Friday, November 13, 2015

Roman Catholicism and Islam

Father Stephen Freeman has spoken of some of the effects of Muslim thought on Roman Catholic theology and more in his aforementioned essay:

Most modern Christians are unaware of the contacts and debates between Christianity (particularly in the West) and Islam (particularly in Spain) during the Middle Ages. A great deal of the learning in early European Universities, especially in the model of scholasticism, owed much to the encounter with Islam scholasticism – this was especially so for the work with Aristotelean philosophy. Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars, such as Thomas Aquinas, Moses Maimonides, and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), are foundational for Medieval thought. (Averroes is sometimes called the “Founding Father of Western secularism“). But the rationalist movement represented by these schools had lasting effects in the Christian West – not all for the best.

And most know something of the wars between Catholics and Muslims (like the Crusades) over the hundredyears.

But given all that, there is a new wrinkle in Catholic-Muslim relations, an ecumenical wrinkle, which is driving us towards the one world religion of Antichrist.  Michael Snyder says this of the current Pope, Francis I:

What Pope Francis had to say at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan has received very little coverage by the mainstream media, but it was exceedingly significant.  The following is how he began his address

I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer. My sentiments of closeness, my sentiments of closeness in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that they suffered in Mecca.

In this moment, I give assurances of my prayers. I unite myself with you all. A prayer to almighty god, all merciful.

He did not choose those words by accident.  In Islam, Allah is known as “the all-merciful one”.  If you doubt this, just do a Google search.

And this is not the first time Pope Francis has used such language.  For instance, the following comes from remarks that he made during his very first ecumenical meeting as Pope…

I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.

The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs.

Pope Francis clearly believes that Christians and Muslims worship the exact same God.  And so that helps to explain why he authorized “Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran” at the Vatican for the first time ever back in 2014.

This identification of the Roman Catholic God with the God of Islam is not entirely new, however.  The participants at Vatican II and Pope John Paul II did much the same thing: 

Interreligious dialogue gathered momentum after the Second Vatican Council that dedicated to it a Declaration entitled Nostra Aetate which deals with non-Christian religions. This Declaration states: "Throughout history even to the present day, there is found among different peoples a certain awareness of a hidden power, which lies behind the course of nature and the events of human life. At times there is present even a recognition of a supreme being, or still more of a Father".35 However, it stops at Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. Lacking time, I limit myself to saying a word about Islam and Judaism.

I. Islam

The Declaration Nostra Aetate says above all that "the Church has also a high regard for Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet; his virgin Mother they also honour, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting".

The Council goes even further and "pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values"."

A. Applying Vatican Council II

John Paul II has made it his duty to apply the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council. In 1988, he raised the Secretariat for Non-Christians, which Paul VI had created in 1964, to the rank of Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Pastor Bonus defines the competence of this Council in these terms: "The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue fosters and supervises relations with members and groups of non-Christian religions as well as with those who are in any way endowed with religious feeling" (n. 159).

In his Pastoral Visits, the Pope has always been eager to make contact with Muslim figures and groups. He has even visited Muslim Countries and been unsparing in his teaching through which he insists on the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians. Lastly, he has always behaved respectfully to Muslims. Nor has he ever failed to stress the common roots that originally linked Judaism and Christianity.

B. Messages at time of Ramadan

Since 1979, a year after entering his office as the common Father of all the faithful, John Paul II spoke to the Bishops of North Africa meeting in Rome at an ordinary Assembly in the spring. He said: "Christians and Muslims could take it upon themselves in today's world to bear a public witness of their faith in God the Creator and Master of history.  . . .”

Source:  Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, ‘Ecumenism in the Pontificate of John Paul II’,, 10 Dec. 2003, accessed 12 Nov. 2015

Those in the SouĂ° who are weary of the make-it-up-as-you-go version of Christianity that Protestantism offers have been attracted by Roman Catholicism, and this is easy to understand.  It appears to offer a long, stable, uninterrupted tradition that could shelter them from the storms of Modernity.  But sadly the Roman Catholic Church itself is a distortion of the original and unchanging Faith of the Orthodox Church, introducing new teachings on the Holy Trinity (the Filioque), papal supremacy, purgatory, the Mother of God (the Immaculate Conception), and so on; and now adding to them, as we have just seen, a new teaching on the kinship of the Muslim and Roman Catholic Gods.

The South’s rest will only be found in the Orthodox Church, the Church of the first thousand years of Christian Europe’s history, the Church of our Holy Mothers and Fathers in the Faith - Sts Martin of Tours, Hilda of Whitby, Brigid of Kildare, Clement (Willibrord) of Germany, and so many glorious others.  May she hasten to them in that holy and fair Haven!

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