The Synod on the Family will address many issues vital to the survival of the family—with one notable exception. It’s ironic that while the bishops are discussing ways to strengthen the Christian family, they are simultaneously helping to enable the spread of a family system that is inimical to the Christian view of marriage.
The system I refer to allows polygamy and temporary marriage for men, allows men to marry children, allows men to divorce their wives with ease, and, in general, looks upon wives and children as little more than property.
It is, according to former Muslims such as Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a highly dysfunctional system which results in a tangle of family pathologies. As Darwish notes, the Muslim family system not only creates distrust between man and wife, but also between father and son, mother and daughter-in-law and between the wife and her friends (who are potential rivals for a husband’s affections). Darwish concludes that the dysfunctional and violent nature of Islamic societies is simply the Islamic family system writ large: “I truly believe that the anger that is pushing the wheels of Islamic terrorism can be traced to pent-up anger within the Muslim family.”
All of which tilts the odds against you if you were born in Tehran or Peshawar. But what does it have to do with bishops meeting in Rome? Only that many of them—the European bishops in particular—have been encouraging the importation of this family structure into Europe. Not directly, of course, but by embracing open immigration policies that will allow Muslim family values to take root in Europe.
This welcoming attitude didn’t emerge just in response to the recent wave of migrants and refugees. It’s been the Church’s semi-official policy for decades. But over the decades the situation has changed. What was once a trickle of immigrants is now a flood. What hasn’t changed, however, is the bishops’ assessment of the situation. They are still relying on rationales for immigration that are long past their sell-by date: that young immigrants will solve Europe’s labor shortage, replenish its welfare coffers, and enrich its culture with their talents.
In short, the bishops have never admitted the possibility that mass immigration has a decided downside. For Fr. Matthew Gardzinski of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the only downside is for the immigrant’s country of origin: Thus, “while one country loses the persons who migrate, the receiving country gains their ideas and creativity.”
Of course, the pragmatic arguments for welcoming migrants and refugees pale beside the moral arguments—especially when they come from the pope himself. In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said that in welcoming the stranger “we open our doors to God … in the face of others we see the face of Christ himself.”
But given the magnitude of Muslim immigration into Europe, a question arises: Can we see the face of Christ in native Europeans? In listening to the pope and prominent bishops, one gets the impression that indigenous Europeans are all comfortable, and somewhat selfish, upper-middle- class burghers with spare rooms to spare in their spacious chalets. Migrants and refugees, on the other hand, are portrayed as victims of forces beyond their control. But a great many Europeans feel the same way about their own lives. They have little or no say about the rules that are set for them in Brussels. And, as poll after poll has shown, a majority of Europeans see themselves as victims of EU immigration policies.
Many of them, moreover, do not think of themselves as “victims” in the broad sense of being inconvenienced by rules imposed by distant Eurocrats. Increasingly, Europeans are becoming victims in the more narrow sense of the word—that is, victims of violent crimes: rape, assault, and robbery. That kind of victimhood has been a problem for quite a while. Sweden has long had the dubious distinction of having the world’s second highest incidence of rape, and it’s estimated that over the last two decades, approximately one million English women and girls have been raped by (mostly Muslim) immigrants. The new wave of Muslim immigrants—75 percent of whom are single males—seems likely to create many new rape victims. As Pat Condell, an acerbic YouTube commentator, puts it, “the European Union is importing a violent, misogynistic rape culture that directly threatens the safety of women.”
The “rape culture” is, in turn, a product of the violent family patterns that Darwish describes: “physical abuse of women in Muslim culture is very common,” “girls are physically beaten by their brothers and fathers,” “boys are given messages of hostility toward a girl’s uncovered head, arms, and legs,” and are told that “those uncovered girls deserve to be disrespected.”
Of course, just about all European girls and women are uncovered and thus deserving of disrespect. As Condell puts it, “Third World Muslim men are raised from the cradle to despise and fear women and to treat them as inferior.”
