Evangelii Gaudium on Islam: Outreach or Overreach?

burning-church-egypt

Much attention has been paid to Pope Francis’ observations about economic life in Evangelii Gaudium. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to the pope’s remarks about Islam in the same document, even though they may turn out to be of much greater consequence. One sentence in particular needs to be called into question. When writing about interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims, Pope Francis cautions against “hateful generalizations about Islam,” for “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (253).

This sweeping statement would be difficult to justify even if the pope were speaking about the Bible. It would not be an easy task to make the case that even a proper reading of the Bible is opposed to every form of violence. To make that case for the Koran, which is filled with encouragements to violence, is more problematic still.

Here is just a small sampling from the Koran:

When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them.  Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush for them everywhere. (9.5)

When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads. (47.4)

I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the  very tips of their fingers! (8.12)

There are hundreds of similar verses in the Koran. It has been argued that they should be understood symbolically or else that these verses must be viewed in their proper context, but this is a weak argument. For some context, let’s turn to the earliest sira (or “life”) of Muhammad written by Ibn Ishaq about 130 years after the death of Muhammad. Although the biographies of Muhammad are now called sira, they were originally called kitab al-maghazi—“book of the raids.” If you look at the chapter headings in Ishaq’s 800-page book, you can see why. Here’s a brief excerpt from Part III of the table of contents in the English translation:

Names of the Emigrants who fought at Badr                   327
Names of the Helpers who fought at Badr                        330
Names of the Quraysh prisoners                                         338
Verses on the battle                                                                340
Raid on B. Sulaym                                                                  360
Raid called al-Sawiq                                                               361
Raid on Dhu Amarr                                                                362
Raid on al-Furu                                                                       362
Attack on B. Qaynuqa                                                            363
Raid on al-Qarada                                                                  364
Killing of Ka’b b. al-Ashraf                                                   364
Muhayyisa and Huwayyisa                                                   369
Battle of Uhud                                                                         370
The Qu’ran on Uhud                                                              391
Names of the Muslims slain at Uhud                                 401

 

This is not an exercise in cherry-picking on my part. The chapter headings continue in this vein for the next 89 entries—that is, to the end of the book. In short, fighting and raiding and slave trading were the chief pursuits of Muhammad and his followers during their ten-year stay in Medina. Whatever else they may have been doing seemed relatively unimportant to Muhammad’s first biographer. That is the context in which the Koran should be understood. When Allah commands his followers to “strike off their heads,” he is not speaking symbolically but of real battles and raids—raids and battles which were almost always initiated by Muhammad.

The pope’s generous statement about Islam is in line with similar statements by various world leaders who assure us that whenever violence is committed in the name of Islam, such violence has nothing to do with Islam. Since these statements are so contrary to the evidence of Islamic texts as well as to the reality of widespread persecution of non-Muslims in the name of Islam, we have to conclude that they are made either for strategic reasons or else because the leaders are badly advised.

Whoever the pope turned to for advice, it was most probably not fellow Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir, an expert on Islamic theology and history and a close adviser to Pope Benedict XVI. Fr. Samir is not nearly as sanguine about the peaceful nature of Islam as Pope Francis. Take this exchange from a book-length interview with two Italian journalists published in 2002 (translated as 111 Questions about Islam). Question:  “In  the Western world … people often say that the mujahidin are not true Muslims, that their actions are contrary to the spirit of Islam, that Islam etymologically means ‘peace’ and ‘tolerance,’ and so on. Is this opinion correct?” His answer? “Most Westerners who accept these statements usually know very little about Islam. So they willingly accept these erroneous theories coming from Muslim sources” (65).

In this respect, it’s important to understand the context of the interview.  It seems to have been conducted in whole or in large part after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.  In the immediate wake of the attack, governmental, educational, and media elites rushed to assure citizens that Islam was a religion of peace that had been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists.  Many of Fr. Samir’s observations seem intended as a corrective to that view.  Here’s another exchange—this time from a 2010 interview with the National Catholic Register conducted on the anniversary of 9/11. Question: “Some would argue that the 9/11 bombers were not real Muslims, but fundamentalist ideologues and terrorists?” Answer: “Yes, but this is the wrong position because radical Muslims are true Muslims…. You’ll find other positions but this is one, and one that is very strongly presented in the Koran and in the Sunnah. Nine-eleven was a Muslim action even if for apologetic reasons it’s said this was a terrorist action and terrorism has nothing to do with Islam….”

Fr. Samir maintains that although there are different ways to read the Koran—some more tolerant and some more violent—the violent interpretation cannot be looked upon as a deformation. In fact, he provides evidence that the intolerant and warlike verses have a better claim to legitimacy:

Confronted with these contradictory verses, the Muslim tradition was obliged to   find a method of interpretation, called “the principle of the abrogating and the  abrogated”… The theory is simple:  God, after giving a disposition or an order,  can give an opposite order, for the contrary reasons.  It is then a matter of  knowing which one was God’s last order, which cancels and abrogates the preceding disposition (70).

The problem is, most of the peaceful verses in the Qur’an come from the early Meccan period and many Muslim authorities agree that they are cancelled by the latter, more violent verses.  Thus, “In Egypt, for example, it is a commonly held opinion that the so-called Verse of the Sword (ayat-al-sayf) abrogated more than one hundred verses, that is to say, all the ‘peaceful’ ones” (70-71).

Moreover, even if there were no doctrine of abrogation, it would be difficult to know how much weight to assign to the peaceful verses since, as Fr. Samir points out, there is no central teaching authority in Islam:

This means that when some fanatics kill children, women, and men in the name of pure and authentic Islam, or in the name of the Qur’an or of the Muslim tradition,  nobody can tell them: “You are not true and authentic Muslims.” All they can say  is: “Your reading of the Koran is not ours” (71).

Fr. Samir, who teaches at the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, is the president of the International Association for Christian Arabic Studies and is the author of thirty-six books and more than five hundred scholarly articles concerning Islam and the Christian East. If what he says is accurate, then the pope’s statement about the proper reading of the Koran should have been more carefully constructed.

Why then didn’t Pope Francis qualify his statement? Some indication can be found in his response to Pope Benedict’s 2005 Regensburg address. During the address, Benedict quoted from a medieval text that castigated Muhammad for his “evil and inhuman” commands. “Pope Benedict’s statements don’t reflect my own opinions,” the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires said. “These statements will serve to destroy in twenty seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years.” Tellingly, Cardinal Bergoglio’s response was not directed at the substance of Pope Benedict’s remarks but to their effect on the Church’s relationship with Muslims.

As any number of commentators have remarked, Pope Francis has set a new tone for the papacy—one that is more concerned with outreach to non-Catholics than with issues of doctrine or definition. His statements on Islam in Evangelii Gaudium are in line with that approach:  their aim is not accuracy but outreach. It seems that for the sake of improving relations with the Islamic world, the pope has chosen to put the best possible face on Islam. But, sometimes, outreach can result in overreach. And it seems that, in this instance, the pope has overreached himself. As he writes elsewhere in the document, “Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism” (232). In presenting this idealistic view of Islam, the pope has ignored a great many realities.

Evangelii Gaudium paints an unrealistic picture of Islam and the Koran. Should this be a matter of great concern? In one sense, no. Some Catholics become upset whenever the pope is criticized about anything, as though any questioning of the pope’s statements is tantamount to questioning the truth of the Catholic faith. They can relax. An apostolic exhortation is not meant to be a solemn promulgation of doctrine, and in any event the pope’s teaching authority only extends to authentic Catholic teaching, not to “authentic” Islamic beliefs.

Catholics whose sole concern is to defend papal inerrancy can relax. On the other hand, far too many Catholics are already much too relaxed when it comes to the subject of Islam. And one unfortunate effect of the pope’s ill-advised statement is that they will become even more relaxed about Islam at a time when they should be awake and alert. The importance of outreach to Muslims has to be balanced with the pope’s duty to properly inform his flock about matters that may put their freedom and security at risk.

Pope Francis’ observations tend to reinforce the standard apologetic that says Islam is a religion of peace, and that terror is the work of a handful of extremists who misunderstand their religion. Thus, “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations…” (253). There are a number of problems with this statement. Take the word “episodes.” It suggests something that happens once in a while, whereas Muslim attacks against Christians, Hindus, and other Muslims occur on a daily basis. On Christmas day 34 people in a Christian area of Baghdad were killed in bomb attacks, some by a car bomb that exploded as worshippers were leaving a church after a Christmas service. A few days before that, Islamic jihadists in Syria murdered twelve people and wounded many others by firing mortars at a church. Earlier in December, Muslims killed over 1,000 Christians in the Central African Republic. Close observers of the Middle East and Africa now refer to the situation as a “war against Christians” or as a campaign of extermination. The Pope blames the violence on “fundamentalism,” but according to numerous surveys, the majority of Muslims worldwide hold to fundamentalist views. For example, a 2010 Pew survey of Egyptians found that 77 percent support whipping and amputation for thieves, 82 percent support the execution of adulterers, and 84 percent support the execution of apostates. Are they not “true followers of Islam”? Moreover, fundamentalism is not just a problem for the Middle East and Africa. A recent poll of 9,000 European respondents found that 75 percent of Muslim immigrants believe that there is only one possible interpretation of the Koran, while 54 percent believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. Many expert observers predict that Muslims (while not yet a majority) will be the dominant political and cultural force in Europe within twenty-five years—and this in large part due to all-embracing immigration policies of the type which the pope encourages (253).

As Pope Francis says, Christians should avoid “hateful generalizations”; however, they should not be discouraged from making realistic generalizations based on ample evidence. Their lives and the lives of their families may depend on it. In the meantime, Catholic leaders should avoid making unwarranted generalizations that encourage a false sense of security about Islam.

Editor’s note: The image above is a photo of a burning Egyptian Coptic church set ablaze by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

William Kilpatrick

By

William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Psychological Seduction; Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West. He is also the author of a new book entitled Insecurity. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and FrontPage Magazine. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation.

