Why should Catholics even dialogue with certain Muslims anyway?
It’s fully out of question that after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), post-Vatican II Popes have been more active in the front of interreligious dialogue than ever before. Starting with the Pontificate of St. John Paul II, as well as follow-ups of interreligious dialogue in Assisi, there have been lots of events, in hopes of fostering discussion and possibly better understanding between different religions.
While I have no problem with interreligious dialogue (different from ecumenical dialogue), for my grandparents were devout Buddhists in the name of promoting peace, I sternly object should it done in the assumption that other religions through the lens of other religions – more specifically, the Catholic faith – that there are holy words from others. Not only is it an affront and violation of the three initial Ten Commandments, and even judging through Vatican II’s lens, there isn’t much to gain either.
Let us consider for a moment, has the situation improved for Christians – whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant – in the Middle East? Even as Pope Francis laid his pen onto the Document of Human Fraternity, it hasn’t stopped Christians from suffering from martyrdom in the Middle East, whether in the Islamic Fascist state of Saudi Arabia, post-Saddam Iraq or in the nepotistic lands of Egypt, where the Al-Azhar Council is located at. While leftist progressives may continuously moan about ‘mean comments’ and ‘hate speech’ directed at Islam in the Western World of which they revere as equal amongst other religions, of which whose views perhaps Francis may be sympathetic to. And it should be common sense that Muslims in the West had it far better than Arab Christians, the latter of which historically suffered brutal treatment, enslavement and of course, martyrdom through genocide – or more commonly known as the Armenian Genocide.
When then-Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture, of which garnered massive controversy in the Islamic World, as Catholics and Christians in general – whom St. Pius X bluntly, yet truthfully stated a hundred years ago, that the greatest obstacle for the church was the ‘cowardice of the faithful’ – succumbed to constant and deceitful slander by both the left and Islamists through slogans of tolerance disguising their agenda to de-Christianize for the end goal of a statist hippie-style governance. Indeed, as the National Catholic Register has covered the controversy surrounding the Cathedral of Cordoba. While Muslims – at least in America – are more or less pro-life, this doesn’t separate from the fact that an Islamic-Left alliance that serves both sides. For one, Muslims tend to favor more statist control over the economy, as well as ‘secularized blasphemy law’ – hate speech laws – and gun control, of which plays neatly for the Left. On the other hand, Islamists salivate over the prospects of a more Islamic-style Fascist Europe, whether it’d be the odious Saudi Arabians or the Iranian mullahs.
Even far after the Regensburg Lecture, and the A Common Word between Us and You initiative, spearheaded by Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, there were still tensions. But the broader truth is, and unfortunately the Vatican’s refusal to accept it: is that there are people who at least genuine enough to encourage dialogue, and there are those who simply abuse the opportunity to dialogue for PR reasons – namely to forward a political agenda. Now, I’m neither siding with or against Jordan. When you deal with authoritarians, whether Marxists or Islamists, you shouldn’t expect much other than deceit. The Al-Azhar Council, more keen on progressive framing of themselves to a neo-Hippie West than encouraging reforms in Egypt, attack then-Pope Benedict XVI for stating the truth about the situation of Christians in the Middle East as false statements and that the Pope should respect their internal affairs.
Give me a break.
What about the two men who are detained for converting a Saudi woman to see the light on the cross, of which the woman is now exiled in Lebanon? What about the 27 migrant workers that were arrested for being Christians? What about 13 Christians suffer death every single day, most of it taking place in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa? What about Pakistan and its ‘blasphemy law’, of which Asia Bibi nearly suffered an unjust death? While the Pope Francis’ media arm Vatican News may publish more articles about the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and his relations with the Pope, it doesn’t stop the prosecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt and conveniently, stopping Al-Azhar’s true face from revealing in front of the outside world under the same Grand Imam. If we go by Al-Azhar’s condemnation of then-Pope Benedict XVI ‘interference’ into the Middle East’s internal affairs, one could use that standard and justify the continuation of the Holocaust by merely stating that it’s the Germans’ internal affairs or the Gulags during the days of Soviet Russia. There’s certainly a difference between sending waves of bombers over the cities and calling out people for their behaviors.
But there’s a similarity, in this case, between ‘The revolution has gone too far!’ and ‘Let’s adjust to a more moderate position.’ Suppose we don’t initiate a Soviet-style nationalization of the entire economy, but let’s make laws to ‘adjust’ wages to more ‘reasonable’ rates and land appropriated for ‘better’ purposes. Or in other words, while the destruction of the Twin Towers is against the teachings of Allah and calls for a caliphate is wrong. But there’s nothing wrong with using the state – an institution whose power lies through the enforcement of coercion, through policemen, soldiers and hangmen – to institute Sharia, even if it contradicts against the wishes of individual liberty. So what’s the effective difference between living under ISIS or Saudi Arabia? Sure you won’t be living under circumstances similar to socialist stink-holes if you’re living under ISIS, but beheadings and religious police would be issuing brutal punishments if you disobey the dogma of Sharia. Even as Saudi Arabia may be economically free, you might as well move to either America or Switzerland, both of which are freer.
And this is still just through the lens of a Vatican II position. If the Vatican wants to advocate for ‘Social Justice’, then call them all out, from Saudi Arabia’s PR campaign with the KAICIID Dialogue Center to the Al-Azhar Council, or should more Christians suffer from further discrimination, harassment and martyrdom? If Pope Francis cares so much about the marginalized, then be truthful about it and actually name the disease, not merely fight the symptoms for the sake of political correctness. Before that, Pope Pius XII, through the Vatican Radio, reported about the prosecution and extermination of the Jews, and the clergy – such as The Blessed August Clemens von Galen – stood their ground against Nazi insanity and the bastardized racialist ‘Positive Christianity’ of which sold God in favor of an ideological neo-pagan cult. For now, I may be an atheist, but for goodness sake, either the Church stands its ground against political correctness or more Christians suffer.