Is Islam Part of Gods Plan?

Sunday, July 11, AD 2010

Most of us are aware of the Christian exodus from the Middle East where the fundamental problem is Muslim intolerance towards non-Muslims.

Father Samir hopes to change all of that.

In this interview with Father Samir Khalil Samir done by Mirko Testa of Zenit, Father Samir explains the possibility of learning form Lebanon’s coexistence between Christians and Muslims:

The coexistence of Christians and Muslims is good for civil society because their mutual questioning of the other’s faith acts as a stimulus and leads to deeper understanding, says a Jesuit priest who is an expert in Islamic studies.

This is the opinion of Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Islamic scholar and Catholic theologian born in Egypt and based in the Middle East for more than 20 years.

He teaches Catholic theology and Islamic studies at St. Joseph University in Beirut, is founder of the CEDRAC research institute and is author of many articles and books, including “111 Questions on Islam.”

ZENIT spoke with Father Samir regarding the June 21-22 meeting in Lebanon of the Oasis International Foundation, which seeks to promote mutual knowledge among Christians and Muslims.

ZENIT: Why was the subject of education placed at the center of the Oasis meeting this year?

Father Samir: The problem we are experiencing both in the Church as well as in Islam is that we are not always able to transmit the faith easily to the new generation and the generations to come. The question we ask ourselves is: In what way should we rethink the faith for young people, but also in parishes or in mosques, in the talks that religious address to their faithful?

This is what we want: to make a study of the Christian experience in Lebanon, and the Muslim Sunni experience and the Muslim Shiite experience in this ambit. We want to compare, to identify even if it is only the common difficulties, to seek together an answer to them. I think this has been the main objective of our meeting in face of a dialogue of cultures in the Christian and the Muslim faith.

ZENIT: What effect would the disappearance of the Churches of the Middle East have on the Christian and Muslim world?

Father Samir: The disappearance of the Churches of the Middle East would be, first of all, a loss for Christianity, because, as John Paul II said, the Church, as every human being, lives with two lungs: the Eastern and the Western. Now, the Eastern Churches were born here in the land of Jesus, in the territories of the Middle East, where Christ lived. And if this experience, these millennia of tradition are lost, then the loss will be for the whole Church, both of the Christians of the East as well as the Christians of the West.

However, there is more to this: if Christian leave the Middle East, in other words, if the Muslims remain alone, an element of stimulation will be lacking — represented, in fact, by that element of diversity that Christians can contribute. Diversity of faith, because Muslims ask us every day: How is it that you say that God is One and Triune? This is contradictory. And we say: How is it that you say that Mohammed is a prophet? What are, for you, the criteria of prophecy? Does Mohammed answer to these criteria? And what does it mean that the Quran is from God? In what sense do you say that it descended on Mohammed? We say that the Bible is divine, but mediated through human authors, whereas Muslims want to remove Mohammed’s mediation.

These questions that they ask us and that we ask are a stimulus, not only for civilization, but also for civil society. It would be a great loss because the risk exists of wishing to found a society, a state based on the sharia, that is, on something that was established in the seventh century in the region of the Arabian Peninsula, even if for Muslims the sharia is generic and true for all centuries and all cultures.

And this is Islam’s great problem: how can Islam be re-thought today? The absence of Christians would make the problem even more acute.

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4 Responses to Is Islam Part of Gods Plan?

  • Nice ideas. Maybe they will work. We can pray. Our Lady is revered by the Muslims, at least as much as any woman is revered by Islam – she can lead them to the truth. We need to ask her.

    That being said, Lebanon was drowned in 15 years of civil war for political reasons born of the Muslim mind and that includes the influence of Islamic thinking patterns on Christians. Islam is like the Matrix, even non-Muslims living in Muslim lands are plugged into the lie.

    As for Muslims and Christians getting along in Lebanon – sure they do, however, some like Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizb’Allah, don’t like it and will only lie in wait until they are strong enough to do something about it. In any event most Muslims and Christians that get along are essentially secularists. I am not so sure that indifferentism toward all religion is a cure for the plight of Christianity in the region that Christ walked.

  • Is malignant melanoma part of God’s Plan?

  • There has always been a certain percentage of Muslims who sincerely seek the truth. Never more than a tenth of the population at any given time, they are the earnest ones who have questions about the Trinity and the Eucharist. Such Muslims by their very nature do not threathen the Christians. No Christian is about to abandon his home and hearth, just because he can’t handle the apologetics. Instead they are leaving because they are being murdered as in Iraq, through widespread intimidation and the unfailing standby of harassment of their women.

  • I think we need to discuss the Catholic ex cathedra dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and not just accept the secular media’s interpretation. This is important for our understanding and relationshoip with Muslims.
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2010/07/apologist-simon-rafe-in-real-catholic.html#links

    Thursday, July 15, 2010
    APOLOGIST SIMON RAFE IN REAL CATHOLIC DIFFICULTY : MAGISTERIUM SAYS EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE A VISIBLE MEMBER OF THE CHURCH FOR SALVATION, EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS

    Apologist Simon Rafe says:

    The teaching of the Church is that a person CAN be saved if they are not a visible member of the Church.
    Lionel: Yes. True. This is not being denied.

    Rafe :To deny this is to cease to give full acceptance to the Church.
    Lionel: It is not being denied.

    Rafe:Non-Catholics can be saved, DESPITE their failure to be a visible member of the Church. This is the teaching of the Church.
    Lionel: This is not the official teaching of the Church. This is a popular interpretation.

    I would say everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church to be saved and there are no known exceptions. If a person was saved without being a visible member of the Catholic Church it would be known to God only, we cannot know any such case.

    It’s a real Catholic difficulty these days, with the new doctrine, which goes like this: everybody needs to enter the Catholic Church for salvation except for those in invincible ignorance, the baptism of desire or a good conscience.

    When people say that everybody needs to enter the Catholic Church except for those in invincible ignorance, with the baptism of desire and a good conscience it could be right or wrong depending on the interpretation.

    1. It is WRONG if they mean that every one does not need to become a visible member of the church. Then this is a new doctrine and contrary to the Deposit of the Faith.

    2. It is RIGHT if they mean every one does have to become a visible member of the Catholic Church to avoid Hell and if there is anyone with the Baptism of Desire, genuine invincible ignorance and a good conscience it will be known only to God.

    (Note: Above I affirm the Baptism of Desire, invincible ignorance and a good conscience and I also affirm the dogma that everybody needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church to avoid Hell.)

    The dogma says everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church.

    ‘…it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 302.). Ex Cathedra

    ‘…none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation…

    No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” – (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) Ex Cathedra
    The dogma does not contradict other Church Documents regarding the Baptism of Desire.

    Simon Rafe’s problem is one being faced by many Catholics, including those who have orthodox Catholic beliefs.Some Catholics are describing the situation as ‘a mystery’.So Rafe is only repeating the problem as other Catholics face it i.e everyone needs to be a visible member of the church and everyone does not need to be a visible member of the Church.

    Catholics in erroe interpret the Catechism and the Vatican Council II according to the Jewish Left media and believe there is no other interpretation. Simon Rafe and others needs to interpret the Catechism of the Catholic Church,Vatican Council II and the Letter of the Holy Office 1949, in line with the ex cathedra dogma which says everyone needs to be a visible member of the catholic Church and there are no exceptions. Simon agrees everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church for salvation but when I ask him of Lumen Gentium 16 contradicts this teaching of the dogma he does not answer.

    The Magisterium of the Church cannot reject an ex cathedra dogma.
    So interpret all Church documents according to extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Catholic Church documents say everyone needs to be a visible member of the Church to avoid Hell and there is no Church document issued to refute it.

    1. For instance we can misinterpret the Letter of the Holy Office 1949.

    In order for someone to be saved, it explained, “it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church as an actual member, but it is necessary at least to be united to her by desire and longing.”-Letter of the Holy Office 1949. The same message is there in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    True however this (not receiving the Baptism of water as an adult and being saved) is only known to God. It is not as real as the Baptism of Water. So it was wrong to suggest that everyone does not have to be a visible member of the Church, as if the Baptism of Desire is explicit and visible by nature. So this is a distorted interpretation of the Letter of the Holy Office using the Cushing Doctrine. It is heresy. It is clear ‘double speak’. Discerning Catholics consider this new doctrine a hoax, the equivalent of the fabled Emperors New Clothes. Liberals call it a developed doctrine.

    Through his books Fr. Hans Kung uses the Cushing Doctrine, suggesting Lumen Gentium 16 refers to explicit and not implicit salvation, to question the infallibility of the pope ex cathedra. He maintains the Kung Deception that the Church has retracted extra ecclesiam nulla salus after Vatican Council II.

    Without the Cushing Doctrine, one could say: For salvation everyone needs to be a visible (explicit) member of the Catholic Church with no exception and if there is anyone with the Baptism of Desire or who is in invincible ignorance it will be known to God only.

    If this point in the Letter is ministerpreted one could also misinterpret the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the Church alone saves from the flood like Noah’s Ark and so everyone needs to enter the Ark to be saved. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    N.845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.-Catechism of the Catholic Church n.845
    Here we have an interpretation of the Catechism affirming the dogma.

    3.”Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.-Catechism of the Catholic Church 846
    CCC 846,847 like Lumen Gentium 16 refer to implicit salvation, those saved ‘in certain circumstances’ (Letter of the Holy Office 1949).They are known to God only.

    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.-Catechism of the Catholic Church,N.847

    848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”-Catechism of the Catholic Church,N.848
    Those saved implicitly (CCC 847,848) for us, they are just a concept, something hypothetical, a possibility. It is not explicit. Since it is not explicit it does not contradict CCC845, 836.It does not contradict Ad Gentes 7, Lumen Gentium 14 and the infallible teaching outside the church there is no salvation.