  • plb5678

    Islam is evil and must be eliminated or controlled. We don’t have to destroy the muslim culture but if they would lay down their arms and stop the killing and subsequent extermination of Christians everywhere, then we can tolerate them. if islam is so peaceful why isn’t there condemnation from Islamic leaders and countries when islam kills. they fear Christians since the Word of our God, the One and Only True God. will ultimately desroy their false religion and cult.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      There is one other option more in keeping with our own religion: Isolation. Their culture is not compatible with ours, so set some boundaries. And enforce them.

      • robert chacon

        Unfortunately, this may be the proper Christian response as much as we are called to be a light unto the world.

        • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

          It is a case by case basis. There *are* Islamic Nations where Christians are allowed to live. They’re just very rare.

    • ForChristAlone

      Is there a saint the Church has canonized who is identified by the Church as “The Apostle to Islam?”

      If so, we need to pray to him or her. If not, we need to identify one since prayer is the only answer and it wouldn’t hurt to have an intercessor in heaven.

  • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas Richard

    This article is a troubling one. The issues of papal influence and leadership for Catholics, the truth of Islam, and the effects of economics on society and human persons are all very important ones particularly in our time. This article puts all three on the table, not in a way that eases the mind or heart.

    I am reminded of the Pope’s warning to his brother bishops of Latin America, of the “three temptations” at work in their churches: confusing the true Gospel with ideologies, functionalism, and clericalism. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-celam-rio_en.html. An additional troubling possibility comes to my mind – as if we need one more: Are his own current views on global economics, as well as his views on Islam, being unduly affected – clouded – by ideologies?

    As the article quotes Pope Francis, “Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism.” And as he warned, we need the true Gospel – Truth – not mere human ideologies that distort the saving Truth.

    I pray for clarity of vision for our Pope – and for precision of expression! We need clarity, and precision, and prudence. These are dangerous times.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Yes, and Benedict was a model of clarity. I think you’ve hit on the central problem I have with Pope Francis. He is sloppy in his thinking and articulation and lacks clarity.

      • Marcelus

        “Pope Benedict expressed his regret for any offense his words had given: “The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.[42][43] According to CNN, the Vatican comments fell short of a literal apology.[44]

        On September 17, 2006, from the balcony at his residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, Pope Benedict publicly expressed that he was ‘deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries’ and stressed that the words which ‘were considered offensive’ were not his own, but were quoted from a medieval text, and that his speech was intended to act as an invitation to mutually respectful dialogue with Muslims, rather than an attempt to cause offense.[45]

        On September 25, 2006, Pope Benedict held a meeting at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with approximately 20 Muslim diplomats. At this meeting the Pope Benedict expressed “total and profound respect for all Muslims”. Among the ambassadors invited included Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and many other nations and Islamic Groups.[46]

        • tamsin

          Benedict did not apologize for the accuracy and precision of his expression. A bit of the passage in question: In the seventh conversation (διάλεξις – controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”[3] The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.[4]

          The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature.

          • slainte

            “….Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.
            Pope Francis seeks to lead all men and women to Christ, including Moslems. The way of the sword must therefore yield to the way of our loving saviour Jesus Christ.
            Pope Francis realizes that the sweetness of honey evangelizes more effectively than the sting of vinegar.

            • steve5656546346

              Then why all the gratuitous insults leveled at Catholics? Who happen to believe all that the Church teaches?

              • slainte

                Steve, I am an Orthodox Catholic who is a Traditional Latin Mass devotee and also a communicant of the Novus Ordo Mass. I am very active in the Pro-Life movement; and I support marriage as a sacramental union exclusively between one man and one woman. I am therefore on the receiving end of those alleged “gratutitous insults” you reference.
                I deeply believe in the holiness of the office of the Papacy and that the man who is Pope occupies that Holy Office by the Grace of God and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
                I believe the spirit of this world and those who advance its efforts seek to damage and ultimately destroy the Catholic Church through subtle and overt acts, willful distortion, omission, and misrepresentation of the Pope’s words and his overall message. In reliance upon this misinformation, Catholics are already at each other’s throats, divided from each other and separated from the Pope. How frequently do we Catholics refer to each other as “Trads”, “Ultra-Trads”, “Liberals” or “Progressives”….where has happened to our sense of Unity?. This spirit of Division is not of God; it is of the Enemy. I refuse to cooperate with the Enemy’s efforts to subvert the Pope!
                We have already witnessed how the Pope’s words have been skewed and misrepresented by the mis-translation of the English version of “Evangelii Guadium” and the pope’s opposition to gay marriage. Accidents? I doubt it.
                I decline to place my faith in the anti-Catholicism of the media, governments, self serving politicians, and/or any other vessels of mis-information.
                I am an Irish Catholic who puts my Trust in Our Lord and in His vicar the Pope. Recall that our Holy Roman Catholic Church is 2000 years old, and has survived all manner of attacks yet continues to prevail.
                Jesus promised that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, and I stand with Her and the Pope.

          • Marcelus

            So, not clear enough??Benedict DID apologize, no need to twist or explain or interpret as some may think Francis requires

            He apologized and nobody thoight of him any less. But not pretend he did not .

            Words of Benedict

            “I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.”

            By the Secretary of State Bertone

            The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.[42][43] According to CNN, the Vatican comments fell short of a literal apology.[44]

            How do you interpret that?

            and there is more..

            So forgotten as it may be or hurtful as it may be, he said about islam and the Quran;

            “Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.”

        • Vincent

          Marcellus, you’re showing signs of a shill. You’ll deny it, but your comments history gives you away. You’re here to provoke readers of Crisis magazine. That’s what you’re paid to do, right? It’s sad.

          • Bumpy Rhodes

            Shill he may be, but it might be better to leave the paid provocateur label alone. That label was applied incessantly on the NCR website by those who couldn’t believe that there could be an orthodox Catholic participant who wasn’t paid to be there.

            • Vincent

              I have to say I wouldn’t be on the NCR website even if paid! I can’t imagine a Roman Catholic who takes their faith seriously reading articles that could lead them astray. They should faithfully be reading Crisis Magazine daily! :)

          • Marcelus

            Is that the best you can do honestly? Paid to post? I wish! !!! IF you can imagine who would be interested in paying for these silly comments, please let me know. No , in my life I’ve called many thing but this is the first time read this! Thank you in any case for at least considering what I post worth a penny. Just a 47 year old man from Argentina that accidentally, believe what you will, run into CM thru a Facebook site called Churchmilitant I used to be part of. personally it bothers me to see hatred filled comments on the Pope. But thank you again

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          Exactly. Benedict didn’t utter some naive platitude. Expressing respect isn’t a declaritive statement. It’s a feeling, an opinion. There’s no misreading there.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      The day he learns English, will be the day we have precision of expression. I wonder though- on Spanish blogs, are they having a problem understanding?

      • Marcelus

        nop, no problem there. Loved and understood by the vast mayority of Catholicism.

        • Vincent

          “except maybe 200 CM posters”…. classic shill ….here to antagonize. Who is the “rest of us” the ACLU and company?

          • Marcelus

            Vincent, just so you know, it iis my temper that gives me away, and problably Seeber did not mean it the way I understood it, I dont know. Saying “the day he learns english and so” sounded like mocking.maybe its my mistake

            But, I take it ACLU ( had to look it up, sorry Idont live in the US) Is american civil liberties union?? Again I could not share their views since I amnot american.

            What I meant ” by the rest of us” and sadly I suppose you will also object, whas probably 70% of the catholic world?? what do you think.Is at least how we see Francis in other places. Ican notspeak for Latin America, but I live there and 50% of Catholics live there and we are much pleased with the Pope, Other battles are fought here triying to keep Catholics from leaving the church, I suppose precisely for the opposite reason you will not agreee with the HolyFather

            With your remarks you remind me of Sherlock Holmes

            I take it you are a grown man? and considirer yourself catholic, if so, why dont you just debate and leave the PI stuff to Tom Selleck?

            I have also many posts, maybe not too valuable, that I suppose may not be considered shill , cmon….

            will plant a paypal donation button netx time

            • Vincent

              Thanks for verifying why you’re here, you’ve done everything by the textbook that a classic internet shill does. A shill should never be debated and I won’t take the bait. I also won’t buy any of the Brooklyn Bridge if you put it up for sale nor play the shell game with you :) Good luck to you, I’ll pray for your conversion.

              • Marcelus

                No need to pray for my conversion. Been Catholic for life and my family also for as long as I can trace back in both continents and in a 90% Catholic country for more than 500 years. . Stand by Peter.

              • slainte

                Marcelus is a long time contributor at Crisis Magazine whose native language is Spanish. He is a faithful Roman Catholic residing in Argentina and profoundly respects both the Church and Pope Francis.
                Marcelus is not a troll and he communicates in good faith Our Lord’s eternal message of Love.
                You have inadvertently drawn an inaccurate conclusion. Please reconsider. Pax Christi.

                • Vincent

                  Thanks, Slainte. I know that a good plant doesn’t work alone but comes with a team to help him or he signs on with multiple names. Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden also take the claim of faithful Roman Catholic. Argentina? Very unlikely, more possibly from Atlantis. I’ve been to Argentina… they have very little interest in the English world… and there is a plethora of traditional catholics that he could harass and try to agitate there on a Spanish website. Nice try though, but 2 + 2 = 4 and if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then…. it’s not a faithful catholic from Argentina with colloquial command of the English language who zeros in on an English Roman Catholic that website half-way around the world and counters almost every post.

