Christians and Muslims: Protecting together the places of worship
Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,
The month of Ramadan is so central in your religion and therefore dear to you at personal, familial and social levels. lt is a time for spiritual healing and growth, of sharing with the poor, of strengthening bonds with relatives and friends.
…and, for some, of terrorizing together, apparently. Seriously, Ramadan 2020 has already led to 36 attacks in the name of Islam and 143 deaths up until day 9. Who knows what it is now? How about at least we say “Happy Ramadan! Please don’t kill people!” Not gonna lie, I don’t get Muslims. I don’t want to get Muslims. Seriously, it’s weird to think you’d want to be connected to a faith where a HUGE portion of the believers think killing infidels is justified. (Cue the cries of “What about the Inquisition?” even though they don’t really know what they, yes, THEY were. Whenever someone throws out “the Inquisition” I always like to lead off with “Which one?”) I want Muslims to become Christians because, as my fellow humans, I love them. I know many pleasant Muslims. Don’t wish them any harm and I think they feel the same about me. In fact, I’m quite sure many of them don’t want America looking like their homeland. They want to uphold all they’ve been told is good about their faith. However, I don’t think they’re being realistic because, as we’ve seen from the Middle East and a good deal of Europe, the extremists in the ranks of their believers always seem to win out.
For us, your Christian friends, it is a propitious time to further strengthen our relationships with you, by greeting you, meeting you on this occasion and, where possible, by sharing in an iftar with you. Ramadan and ‘Jd al-Fitr thus are special occasions to foster fraternity between Christians and Muslims. It is in this spirit that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue offers its prayerful best wishes and hearty congratulations to you all.
We’ve been “dialoguing” for a quite a long time and, quite frankly, our religion has gotten weaker and weaker as the decades roll on. I’m not against dialoguing. I’m just against placating evil, and that’s all the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has been doing. Fulton Sheen laid out the perfect blueprint, yet it’s not been tried by the likes of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. We just keep giving them the same old schlock. “Your religion is so peaceful. Your religion is so honorable.” And now? “Your religion is so spiritually healing.” In short, you do you.
Let’s take a gander at some of “Mary and the Moslems” by Fulton Sheen. I’m going to snip a bit, but please give it a full read. It’s really cool and he shows God’s design, which is, of course, awesome.
Mary and the Moslems
FULTON J. SHEEN
Moslemism is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Mohammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs of Arabia. Moslemism takes the doctrine of the unity of God, His Majesty and His Creative Power, and uses it, in part, as a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God. Misunderstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made Christ a prophet, announcing him, just as, to Christians, Isaias and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ.
The missionary effort of the Church toward this group has been, at least on the surface, a failure, for the Moslems are so far almost unconvertible. The reason is that for a follower of Mohammed to become a Christian is much like a Christian becoming a Jew. The Moslems believe that they have the final and definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ was only a prophet announcing Mohammed, the last of God’s real prophets.
Yes, our missionary effort has failed, yet we’re doubling down on that failure with a “Please, please like us” approach. We who live in a world less familiar with Islamic tyranny than our ancestors have wimped out on being soldiers of Christ, but Muslims have not wavered from being soldiers of Mohammed. Why do you think Islam overtook Europe and is now the fastest growing religion in the United States? Maybe because they’re all too willing to talk about their faith, while Catholics (not everyone, but as a whole) are worried about being accused of proselytizing by the Vatican or, even worse in the mind of some, being told they are meanies.
At the present time, the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. Moslem writers say, “When the locust swarms darken vast countries, they bear on their wings these Arabic words: ‘We are God’s host, each of us has ninety-nine eggs, and if we had a hundred, we should lay waste the world with all that is in it.'”
BAM! Please get your head out of the sand and stop saying it isn’t so.
And now for Sheen’s plan, which is more like God’s plan:
The problem is, how shall we prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg? It is our firm belief that, the fears some entertain concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that Moslemism, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect. It is our belief that this will happen not through the direct teaching of Christianity, but through a summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God. This is the line of argument:
The Koran, which is the Bible of the Moslems, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and, also, in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran’s description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: “O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.”
When Mary is born, the mother says: “And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord against Satan!”
The Koran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the Moslem tradition knows his name and has some familiarity with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered: “Do you not know that God, when He created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God by His Power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say. ‘So be it, and it was done.'”
The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying: “Oh, Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.” In the nineteenth chapter of the Koran there are forty-one verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the fourth book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary.
Mary, then, is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”
This brings us to our second point, namely, why the Blessed Mother, in this twentieth century, should have revealed herself in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as “Our Lady of Fatima.” Since nothing ever happens out of heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too.
Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.
The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception which the Moslems in Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, as mentioned earlier. Moslems attended the Church services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems, who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.
Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her Divine Son. She is forever a “traitor,” in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her Divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.