The rapes have already begun in the refugee centers. A letter from a coalition of social work organizations about conditions in one German camp reports “numerous rapes, sexual assaults,” and “forced prostitution.” The victims are, for the most part, fellow Muslims who, if they are covered, would usually have some degree of protection. If Muslim women who follow the rules are victimized, what will happen once the men leave the refugee centers and start mingling with the locals who are not forbidden to them? Under Islamic law, infidel women and girls who live in the Dar al-Harb (House of War) are fair game.
Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, reports that the rape of German women by asylum seekers is already “commonplace.” He details twenty-one cases, many of them involving teen aged girls and younger. He suggests that there are many more incidents which are covered up by police and public officials “because they do not want to give legitimacy to critics of mass immigration.”
Are the bishops trying to protect their own established narrative by emphasizing the positive aspects of immigration? In light of what is happening, it seems that they have a responsibility to do more than simply remind Catholics of their moral duty to welcome the stranger. First of all, they have a responsibility to understand Islam and the kind of culture it generates. Unfortunately, many of them seem wedded to a fantasy-based conception of Islam. In the minds of many clerics, Islam is a close cousin of Christianity—an exotic cousin to be sure, but one who shares the same essential principles.
The reality—a reality that many bishops have not yet come to terms with—is that Islam is a radically different faith with a radically different moral code. A couple of years ago, the Afghan parliament rejected a measure that would have banned child marriage. The measure also would have banned the “practice of buying or selling women to settle disputes” and would have protected rape victims from criminal charges of fornication or adultery. Opponents of the measure said that it “violated Islamic principles.”
Unless the bishops understand “Islamic principles” better than Afghan legislators, they had better take stock of what sort of culture is being introduced into Europe. It will be difficult enough to repair the damage that has already been done to the family by secular relativists. It would be folly to compound the problems families face by enabling the spread of a culture that is opposed at almost every juncture to the Christian view of family.
It’s not just a matter for the heart but for the head as well. In an article for Catholic World Report, Fr. Nicholas Gregoris writes:
There appear to be two main contingents at the Synod: one that favors the proclamation of the truth with clarity and in the fullness of Christian charity; and the other favoring mercy at any and all costs…
One suspects that the mercy-at-all-costs contingent are also the ones who believe in welcoming immigrants at all costs and without much thought for the consequences. Indeed, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the president of the German bishops’ conference, made a trip to the Munich train station to offer a highly publicized welcome to asylum-seekers. In the same vein, he wants to open the Church doors as wide as possible to remarried divorcees and homosexual couples without asking much in return. “It is not about finding ways to keep them out,” he said in an interview with America magazine, “we must find ways to welcome them.”
Where is all this welcoming leading? The answer may be provided by another bishop—the Right Reverend Eva Brunne, Bishop of Stockholm. She is Sweden’s first lesbian bishop, and the first to be in an official same-sex registered partnership (with another priestess). She made headlines recently for her proposal to remove the Christian symbols of the Seamen’s Church in Freeport “to make it more inviting for visiting sailors from other religions.” According to the story “the bishop wants to temporarily make the Seamen’s Church available to all, for example by marking the direction of Mecca and removing Christian symbols…”
Temporarily? What if some of the visiting sailors decide to put down roots in Freeport? What if the local imam proposes that the Seamen’s Church be turned into a mosque? Bishop Brunne is of a welcoming disposition, but she doesn’t seem to have thought out the consequences of her own and of Sweden’s embrace of Muslim migrants. Given the deteriorating situation in Sweden and given her sexual orientation, one suspects the time is approaching when Bishop Brunne will be the one who is no longer welcome in Sweden.
She may someday find herself a refugee—one of a number who need asylum from an increasingly Islamized Europe. Europe’s unreflective welcoming response is setting the continent up for some unintended and unpleasant consequences.
Editor’s note: In the photo above, migrants protest at the Keleti railway station in Budapest on September 1, 2015 during their evacuation. (Photo credit: AFP)