The new pope of the Catholic empire has put the rebel alliance of Assisi and its dialogue with Hindus and Buddhists in check:
In a decree published Nov. 19, the pope placed the Franciscans in Assisi under the… control of a new local bishop… The edict overturned autonomy granted in 1969 by Pope Paul VI that in effect made the Franciscans ambassadors to peace movements and to outside cultural and religious groups… So far, [Pope Benedict's] reign has been an exercise in the tightening of practice to match church doctrine as he sees it… [Link]
Rise, Lord Ratzinger. What bugs the new pope about those hippie-dippy Franciscan friars: respectful, tolerant interfaith exchange. Why, those reasonable bastards.
In the view of critics, few places within the church challenged Catholic certainties more flamboyantly than Assisi. In particular, interfaith meetings held in the hilltop town appeared to them to be a kind of food court of dangerous relativist thinking.
… Benedict was settling scores with the Franciscans over a “carnival-like” interfaith meeting they hosted in 1986. Voodoo priests, American Indian dancers and African animists took part… The Franciscans went beyond agreed-upon rules by allowing pagan worship practices to take place on church property, and Benedict “never forgave the Franciscan community for the excesses…” [Link]
Voodoo, Native Americans and animists are fine, but what really gets the good pope’s robes in a twist are Hindus and Buddhists:
“… during [the previous pope's] voyage to India, he had given speeches of unprecedented openness toward that country’s religions, and at Bombay had even let a priestess of the god Shiva anoint his forehead with a sacred Hindu symbol…”
Some of the city’s churches were allotted for the prayers of Buddhists, Hindus, and African animists, as if these buildings were neutral containers, void of any indelible Christian value. The Buddhists set up a shrine of Buddha on the altar of the local Church of Saint Peter. The absence from Assisi of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [the new pope]… was not improperly interpreted as… self-distancing… [Link]
Hinduism, he said, offers ‘false hope’; it guarantees ‘purification’ based on a ‘morally cruel’ concept of reincarnation resembling ‘a continuous circle of hell’…… [Link]