                  • Marcelus

                    My last post to Vicent::: Soy argentino , vivo en Argentina. la verdad no se me ocurre de donde sacas la idea que me pagan por postear. Veo que la info que tenes de mi pais es poca y pobre, no es tu culpa. Existe en cualquier estrato social de mi pais, interes por tu idioma y de hecho todo el mundo habla aunque sea algo de Ingles. De todos modos te comento que Aca hay pocos cristianos tradicionalistas como decis, por ende de vuelta, tu info es poca,.hablo y escribo en Ingles desde hace años pues tuve la suerte de joven de vivir en Canada lo mismo que el frances.asi que amigo, no creas en cuentos de hadas, no te sientas perseguido o agredido y que Dios te bendiga.

                    Im from Argentina not Atlantis, so you’ve been to Argentina, good for you to have been lucky to visit the land of the Pope!. you are very very wrong in believeing 2 things: 1)there no interest for anything english in Argentina?? (they teach english here starting inkindergarden and on!!,up to you to learn it or not,public or private school doenst matter)

                    2) There lot of “traditional” catholics here. Not true.

                    Nothing against them at all, The NO scene is vivid and quite formal and ceremonial and for what I’ve read far far from what you may find in the states, part of the reason why TLM for instance never took root. As a matter of fact, I’ve never been to a TLM, but now that I have some spare time, I will. Love latin, always have, and take my catholicism seriously.

                    Finally, since you bring up my”coloquial command” of the english language , I am lucky enough to speak and write modestly in english and also in french since I spent a good part of my teen years living in Montreal Canada. thats all.

                    Many times I’ve been to the USA, and love it there, but Im quite happy where I live, miles away from where Francis was born, in Flores

                    Stand by Peter.

                    • slainte

                      Hi Marcelus,
                      You communicate very well in English. I took Spanish and Latin in high school and college but have not spoken or read Spanish in many years…yet I understood everything you wrote in Spanish which is awesome….my brain still works!
                      Hopefully VIncent will come around in time. It remains vitally important though to not allow detractors to sway you from your message. If you are called to evangelize the Faith by supporting Pope Francis, then I have no doubt you are called to do so by God himself.
                      Buena suerte!

                    • Marcelus

                      I mean no harm or offense to anyone. thank you for your message. Just my silly temper playing tricks on me.

                      I understand you are Irish? My kids atttend an irish pallottine parochial school,San Vicente Pallotti, here in Buenos Aires, in Belgrano. Incidently, the church right next to the school the one depicted in my avatar. Saint Patricks Church . Belgrano

                      Irish are loved in Argentina, have played an important role in our history as a country as elsewhere in the world, and in fact, Adml William Brown is an Indepedence hero here-

                      The only rivalry comes when come face to face on a rugby field!! a healthy rivalry that is.

                      I am a veteran rugby player myself and at 47 , still play 3 or 4 games a moth.

                      Always love to seee and listen to the Irish, O’Driscoll and company singing Ireland’s Call before a match

                      Thank you for your comment!

                    • slainte

                      My mother was from the west of Ireland and immigrated to England during WWII (she experienced the blitz in London), then eventually the U.S (New York) in the 1950′s. My father’s family, was also from the west of Ireland but immigrated to the U.S in the late 1800s.
                      I grew up in a neighborhood in New York City that was primarily occupied by Jewish survivors of the holocaust and Irish emigres. My teachers at school were the Presentation Sisters of Ireland, the Ursuline nuns, and the Jesuits…all of whom were mostly Irish. My family returned to Ireland frequently when I was a child so I straddle both the Irish and American cultures.
                      The cultural shifts of the 1970s brought me into contact with many diverse Hispanic groups so it seemed appropriate to learn Spanish, which I very much enjoyed. The Hispanic and Irish have much in common….a love of God and family and a deep and abiding Catholic faith, not to mention a love of laughter and parties.
                      I knew that Bernardo O’Higgins had accomplished great things in Chile but I did not realize that there was an Irish presence in Argentina. I’m glad that the past generations of Irish who immigrated there were respectful of your culture, and I am sure that our mutual Catholicism contributed to our good relations.
                      But it would seem that the Argentineans and the Irish are both rebels at heart and very willing to fight together for the glory of God. If I had a glass of red wine in hand, I would toast to your (and your familys) well being and to the health and welfare of our Pope Francis and his holy mission.

                      You are a good evangelizer…keep at it!

                    • Marcelus

                      thank you! yes indeed, Irish presence is strong, partiicularly in Patagonia , where many went to raise and deal in sheep,, SO are the welsh,incidently, Chubut Argentina is the only place outside of Wales where welsh is spoken in the world.

                      In the 1850 until 1920,if you were in difficulties so to speak , in Europe, there were only 2 places in the world where you could go; US and Argentina.

                      ANd so millions came down and made us what we are today,. Good or bad. The Pope’sown family is parts and a goodexample of that story. So is mine, (Italy)

    • lifeknight

      Mr. Richard: Thank you for your clarity in what I was trying to say in an earlier post!

    • Elizabeth

      Concerning your last paragraph, “I pray for clarity of vision for our Pope – and for precision of expression! We need clarity, and precision, and prudence.”….. My feeling is that he is incapable of such. I fear that what we have been getting from him is what we’re going to continue to get from him. Mish-mash, sloppy, pseudo-Catholic, something-or-other.

      • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas Richard

        Hello Elizabeth – I wanted to add just one response to the several not unlike yours. I am confident of the future of the Church, regardless of the strengths or weaknesses of the man in the Chair of Peter. The Church is the Lord’s, and He gave us His promise at the very beginning: “Lo, I am with you until the close of the age.” Indeed, the close of the age may be near! But it is not here yet.

        Christ is with us – with His Church – and it will not fall. I remember also the frequent exhortation of Pope John Paul II, “Be not afraid!” We must trust the Lord Jesus, trust His abiding Holy Spirit, trust the intercessions of our mother Mary and the saints – and pray. God is at work, and He is working still. We must trust Him, do all that we can, positively, for the good of the Church, and pray. And, “Be not afraid!”

        • Elizabeth

          Yes, Thomas Richard, I’m with you. That doesn’t change how I feel about the current Pope, while all the while being obedient to him and the Church. But yes, Christ is with us and His Church, and it will not fail.

          • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas Richard

            I watched today a new video of Michael Voris – “The Pope, Poverty and English.” He suggests the possibility that one factor in the Pope’s “lack of clarity and precision” may be a result of the priest-translators in the Vatican. It was said that Pope Francis does not know English – thus is dependent on translators. This is a factor that may explain a great deal – if these Vatican translators are either incompetent, or have an agenda. It’s one more thing to wonder about. Time will reveal the truth of it, I trust. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4cWQwt3poA

  • lifeknight

    “Some Catholics become upset whenever the pope is criticized about anything, as though any questioning of the pope’s statements is tantamount to questioning the truth of the Catholic faith.”

    Islam aside, the above statement from Professor Kilpatrick is at the essence of this Pope’s current interviews and his exhortation. I seem to appear to some in my family as having gone “over the edge” of Traditionalism…….I love the TLM, and now I have the audacity to question some of the most ridiculously harmful statements the Vicar of Christ has made! I suppose my greatest comfort is to know that fellow Crisis readers and writers are right there with me!

    • Marcelus

      yes yes, and its our own fault , becoming upset whenever the Pope is criticized on Crisis Mag- our mistake.

    • http://www.steveskojec.com/ Steve Skojec

      Here’s one for you:

      “Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations” – Fr. Melchior Cano O.P., Bishop and Theologian of the Council of Trent.

      • musicacre

        Yes, and that is consistent with what we have always been told about our faith, that the Pope is infallible only when speaking about faith and morals…anything else he can error like anyone else.

        • ForChristAlone

          There was a time when we rarely heard from the Pope directly. But when the Pope did speak, we all sat up and took notice. In our day and age there is TOO MUCH TALK. It’s really time time for people to shut up a bit. One of the worst aspects of the pontificate of Benedict is when he opened a twitter account. Bad idea! Let’s have less talk and more prayer. Too much talk cheapens formerly highly esteemed offices. We see the same thing in our federal government. It would be good for Obama to shut up unless he has something really important to say.

  • AcceptingReality

    I wish the Pope would stop pontificating on things he apparently knows very little about.

    • Dick Prudlo

      I doubt this man doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and doesn’t care, either.

    • poetcomic1

      Does he know Latin fluently? No one can even answer that question satisfactorily for me.

      • Marcelus

        who the Pope? you are kidding..

        • Marcelus

          Spanish, German. Italian. French, LATIN, Ukranian, and some English as far as I know if you are asking for real

        • jacobhalo

          After Vatican II, they stopped teaching Latin in the seminaries. Pope John Paul II put it back in. Pope Francis, I’m sure, studied latin.

          • Marcelus

            yes he did. He speakls many other languages too..

    • Duane Alexander Miller

      Presidents and Prime Ministers also love doing this.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Frankly Pope Francis is naive.

    • Elizabeth

      Naive because he might think that talking about Islam in that way might bring around some converts? Or naive because he actually believes what he says? Either way is dangerous.

      • Marcelus

        Have your read Benectic”s comments on Isla,m or were you born today?

        • Vincent

          There you go again….know with an ad hominem attack… I guess you’re paid by every comment you leave so as to ‘counter’ every comment.

          • Marcelus

            Vincent, my shill man,.in all honesty I may have to control my temper, but give me a break, whether you like Francis or not, If I show you this, even more “pro islamic” and asking for forgivness , by BXVI ,if you will, how can Elizabeth state? :

            “Naive because he might think that talking about Islam in that way might bring around some converts?”

            I take it you are seeing only what reafirms you preconception, at least on this issue.

