The Vatican has created a special committee to draw out the principles contained in the controversial Abu Dhabi document, signed last February by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar. ....The text was subsequently criticized by prominent theologians for “devaluing the person of Jesus” and “undermining the gospel itself” since it seemed to propose that God willed the existence of a plurality of religions just as he wills a plurality of sexes, races, and languages, rather than willing that all people find their salvation in Jesus Christ.....
The philosopher who advocates this particular type of indifferentism? Rousseau.
...In distinction from this absolute Indifferentism, a restricted form of the error admits the necessity of religion on account, chiefly, of its salutary influence on human life. But it holds that all religions are equally worthy and profitable to man, and equally pleasing to God. The classic advocate of this theory is Rousseau, who maintains, in his “Emile”, that God looks only to the sincerity of intention, and that everybody can serve Him by remaining in the religion in which he has been brought up, or by changing it at will for any other that pleases him more (Emile, III)....Theologically-educated Catholics defend the statement, asserting correctly that the statement refers to God's 'permissive' will, as opposed to His 'active' will. But that particular nuance is not widely known, to say the least. Catechesis on the point--like most catechesis--has been absent or muted, even though the permissive will is clearly in play when discussing tragedies and human suffering, e.g.
The problem is in the text as written:
The passage that caused the most furor reads, “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings.”Most people will NOT read the nuance of 'permissive will' into that short litany; rather, they will understand the text as referring to the active will. That's heresy.
Perhaps Pp. Francis' committee will revise the statement so that it is perfectly clear, but that's not a good bet. Francis' strong suit is ambiguity, after all, and he's not likely to change now.
Besides, what would the Imam say?