    CCC836 which says all people need to enter the Catholic Church include all Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, Jesus’ Mystical Body.
    If CCC 846,847(invincible ignorance etc) referred to explicit salvation, it would be irrational. Since we cannot judge who has a baptism of desire or is in genuine invincible ignorance.It would also mean that the Catechism, which is the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, is correcting and contradicting an ex cathedra teaching. So it would be a rejection of the dogma on the infallibility of the pope.It would mean CCC 846,847 (implicit invincible ignorance etc) is a new Christian doctrine or Christian Revelation.
    Yet this teaching was not mentioned for the first time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Vatican Council II (Lumen Gentium16).It was referred to in the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 to the Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cushing. The popes over the centuries always considered those saved by implicit faith as, implicit. Hence the ex cathedra teaching said everyone with no exception needs explicit faith (the baptism of water and Catholic Faith).
    So 846,847 do not refer to explicit salvation. Otherwise it would be irrational, illogical and contrary to the Magisterium of the past and present.
    The Catholic Church is saying everybody needs to be a visible member of the Church to avoid Hell.Those who are aware of Jesus and the Church and yet do not enter are on the way to Hell, definitely.
    CCC is also saying that all non-Catholics in general need to enter the Catholic Church to avoid Hell. All. If there is anyone among them with the baptism of desire, invincible ignorance etc (implicit faith) it will be known to God only. We cannot judge.
    De facto everyone needs to enter the Catholic Church for salvation.
    De jure there could be the probability, known only to God, of someone ‘in certain circumstances’ (Letter of the Holy Office 1949) being saved with implicit faith. God will provide all the helps in the manner known to Him only; it could include explicit faith (the baptism of water).So if someone says the Catechism says that they can be saved who are in invincible ignorance etc, the answer is: ‘Yes, as a concept only. In principle.’ De facto everyone explicitly needs to be a Catholic to go to Heaven is the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.(CCC 845).Simon Rafe needs to clarify this point.

    “For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament” (CCC 1259).
    In other words everyone needs to de facto be a ‘card carrying member’ of the Catholic Church, everyone needs to have his name on a Parish Register. All who are in Heaven, people of different countries, cultures and times, are Catholics, the chosen people of God, the Elect, the people of the New Covenant. I think Simon Rafe and Michael Vorris would agree here. They recently produced a video on ONLY CATHOLICS IN HEAVEN! ( http://www.youtube.com/user/RealCatholicTV#p/a/u/0/2Dcfj0PU_JQ ) . It is highly recommended.( I try not to miss Michael Vorris’ videos)

    4.In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sub title‘Outside the Church there is no salvation’ has been placed over N.846.It should really be above number 845.

    The ex cathedra dogma says everyone needs to explicitly enter the Church for salvation. It is in agreement with n.845

    N.845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church….(quoted above in full )
    Here is the ex cathedra dogma:

    1. “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215). Ex cathedra.

    2.“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.).Ex cathedra.

    3.“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) Ex cathedra
    – from the website Catholicism.org and “No Salvation outside the Church”: Link List, the Three Dogmatic Statements Regarding EENS http://nosalvationoutsideofthecatholicchurch.blogspot.com/
    It says everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.

    So CCC 847,848 must be interpreted as referring to implicit salvation, in ’certain circumstances’ and unknown to us, otherwise it would contradict the infallible teaching.

    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.-Catechism of the Catholic Church
    848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”-Catechism of the Catholic Church
    CCC 847, 848 do not refer to explicit salvation and so do not contradict the dogma. There is no de facto baptism of desire that we can know of. There is no explicit Baptism of desire that we can know of. While implicit Baptism of Desire is only a concept for us. Since it is known only to God.

    So if asked if everyone needs to enter the Catholic Church for salvation the answer is YES.

    5. Everyone explicitly needs to enter the Catholic Church for salvation and those who have the baptism of desire or are invincible ignorance would be known only to God.

    All men are certainly called to this Catholic unity. The Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ and all mankind belong to or are ordered to Catholic unity.-CCC 836

    Here again we have an affirmation of the ex cathedra dogma and the word all is used as in Ad Gentes 7.

    6.

    How do we understand this saying from the Church Fathers? All salvation comes from Christ through his Body, the Church which is necessary for salvation because Christ is present in his Church…-CCC846
    Here the Catechism places de jure and defacto salvation together. It does not conflict with the ex cathedra teaching that everyone with no exception needs to enter the Catholic Church .We cannot personally know any cases of a genuine invincible ignorance, baptism of desire or a good conscience.

    7.

    However, those, who through no fault of their own do not know either the Gospel of Christ or his Church, can achieve salvation by seeking God with a sincere heart and by trying to do God’s will (Second Vatican Council). Although God can lead all people to salvation, the Church still has the duty to evangelize all men.-CCC 848
    Those who are in invincible ignorance can be saved -and this does not conflict with the ex cathedra dogma that everyone with no exception needs to enter the Church to avoid Hell. It is a conceptual, de jure understanding.

    8. CCC 1257 The Necessity of Baptism

    CCC 1257 affirms the dogma when it says that the Church knows of no means to eternal beatitude other than the baptism of water. This is a reference to explicit salvation for all with no known exceptions.

    CCC 1257 also says that for salvation God is not restricted to the Sacraments. This must not be interpreted as opposing the dogma or the earlier part of CCC 1257. This is a possibility, ‘in certain circumstances’ (Letter of the Holy Office 1949) and we cannot judge any specific cases. Th Baptism of Desire is never explicit for us humans.
    I repeat the Church refers to the ordinary means of salvation (Redemptoris Missio 5. The word ordinary is used in RM 55).

    In Dominus Iesus the words de jure and de facto are used in the Introduction.

    In CCC 1257 we have the baptism of water as the ordinary means of salvation for all people with no exception.

    In CCC 1257 we also have those saved with implicit faith (invincible ignorance,BOD etc) as the extraordinary means of salvation.(‘God is not limited to the Sacraments’).

    VI. THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM

    1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.59 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.60 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.61 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. -Catechism of the Catholic Church 1257

    The Letter of the Holy Office 1949 while affirming the dogma and the need for everyone to be a visible member of the Church to go to Heaven with no exceptions- also says that ‘in certain circumstances’ a person can be saved with implicit faith, if God wills it.

    However, those, who through no fault of their own do not know either the Gospel of Christ or his Church, can achieve salvation by seeking God with a sincere heart and by trying to do God’s will (Second Vatican Council). Although God can lead all people to salvation, the Church still has the duty to evangelize all men.-CCC 848

    St.Thomas Aquinas says God will ‘provide the helps necessary for salvation’ by sending a person to baptize the one needing help in this extraordinary situation OR telling the person what he needs to do.

    Here we are in a conceptual area, open to theories since this is the nature of the baptism of desire etc which cannot be explicitly known to us humans.
    St.Thomas Aquinas also said that everyone with no exception needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church for salvation. De facto everyone needs to enter. De jure there could be the man in the forest for St.Thomas Aquinas. He did not have a problem with de facto and de jure.

    On the Saint Benedict Centre website, the community founded by Fr.Leonard Feeney in New Hampshire,USA it is written, that Fr.Leonard Feeney knew that his view on the Baptism of Desire was only an opinion.
    Finally everyone’s view on the Baptism of Desire is ONLY AN OPINION. De jure. This is seen clearly in CCC 1257.
    It reminds one of Jesus’ saying that ‘he who does not collect with me disperses’ and ‘those who are not against us are for us.’

    9.When it is said that only those who know about the Catholic Church need to enter to avoid Hell (Ad Gentes 7) we can mistake this to mean only this category of people are on the way to Hell. Instead we know that all non Catholics are on the way to Hell with no exception ( ex cathedra dogma) and if there is any one among them who is in invincible ignorance etc it will be known only to God.

    Those who are in invincible ignorance can be saved-and this does not conflict with the ex cathedra dogma that everyone with no exception needs to enter the Church to avoid Hell. It is a conceptual, de jure understanding.

    So the Catechism is not asking us to reject the notion that one can be saved without the Sacraments according to the ordinary way of salvation. (Redemptoris Missio 55).If one says it does it is a misinterpretation of the Catechism.

    Where it refers to being saved without the Sacraments it is referring to that exceptional case, which in ‘certain circumstances'(Letter of the Holy Office 1949) are known only to God. We do not even know if there has been any case of the Baptism of desire during our lifetime.

    A.Practically speaking everyone needs to enter the Catholic Church to go to Heaven.

    B.Theoretically (de jure, in principle) a person can be saved through implicit faith (if God wills it) even without the Baptism of water.This is the official teaching of the Church.

    B is in accord with the Catechism which mentions the Baptism of water as a concept (it cannot be anything else other than a concept)

    B is in accord with Fr.Leonard Feeney who mentioned the Baptism of Desire (catechumen).It was a concept in his mind (something dejure).

    B is in accord with the website of the Saint Benedict Centre,one of Fr.Leonard Feeney’s communities, which defines the Baptism of Desire. A definition is a concept.

    So when Simon Rafe says in his e-mail to me that ‘Non-Catholics can be saved, DESPITE their failure to be a visible member of the Church. This is the teaching of the Church.’ it is true ( de jure, in principle). However de facto everybody with no exception needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church, Jesus’s Mystical Body to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.

    -Lionel Andrades

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Simon Rafe

    Simon Rafe is a former undergraduate in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at Sheffield University, England. An immigrant to the United States, he is an adult convert to Catholicism, formerly being what he describes as a “militant atheist”. Simon has been heavily involved in the Internet for over a decade, working as a webmaster and performing web design for several companies in the UK. He is well-versed in the ethos of the “New Evangelization”, having both found his wife and come to know Christ and the Catholic Church thanks to the Internet. He is the author of the book “Where Did The Bible Come From?” and consultant-author for the Saint Michael’s Basic Training series.

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Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-23-2009

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. I want to welcome Blackadder to American Catholic.  Yes, it’s belated, but needed nonetheless.  He has been an excellent addition to our fledgling website.  He’s written many exceptional posts over at Vox Nova and we are glad to have him here with us.  He also writes at the fine political group blog, Southern Appeal.

2. Meaningless word of the day, Ecumenism.

A close second, Interreligious Dialogue.

…which dovetails very well into my third pick…

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85 Responses to Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-23-2009

  • “Ecumenism” is a meaningless word? Tell that to the Vatican.

    “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.”

    “Today, in many parts of the world, under the inspiring grace of the Holy Spirit, many efforts are being made in prayer, word and action to attain that fullness of unity which Jesus Christ desires. The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.”

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

    “In the same way, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” recently published (1992), includes the ecumenical dimension as part of the basic teaching for all the faithful of the Church.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/general-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19930325_directory_en.html

    This post is another fine representation of cafeteria Catholicism.

  • ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
    TO THE MEMBERS OF THE FOUNDATION
    FOR INTERRELIGIOUS AND INTERCULTURAL
    RESEARCH AND DIALOGUE

    Thursday, 1 February 2007

    Dear Friends,

    It is a joy for me, having been one of the founding members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, to meet you again and to welcome you today at the Vatican. I greet in particular His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan whom I have the pleasure to meet on this occasion.

    I thank H.E. Metropolitan Damaskinos of Andrianoupolis, your President, who has presented to me the first result of your work: a joint edition of the three Sacred Books of the three monotheistic religions in their original language and in chronological order. Indeed, this was the very first project we conceived of in creating the Foundation together, so as to “make a specific and positive contribution to the dialogue between cultures and religions”.