            Pope Benedict expressed his regret for any offense his words had given: “The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.[42][43] According to CNN, the Vatican comments fell short of a literal apology.[44]

            On September 17, 2006, from the balcony at his residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, Pope Benedict publicly expressed that he was ‘deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries’ and stressed that the words which ‘were considered offensive’ were not his own, but were quoted from a medieval text, and that his speech was intended to act as an invitation to mutually respectful dialogue with Muslims, rather than an attempt to cause offense.[45]

            On September 25, 2006, Pope Benedict held a meeting at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with approximately 20 Muslim diplomats. At this meeting the Pope Benedict expressed “total and profound respect for all Muslims”. Among the ambassadors invited included Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and many other nations and Islamic Groups.[46

        • Elizabeth

          @Marcelus: Hmm, let’s see, no, I was born 56 years ago. Your uncharitable, immature, and snarky comment directed at me accomplished one thing….I know that your posts aren’t worth reading at all. Perhaps others here will have the same reaction as I. Not exactly the effect you were hoping for, I’ll bet.

          I confess that sometimes I have responded in sarcasm to some comment here or there and am usually sorry that I did…..as it is so very uncharitable.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        I hold him at him at his word. He believes it, and that’s what makes him naive.

  • sonny

    I can only speak or paint in broad strokes. I have read Fr Samir & read about Pope Francis. Both are no strangers to what they speak of, one on Islamic politics and the other on deadly conflict (Argentinian). Suffice to say I must follow what either will write about. Fr Samir writes frequently in AsiaNews.IT and member of Pontifical Oriental Institute under Pope BVI. Incidentally both are JESUITS.

    • Art Deco

      Incidentally both are JESUITS.

      We shouldn’t hold it against them. Not all Jesuits are buggering topers.

      • sonny

        This is nostalgic for me. During moral casuistry classes, there was always the Jesuit opinion and the Dominican opinion. (sigh)

  • Marcelus

    So, I take it the writer is not too happy with Francis either.. Pope said many more things about Islam than this hand picked lines as stated above: Just that he forgot the usual closing line: Dont get me wrong I love the POpe..

    “In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!! I ask and I humbly
    entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice
    their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western
    countries!”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “Whoever the pope turned to for advice?” “unfortunate effect of the pope’s ill-advised statement ??i….. oh please….

    BEnedict had to apologize to Muslums. SO far Francis has not..

    “Pope Benedict expressed his regret for any offense his words had given: “The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.[42][43] According to CNN, the Vatican comments fell short of a literal apology.[44]

    SInce you are bringing up beloved Benedict,: please have a look before you hit the keyboard::

    http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=19847

    “By Gerard O’Connell

    5/16/2006

    UCANews (www.ucanews.com)

    VATICAN CITY (UCAN) – Pope Benedict XVI has called for Christians “to open their arms and hearts” to Muslim immigrants and “to dialogue” with them on religious issues. At the same time he expressed the hope that Muslims in Muslim-majority countries would be equally welcoming of Christian migrants.”

    Is it that different????”

    Here is the same issue under Benedict:

    “Pope Benedict expressed his regret for any offense his words had given: “The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.[42][43] According to CNN, the Vatican comments fell short of a literal apology.[44]

    On September 17, 2006, from the balcony at his residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, Pope Benedict publicly expressed that he was ‘deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries’ and stressed that the words which ‘were considered offensive’ were not his own, but were quoted from a medieval text, and that his speech was intended to act as an invitation to mutually respectful dialogue with Muslims, rather than an attempt to cause offense.[45]

    On September 25, 2006, Pope Benedict held a meeting at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with approximately 20 Muslim diplomats. At this meeting the Pope Benedict expressed “total and profound respect for all Muslims”. Among the ambassadors invited included Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and many other nations and Islamic Groups.[46]

    On October 9, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI took another step to placate anger in the Islamic world over his remarks on holy war, making additions to his original text affirming that a quotation from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor was not his personal opinion.The original said the emperor’s remark was made “somewhat brusquely”. In the new version, it says it was made with “a brusqueness that we find unacceptable.” Benedict added in a footnote: “In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.” He said he cited the text as part of an examination of the “relationship between faith and reason”.[47]

    My dear friend: The worst kind of blind man is the one who refuses to see, as we say.

    Get your act toghether

    • steve5656546346

      God is truth: all truth is God’s truth. The truth is that this Pope does talk differently than his predecessors. He says lots of contradictory things, so you can usually point to this or that on pooh pooh any concerns.

      But the test of the communication approach is not whether you can somehow explain his statements as consistent with the faith, but rather whether he fearlessly and directly proposes the fullness of faith in a way that is clear and unambiguous.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        I find, like GK Chesterton used to, that a contradiction is usually only a paradox in disguise.

      • nickandrews

        I am sorry but your post is genuinely gobble-de-gook to me. What are you actually saying?

    • Gabriella

      Jacobhalo, please, communism an economic system? Where did you get this notion? Thousands died because of their opposition to communism…do your homework! so as not to sound like an ignoramus.
      The Pontiff knows what he is doing and he is doing it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so have more faith. I can see that you love your Church but employ more charity in your statements, trust the Lord in guiding His representative upon this Earth. God bless.

      • Gabriella

        Jacobhalo, one more thing, Islam is not a religion, it is an ideology. It does not deal with the divine, only human. It referencese aspects of its beliefs but does not actually calls on the divine powers to intercede – and Mohammed, that greatly misguided man who had fallen into the hands of the devil himself, had never, ever, performed one single miracle. Nothing in his life to indicate that he was a chosen one. Simple self appointment

        • nickandrews

          Muslims regard Mohammad as a messenger of the One God in exactly the same way as they regard Jesus Christ as merely a messenger of the One God

          Mohammed ordered the beheading of 700 Jewish men in Medina and the enslavement of their wives and children when he began his assault on Mecca in order to discourage the Jews in Medina, his base, from opposing him.

          Need one say more?

      • nickandrews

        In the same way he guided Alexander VI?

  • Vinnie

    “God, after giving a disposition or an order, can give an opposite order, for the contrary reasons.” Seems similar to the violence in the Old Testament giving way to the Body of Christ in the New. Although, as mentioned, the opposite happens in the Koran.

  • catholic in exile

    Can we be honest? At best, this Pope is naive and uninformed. At worst, he is an idiot.

    • Marcelus

      Impressive, calling Peter an idiot now.

      Well, your posting buddies still got the rest of the day to match that or go beyond-

      Man you should really realy review what kind of Catholic if any you think you are.

    • Marcelus

      I’ve had it. Im sorry.

      • Art Deco

        I am sorry you’ve had it, but the man is not taking aspects of his office seriously, is implicated in a campaign of harassment and insult against those devoted to the 1962 missal, and works silliness into his remarks and public practice. It is wrong to evaluate the whole statement according to some problematic features, but the quotation pulled is false and false in predictable ways.

        The Church in the occidental world is in a wretched state and unless he acquires prudence and defensible priorities, he is set to damage it further ‘ere he shuffles off this mortal coil. In places like France and Sweden, perhaps 3 or 4% of the population attends Sunday services. That’s where we are heading.

        • Marcelus

          thank you

      • robert chacon

        Have faith in the Holy Spirits role in the Chair of Peter. No need to lose faith now.

        • Marcelus

          I Do Robert, just feels like rowing in thick oil.

          • slainte

            God never said it would be easy to defend Him against the powers and principalities of this world.
            Keep up the great work Marcelus; when you experience the sense of rowing in thick oil, it is because your message in defense of the Gospel is being received.

            • Marcelus

              Thank you!!

    • steve5656546346

      I think you have hit on the key question. The answers for a lot of good Catholics seems to come down to this: “No, we can’t be honest. That would be disloyal.”

      But I don’t think that God wants our political-type spin and endless excuse making. Because God is truth.

      • jacobhalo

        Good Catholics want to hear the truth. The truth being in scripture. Since Vatican II, the Novus Ordo clerics are picking and choosing what quotes to use. You won’t hear the pope say what Jesus said to the Jews, If you don’t believe that I am He [the Messiah] you will die in your own sins. You won’t hear them proclaim the infallible doctrine, no salvation outside the church. What we have now are water down teachings. Of course, the pope isn’t going to quote those words from the Koran. They are not compatible with the inter religious dialogue.

      • slainte

        You opine: ” “No, we can’t be honest. That would be disloyal.”
        I would suggest that you reserve judgment because you may not be in command of all the relevant facts which inform the Pope in his decisions and communications.

    • jacobhalo

      liberal=idiot, educated idiot.

  • steve5656546346

    We are going to have to choose between truth and justifying every singles sentence that this Pope (or any other Pope for that matter) states.

    The Church has never taught that each word of the Pope is dictated directly by the Holy Spirit, and history shows otherwise. Popes have special graces of office, and special spiritual attacks because of office.

    Popes used to understand all of this, and so they had less to say…

    • Marcelus

      No clarification needed. Just some pick what they want to see or read and build maliciously from there.

      But. you may be right.-

  • franthie

    With exactly what Islamic authoritative power was Pope John Paul II ‘carefully constructing a relationship over 20 years’?

    • Marcelus

      http://www.onislam.net/english/news/global/461754-muslims-hope-for-john-paul-like-pope.html

      John Paul II made considerable achievements in improving relations between Islam and Catholicism.In 1986, he took the unprecedented step of hosting a grand inter-religious gathering that saw Jewish, Christian and Muslim dignitaries gather in Assisi, central Italy, alongside Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, representatives of the Shinto faith and African and Amerindian religions for a day of prayer for peace.Years later in November 2004, the Polish pope was still promoting the same ideals: “No one has the right to use religion as an instrument of intolerance, as a means of aggression, violence and death,” he told a mixed-faith delegation from Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim country.John Paul II also sought direct dialogue with Islam. Already the first pope to enter a synagogue, in May 2001 in Damascus he became the first pope to enter a mosque.

      • franthie

        Kissing the Koran, as he did, was mistakenly well-intentioned but shocking, and probably interpreted as some submissive gesture by Islam.. I wonder what the penalty might be for a Muslim publicly to kiss the Bible? And how can we assess these actions of John-Paul II as ‘considerable achievements . . .’? Is this not just fanciful Christian-mindedness.

        • Marcelus

          In that we agree. I do not think any Muslim would ever even think of kissing a bible.

  • Marcelus

    I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.”

