind by “a system set up to make money.”

The Pope also spoke about his firsthand experience of people who abuse friendship, something “very sacred,” for personal gain. This form of friendship “pains me,” he said.

“I have felt used by some people who have presented themselves as ‘friends’ with whom I may not have seen more than once or twice in my lifetime, and they used this for their own gain. But this is an experience which we have all undergone:  utilitarian friendship,” the Pope said.

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This guy really knows what he is talking about. I am so grateful to have him here. I am lucky enough to have as my vocation the job of bringing people who otherwise would not come to Christianity-- to a deep relationship with Christ. I have found that finding common ground where there is a commonality of spirituality is the key. Once someone feels like the path they are on is recognized as having value they are willing to listen. Many of the people I work with have left Christianity and opened themselves up to eastern teachings and the new age movement instead due to judgmental and self righteous Christians who have placed doctrine above humanity.

From that place of connection it is really, really easy to help people see the advantages to the spirituality that Jesus Christ taught. A personal God who knows and loves you, a way into heaven not based on skill or how advanced of a soul you are, but instead on Gods Love, prayer that relies on Gods healing power and not your ability to focus, Grace and forgiveness instead of karma (for those in eastern religions) a God who heals you in prayer… I have found that once people relax around you it is easy to get them to see the real benefits.

I have also been lucky to help many protestants who are looking to go deeper. The contemplative approach to spirituality and the profound benefits of this gift of prayer are very often enough to bring them into an interest in Catholicism, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Brother Lawrence, The Cloud of Unknowing! Many people are looking for a path that can really change their lives, heal deep wounds and trauma, and make life truly joyous. The contemplative tradition has all of this in spades and it is attractive to people-- they want it.

Fundamentalists are all many people have been exposed to and it has them on guard instead of open and curious. You have to be able to bridge that gap in order to help them come to Christ.

The Pope said that no religion is immune from the possibility of fundamentalism. He said fundamentalism, instead of creating a bridge, creates a wall that blocks encounter with another person. It seeks ways to disagree.

I hope people don’t miss this. He’s using “fundamentalism” in a very broad sense here. He’s not talking about that tiny Independent Baptist church down the street. I believe he’s asking everyone to examine themselves, no matter what their tradition.

In my humble opinion, the fundamentalism about which Pope Francis speaks describes the behavior of a group of people who obdurately believe that their own understanding of God’s will, of faith, and of correct behavior is completely absolute - a group who takes their religion so literally that they lose sight of the very basis of their faith and believe that principals are more important than people and more important than whatever negative outcomes may result for their own faith community or for others as a result of their intractability. I think that fundamentalism, generally, grows out of a very ego-centric viewpoint, and its first victim is frequently humility.

He’s using the word as it is broadly interpreted absolutely.
The mindset of fundamentalism knows no denominational barriers. The Catholic Church has its share of fundamentalists.

It does have them and that’s why the Pope is bringing it up-- because he really believes in Christ and does not want people in his own Church to be stumbling blocks to Jesus.

It seems that the only people Jesus was really hard on, scary even, was with people in a place of religious authority who harmed others with rigid thinking from those places. Fundamentalist ought to be a little shaky because of this.

When I first converted to Christianity I became rigid in this way for a period of time-- I can tell you that this is the only time in my life I have ever felt authentically like I was in trouble with God. I could feel it during prayer.

AMEN, Memaw

I hope the pope is not condemning fundamentalists because they are fundamental. Jesus was exclusive and fundamental. People are not evil because they are fundamental but rather because their religion is false.

You are using a definition of ‘fundamental’ that the Pope isn’t. He’s using the word in the popular sense, which is synonymous with extremist.

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