    As I have said on several occasions, in continuation with the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate and with my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, we, Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to develop the bonds that unite us.

    Indeed, it was this idea that led us to create this Foundation which aims to seek “the most essential and authentic message that the three monotheistic religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can address to the world of the 21st century”, to give a new impetus to interreligious and intercultural dialogue by means of our common research and by highlighting and disseminating everything in our respective spiritual heritages that helps to strengthen fraternal ties between our communities of believers.

    Consequently, the Foundation had to work out an instrument of reference that would help us overcome misunderstandings and prejudices and offer a common platform for future work. Thus, you have produced this beautiful edition of the three books which are the source of our religious beliefs, creators of culture, that have made a deep mark on peoples and to which we are indebted today.

    The reinterpretation, and for some people, the discovery of the texts that so many people across the world venerate as sacred, demands mutual respect in trusting dialogue. Our contemporaries expect of us a message of harmony and peace and the practical expression of our common willingness to help them achieve their legitimate aspiration to live in justice and peace.

    They are entitled to expect of us a strong sign of renewed understanding and reinforced cooperation in accordance with the actual objective of the Foundation, which proposes to offer “to the world in this way a sign of hope and the promise of divine Blessings that always accompanies charitable action”.

    The Foundation’s work will contribute to a growing awareness of everything in the different cultures of our time which is in conformity with divine wisdom and serves human dignity, the better to discern and reject everything that usurps God’s name and deforms man’s humanity.

    Thus, we are invited to engage in a common task of reflection. This is a labour of reason for which I wholeheartedly appeal, with you, to be able to examine God’s mystery in the light of our respective religious traditions and wisdom so as to discern the values likely to illumine the men and women of all the peoples on earth, whatever their culture and religion.

    For this reason it is henceforth invaluable to have at our disposal a common reference point, thanks to the work you have done. Thus, we will be able to make headway in interreligious and intercultural dialogue which today is more necessary than ever: a true dialogue, respectful of differences, courageous, patient and persevering, which finds its strength in prayer and is nourished by the hope that dwells in all who believe in God and put their trust in him.

    Our respective religious traditions all insist on the sacred character of the life and dignity of the human person. We believe that God will bless our initiatives if they converge for the good of all his children and enable them to respect each other in brotherhood world-wide.

    Together with all people of good will, we aspire to peace. That is why I insist once again: interreligious and intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need for our time.

    May the Almighty bless your work and grant an abundance of his Blessings to you and to your loved ones!

  • Ecumenism is meaningless? Caritas in Veritate is poorly written?

    What the heck?

  • “What the heck?”

    ditto, and I rather liked Ut Unum Sint.

  • Ecumenism is meaningless in the sense that the neo-modernists and the left have misappropriated the term to mean the Catholic Church abandoning the principles upon which she was founded, in favor of a more generic and FALSE Christianity in order to appease the separated brethren sufficiently to establish some sort of loose affiliation which they would consider “unity”. That is FALSE ecumenism, with true ecumenism being the goal of restoring those separated brethren to the One True Church by abandoning their erroneous doctrines and invalid hierarchies.

    Tito did not say the latest encyclical is “poorly written” he acknowledged that some critics have said so. It clearly is more of a committee document than Benedict’s prior encyclicals.

    Ut Unam Sint? Good heavens, that is by far the worst encyclical since the 2nd Vatican Council, or perhaps EVER. There’s a reason that our current Holy Father as head of the Holy Office, issued a major clarification to restore proper understanding of the mission of the Church and the true meaning of Ecumenism.

  • If a text leads to a clarification later, that doesn’t mean the text itself is written badly (otherwise, we must all consider the Bible one of the worst books ever written). Theology is always engaged with this kind of work; compare St Cyril of Alexandria vs Pope St Leo; I wouldn’t call Cyril a bad writer because he doesn’t use the advanced terminology of Leo, because, well, he didn’t have use of it in his time!

  • “Neo-modernists”? Who are these people in the Church who have with their practice so destroyed the meaning of ecumenism? Are they Church officials? Bishops’ conferences? Renegade theologians? General ill-willers?

  • Henry & Alan,

    Could you find for me in Ut Unum Sint what the definition of “ecumenism” is?

    I doubt you can find it.

  • Tito

    Can you find in the Bible a definition of the Trinity? Does it make the Trinity not in the Bible? Documents are after written with the presupposition that the basic terms within it don’t need to be defined.

  • Henry Karlson,

    Even the text of infallible proclamations/documents does not necessarily make them impeccable.

    Your point concerning thus seems to make the case that such documents are indeed so.

    If that is the case, your contention is as remarkably risible as Tito’s TACO is as derisive.

  • Henry K.,

    I didn’t say Bible, I said Ut Unum Sint.

    Again, you can’t find it because Pope John Paul II never defined “ecumenism”.

    Ecumenism is a protestant invented word. Nowhere is it defined.

    It is so ambiguous it could mean anything, ipso facto, it can be meaningless.

  • Ecumenism is a protestant invented word.

    I think if we wanted to start digging into the origins of much of the vocabulary commonly utilized in Catholic theology, the origins will not be majority Catholic.

  • “Ecumenism is a protestant invented word. Nowhere is it defined.”

    A couple things, you are arguing a Latin document to define words in English? Again this is rather weird. Second, the source of the word is Greek, and nowhere I see is the word “invented by Protestantism.” You will find ecumenism engaged long before Protestants.

    While the word itself is not defined in the document, the activity which the Church supports is given throughout. More importantly, just because a document doesn’t define the meaning for you, doesn’t make it meaningless, just as the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but not meaningless. Again, this is basic — the arguments you make remind me of Protestants as they argue definitions “via the Bible.” They don’t understand definitions are presupposed if a word is used, and the Bible doesn’t define words, just as a Papal Encyclical doesn’t have to define every word it uses to make the word meaningful.

    As for a fine example of dissident Catholicism, just remember who it is pointing at the Church and telling it that its declarations are in error! You are telling the Church it is calling us to something meaningless, not I. This is the example of your clear Cafeteria style Catholicism. It is quite apparent you don’t listen to the Church, you only take things out of context for your non-Catholic political ideology, and if the Church says different, you begin to mock the Church.

  • HK,

    issued a major clarification to restore proper understanding of the mission of the Church

    First let me correct the record, the clarification was issued after the ascension of Benedict XVI to the papacy, and so was under the prefect Cdl. Levada technically (though clearly it was written by and/or closely supervised by Benedict XVI).

    Secondly, this clarification after only 12 years is in no way related to re-examinations of the early fathers work 100’s of years later. They’re just not the same thing. The document in question is not simply an analysis, it is corrective. The corrective was necessary because the neo-modernists and leftists began taking advantage of the difficulties in Ut Unum Sint to further their destructive efforts, completely ignoring 2000 years of doctrine. The same occurred after the documents of the 2nd Vatican Council.

  • Michael

    It is true that the origin of the word is not important (most words can probably be traced back to pagans), but in this case, he is also in error. The word is derived from Greek – and is cognate with “economy.” Ecumenism isn’t a modern phenomena – again, as I have said, all one has to do is look back in time, and one will find Florence, which was 15th century ecumenism.

  • Matt

    You really should look into the time between Ephesus and Chalcedon, and also, the reaction of those who opposed Chalcedon. You will find that clarification was indeed needed, soon after Ephesus, but that does not dismiss the value of Ephesus itself. This is the same thing. The Church is always engaging, going deeper, bringing up something new.

  • Tito,

    Ut Unum Sint is built on top of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, which notes the following:

    “The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity.”

    I would recommend a careful reading of Unitatis Redintegratio to frame Ut Unum Sint. Having read some responses to Ut Unum Sint, primarily on the part of some Orthodox, it’s impact is important. To pass it off as some sort of Protestant invention is, in my opinion, silly.

  • HK,

    So because you can’t find the definition you begin your ad hominem attacks on me.

    Typical Vox Nova poster.

  • Tito

    No, I didn’t make any ad hominems — heck, there is a post on VN you need to read, now that you make that claim.

  • Alan Phipps,

    you should also review Unam Sanctum, Redemptoris Missio to properly understand the Church’s teaching on how unity is to be restored and maintained. Where Peter is there is the Church, he is the earthly sign of unity.

  • Tito, I think you’re being willfully obtuse on this.

  • Matt,

    I’m only helping to frame Ut Unum Sint. I don’t dispute that “ecumenism” has been hijacked by some groups to mean something it does not. I don’t think your beef is really with me.

  • Henry K.,

    “the ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Reform”.
    –Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II

    Ut Unum Sint is not ex cathedra.

    Pope Pius XI condemned any attempts at ecumenism in Mortalium Animos.

    Pope Pius XII made a prediction concerning the problems of ecumenism, being of Protestant orgigen:

    “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul… I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.”

  • Ecumenism is but a vile virus that has become an apparent plague on Rome, which will ultimately lead to its very undoing.

    You need only take notice of purported Catholics who are nothing but Gnostics in disguise, succumbing to various heresies and cultish folk practices given to the provocation of the spirits.

  • Tito, it’s interesting that you dismiss one encyclical by citing another, and bolster it with a purported quote from Pope Pius XII that only appears as a “so-and-so said he heard that the Pope said” kind of quote on far-right Traditionalist websites. It would appear that cherry-picking isn’t only a left-wing activity.

  • e.,

    Well I wouldn’t go that far.

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
    – – Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 16:18

    Ecumenism may have harmed the Church but it won’t be it’s ruin.

  • JohnH,

    I am not dismissing Ut Unum Sint, I am just pointing out that it isn’t ex cathedra and there still needs to be a better clarification on the subject of ecumenism.

    40 years of “ecumenism” has produced zero, “0”, results.

    Outside of cut-off chicken heads at Fatima and heathens desecrating the churches of Assissi, it has been fruitless.

  • JohnH,

    And no, I didn’t pick the quote from “traditionalist” websites, I got it from the Vatican website. Unless of course you are accusing the Vatican of being traditionalist.

    Take a chill pill dude.

  • Alan Phipps,

    I’m only helping to frame Ut Unum Sint. I don’t dispute that “ecumenism” has been hijacked by some groups to mean something it does not. I don’t think your beef is really with me.

    there’s no beef really, I just want to point out that one can’t properly understand Ut Unam Sint by reading it and Unitatis Redentigratio (UR). One must also read older documents, and the correctives from Redemptoris Missio, Dominus Iesus and the doctrinal note which followed from UR.

    Speaking of which, after further research, Dominus Iesus was in fact issued under Cdl. Ratzinger as a corrective for UUS and only 5 years after it’s issue, subsequently another corrective was issued under Cdl. Levada.

    e.,

    Ecumenism is but a vile virus that has become an apparent plague on Rome, which will ultimately lead to its very undoing.