    • Marcelus

      Those are Benedict s words silly!!! It’s like a kitten in a room full of rotwailers! !! Smell a different position and all go at it. .. voting down ha.!

  • poetcomic1

    Islam by definition is a foul heresy of Christianity, a mortal and relentless spiritual enemy of all mankind. As the Muslim genocide of Christians ramps up, Pope Francis will be put to the test in unimaginable ways. Photo ops and kissing babies won’t make a bit of difference then.

    • Marcelus

      Ok bring Benedict along then

  • slainte

    Mr. Kirkpatrick opines that “…the importance of outreach to Muslims has to be balanced with the pope’s duty to properly inform his flock about matters which may put their freedom and security at risk…”

    Respectfully, the pope’s “duty” is the salvation of souls by leading all men and women to Jesus Christ. Mr. Kirkpatrick confuses the pope’s vocation with the concerns of a temporal governmental official and finds the pope severely lacking.

    When will the impeachment of Pope Francis begin and which of his earthly detractors will preside as prosecutor to oust the man put in place and informed by the Holy Spirit?

    Overreaching and chutzpah are very much at work in this piece.

    • slainte

      Apologies for mis-stating your name Mr. Kilpatrick.

    • Art Deco

      The Pope has an obligation not to talk rot to his following even when he is addressing historical and sociological questions and not questions of faith and morals. There is considerable variation in how Islam is understood and lived, and muslim communities generally get along with no more (typically less) social pathology than other loci. However, the notion that Islam is constitutionally opposed to violence is nonsense.

      • slainte

        Under what theory of rights do you assume to create a “duty” or “obligation” upon one whose vocation and agency is owed to Jesus Christ alone in his care of Christ’s flock?

        The Pope is a loving father who guides the flock of Our Lord at the command and direction of the Holy Spirit. He is accountable to God alone.

        • Art Deco

          I dunno. Maybe that commandment about not bearing false witness.

          • slainte

            Pope Francis does not speak or write in English. That which he writes and verbally communicates is subject to translation by many, not all of whom possess integrity or expertise in the art of linguistic translation.

            The mistranslation into English of the original Spanish language text of “Evangelii Guadium” contained material errors upon which many faithful have relied. In addition, the media have widely reported inaccurate information regarding the Pope”s position on various issues, including same sex marriage.

            Given the confluence of mistranslations and erroneous reporting surrounding this Pope, are you really prepared to comdemn him for bearing false witness without a careful review and examination of all relevant facts?

            • Marcelus

              Indeed, he speaks many languages but for some reason English is not one of them, considering the man speaks German and even ukranian if I recall correctly. I also went thru the spanish version, the original I trust since much of the phrasing is clearly Argentinian spanish and the English translation does not have the same meaning many times

  • Marcelus

    Pope Benedict XVI has called for Christians “to open their arms and hearts” to Muslim immigrants and “to dialogue” with them on religious issues. At the same time he expressed the hope that Muslims in Muslim-majority countries would be equally welcoming of Christian migrants.”

    Pope Francis:

    “We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition.I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western”

    • Art Deco

      Pope Benedict XVI has called for Christians “to open their arms and
      hearts” to Muslim immigrants and “to dialogue” with them on religious
      issues.

      See The Great Facade by Ferrara and Woods on this point. The Holy See has an affection for oecumenical and inter-religious wheel-spinning, but its effects are necrotizing.

      If you want peace between antagonistic communities, the practice of artful silence is generally your most effective tool.

      • Marcelus

        and personally, I am not too fond of Islam or anything it represents myself.,

    • steve5656546346

      Well, we have been praising other religions for some 50 years, and the disastrous results were utterly predictable–even on a natural level. Toyota did not get to be #1 by unceasing ads about how wonderful other manufacturers were. Grace builds upon nature according to Aquinas.

  • http://www.steveskojec.com/ Steve Skojec

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been waiting for someone with the bona fides to write about what is not only misleading, but flatly and obviously false, in the pope’s statements about Islam.

    • slainte

      Do you also look for what is True, Good, Kind, and Christ-like in the words and actions of Pope Francis, the vicar of Christ on this earth?

      • http://www.steveskojec.com/ Steve Skojec

        No need. There’s an entire cadre of professional Catholic bloggers out there making sure to do that on behalf of everyone, and resistance is useless.

        • slainte

          Are you a Roman Catholic?

  • hombre111

    I love Crisis. When the truth hurts, change the subject. Holy Father, keep on hammering the superstitious belief in trickle down economics. Reminds me of Linus, waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

    • jacobhalo

      The Holy Father should stick to spiritual issues. I never heard Jesus talk about economics or how it should work. “Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar’s and to God what is God’s.

      • hombre111

        Didn’t hear the conservatives complain when Pope John Paul was duking it out with communism.

        • jacobhalo

          Communism is an economic system. Islam is a religion. I give credit to Pope John Paul for fighting communism. I don’t give him credit because during his reign Europe lost its Catholic faith.

        • Art Deco

          Since the Communist states were abusive to the Church (and every other element of the authentic civil society), one would expect him to duke it out.

    • Art Deco

      Come again? “Trickle down economics” is a term from the world of political sloganeering. It does not map to informed discourse on economic matters.

      • ForChristAlone

        These kinds of slogans is the only thing these people who do not work for a living have to throw at the rest of us who do.

  • Howard Kainz

    The Pope is obviously misinformed about Islam. I can’t blame him for not studying the Koran and the hadith, which are tedious and incoherent in many places, contrary to natural law, and inimical to the Ten Commandments concerning murder, lying, adultery, and stealing (booty). Unlike the case with Buddhism and Hinduism, the Golden Rule is also completely absent in Islam. It is a very strange, warlike religion, but falls under the general category of “religion,” and, like scientology, can claim respect in terms of “religious tolerance.”

    • Marcelus

      “Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.”

      We should get both: Benedict and Francis a Qran then

      • Duane Alexander Miller

        Benedict was more coherent on Islam than Francis.

        • Marcelus

          I believe asking openly as he did in EG that the muslim should respect or make sure Christians can profess their religion , aliong with the rest of the message , as Francis did is far more clearer than a piblic apology as Benedict did years ago, but is a matter of opinion. He may welllbe the first Pope to kindly request that .Bless you

          • Duane Alexander Miller

            Marcelus: Islam has a very clear way of ordering the life of non-Muslims living under Islamic rule. They are dhimmi and have inferior rights and positions to Muslims. To ask that Muslims toss out the system of dhimmitude is like Muslims asking Christians, that who Trinity thing, it really bothers us, could you get rid of it please? Not realistic at all and has no chance of doing any good whatsoever, imho.

            • Marcelus

              Agree with you. Still with the very few effective means at the Pope’s disposal, in view of the current killing in Islamic countries of Christians, something has to be said by the head of the Catholic Church. And should they ‘take it wrongly’ so to speak, there is a clear risk of an all out massacre. Bless you

              • Paul Sho

                All the diplomatic niceties of the Vatican II will not get us very far. The Muslims need to be evangelized. Yes, with patience and intelligence; but there is no other way than to seek their conversion to the Truth of Christianity. For starters we need to make available to all levels of the Muslim grassroots simple literature (in simple language) about key points in the life of the Lord Jesus. The sooner we get going the better.

  • Fr. sickly

    an good article. could it be the the Pope is peaking of violence as Mat 12:12 speaks of violence. the bible speaks of dyeing to self , or doing violence to self, not to others. while the Islam religion speaks of violence to others.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    I think what neither is taking into account is that by Western standards, Allah is a liar. Or to put it in mainstream Sunni terms, Allah is not bound by human reason.

    What this adds up to is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who proved himself to be consistent and faithful is NOT the picture that mainstream Islam has of Allah. YHWH says “Be at peace, for I shall cause the Sun to rise tomorrow”. Allah may allow the sun to rise one day, then not the next, may tell Islamics to be friends with “People of the book” in one sentence, and kill them in another.

    This makes it very hard indeed to pin down where Islam is on the spectrum between war and peace, at a very fundamental level.

    • Objectivetruth

      Which is why Pope Emeritus Benedict’s speech several years ago in Regensburg, Germany on faith and reason was so incredibly important in discussing Islam and th Qu’ran. Of course, the mainstream, PC, attack the Catholic Church at every turn media hung out one line from the speech making Benedict look like the anti Muslim equivalent of the Grand Wizzard of the KKK.

      Let’s see what the Holy Spirit’s plans are with Pope Francis, and trust. But every day I miss Pope Benedict more and more.

      • Marcelus

        Yes, that is exactly why Benedict apologized later to the Islamic. Please

  • Art Deco

    and is the author of thirty-six books and more than five hundred scholarly articles

    I think you are either missing a decimal point or have confounded op-ed pieces with ‘scholarly articles’. An abnormally productive professor at a research institution with light teaching loads might produce three peer reviewed scholarly articles per year. One a years would be the usual pace for a scholar-teacher.

  • Art Deco

    I think we are seeing in Francis brazen examples of what we have seen for several decades: the Holy Spirit’s protection of the Church is quite circumscribed. The Holy See’s corridors are filled with men whose defaults might be described as “Euro chatterati”. So, you have the Vatican diplomatic corps agitating for supranational institutions which will run roughshod over cultural particularity and ordinaries and nuncios investing time and chits agitating for the functional elimination of capital sentencing. The American variant of that can be seen in the position paper mongering of the U.S. Catholic Conference, which is just a chaff machine. Francis just babbles on and the Catholic press is left to explain to its perplexed readers all the things he does not mean. A bishop must teach, sanctify, and govern, and this bishop is a lousy teacher.

  • http://europa-antiqua-arca.blogspot.com/ para_bellum

    “The importance of outreach to Muslims has to be balanced with the pope’s duty to properly inform his flock about matters that may put their freedom and security at risk.”