Many of our great missionaries in Africa have already broken down the bitter hatred and prejudices of the Moslems against the Christians through their acts of charity, their schools and hospitals. It now remains to use another approach, namely, that of taking the forty-first chapter of the Koran and showing them that it was taken out of the Gospel of Luke, that Mary could not be, even in their own eyes, the most blessed of all the women of heaven if she had not also borne One Who was the Saviour of the world. If Judith and Esther of the Old Testament were prefigures of Mary, then it may very well be that Fatima herself was a postfigure of Mary! The Moslems should be prepared to acknowledge that, if Fatima must give way in honor to the Blessed Mother, it is because she is different from all the other mothers of the world and that without Christ she would be nothing.”
Yes! Yes! And yes! This is how you do it. “Let’s do dinner” gets us nowhere. This is TRUE ecumenical dialogue (which some seem afraid of, but I am not). “Here’s what we’ve got in common (using their own texts) and here’s a little history on what’s occurred between members of our faiths.” More often than not, Muslims don’t even know their own history. Mary is the path to Christ for, well, everyone, and yet, when was the last time you’ve heard her mentioned by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue? It ain’t found here:
“The thoughts we like to share with you this year following our cherished tradition are about the protection of the places of worship.
As we all know, the places of worship occupy an important place in Christianity and Islam, and in other religions as well. For both Christians and Muslims, churches and mosques are spaces reserved for prayer, personal and communitarian alike. They are constructed and furnished in a way that favours silence, reflection and meditation. They are spaces where one can go deep in himself/herself, so favouring for God-experience in silence. A place of worship of any religion therefore is “a house of prayer” (Isaiah, 56, 7).
Places of worship are also spaces for spiritual hospitality, where believers of other religions also join for some special ceremonies like weddings, funerals, feasts of the community etc. While they participate in the events in silence and with due respect to the religious observances of the believers of that particular religion, they also savour the hospitality accorded to them. Such practice is a privileged witness to what unites believers, without diminishing or denying what distinguishes them.
And where are we going with this?
In this regard, it is worthwhile to recall what Pope Francis said when he made a visit to the Heydar Aliyev Mosque, in Baku (Azerbaijan) on Sunday, 2 October 2016: “Meeting one another in fraternal friendship in this place of prayer is a powerful sign, one that shows the harmony which religions can build together, based on personal relations and on the good will of those responsible”.
A little background here. Azerbaijan wants to be thought of as a forward-thinking country. They are not your typical Muslim country. In short, it’s all about wealth for them. They’ve modernized their transportation, hosted international sporting events and have built a site hoping to host the Olympics, among other things. In short, they’re hoping to be a bit like, oh, I don’t know, maybe, Dubai when they grow up and be known as the cultural kids on the block. They’ve even donated a bunch of money to the Vatican. While I’m sure Pope Francis went there out of gratitude, he probably didn’t go there for the whopping 200 or so Catholics in the country. Yes, there is harmony but it doesn’t have much to do with the mutual respect for religion.
And speaking of the UAE:
In the context of recent attacks on churches, mosques and synagogues by wicked persons who seem to perceive the places of worship as a privileged target for their blind and senseless violence, it is worth noting what the Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi, on 4 February 2019, said: “The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law”.
Let’s see, Muslims bomb Christian churches all over the Middle East and regularly launch bombs into Israel. Perhaps I missed the news stories of the Catholics bombing synagogues and mosques? I notice both of these quotes come from countries where terrorism is slim to none. It’s almost a “Hey! Let’s continue not bombing each other!” Where’s the religious dialogue? Where’s Mary? Nowhere to be found.
While appreciating the efforts done by the international community at different levels for the protection of the places of worship worldwide, it is our hope that our mutual esteem, respect and cooperation will help strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship, and enable our communities to safeguard the places of worship to assure for coming generations the fundamental freedom to profess one’s own beliefs.
With renewed esteem and fraternal greetings, in the name of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we convey friendly wishes for a fruitful month of Ramadan and a joyous ‘Id al-Fitr.
From the Vatican, 17 April 2020
Miguel Angel Cardinal Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
Rev. Msgr. Indunil Kodithuwakku Janakaratne Kankanamalage
A fruitful month of Ramadan? That means vastly different things depending on where you go. For many, fruitful is measured by how much death they can bring about. Whatever it is, it’s not religious dialogue. When talking about Ramadan and ‘Id al-Fitr, it might have been more fruitful if the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue had thrown in something about, maybe, Lent and Easter??? And then maybe throw in “If you could not bomb us on Easter next year, it would be cool. You know, like how we didn’t bomb you during ‘Id al-Fitr?” Sigh. It’s amazing that the Rev. Msgr. Indunil Kodithuwakku Janakaratne Kankanamalage, of Sri Lanka, could put his name on this letter.
In short, we’re losing ground on “interreligious dialogue” on every front. Placation and appeasement over Truth has been the rule of the day. You know, because we wouldn’t want to be proselyting and all. Remember when spreading the truth was called missionary work and a good thing? The days where people clamored for Catholicism? Now that’s somehow become a bad thing.
So, how about from now on, we give Fulton Sheen’s method a shot?