    I don’t think it’s possible for Rome to be “ultimately” undone, pretty sure Christ assured us of that. Clearly the false understanding of ecumenism has been a vile virus which harms the Body of Christ but can not destroy it.

  • “Neo-modernists”? Who are these people in the Church who have with their practice so destroyed the meaning of ecumenism? Are they Church officials? Bishops’ conferences? Renegade theologians? General ill-willers?

    Christopher Ferrara in his critique of ecumenism places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the most recently deceased pontiff. The Latin Mass has an occasional feature on the problems which ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have presented and Ferrara and Woods write at length on the subject in The Great Facade.

  • Tito, you need to know how to read things in context; Pope John Paul II, in saying, “the ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Reform,” is of course talking about the modern ecumenical movement in the 20th century. However it is not the foundation of ecumenism, which is something else.

  • And no, I didn’t pick the quote from “traditionalist” websites, I got it from the Vatican website. Unless of course you are accusing the Vatican of being traditionalist.

    OK, please show me where that quote shows up on the Vatican website. The one that begins with “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima.” I can only find it though sedevacantist / SSPX websites.

  • Henry K.,

    I agree with you on that point.

    Like you, I want all Christians united.

    I just wished that Pope John Paul II would have used more concise language than the ambiguities that are infested in Ut Unum Sint.

    I doubt Ut Unum Sint will ever be as relevant as when it was first issued. Like Vatican II, it will be our children who will see what is effective and what is not effective.

    You and I are on the same side, we want to evangelize the world.

  • “Dominus Iesu” was actually not written as a corrective to UUS, but to deal with some Catholic theologians engaging a broad form of pluralism which rendered Jesus insignificant. It was an internal theological document, not a document which was at all written in response to ecumenism.

  • “Outside of cut-off chicken heads at Fatima and heathens desecrating the churches of Assissi, it has been fruitless.”

    I think that such a conclusion is short sighted. There has been great strides in our ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Orthodox, and hopefully with the TAC. Did you read Unitatis Redintegratio? Just because it doesn’t move according to your schedule or expectations doesn’t make it fruitless. Nor is it rendered irrelevant when other groups reduce enumenism to indifferentism, which the church has also condemned.

  • JohnH.,

    I was referring to Mortalium Animos.

    Please, where is the evidence of any ecumenical success?

  • ““I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul… I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.””

    Speaks nothing of ecumenism. As the Church makes clear, even in UUS, ecumenism is not about the alteration of Church teaching; it is not a syncretism.

  • Matt,
    Cardinal Levada’s document was in response to misinterpretations of and questions about Dominus Iesus, which was issued by the CDF under Joseph Ratzinger.

  • Sorry, Matt, I missed where you noted the correct timeline. Shouldn’t have skimmed through the subsequent responses.

  • Matt McDonald:

    Agreed; however, it has most assuredly not only harmed the Body of Christ, but it has done so to such remarkable extent so as to disfigure it almost rendering it to where you can hardly see the Catholicism of today as actually being “Catholic”.

  • Henry Karlson,

    “Dominus Iesu” was actually not written as a corrective to UUS, but to deal with some Catholic theologians engaging a broad form of pluralism which rendered Jesus insignificant. It was an internal theological document, not a document which was at all written in response to ecumenism.

    Unless you’re actually familiar with the “ecumenism movement” in which case you would know it has been drifting towards pluralism since the 70’s and recognize that this illicit movement had used UUS to further it’s cause, thus justifying it’s inclusion in the discussion.

    Alan,

    I think that such a conclusion is short sighted. There has been great strides in our ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Orthodox, and hopefully with the TAC. Did you read Unitatis Redintegratio? Just because it doesn’t move according to your schedule or expectations doesn’t make it fruitless. Nor is it rendered irrelevant when other groups reduce enumenism to indifferentism, which the church has also condemned.

    Tito forgot to mention the illicit inter-communion which the Canadian Bishops have all but publicly embraced… I don’t think Tito is objecting to the TRUE ecumenism which is going on with the Orthodox and TAC, he is rejecting false ecumenism (on that he ought to be more precise) as does the Church.

  • e., sounds like you’d agree with this fellow:

    Ecumenism — is one of the mechanisms by which this mixing is achieved in practice. It is a relatively recent satanic invention, which already proved to be a huge success. Under the guise of “super-Christian love” it attempts to blur and, eventually, destroy the boundaries of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, depriving the faithful of the Holy Mysteries and corrupting their souls.

    Except that he’s not Roman Catholic.

    http://ecumenizm.tripod.com/ECUMENIZM/index.html

    And Tito–if you want to find out what the fruits of ecumenism have been, why not ask some of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Rite priests who have been doing mission work in Russia? I’m sure if you look around, you could get a good perspective on it. The efforts have not been fruitless, especially in building trust within countries that traditionally have been fiercely anti-Rome.

  • So “ecumenism” means being “nice” to others?

    I thought charity fell under that category, but I guess ecumenism is the new “charity”.

    So ecumenism means being nice to others, but not necessary being one Church.

    See the confusion?

  • “Unless you’re actually familiar with the “ecumenism movement” in which case you would know it has been drifting towards pluralism since the 70’s and recognize that this illicit movement had used UUS to further it’s cause, thus justifying it’s inclusion in the discussion.”

    Not true at all; it is quite apparent you are the one who has not studied the movement, but rather, strawmen about the movement itself; indeed, as I pointed out, UUS has criticized this idea of ecumenism, so it can’t be seen as supporting this notion at all. More importantly, if you look at the bi-lateral dialogues between Catholicism and others, you will note doctrine is significant, and the Orthodox, who have always been with the WWC, have always put forward as the difference of doctrine is a fundamental issue and cannot be dismissed for some “super-church” which ignores the distinctions. Sergius Bulgakov consistently insisted the ecumenical movement address Mary, btw.

  • e. ,

    Agreed; however, it has most assuredly not only harmed the Body of Christ, but it has done so to such remarkable extent so as to disfigure it almost rendering it to where you can hardly see the Catholicism of today as actually being “Catholic”.

    not everywhere, but certainly in many places.

  • JohnH:

    Stuff it and quite putting words in my mouth; regardless of the fact that even previous popes themselves opposed ecumenism and for good reason, too!

    Truly, the Smoke of Satan has already infiltrated the Church, as had even been prophesied by a well-respected pope; one need only see the many modern-day ‘Catholic’ churches, which are more like pagan sacrificial worship sites or your local protestant gathering place, as well as attend any number of ‘services’ to see its dispicable fruits which, thus, evince an overwhelming evidence for the center of such villainy.

  • So “ecumenism” means being “nice” to others?

    No. I think you are confused, or possibly being obtuse again. The efforts at ecumenism in Russia and elsewhere have opened doors for Catholics working in these countries.

  • JohnH,

    Again with ‘obtuse’.

    Show me the evidence that Michael Denton so often begs for that we are making inroads in Russia.

    I have heard our Russian Orthodox brothers complain about this, yet I don’t see any evidence of this.

    As of today, Rome and Moscow have no plans to reunite.

    Shoot, they don’t want us to walk within a hundred miles of the Russian border.

  • e.: I’m pretty weary of the whole “I’m more Catholic than Rome” schtick.

  • Tito: you can talk with the priests from here:

    http://www.vladmission.org/

    next time they are in the US. I know Fr. Dan is back and forth quite a bit. Or you can e-mail them for a chat (though the internet there is wonky).

  • JohnH,

    Thanks!

    I sincerely appreciate this because I love conversion stories and I would like to know how the whole “conversion of Russia” scene is playing out.

    Saint Padre Pio once said that the Russians will convert to Catholicism before the Americans, and they will teach us how to convert.

    Yes, I am being sincere, thank you!

  • You are welcome.

  • Henry K.,

    I have read those in the past, but I mostly stick to InterFax and Patriarchia for my Russian Orthodox news, and they haven’t been as friendly nor as optimistic:

    http://www.interfax-religion.com/

    http://www.patriarchia.ru/

    (use a translator for the second link)

  • fruits of ecumenism:

    ?

    Not sure what that has to do with ecumenism.

  • Henry Karlson Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D.
    “Ecumenism” is a meaningless word? Tell that to the Vatican”.

    “This post is another fine representation of cafeteria Catholicism”.

    What is cafeteria-like about it is the avoidance of specifics. It is headline writing. All fog and fuss, no way to answer it.

  • e. Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D. at 10:55 am
    “Henry Karlson,
    Even the text of infallible proclamations/documents does not necessarily make them impeccable”.

    Surely there is some confusion here about the meaning of “impeccable”.

    [NB: “not necessarily” is a meaningless weasel phrase].

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Are you much a fool as you are incapable of discerning what “necessarily” actually construes? Or are you so devoid of philosophic/theologic training so as to be wholly incapable of noting what is necessary and what is sufficient?

    Furthermore, the fact of the matter remains that just because something is, in fact, infallible does not actually render it “impeccable”; if that were indeed the case, that one is saying that any such infallible decree has been rendered remarkably perfect.

    For your information, neither professional Catholic theologians and even then Cardinal Ratzinger think so.

  • I doubt anyone here had trouble understanding what e. means in using the word “impeccable” even if it was not perfectly applied (which I don’t concede).

  • You guys are hilarious.

    Here, for your edification:

    [I]nfallibility has never been said to entail impeccability, the fact that some bishops and popes have been quite peccable indeed is irrelevant as an objection to the doctrine that they are infallible under certain conditions. By the same token, infallibility is not a prerogative that men enjoy as men. Since only God is infallible by nature, infallibility is a divine gift to the Church that nobody deserves or can attain by their own efforts. Such a gift is also negative rather than positive: it does not entail that the irreformable pronouncements of the Magisterium are divinely inspired, or opportune, or even particularly well-formulated; it entails only that the Magisterium will never bind the Church definitively to a statement that is false.

    There, I’m done with informing the ignorant.

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  • e.,

    There, I’m done with informing the ignorant.

    I would advise you to not attend anymore Jesuit conferences if that is the case.

  • e. Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D. at 2:41 pm
    “Gabriel Austin:
    Are you much a fool as you are incapable of discerning what “necessarily” actually construes? Or are you so devoid of philosophic/theologic training so as to be wholly incapable of noting what is necessary and what is sufficient?”

    I permit myself to reprove you with (Matthew 5:22) – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

    “Furthermore, the fact of the matter remains that just because something is, in fact, infallible does not actually render it “impeccable”; if that were indeed the case, that one is saying that any such infallible decree has been rendered remarkably perfect”.

    Does not change the fact that you seem to have confused infallible with impeccable [which was nowhere discussed].