    True, but it may be that more realist intepretations of Islam may in fact put the freedom and security of Middle Eastern Christians at risk. After World War II, some Jews said they were grateful that Pope Pius XII was cautious in his criticism of the Nazis, and prefered to work behind the scenes. They said that when people had spoken out forcefully against them, it only resulted in greater persecution. It may be that we are in a similar situation now.

    • steve5656546346

      But if we continue to imply that it doesn’t much matter whether or not you are Catholic–or even Christian–we will continue to loose Catholics and gain converts at a sharply reduced rate.

      For 50 years the Church has engaged in unceasing praise of other religions: that is just nuts.

    • Evagrius

      I would kindly urge you to review some of the Church’s rather strong statements against National Socialism issued before and during World War II, starting with Mit brennender Sorge. ( A good survey can be found in Fr. George Rutler’s Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943). I assure you no Pope ever praised National Socialism as an “Ideology of Peace.”

  • Gregory M Corrigan

    Professor, your article is well written yet significantly disturbing. You have taken two fragments from Evangelii Gaudium (Pope Francis cautions against “hateful generalizations about Islam,” for “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (253) and used them to construct an argument that produces an anti-Muslim sentiment while suggesting that Pope Francis is both naive and lacking prudence. It is sad what a bright mind like yours can do. Your argument “smells” of someone who already has a conclusion in mind. In a clever way, you then put together premises in order to reach your that conclusion.

    But there are so many positive ways in which the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation, as well as scriptural and Qur’anic scholarship, can be studied without such glaring biases, ways that can support a consistency as well as a sense of hope for a greater future unity between Muslims and Christians.

    You “set the stage” by offering a “small sampling” of violent statements found in the Qur’an (btw: “Koran” is an Anglicized word; the preferred spelling is: “Qur’an” or “Quran”). Well, any student could cite so many violent statements found in the Bible and easily “out-violence” you by a mile.

    You use red herrings, e.g., “Whoever the pope turned to for advice, it was most probably not fellow Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir, an expert on Islamic theology and history and a close adviser to Pope Benedict XVI” and continue to insult the Pope with facetious comments like “Fr. Samir is not nearly as sanguine about the peaceful nature of Islam as Pope Francis.”

    Your article is riddled with absolute statements which slam the doors on any possible conversation or counter-point (e.g., “the pope has overreached himself” “the pope has ignored a great many realities,” “The Pope blames the violence on “fundamentalism,” and “the majority of Muslims worldwide hold to fundamentalist views.”

    Well Professor, doesn’t history teach us that a majority of the world’s violence was initiated by “Christians?” My small sampling includes:

    The Crusades (which were Papal-blessed military campaigns… “Let us go instead against the infidel and fight a righteous war. God himself will lead them, for we will be doing His work.” Pope Urban II. “Deus vult! (God wills it) became the battle cry of the Crusader.

    “‘The knight of Christ may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently; for he serves Christ when he strikes,” and “When he inflicts death, it is to Christ’s profit” St. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century).

    Europe’s Reformation and the Counter Reformation.

    The African Slave trade (recall also that the Catholic Church did not officially condemn slavery until the last century).

    The Colonial Conquests.

    Anti-Semitism (recall too that until 1962 part of the Good Friday prayer was an intention for the “perfidious Jews”).

    Rwanda (1994).

    Bosnia (1992-1995).

    Latin America and the still functioning “School of the Americas.”

    And while your article focuses on the physical violence caused by fundamentalist Muslims, I would strongly insist that violence also refers to that which is psychologically destructive, that which demeans, damages, or depersonalizes others. How much violence has occurred, and still occurs, not only b/c of Christian fundamentalists but Christians of every culture, education and/or position (even scholarly Professors!).?

    Another small sampling– violence and denigration against: women, ethnic minorities, people of color, other denominations, scientists, atheists, the GLTB community, even other Christians (the violence done by the Catholic church against the Waldensians (a Christian movement characterized by lay preaching and voluntary poverty, which ultimately found itself on the other side of the tracks by holding that relics were simply rotten bones; that to go on pilgrimage served no end, save to empty one’s purse; that flesh might be eaten any day if one’s appetite served him; and that holy water was not a whit more efficacious than rain water. The response of the Catholic Church to these people was horrible. The Catholic forces did not simply slaughter the Waldensians. They are reported to have unleashed an unprovoked campaign of looting, rape, torture, and murder. God will it???

    Thank God for Pope Pius XII and his liberating encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu” (1943). Finally, the Catholic Church began to do authentic scripture scholarship. And the results continue to be incredible. Nonetheless, a great many “ordinary” Christians still possess a literal and/or fundamentalist understanding of scripture (how else can one explain hate groups who protest at the funerals of deceased military with a Bible in one hand and in the other, a sign that reads, “God Hates Fags!”). It may well be that the Muslim world could benefit from a pronouncement similar to “Divino Afflante Spiritu” so that “Qur’anic criticism” might open new doors of understanding through methods such as source-criticism, textual criticism, redaction criticism, as well as anthropological insights as basic as “Sitz im Leben.”

    The fact remains: there are Muslim intellectual scholars and resources that advocate for a neo-Mutazilite* approach to the Qur’an. ( *The Mu’tazili school posits that the injunctions of God are accessible to rational thought and inquiry: because knowledge is derived from reason, reason is the “final arbiter” in distinguishing right from wrong).

    True, at this time, such an approach may not have the widest appeal in the Muslim world. But the approach is favored by many intellectuals, and wouldn’t it benefit ALL sides if Christian scholars and theologians were to promote a desire for unity and understanding, rather than hold tight to either “hateful” or “unwarranted” generalizations?

    After all Professor, isn’t “generalization” just a softer way of saying “judgment?”

    • Marcelus

      Good post..

    • steve5656546346

      1. There is no word count requirement, so if there is ANYTHING that is flatly misleading, the Pope could have just left it out.

      2. The endless praising of other religions has had only one major result: Catholics leaving by droves because the Church has certainly seemed to be saying for some 50 years that it doesn’t much matter if you are Catholic! Oh, there has been one other result: conversions have fallen like a stone for the same reason.

  • Thinkling

    After going over EG in its entirety with a fine toothed comb, I can safely say this one line about Islam is the only line in EG which is demonstrably false if taken at face value, or at least such a shrill rhetorical advice to be meaningless (although not necessarily useless, for outreach purposes, but then the criticism leveled in this piece is valid).

    Any such statement about Islam is inherently problematic for the simple reason that Islam has no Magisterium. There is simply no way to determine a resolution when two contradictory strains of Islamic thought or interpretation are held simultaneously by two people or groups. One can appeal to popularity, but that of course is not authenticity. The Pope’s vision of Islam may indeed be popular or even mainstream, but to say it is authentic is simply an equivocation.

  • Katalina

    Francis himself unlike Benedict is naïve has he himself admitted not just on this topic but others as well. His focusing on ONLY the positive and ignoring the negative of reality is why John XXIII honestly thought that the idea of dialogs with not just the Church’s enemies but the whole world is proving to be utterly IMHO a dismal failure. We are being more persecuted at very aspect because we had to stop condemning and being more merciful and understanding. The only people currently being persecuted are the FFI. What a shame.

  • Objectivetruth

    I always hear of the Church reaching out to Islam.

    In all seriousness…..can someone provide me of a recent example of Islamic groups reaching out to the Catholic Church?

    Because all I see are Catholics/Christians being slaughtered and blown up by Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan.

    Also, the Pope needs to look to his patron saint, Francis of Assisi. He was prepare to have his head cut off by the Muslim Sultan for preaching the unwatered down, uncompromising Truth of Jesus Christ.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    SOME ALLAH TAGS

    I have little use for Allah. I want a God who shows His face. A God
    whose universal love is poured into his particular affections.

    * * *

    “I will adhere to a God who adheres to the Law-of-Non-Contradiction.”

    * * *

    A LITTLE ALLAH POEM

    [STANZA ONE]

    I have
    little use for Allah; he
    who refuses to descend; he
    who is put off with the putting on of flesh; he
    who blinds the sight of him, so no eye can latch upon; he
    who amputates, severs from hand and tongue
    the touch and taste of man; he
    who recoils from sipping, from fingering morning coffee and biscuits.

    What a contradictory god Allah is.

    * * *

    [STANZA TWO]

    Though Allah rejects the glad hand

    (the cup of brew), though Allah binds and winds his Will
    as he wills about his Will, encasing
    Totalitarian Oneness – that god is sure a mettlesome one.

    Allah busybodies in every nook and cranny;
    refusing Liberty its playing field; denying
    the sovereignty of cause & effect to run its course.

    Allah can’t leave much alone:
    a tad, a whittle, a this or that,
    a here or there; Allah’s totalitarian ways and means
    cannibalizes life’s every hither & tither.

    * * *

    [STANZA THREE]

    We are told
    Allah’s Will is all that matters;

    so why the care?

    Allah wills his Will

    as an arbitrary god,
    as a capricious netherworld prince;

    for Allah,
    hard-hearted and headstrong, wars against
    the sovereign “itness” of all that is not Allah, against
    all Original Solitudes.

    * * *

    Forget this business of Allah, send us
    down the garden path of the Ancient One of Israel.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Any intelligent person who believes that Islam is a religion of peace has simply never bothered to read any primary sources on Islam, beginning with the Qur’an and the Hadith, but has instead relied on the deceitful propaganda of organizations like CAIR. I am not suggesting that anyone read “anti-Muslim” sources. It isn’t necessary. One need never consult non-Muslim sources to arrive at a horrifying conclusion regarding this satanic religion. This is what makes Robert Spencer’s scholarship essentially irrefutable. Spencer relies only on Muslim sources. He allows Muslims to explain exactly what it is their scriptures teach, how they themselves interpret them. When Muslims are writing and teaching for a Muslim audience, this “religion pf peace” nonsense goes out the window. It is strictly intended for the talking heads of MSNBC, CBS, etc. (And now, apparently, the Vatican as well.)

    • Marcelus

      “I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.”B XVI

      based on your comment, a certain man who led the Church not long ago would not be considered intelligent? He went by the name of Benedict.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Benedict was a much more serious Pontiff than the current one, but he was hardly a lion in defense of Catholicism. And yes, I would say his phrase clearly reveals his ability speak Vatican II, bureaucratic gibberish, and is simply an example of “political correctness.”

  • R. K. Ich

    When will the Hierarchs of the New Age of Faith (definite article deliberately omitted) get it in their minds that the enemies of the Cross will never be at peace with the Church? We must love our Muslim friends and neighbors by uncompromisingly setting forth the scandal of the cross as their only hope of salvation. There’s just no way to nicely package that all men are damned and hopeless apart from them fleeing to the mercy of God in Christ who suffered for sinners.

    Here’s to hoping Muslims will hear the Catholic Chrurch in the fulness of Her prophetic office.

  • 12Maria34

    Another good read from a French diocesan priest. I just used google translate … http://www.islam-et-verite.com/blog/billets-d-humeur/deuxieme-lettre-ouverte-au-pape-sur-l-islam-et-evangelii-gaudium.html

  • Beth

    Is there a Catherine (of Siena) in the house? Catherine, could you send a letter, please?

  • WRBaker

    Even a “proper reading” can’t dismiss the fact that some 600 years after Jesus, Islam comes around and proclaims that God changed his mind.
    I realize that a proper reading sounds politically correct, but it also flies in the face of what popes and saints have said in the past.

  • Jerome

    Again, another deeply flawed article on Islam published by Crisis. Pope Francis had the right tone on Islam, precisely because he is encouraging the more peaceful and civic sides of modern Islam. This is exactly what Pope Benedict did when he issued his explanation of his Regensburg Address–the difference between the two popes, post-Regensburg at least, is one of style on this subject, not substance, so far as I can see. To criticize Islamic religious errors in a civilized and respectful fashion is a good thing, but any generally hostile statements by a pope toward Islam by a pope or other Catholic leaders only gives those with a violent interpretation of Islam help–they can tell other Muslims then “look they hate you anyway, even when you try to be peaceful, why not embrace the militant aspects of our tradition?” Some traditional and conservative Catholics, I am beginning to conclude, just lack much insight into the way other think and are likely to react to their own actions. Maybe some are still carrying water for the Bush Administration invasion of Iraq last decade?

    I do recommend Fr. Samir’s book on Islam, although it is a little outdated, not taking into to account developments since its publication, like the Fatwa against terrorism endorsed by the Al-Azhar which may be partly responsible for the plunge in support for suicide bombings seen in polls of the last few years among non-Palestinian Sunni Muslim Arabs.

    I will quote the conclusion of the passage on p. 71, which for some reason Mr. Fitzpatrick didn’t see fit to quote: “This is the ambiguity of Islam, from its beginning to the present day: violence is a part of it, but it is also possible to choose tolerance; tolerance is a part of it, but it is also possible to choose violence.” We do have Muslim fellow citizens. Until such a time as all the nations are won for Christ, we should encourage them to be good and peaceful citizens.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      What is “deeply flawed” is the Vatican’s approach to the world since Vatican II. Yes, it is “possible” (with astounding mental gymnastics) to construe certain verses of the Qur’an in such a way that Islam does not appear to be a religion of conquest and repression. But it is not possible to live with this illusion for very long, especially as a Muslim in the Islamic world, because promoting a “tolerant” Islam is a heresy for the overwhelming majority of Muslims in almost all times and all places. You follow the traditional, suicidal line of reasoning of most liberal Westerners: it is “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that is too blame for the horrific violence of Muslims! This is sheer lunacy, whether it is espoused by the liberal Western press or by the Vatican.

      • Jerome

        Islam certainly has conquest and repression in its past and present, as one major strain of it, at any rate, but it is hard to say for civic purposes that Islam is bad for that reason, since God allowed conquest–and even what the Canaanites I’m sure thought was repression–under the leadership of Joshua. Likewise in some periods, Catholic kingdoms were on average by modern standards more ‘repressive’ of those of different faiths than were Muslims. Was the Catholic faith therefore bad then? I don’t think so. What we have and Muslim don’t, is firstly, a stronger and more proper sense that political and social doctrine and religious law are important, but not so central to salvation as they think. We also have a sense that doctrine, especially in the social sphere, is open to a certain development with time. Although no doubt it is purely unintended, certain traditionalist criticisms of Vatican II if taken to their logical conclusion leave us, it seems to me, in the same sorry situation as Sunni Muslims, having to judge on their own private judgment which pronouncements of religious authorities are in accord with the tradition, good sense, etc.

        You may not know many American Muslims, but I do know a fair number. They are not by and large extremists, and are in fact quite happy to emphasize the peaceful and tolerant sides of the Muslim tradition, if given the chance. We have a duty to encourage this, it seems to me.

        • ForChristAlone

          Your duty, if you are a Christian, is to proclaim the Gospel to them i.e. the kerygma. Have you?

          • Jerome

            Yes, but very much for the most part in the sense of St. Francis’s first way in his first rule chapter 16: “they can live spiritually among the Saracens and unbelievers in two ways. One way is not to engage in arguments or disputes, but ‘to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake’ and to acknowledge they are Christians.’” (The second way being explicitly discussing religion and Christian teachings.) Since I mainly have professional dealings with the two dozen or so Muslims I have worked with over the years, I am under quite a bit of constraint in those matters, although occasionally I can and have pointed out positive aspects of Christianity of which they often are not aware. And not to be naive, most Muslims are not very open to evangelization, except perhaps, paradoxically, some of the more “liberal” ones.

  • Evagrius

    Francis’s reference to the “careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built” is indeed obscure. At most it denotes a tactical alignment of interests between Muslims and Catholics in opposition to Marxism during the cold war years (roughly contemporaneous with the pontificate of John Paul II). From the Islamic point of view, the only proper relationship between Catholics and Muslims is one of subordination, a relationship that is best described as Dhimmitude (see any of the writings of Bat Ye’or). There is nothing, however, in the background of Francis that would have acquainted him with precarious position of dhimmi Christians in majority Muslim countries or the adamant refusal of huge Muslim immigrant communities in majority Christian or Secular countries (in Europe) to assimilate along with their aggressive efforts to impose Sharia on the surrounding majority culture (i.e. to dhimmitize the host culture). “Religion of Peace” is a neologism that has less to do with any accurate reading of Islamic source texts or historical practices, than with the naïve, and somewhat desperate desire of certain non-Muslims to impose their own preferred image of Islam on a millennium of beliefs and practices that stubbornly resist this imposition. Argentina is hardly on the front lines of the confrontation between Christianity and Islam, so Francis’s ignorance is understandable. What is less excusable is his failure, to date, to figure out what he doesn’t know.

    • Marcelus

      Correct we are not in the trenches in the sense I think you meant it but,do not forget Argentina was hit hard by Islamic terrorism, from Iran particularly, back in the 90s by the bombing of the Israeli embassy and later the total destruction of the Amia, basically for Argentina participation in the golf war.

    • Marcelus

      http://www.onislam.net/english/news/global/461754-muslims-hope-for-john-paul-like-pope.html

      John Paul II made considerable achievements in improving relations between Islam and Catholicism.In 1986, he took the unprecedented step of hosting a grand inter-religious gathering that saw Jewish, Christian and Muslim dignitaries gather in Assisi, central Italy, alongside Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, representatives of the Shinto faith and African and Amerindian religions for a day of prayer for peace.Years later in November 2004, the Polish pope was still promoting the same ideals: “No one has the right to use religion as an instrument of intolerance, as a means of aggression, violence and death,” he told a mixed-faith delegation from Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim country.John Paul II also sought direct dialogue with Islam. Already the first pope to enter a synagogue, in May 2001 in Damascus he became the first pope to enter a mosque.

      • Salamanca

        The event in Assisi was widely criticized. It was reported, for example, that animists were invited to conduct their pagan rituals within Catholic Churches. The non-Christian religions were a blind spot for John Paul II much as they are for Francis. Growing up in a Soviet occupied country, John Paul II’s strength was leading the Church in its confrontation with Marxism. Perhaps because he saw all too clearly the threat posed by those who idolize the state, his focus on more traditional idolaters was not as sharp. In this respect John Paul II shares Francis’s faults. Rather than repeating John Paul II’s errors, however, Francis should be learning from them. There are many Catholic bishops (e.g. in Africa) dealing daily with the violent murderous expressions of Islamic notions of “peace.” There are also Catholic scholars specialized in the study of Islam to whom Francis could turn for advice and counsel.

      • Evagrius

        The event in Assisi was widely criticized. It was reported, for example, that animists were invited to conduct their pagan rituals within Catholic Churches. The non-Christian religions were a blind spot for John Paul II much as they are for Francis. Growing up in a Soviet occupied country, John Paul II’s strength was leading the Church in its confrontation with Marxism. Perhaps because he saw all too clearly the threat posed by those who idolize the state, his focus on more traditional idolators was not as sharp. In this respect John Paul II shares Francis’s faults. Rather than repeating John Paul II’s errors, however, Francis should be learning from them. There are many Catholic bishops (e.g. in Africa) dealing daily with the violent murderous expressions of Islamic notions of “peace.” There are also Catholic scholars specialized in the study of Islam to whom Francis could turn for advice and counsel.

        • Marcelus

          Yes, that could be the case. dealing with islam is like dealing with a “mad dog”in a way if you will, you may pet him but never know when he’ll bite.

  • uncle max

    “The sensibilities of muslim believers.”

    What complete hogwash – look at the picture of the church burning in Cairo, look at the pictures of palestinian kids celebrating 9/11 with loaded weapons, look at the results of suicide bombers’ doing their thing for allah here there and everywhere.

    Islam is NOT a religion of peace – it is a violent religion. But it is not for the Pope to say that. What if he said it out loud – he can’t but surely he knows.