    Why do you hide behind an initial? Just curious.

    Interesting that in your informing [instructing?] the ignorant, you give a quotation but not a reference. Please do continue not to instruct [inform?] us.

  • I’m the one who has infallible confused with impeccable?

    Thus, says the man whose comments seemed to imply that an infallibile decree is actually flawless [impeccable].

    Now, go find a box somewhere upon which to recover your poise as you certainly need it!

  • Tito’s anti-Catholic recklessness continues and his co-bloggers remain silent.

  • Even those bloggers here with whom I greatly disagree, I would not accuse of either recklessness or anti-Catholicism.

  • e. Says Friday, July 24, 2009 A.D. at 2:44 pm
    “I’m the one who has infallible confused with impeccable?”

    Yes.

    “Thus, says the man whose comments seemed to imply that an infallibile decree is actually flawless [impeccable]”.

    “Seem to imply”. More weasel words. Have you a citation?

    “Now, go find a box somewhere upon which to recover your poise as you certainly need it!”

    Is this meant to make sense? Or is it merely an attempt to be offensive? If the latter, you need more practice. Read some Jonathan Swift.

  • Foxfier – I’m not accusing “the bloggers” of anything in the abstract. I am accusing Tito of specific actions here that are reckless and anti-Catholic.

  • I’m not accusing “the bloggers” of anything in the abstract.

    Incorrect; you accused them of allowing and– by their silence– promoting anti-Catholicism.

    That is both abstract– lacking as it is specific examples of “anti-Catholicism”– and an accusation.

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Are you that deficient in cognitive abilities? My comments were in fact making a distinction between the two.

    Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything more especially from a pompous trogoldyte who hails from the lesser races and believes adverbs are anathema.

  • Tito’s hatred of the Church’s teaching on ecumenism and his hatred of Archbishop Oscar Romero are evidence of his anti-Catholicism.

  • And speaking of so-called “weasel words”:

    “Does not change the fact that you seem to have confused infallible with impeccable [which was nowhere discussed].”

    By the way, you’re the one who has completely conflated the two since you actually are of the opinion that just because something happens to be infallible, it is indeed impeccable [flawless], or else you wouldn’t have taken issue with it to begin with (unless, of course, that’s just your way of demonstrating how you take being an arse to an art form!).

    So, go take your faux Catholicism elsewhere and stick your arrogance to where the sun don’t shine; I’ve had it with not only your pernicious mischaracterizations and condescending pettiness but, more especially, your constant pharisaic delectations, which are nothing more than a devious disguise to hide a clearly hideously fiendish nature underneath all that supposedly Christian exterior!

  • The only time Tito has written about Archbishop Romero was when he complemented you for praying to an uncanonized saint, and added prayers to Fr. Kolbe.
    (do a google site search, if you doubt)

    You seem to have a bit of a problem with facts.

  • Foxfier – You must have missed our conversation the other day on this blog about Romero.

  • Iafrate:

    At worst, Tito may be classified as careless or even thoughtless in some respects; however, to actually label the man “anti-Catholic” would seem to me to be wholly unjustified.

  • Michael,

    Yes Tito expressed belief in the accounts given to him by several Salvadoran friends indicating that Archbishop Romero had been hiding guns to help the guerrillas in that insanely long comment thread last week. No, I do not think it likely that his friends were right to believe that — though given their personal sufferings at the hands of the communist revolutionaries there I can see why Tito would.

    However, that in no way indicates “hatred” or anti-Catholicism, and while I won’t delete your original comment making that accusation (since it’s not my thread) I am going to stake out a line and tell you to stop it, or else I’ll delete any further comments from you along these lines.

    If you have something substantive to say, say it, but if you’re working on your extensive hate-list, we’re not interested.

  • Interesting to note that Iafrate is committing the very same kind of calumny that he was berating Tito for in a previous thread.

  • e. Says Monday, July 27, 2009 A.D. at 10:46 am

    [I must say I don’t know why I bother. Nonetheless to prevent the spread of error}.

    “you actually are of the opinion that just because something happens to be infallible, it is indeed impeccable [flawless]”.

    I would be curious for a citation citing my opinion on this confusion. The error is in the definition of impeccable as flawless. Perhaps in common usage. But in theology, impeccable means without sin.

    [Again, I ask myself why I bother].

  • And what, pray tell, was it in my comments that made you believe I was actually employing the term in its seeming officially accepted theological meaning?

    Especially since you yourself so much as admitted that its common usage (as well as according to Webster’s dic. and, not to mention, the fact that a certain Catholic Theologian himself also utilized the same term in the same sense I had applied thus in my own comments) is meant to contrue “flawless”, as I had indeed intended then.

    Regardless, that does not render (even slightly — and, if anything, your constant harangues only solifies support for my original position) my original statement wholly nugatory: the fact that just because something happens to be infallible, it doesn’t mean it’s actually impeccable!

    [Why do I even bother?]

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Conservative Catholicism And Liberal Islam

Wednesday, May 6, AD 2009

I just finished reading Thomas F. Madden’s Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World, and I’m planning to write a couple posts shortly reviewing the book and the ideas it presents. As a prelude of sorts, however, I’d like to revisit some thinking I did a while back:

A month or so ago I finally had the chance to read Steven Vincent’s account of life outside the green zone in post-war Iraq: In The Red Zone. It’s a very fair book, and worth a read whether you support the war in Iraq or not. The author, since then killed in Iraq by militants, was a New York art reporter who watched the attacks on 9-11 and supported the Iraq war. Having supported the war, he felt like he should go over and see what was really happening over there. The book has the advantage of being writing from a culture writer’s point of view rather than a political writer’s. And although Vincent starts out as an enthusiastic supporter of the project, he ends unsure whether it’s possible for democracy to flourish in Iraq. (I’d be curious to read later work by him and see what he thought of the elections and the provisional constitution, both of which post date his book.)

This reminded me of my long held intention to read more about Islam, so I pull off the shelf the copy of Living Islam(now apparently out of print) by Ahbar S Ahmed which I’d bought on remainder some nine years ago and had been meaning to read ever since. Living Islam is half cultural history, half apologia (think a very, very light weight version of Letters To A Young Catholic with lots of pictures and basic intro information.)

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32 Responses to Conservative Catholicism And Liberal Islam

  • Great post, and it gets to the heart of what has puzzled me as well. For instance, in reading Mark Steyn’s America Alone, I certainly agreed with his analysis about the dim prospect of Europe’s future based on the influx of (for lack of a better term) radical Muslims. Yet at the same time we’re trying to instill a democracy in a Muslim state that would be dominated by those very forces. (Of course we can get into all sorts of side debates about whether the war in Iraq was useful in other respects, and whether or not democratization ought to be a goal of our foreign policy, etc. Hopefully this thread will remain on point and not delve into those issues for now).

    Similarly, I often see Muslim “dissidents” on the likes of O”Reilly and other conservative talk shows. I forget the most prominent one, but I’m sure you all know I am talking about – she’s a Muslim female that’s written several books critical of Islam. But I can’t help thinking that I’d be pretty annoyed if Richard McBrien was on a talk show in Saudi Arabia peddling the same talking points, only in support of moderating Catholicism. Like Darwin, I tend to favor the more orthodox members of any religious group, but there’s a tension in trying to promote Islamic orthodoxy while also hoping for a freer and more democratic climate in such places.

  • Good post Darwin.

    Islam may simply be incompatiable with our Western institutions. Bruce Bawer and Spengler are worth a look here.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_pim-fortuyn.html

    http://www.firstthings.com/spengler/?p=76

  • It’s a thorny issue. On the one hand, I don’t care at all about whether Muslims are more ‘orthodox,’ if being ‘orthodox’ means denying human rights. In that case, the more unorthodox the better from my perspective. But I hope this isn’t the case. The world would be a better place if, as in Christianity and Judaism, orthodox Islam was compatible with respect for human rights, or required it.

  • It’s a tough question, and I don’t know that there is a solution, apart from clear-eyed pragmatism. Essentially, work with the various forms of Islam where it advances the common good (as understood in Catholic terms) and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. I agree that holding up, say, an Irshad Manji as an exemplar of Islamic thought won’t get you any traction in the greater Islamic world, never mind her qualities as a thinker or writer. It’s of a par with my reading of some well-meaning ignoramus’ suggestion in the immediate post-9/11 aftermath that the works of Mustapha Kemal be translated into Arabic as part of a reform effort. Um, no.

    We don’t have much say with if or how Islam will make the necessary adjustments to modernity, much less put our imprimatur on a particular approach (I know that’s not what you’re suggesting). That’s really up to them, and all we can do is react to it.

  • Darwin,
    I think there’s another category of Muslim beyond the secular ones lauded by Fox News and the conservatives who don’t really accept human rights. I would argue Islam doesn’t need Luther of Spong, it needs to replace fundamentalism with Resourcement and aggiornamento, and there are scholars, some more liberal, some more conservative, engaged in that. Tariq Ramadan, in Switzerland, is probably the most prominent, although he still doesn’t move far enough to the “individual human rights and dignity” model we’d like to see take hold in Islam. Khaled Abou el-Fadl at UCLA seems to be on a similar project and more amenable to thoughtful Western religious conservatives.

    The French scholar Olivier Roy, in his book The Globalization of Islam argues that most of the currents we see in Islam, from the Salafism of bin Laden to the modern Islam of Ramadan, are the result of Islam taking on a more Western model. Rather than being a religion primarily about communal norms and practices, at it was traditionally, it has absorbed the Western focus on the individual achieving salvation. For the Salafists, that means individuals trying to live according to strict imitation of Muhammad and his early followers. For others, it’s developing new habits of prayer, scriptural study, moral casuistry (like the modern phenomenon of Islamic banking), evangelization. I’ve heard Roy originally wanted to call his work “The Christianization of Islam” but that was too controversial. It seems to me that this focus on individual salvation may prepare Islam for a personalism grounded in its tradition and scripture, although I don’t know enough about either to ascertain how certain that is. If it is possible, it would mean Christianity (particularly the Catholic Church) needs to engage with Muslims in the West to encourage this possibility, and both need to make more connections with institutions in the Muslim world to encourage it. One way to start would be for Western Muslims like Abou el Fadl to have a greater role training the Ulama, Islam’s authorities on Sharia. Until there’s someone like John Courtney Murray in a majority-Muslim country, and he’s accepted rather than persecuted, ostracized, or silenced, I don’t know when that might be possible though.

    Also, some of the sufi groups, in Turkey particularly but also in W. Africa and maybe South and Central Asia, seem to have a model for Islam that may be open to a humanist or personalist outlook.

  • Islam has never developed the concept of Mosque and State. Islam is the state. The Church, spending the initial three centuries usually in opposition to the Roman Empire, has often allied herself with the state, but the division between Church and State has always been a fact of life in the West. All states in Muslim areas are illegitimate to the extent that they deviate from the rule that Islam is the state. Kemal Ataturk in Turkey accomplished a miracle by defying this. Whether this miracle will prove viable long term over centuries is very much in doubt. I hope, for our own security, that we will see more regimes like Turkey and now Iraq, but based upon the history of Islam I am pessimistic.

  • Darwin,

    Excellent post.

    In my opinion it will be nearly impossible to find a form or strand of Islam that would be able to engage the world in a positive manner and share the same views on human rights as Jews, Christians, and Buddhists view them.

    In Islam God is absolutely transcendent which leaves no room at all for the individual. The identity of the individual emanates from God, hence the individual is an instrument rather than having any autonomy whatsoever in the Judeo-Christian sense. The individual in Islam has a reality, but it is contingent upon God.

    Hence the notion of human rights in the West never came to fruition in Islam. An excellent example is the radical notion of a nation-state which is completely absent in Islam. Not until the 20th century has this notion taken hold in Islam. The Ottoman Empire is a continuation of Mohammad’s empire that united the Arabian peninsula. Ask any Muslim in most countries, especially in a Muslim dominated country, and their answer is they are Muslim first, Turk, Persian, Arab second.

    A faulty parallel in the west would be communism or fascism, where the state supersedes the individual. So it is in Islamic theology that God supersedes absolutely every detail of life. Hence why the other notion of ‘Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar, render unto God that which is God’s’ never existed in Islam. The notion of separation of Mosque and State is alien to Muslims. To think politically is identical to as to think theologically. Not even the ‘model Muslim’ country of Turkey is immune. They declare a purely secular state, yet the government funds the building of mosques and the training of preachers.

    So this leaves us the conundrum of what model in Islam can we engage that will benefit both societies? Sadly, there is no model.

    Though there is hope. The Sufi form of Islam is quite engaging and more humanistic than what the Sunni’s, Shiite’s, and Salafists have to offer.

    There is no Bishop Spong, no Martin Luther, but possibly an aggiornamento in the likes of Khaled Abou el-Fadl at UCLA as Zach pointed out. Though it’s going to be a slow process that may take decades if not centuries for a more humanistic form of Islam to emerge.

  • May peace be upon you.
    I am a Muslim and let me explain certain things about Islam that you westerners don’t quite get along with.

    First of all, what basic human right that Islam doesn’t encourage?We are talking about education, the right to inherit, free speech, and such. I gotta tell ya, it’s al inscripted inside the very words of the Quran.

    Alright let me tell you some thing, in case you don’t know, the first revelation of the Holy Quran is about learning. It goes ,

    “Read, in the name of the God who created”

    The first word is about learning. So it is clear that Islam promotes learning to all mankind. Not just to men, but also unto women. In fact, Prophet Muhammad once said that learning is compulsory upon Muslim (men) and Muslimah (women). There is no restriction for women to learn, to gain knowledge. They have just the same right as men does.

    I guess for you to find a true scholar from an Islamic country to get to know what is it all about with Islam. And dont get mixed up traditional rights and cultural views. Coz most of your misunderstanding and misconception derives from the very misleading cultural rites that doesn’t belong to Islam.

    I am a Malaysian. I am a Muslim. And in Malaysia we don’t really had any major argument with the people of other faiths especially the Christians.They respect our religion as well as we respect theirs.

    In Islam, we need to believe in the earlier prophets before Muhammad (peace be upon him).And that includes our Prophet Jesus Christ (Isa Al-Masih ibn Maryam) and Prophet Moses (Musa).If we don’t believe in any one of these Prophets, our Faith in Islam wouldn’t be whole.

    Also, we have to believe in the earlier Books which are the Bible (Injeel) revealed upon Jesus Christ the Prophet and Torah (Taurat) revealed unto Moses.

    Islam encourages its follower to speak up their mind. But also, in Islam we have our own guidance of doing so.We cannot say something that is not truth as in lying, and spreading rumours. It is forbidden in Islam. Islam is all about saying the truth.

    And when you say that Islam doesn’t allow its followers to choose the way they want to lead their lives as in what to wear, to drink, to socialize etc, that is because in Islam, if you were to live in te Faith, then you have to follow every rites and rules.You cannot choose what to follow and what not to follow.if you are a Muslim, you have to follow every single thing.That’s why we don’t recognize any form of “LIberal Islam” because there is no such thing! It is either you choose to be a Muslim or not.AND once you already a Muslim, you cannot simply quitting the religion just like that. Muslims are very adhere to their religion. Someone who chooses freely to quit from being a Muslim is a major sinner!Thus he should be killed. And as a non- Muslim, you cannot argue about this because it is not your religion.To us Muslims, it is revealed by God himself, so we have to adhere.Just as you are with your religion right?

    Believe me, in Islam, every single rules and rites has its own explaination and benefits. See, I am not a pious man, I am not an Ulama or Imam, but I strongly believe and have faith in my religion that is Islam and I am proud with it.

    It is not fair for you westerners to judge our religion as you are not a part of it. If you really are looking for the truth, you should be honest with yourself and be fair.try to confer to any world renowned Ulamas or Imams.

    I take it that you too have strong and firm believe in your faith.so you shouldn’t be scared if the truth is all you are looking for.

    You sure know about our politician Anwar Ibrahim right?He is an example of a well-rounded Muslim. He lives by his faith in the religion and is a successful figure in the world.

    We Malaysians are not blessed with oil wealth like most Islamic countries especially the Arabs.But we do well with our economic models and social interaction with our fellow non – Muslims Malaysians. How do we suppose to do that if our religion is so intolerants and barbaric as you westerners portray?

    Again, I suggest you to have a dialog, or conference with Muslim leaders in the world, who can give you detailed explaination about this religion of our own.
    We used to have Benazir Bhutto,and we still have our own Anwar Ibrahim and Hasanal Bolkiah (Sultan of Brunei). If you come to Malaysia, you’ll get alot of informations and figures to confer so that you can have an extended knowledge about Islam.

    Again, I suggest for you to be fair and just when you are commenting about other people’s religion.

    Thanks for your time and space.

    May peace be upon you.

  • I agree with Mr Tito.
    Thus the conclusion is, just leave us with our own religion as we do unto yours.
    We never argue about yoru religion. We never comment what you are doing in the Churces.
    Why should you ever be so jealous with our state of religious believe?
    Islam is Islam. Christianity is Christianity.
    There shoudn’t be any argument from both sides of the world.

  • Kamarul,

    Thanks for joining us. One question I have. How do you seen Islam and Christianity working together where the two religions exist side by side? How do we resolve conflicts between the two?

  • Mr. Kamarul Azhar,

    Thank you for participating in this discussion. I share some of your views from a Christian point of view.

    I believe we as Christians (most of us anyway) do not want to change Islam. What we would like, as Phillip noted, how do we work together in order to be able to live side by side in peace and harmony? How do we resolve conflicts when they arise?

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    First, I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to provide us with such a lengthy explanation. I think it’s always fruitful when believers are able to explain their religious beliefs to each other without in the process compromising or watering-down their faiths.

    In Catholicism we use a Latin phrase meaning “peace be upon you” which is, “Pax vobiscum”. The response to this is, “Et cum spiritu tuo” or “And with your spirit”. So if I may respond thus to your kind greeting:

    Et cum spiritu tuo

    As I hope I expressed clearly, being someone who believes strongly in the importance of the true interpretation of Christianity, I naturally sympathize with those who take their own faiths seriously within other faiths. Yet at the same time, I as a Catholic and you as a Muslim hold different beliefs about what is God’s will. So for instance, when you say:

    It is either you choose to be a Muslim or not.AND once you already a Muslim, you cannot simply quitting the religion just like that. Muslims are very adhere to their religion. Someone who chooses freely to quit from being a Muslim is a major sinner!Thus he should be killed. And as a non- Muslim, you cannot argue about this because it is not your religion.To us Muslims, it is revealed by God himself, so we have to adhere.Just as you are with your religion right?

    I find myself in disagreement, because as a Catholic I of course believe that it would be a good thing if a Muslim did indeed quit being a Muslim and became a Catholic. Just as, I am sure, you would believe it would be a good thing if I quit being a Catholic and became a Muslim; and in that sense if Catholics held that someone who quit being a Catholic should be killed, you would think that was a bad thing — because as a good Muslim you would see a Catholic becoming a Muslim to be a good thing, not a sin, and thus clearly not worthy of death.

    So I think it is in these kind of areas where we run into tensions. Clearly, as a Catholic, I can’t see it as good if Muslims were to execute a Muslim man who became Catholic, and in that sense I’d see it as a good thing if Muslims took a more “liberal” approach to that law. Not as a matter of offense to Muslims, but because with our different faiths we have different beliefs as to what God’s will is.

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Paul,
    I’m guessing you’re thinking of Ayan Hirsi Ali, though she’s by no means the only female Muslim dissenter out there.

  • Yeah, cminor, she’s the one I was thinking of.

  • Salam Aalay Kum Warahmatu-Lah,

    There is no way a truthful Muslim would compromise his religion just to conform with modernity.
    And by modernity means, something that is created out of logical thinking. Yes, to be logic, one shoudn’t be killed just because he chooses to quit from his original religion.This is logic, and this is what modern thinking is.

    But to us Muslims, what we human create is not for eternity. It will not be relevant in another hundred years. But what God sent to us, what God has revealed upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), will always be relevant and beneficial to all humankind, not just Muslims, till the Judgment Day.

    And for a Muslim, if he or she commit sins, it is favourable for them to be punished here according to Islamic Crime Law (Hudud)rather than to be punished later in the Judgment Day by God Himself because the punishment would be unbearable.So you see in most conservative Islamic country such as in Saudi, Iran and Afghanistan where they practice this Hudud Law, their crime rate is very low compared to other secular country.This can eventually discipline the people of the country.

    But if we take it logically, we would say, are they insane???to whip an adulterer 100 times?to amputate a thieve?this is barbaric!!!this is against human rights, we would say.

    but again, if human rights we are fighting for, we shouldn’t be unfair. we have to cater to all kind of human rights.some people would say it is a woman’s right not to wear hijab (covering their hair and most part of their body), but what about a man’s right not to look at those parts?are we willing to sacrifice any of these rights?i wouldn’t say so.

    In Islam, it is the right for men to lead a congregation prayer like Friday prayer.
    It is the right for women to take care of the house and the children.
    You, as logical thinking westerners might look at this as somewhat discriminating, but to us Muslims, it is not. It is our right!