    It falls to us to say these things.

    Anyone who disagrees with me should go to http://www.memri.org – let them speak for themselves.

  • cestusdei

    Islam is the biggest threat to peace since WWII. We must not be deceived or irenic toward those who persecute our brethern.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    NOTE TO JEROME: Open the link below. It is a page with multiple articles on so-called “moderate” Islam. Besides William Kirkpatrick, read the articles by David Solway; he has exposed “moderate” Islam as no other. Also, at the top of the page is a review of that “fatwa” you mentioned.

    http://themuhammadpaintingscollection.wordpress.com/on-so-called-moderate-islam-real-apostates/

  • ForChristAlone

    Does anyone here know of any sources that associate the rise of Islam with the fall of the Roman Empire? I would be interested in further study on that topic.

    • Evagrius

      Dear ForChristAlone,
      I’m not aware of any good generalist work on this topic. A good place to start, however, might be Robert Spencer’s “Did Muhummad Exist?” (2014). Apart from that, there is some very good specialist literature that addresses your concern more precisely. Karl-Heinz Ohlig, for example, has written on this. He links the rise of ‘Islam’ with a strategic retreat of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire from the Middle East: “[A]fter 622 … West Syria and Palestine no longer belonged to a province of the empire; rather, they were turned over to Arab princes who were more or less confederated and were responsible for paying tribute.” (“Syrian and Arabian Christianity in the Qur’an” in The Hidden Origins of Islam, ed. Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd-R. Puin (2010) 361-401). Ohlig’s work, however, presupposes a familiarity with the latest specialist literature, which is why I recommend Spencer’s work as good introduction. When Ohlig speaks of “Islam” in the 7th century, he is not referring to the Islamic origin myths that developed from the 9th century onward. He is referring to what eighth century contemporaries understand as a Christian heresy of the “Ishmaelites.” This heresy was a form of pre-Nicene Syriac Christianity. The original Qur’an was most likely a Christian lectionary written in Aramaic. The “Muhmamad” of the dome of the rock inscription is not a personal noun (or a name), but a gerundive (“praised be”), referring to Jesus Christ (see A New Interpretation of the Arabic Inscription in Jeresusalem’s Dome of the Rock by Christoph Luxenberg). The mythological narratives of Muhammad, Medina, and Mecca, and an ‘Islamic’ conquest are all tenth century inventions that were projected back onto the 7th century by Arab elites attempting to establish their own distinct ideological identity/origin in order to compete with the Orthodox Christianity of Roman (Byzantine) Empire. One more point, in the specialist historical literature, Gibbon’s notion of a “fall” of the Roman Empire has largely been abandoned. In the East, the Roman Empire legally was extinguished in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks. In the West, the specialist literature emphasizes institutional and legal continuity between Rome and the ‘barbarian’ Kingdoms (Lombards, Franks, Ostrogoths, Visigoths) that arose in Late Antiquity. (See e.g. Walter Goffart’s Barbarian Tides).

      • ForChristAlone

        I very much appreciate your time to explicate the development of Islam following the decline of the Roman empire in the Middle East and providing these references.

  • gsk

    Ironic that many observers insisting that those who are violent aren’t authentic Muslims also explain that “real Catholics” can support abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, women priests, etc. Thus, the authentic Muslim “tent” is very small.while the Catholic “tent” must include all.opinions and “lifestyles.” Uneven playing field, to say the least.

    http://feminine-genius.typepad.com/morning_star/

  • John Albertson

    The apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, while not an exercise of infallibility, does damage to the magisterial prestige of the papacy when it succumbs to political correctness and, worse, naiveté -quite like Pope John Paul II kissing the Qur’an, and Pope Francis himself saying that the worst problem in today’s world is youth unemployment. Centuries from now, Christians will wonder how these lapses happened, as they break the long tradition of the Roman pontiffs (and saints like Francis of Assisi) in their comprehension of Islam. On the other hand, the speech of Pope Benedict at Regensburg, will be remembered as one of the great papal documents. For all his benign earnestness, Pope Francis does not have his predecessor’s depth of intellect or clarity of expression and this causes confusion which is exploited by the cynical media and must be a source of amusement to the unsmiling Muslim leaders.

    • Marcelus

      Benedict apologized for that speech. PLease lets see the whole picture

  • windjammer

    If one puts the seemingly misunderstood/misinterpreted remarks of PF through the filter of “modernist” they make sense and give cause for great concern. An 88% world approval rating? That in itself speaks volumes.

  • Paul Sho

    The question of Islam is a very simple one. Either you accept the testimony of the Apostles and the early followers of the Lord Jesus (more than a thousand witnesses) or you accept the testimony of Mohammed (one witness), that an angel dictated the Koran to him. Either Peter and Paul are lying, or Mohammed is lying. There is no middle ground.

  • Duane Alexander Miller

    This whole discussion reminds me of the open letter that Abu Daoud wrote to the (previous) pope on the Church’s witness to Muslims. He argued that the Church should evangelize Muslims. I don’t know that it made any effect though. You can read it here if you are interested: http://www.stfrancismagazine.info/ja/images/stories/Abu-Daoud%28October-2010%29.pdf

  • DevotedCatholic

    Good reading although there are elements of this article that seems to want to re-construct how the Pope should behave when confronted with Islam/Muslim matters. I disagree. The author, though very learned, forgets, the Pope is a Spiritual Leader of the Catholic Flock and not an ordinary unordained one.

    The quote below is an example that the article is far removed from the ‘Spirit of Peace & Harmony’ that Jesus Christ stood for.

    quote; “..we have to conclude that they are made either for strategic reasons or else because the leaders are badly advised.”unquote ~Richard,T

  • Anne Marie

    I feel worried about the way pope Francis has described Islam as a “peaceful religión”, apart from some muslim terrorists.
    Also. Reading the Holy father´s negative comments on pope Benedict´s talk on islam several years ago, is to me very troubling.
    I TOTALLY agrre with pope Benedict´s analysis and his way of encouraging the muslim world to dare include reason in their religión. BENEDICT WAS RIGHT! There is no doubt in my mind that history will prove him right to 100 %
    Trying to deny that there IS violence in islam( as if this wouldn´t be all too obvious every day!) and that it IS ACCEPTED AND EVEN ENCOURAGED by even a majority of muslims world wide-in one way or another, is just suffocating.
    Has anyone asked the suffering christians in the muslim world with whom they agree more; with pope Francis´analysis or pope Benedict´s…?

    • Marcelus

      Anne: not triying to star a controversy but both JP” and BXVI were far more open to Islam, Benedict apologized to The Muslim ansd JP2 was the first to enter a Mosque, Benedict described qram and islam as:

      “Benedict added in a footnote: “In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion”

      See:

      Benedict:

      UCANews (www.ucanews.com)

      VATICAN CITY (UCAN) – Pope Benedict XVI has called for Christians “to open their arms and hearts” to Muslim immigrants and “to dialogue” with them on religious issues. At the same time he expressed the hope that Muslims in Muslim-majority countries would be equally welcoming of Christian migrants.”

      Is it that different????”

      Here is the same issue under Benedict:

      “Pope Benedict expressed his regret for any offense his words had given: “The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the sensibilities of Muslim believers,” said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a statement.[42][43] According to CNN, the Vatican comments fell short of a literal apology.[44]

      On September 17, 2006, from the balcony at his residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, Pope Benedict publicly expressed that he was ‘deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries’ and stressed that the words which ‘were considered offensive’ were not his own, but were quoted from a medieval text, and that his speech was intended to act as an invitation to mutually respectful dialogue with Muslims, rather than an attempt to cause offense.[45]

      On September 25, 2006, Pope Benedict held a meeting at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with approximately 20 Muslim diplomats. At this meeting the Pope Benedict expressed “total and profound respect for all Muslims”. Among the ambassadors invited included Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and many other nations and Islamic Groups.[46]

      On October 9, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI took another step to placate anger in the Islamic world over his remarks on holy war, making additions to his original text affirming that a quotation from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor was not his personal opinion.The original said the emperor’s remark was made “somewhat brusquely”. In the new version, it says it was made with “a brusqueness that we find unacceptable.” Benedict added in a footnote: “In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Quran, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.” He said he cited the text as part of an examination of the “relationship between faith and reason”.[47]

      JP2:

      http://www.onislam.net/english

      John Paul II made considerable achievements in improving relations between Islam and Catholicism.In 1986, he took the unprecedented step of hosting a grand inter-religious gathering that saw Jewish, Christian and Muslim dignitaries gather in Assisi, central Italy, alongside Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, representatives of the Shinto faith and African and Amerindian religions for a day of prayer for peace.Years later in November 2004, the Polish pope was still promoting the same ideals: “No one has the right to use religion as an instrument of intolerance, as a means of aggression, violence and death,” he told a mixed-faith delegation from Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim country.John Paul II also sought direct dialogue with Islam. Already the first pope to enter a synagogue, in May 2001 in Damascus he became the first pope to enter a mosque.

      Francis & Benedict:

      Pope Benedict XVI :

      has called for Christians “to open their arms and hearts” to Muslim immigrants and “to dialogue” with them on religious issues. At the same time he expressed the hope that Muslims in Muslim-majority countries would be equally welcoming of Christian migrants.”

      Pope Francis:

      “We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition.I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western”

  • Marcelus

    Nothing to do with the matter at hand, but thought it’d interesting to post this since is the 2nd time Francis celebrates Ad Orientem

    http://fatherjerabek.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/pope-faces-east/

  • sparrowhawk58

    I was disturbed when Pope Francis included Muslims when he performed the Holy Thursday foot washing. I understand his impulse to be inclusive. But I think the Muslim interpretation of his act was that the leader of the Catholic Church is subservient to the most humble Muslim.

    • Marcelus

      in a way I believe , It’s an act of Charity. Do not think the Muslim will change his views on us no matter what we do.

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