    In Islam, a mother who constantly has to bear the hotness of the stove just because she is preparing meals for the family is guaranteed a place in the heaven.
    In Islam, a wife who willingly let her husband to marry another woman is guaranteed a golden umbrella and a throne during the Judgment Day where everybody would be assembled at an Assembly Field named Mahsyar in a very hot weather that the Sun is like only one inch from the heads.
    In Islam, the blessing of Allah (God) lies on the Blessing of the parents. And the status of a Mother is three times higher than the father.
    These are the rights in Islam. Basic human rights that we are talkiing about.

    Islam doesn’t cater to only human rights on this world of the day. Islam also caters to human rights in the Day After.This is what Islam is all about, to gain happiness and peace in this world, and in the world after.

    but we wont force these believe upon other people of other religions.so why shouldnt other people of other religions want to force their believe on us?

    In the Quran there’s a Phrase (Surah) which tells that the Non-Believers will always force their religion on Us the Muslims. and to them we shall say,

    “O ye non-believers!I don’t worship what you worship!
    ANd you also not worship what I worship!ANd I (again) don’t worship what you worship!And you (again) not worship what I worship!For you your religion, and for me mine!”

    May Peace be Upon You

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    You describe a number of ways in which Islam challenges the human rights notions of the West, but when you say, to Muslims, this is the way, or Muslims believe this, I must ask, according to who? Which school of jurisprudence (Madhab) should Muslims rely on? The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, who belongs to the Shafi’i school which is the most priminent Madhab in Malaysia, has argued that it is not permissible to execute a Muslim who converts to Christianity (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7355515.stm). It is only certain Hadith, and not the Quran, which says apostasy should be punished with death, and the Quran says that “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:257). So I don’t understand the basis on which you can assert clearly that Islam says that someone who leaves Islam to become Christian must be killed.

  • I think Zak makes an important point, but even assuming it to be the case that Islam clearly states that apostates must be executed and theives must have their hands cut off, the disconnect here is that Catholics and Muslims have very different ideas of what God’s will is in regards to these matters.

    Clearly, if a Muslim believes that is God’s will that someone who leaves Islam and becomes Christian be killed, and if as a Catholic I believe that it is God’s will that that Muslim become Christian, then from my point of view if I did not attempt to twart that Islamic justice I would be violating God’s will. I’m not sure if perhaps this is different in Islam, but from my point of view as a Catholic God’s will applies to all people, not just members of one religion. So the fact that something is according to the tenets of Islam does not put it beyond the realm of critique. (I would assume that it is the same for you, that if as a Catholic I wanted to do something you believed was contrary to God’s will you’d see it as best to stop me.)

    And since I’m not really in a position to say what Islam should say from an internal perspective, I’m likely to look most kindly on those interpretations of Islam which clash least with my own understanding of God’s will.

    I don’t necessarily see an easy way around these difficulties, as we have very different ideas about God’s revelation to humanity. However it’s unquestionably a very good thing that we are able to discuss these things calmly and with charity towards each others beliefs.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Dear friends, People of the Book,

    I think in trying to get the ultimate decision on how do we built that bridge which can link both the world of Islam and the Western Institution is by respecting each others rights and believes.

    We certainly never force our believe to the people who are not of the same faith. Thus, we expect others to treat us the same as well.

    About the differences of Mazhab (jurisprudence), they are different in interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith only. The fundamental beliefs are still the same. The situation is just the same like in Christianity, where you have Catholics, Methodist, Protestants, Seventh Day Adventist and such. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Islam does not against any religions. In fact, during the reign of the Caliphate Al Rashidun, to the Abbasids, Umaiyyads, Fatimids, and the Ottomans, other religions are still flourished and secured, even when they were ruled by an Islamic Caliphate.In fact, even when we are labeled to be anti-Semitic, the Jewish people were treated accordingly under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate.It is not the Muslims, who initiate Hollocaust, if there were any.

    Yes, in the Quran, it is stated that there is no compulsion in religion.I beg you not to take this out of context because it means that if the people doesn’t want to accept Islamic teaching, then it is ok. Just as I said earlier, we have never force our religious belief unto other people of other religions.

    And for your information, what the Mufti of Egypt was saying is about the People of the Book. Which means the original believers of the faith that was brought by Prophet Moses and Jesus Christ.These people are considered to be believers of the same faith as Islam.
    I am sorry if my words would hurt you but in our point of view, the religion of Judaism and Christianity nowadays have been corrupted by some people with certain interests. Again, I apologize for that matter.

    Again, I would like to express here that Islam are not against any other religions. I have stated earlier that “For you your religion, and for me mine”.Thus, we expect with high gratitude that people of other religion would respect us, as much as we do respect them.

    The problem we face nowadays between the Islamic world and the Western cultures would not arise if both parties respect and embrace each others opinions and beliefs.We should not take that any of our ides as greater, or supreme than the other one. We should not see it from only one side of perspectives.

    To be honest. we Muslims despise the hedonist culture brought by Western Cultures. But we never condemn them as to attack any of these Western countries just because what they believe (total free speech and free will).

    And I would like to disassociate Islam with terrorism, which has been promoted by the Western media upon us.
    Islam is not Al-Qaeda. Islam is not Abu Sufyan.
    Islam is peace.Yes, Allah allows us to fight our enemies, and to be in war with our enemies, but there are actually guide lines to doing so. If we are in a war, we are not suppose to kill children, women, old folks, religious people in any home of worships,surrendered people, people without arms, livestocks, trees, animals and such. We are not allowed to ruin places of worship, regardless of any religion they are belong to.We are just required to fight those people who would not surrender, who fought us ( the armies). We are not suppose to harm civilians.

    We are not Al-Qaeda. We are not Abu Sufyan. We are not the Talibans.

    But we certainly support those people who fights because of protecting their home, their land, their country.In Islam, it is a major sin if we fled the battlefield while fighting for our home and country.
    Patriotism is highly regarded in Islam.

    But I should warn the West not to put us under pressure. We are peace loving people, but as peaceful as we are, we certainly would retaliate if we were attacked!Just as any civil society would do if their home and country being attacked for whatever reasons!

    Thus, I call for all people to unite regardless of what religion you belong to, because the bottom is we are all humans. And humanity should be upheld in whatever conditions.

    Salam Aalay Kum.
    Peace Be Upon You.

  • Kamarul Azhar: Thank you for joining in this conversation. I would like to know how Islam honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as you probably know is also very important to Catholics. It is my understanding that Mary is mentioned in the Quran, and that the Prophet himself said she was one of the most blessed women in Paradise.

    Many years ago I was told that devotion to Mary was something Catholics and Muslims had in common and might help bring about peace between the two faiths. Do you, as a Muslim, believe this is possible?

    Thank you, and peace be upon you!

  • Dear Ms Krewer,

    Yes, we do honor Mary (Maryam) as one of the most blessed women in history, and she is guaranteed a throne in the highest of all Heavens (Jannatul Firdausi), along with most Prophets, from Adam until Mohammad (peace be upon them).

    Mary was an “abid”. In those years, our Faith allows people to be highly devoted to only praying for the God.Mary is one of them.When she was conceived by her mother, initially her mother wanted a Son, so that he could be an “abid”.But after she gave birth to a daughter, her mother was praying so hard to God, and eventually God sent a revelation, saying that the baby girl (Mary), worth more than thounsands of Sons.

    So, Mary was raised by a Prophet, Zechariah.She was made an abid, and believed to be the most “sacred” of all Virgins.This is because as an abid, she had few interactions with anyone, let alone a Man.So, she is “pure” of all sins.

    Then, one day a Man came to her. She was terrified. Later, the Man told her that He wasn’t any Man. In fact, He was the Angel Gabriel.The Archangel. He told Mary that he got good tidings for her, that she was about to conceive a baby, whom one day would become a great man. Mary was confused, because she had never being touched by a Man before, then how could she possibly be pregnant?Then the Angel told her that it was God’s will that she got pregnant, not by any Men.

    But in Islam, we believe that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God. In fact, he was created by God, just as Adam was made, not begotten by God Himself. This is the different between Islam and Christianity beliefs.

    In Islam, God is one. God is Eternal. God has no Parents nor Children.

    Thank you.
    Salam Aalay Kum.

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    Thank you for sharing that bit on the Blessed Virgin. Many Christian prelates believe we can share in our devotion of Mary as a bridge towards peaceful coexistence and dialogue. Many Marian shrines across the world are visited by Muslims in great numbers to show their respects for her. It is a fascinating subject and one that can be fleshed out more among leading theologians from both the Christian and Islamic worlds.

    We also agree that God is one with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God since all time. We do have differences of approach, but Christians are monotheists as with our older brothers the Jews and with Muslims.

    Pax vobiscum,

    Tito

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    Selamat datang. Saya tidak bisa berbicara dalam Bahasa Melayu, tapi saya tinggal di Indonesia selama beberapa bulan. Berbicara dalam Bahasa Indonesia sedikit. Yang itu agak serupa, ya?

    Terima kasih karena berkunjung. (Ma’af untuk kesalahan saya!)

  • Oh: Tito benar. Agama katolik menyatakan satu Tuhan. Doktrin Trinity tidak menunjukkan tiga tuhan!

  • Mr.J Christian,

    Sudah semestinya saya bisa memahami Bahasa Indonesia. Lagian, kitakan serumpun Bangsa. Akan tetapi, adalah lebih elok jika kita hanya berbicara dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Kan lebih mudah difahami oleh semuanya.

    Thus, from all of our discussions earlier I can conclude that we Muslims and Christians has a lot in common. So why don’t we share these commonness to bring our two worlds closer so that more ties and relations can be fostered.

    We shouldn’t see one beliefs as greater than the other. I say, stick to our own beliefs, but never question others beliefs. If we are very devoted and have good faith in our religions, thus we shoudn’t be scared or tempted by other faiths.

    I have explained the position of Jesus Christ in Islam. And that is my belief. You may either accept it or not.

    But, i would like to know what is the position of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) in this sacred religion of Catholicism? I have had some discussions wth my Catholics friend in Malaysia, and they said there is someone mentioned in the Bible as “the comforter”. They said, he could be Prophet Muhammad.

    It could be because in the Quran, Allah has mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad is to bring Good News to all mankind. So He could be this “comforter” mentioned in the Bible.

    Is it true?Maybe anyone can clarify this?

    Salam Aalay Kum.

  • Kamarul has very eloquently and respectfully highlighted the difficulty that Christians must recognize in finding a path to peace with Islam.

    The crux of the problem is this: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2: 256). Until all of Islam reconciles with that statement of the Koran, there will be no peace for those in and around Islamic states. Until this sura applies to those who wish to leave the religion, women who wish to be educated, or drive a car, or have coffee at a “co-ed” Starbucks, then there is no peace. Until many people don’t have to die as a result of a cartoon or the pope alluding to a violent nature in Islam, there is no peace.

  • Dear Matt,

    You seem to be urging the Muslim community to conformed with the Western norms. Until no party have to be doing what you just did, there will be no reconciliation between the Muslim world and the West.

    Again, I beg all of you, not to misinterpret the Quran. Misinterpretation of the Quran and the history of Islam such as by the Pope Himself has been known to spark hatred and anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.

    The Quran says, Let there be no compulsion in religion, only to those non-Muslims who has been given explaination and preachings about Islam, yet they don’t want to convert to Islam, then there is no compulsion upon them. This does not apply to Muslims, who already are Muslims, who were born Muslims, and yet they want to renounce the religion!I hope I have had this issue clarified.

    Of course women can be educated!I also have stated earlier in my many comments here about the compulsion of learning!The first revelation by God to The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) is about learning.And it applies to all Muslims and Muslimah.
    “Read!By the name of thy God who creathed”
    The issue here is because some institution of learning, especially in the West, they don’t allow the Muslimah students to be wearing hijab, or simply head-scarfs to cover their heads!This is the main discrimination by the West upon Islam. To observe one aurat (areas to be covered by Muslims and Muslimah) is compulsory in Islam!Please understand our religion more before you made any commentary, sir!

    Of course women are allowed to drive a car!As long as she observes her aurat, and the intention of the journey is pure, and allowed by her mahram (care taker), than it is OK!You might refer to some jurisdiction like in Saudi Arabia where women are prohibited to drive, that is because in Saudi, the situation is rough. There are highway robbers like everywhere. Thus, in order to protect these women from any harm, and from any evil-intentions, they prohibit their women from driving alone.

    Please, not every community is the same like the Western community. We have to understand the culture, and sensitivity of the people of that particular place.Yet, we should always observe revelations by God as the utmost sacred rules and guidance.
    Like in Malaysia, our women enjoy the same privilege with their men counterparts. It is not because of Western modernization, mind you, but it is because of the mind set and the pure intentions of our founding fathers, who successfully interpret and adapt the teaching of Islam into our daily modern day.

    You don’t simply put the case of the Cartoon which portrays our beloved Prophet Muhammad as “just mere cartoons”!In Islam, we are prohibited to paint the image of the Prophets, angels, and God.The painting itself is an insult to us, let alone the false accusations made by the author upon Prophet Muhammad!
    What would you feel if someone insults Jesus Christ?You surely would retaliate right?

    Please, do not take Quran out of context, and please be more undrstanding towards Islam. And if you couldn’t, just don’t comment, because it is not your place to say anything that you know nothing of.

    Salam Aalay Kum.
    Peace be upon you.

  • Kamarul,

    you further highlight my point. While Catholics can agree that everyone must follow their religious obligations, we do not believe that anyone can be physically harmed by rape, beatings, or beheaded for straying or leaving their faith.

    the history of Islam such as by the Pope Himself has been known to spark hatred and anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.

    The pope implies their is a nature of violence within Islam results in massive violence by Muslims, and you say that the pope makes an error of history?

    What would you feel if someone insults Jesus Christ?You surely would retaliate right?

    Christ set the example in this case when he turned the other cheek to the Roman soldier who slapped him. While attacks on Christ are offensive to us, violence is not the appropriate response.

    I do recognize that not all Islamic nations apply sharia uniformly, but as you said, Muslims agree that it is acceptable to physically punish men and especially women who stray from the religious observance.

    I understand all I need to about Islam. THere will be no peace with Islam until Islam accepts that there is NO compulsion in religion, and that includes compulsion against “infidels”, those who stray or those who wish to depart the religion.

  • Matt,

    “The pope implies their is a nature of violence within Islam results in massive violence by Muslims, and you say that the pope makes an error of history?”

    I thought the same thing when that happened… as if they were saying, “we’re going to show you how wrong you are about Islam being a religion of violence by having a violent protest!”

  • Thank you, Mr. Azhar, for sharing your thoughts on Mary. You confirmed something I had heard but wasn’t quite sure was true — that Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus even though they regard Jesus as a prophet and not the Son of God.

    It is also my understanding that in the early centuries of Islam, from about 1000 to 1300 A.D. or so, Muslims (Moors) in Spain lived pretty much in peace with Christians and Jews, and developed a thriving intellectual and artistic culture. Muslim/Arab scholars made great strides in medicine and other sciences and invented the numbering system we use today (Arabic numerals). Imagine trying to do algebra (itself another Arabic term!) with Roman numerals — “if Train I travels CXL miles at LX miles per hour and Train II travels CXC miles at LXX miles per hour, which train will arrive first?”.

    So my next question is: what happened to the Muslim intellectual culture? Does it still exist anywhere today? Why did it seemingly disappear, and can anything be done to bring it back?

  • Elaine,

    The peace that existed in Spain at the period you mentioned is arguable. If there was peace it was one-way where Muslims lived in peace and Christians were 2nd class citizens.

    The numbering system was actually invented in India where the numbering system and algebra were invented by Hindus living under Islamic rule. It was transmitted via the Islamic caliphate to Spain where Christians were unaware of their origins so they attributed this to the Arabs incorrectly.

    As far as the disappearance of Muslim intellectual culture is concerned, some of it can be attributed to the finality of the Koran. The Koran is the final word of God and nothing else is needed because God gave final instruction in the Koran. This is mostly along the lines of Sunni thought and varies to degree in parts of the Muslim world where Sunni’s live.

  • Spanish History is one of my passions. 1100-1300 witnessed Spain in turmoil with the Almoravides and Almohades invasions from North Arica and the ongoing Christian reconquista. Some Christian kingdoms and Moorish kingdoms in Spain would sometimes be in temporary peace or temporary alliances, but overall this was a time of war.

  • One must also be reminded how exactly Islam “surged” from the Arabian peninsula to take over the Byzantine Empire, ultimately to Spain, Southern Italy and the Balkans. It was not the way that Christianity spread I assure you.

    Reading the Koran in context means understanding that the earlier sura’s were written while Muhammad did not possess power, while the later ones which under Islamic theology override, he had political and military power. The later sura’s describe the treatment of infidels who refuse to submit (dhimmitude) under Islamic rule, and the strategy of making tactical treaties with non-Islamic rule, but strictly temporary ones to allow time to consolidate power.

Thomas Merton, American Catholic

Thursday, November 13, AD 2008

merton_woodsBy way of Carl Olson comes Can You Trust Thomas Merton? – an evaluation of the Trappist monk and contemplative Thomas Merton which appears in This Rock, by Dr. Anthony E. Clark.

As with most critical evaluations of Merton, Clark mentions some by-now-familiar pieces of controversy in Merton’s life — His fathering a child during his hedonistic and womanizing years in Cambridge, where to quote him directly, he “labored to enslave myself in the bonds of my own intolerable disgust” and his on-again, off-again relationship with his superior, abbot Dom James Fox.

But it is not so much Merton’s “sins of the flesh” which are perceived as a danger (something which even the greatest saints were certainly not immune — is it more than coincidence that Merton’s Hindu friend Brahmachari would recommend Augustine’s Confessions?) as his exploration of the world’s religions, particularly Buddhism, the character of which, according to Dr. Clark, “often appears more like replacement than rapprochement.”

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16 Responses to Thomas Merton, American Catholic

  • Nice post!

  • Very good.

    On the central coast of California, there is a garish hotel on Highway 101 that is famous for its, uh, men’s bathroom and themed rooms, among other things; the bizarre men’s bathroom attracts the curious attention of even women, and it’s a natural place to stop on your way up the highway – I have used the bathroom several times. I was astonished to discover that Thomas Merton stopped there during a trip through California in the late 1960’s. From the October 8th, 1968, entry in Thomas Merton’s Journal, Volume 7 (1967-68) titled “The Other Side of the Mountain”:

    “A feeling of over-saturation with talk, food, drink, movement,
    sensations. The Madonna Inn on the road (US 101) outside San Luis
    Obispo exemplifies the madness of it. A totally extravagant creation,
    a disneyland motel, impossible fairy caves, a waterfall that starts in
    the urinal when you piss on the beam of an electric eye, a hostess
    with a skirt so short her behind was almost showing.” (page 199)

  • Some of you younger folks were just twinkles in your parents’ eyes during 1968. You tought 2008 was crazy. 1968 was ca-ray-zee. Protests and acid rock (mostly pretty good I must say) and deep deep societal convulsions. Of course, the year poor Pope Paul VI was fried and parboiled for Humanae Vitae- a prophetic document if ever there was one. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4 of that year. Thomas Merton died six months and six days later. If ever any historic figures could trigger spasms of If Only They Had Lived, it would be these two major religious leaders who passed away during The Really Crazy Year. Merton made it easy for religious leaders to show weaknesses. To demonstrate that even saints wrestle with demons, past mistakes, deep fears. Clearly shown in the recently published memoirs of Mother Teresa. But look at his proteges. For Dr. King, the REV-rund JACK-sonnnnn. For Merton, all manner of religious dissidents and wackadoos. Maybe they could have shaped and developed those following them with effectiveness. Would coulda shoulda. Bad enough they both died during The Really Really Crazy Year.

  • Christopher,

    Fine post.

    I like this part from Thomas Merton, “I think, then, that in our eagerness to go out to modern man and meet him on his own ground, accepting him as he is, we must also be truly what we are.”

    We must be truly aware of who we are. I know too many Catholics that go to far in throwing out the best of being a Catholic just so they could retain “respect” with the modern man.

  • Had he lived longer, he would have become a traditionalist.

    When you read his works, sure, he explores Buddhism, Zen, the Sufis. He makes statements that were certainly regrtettable (though not in any way out-of-the ordinary in the sixties and, let’s face it, even at his worst he was more orthodox than most of our bihsops form then until the present).

    But Merton not only “said mass every day”, he said it in Latin, though the rule shad broken down by then and lots of experimentation was going on, even before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. I think, when that came out, Merton would have resisted the change. In his last days he records how disturbed he was at the idea of saying mass in the vernacular.

  • Except for THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN I’ve never read anything by Merton. One does wonder what a person who so casually concludes that He was unorthodox would do with St Justin the Martyr: “Whatever all men have uttered aright is the property of us Christians.”

  • In his last days he records how disturbed he was at the idea of saying mass in the vernacular.

    There’s a caustic notation in one of his journals about a progressive priest who, surprised that his congregation still said the rosary, escorted them into the woods and had the parishioners bury them, “in the spirit of Vatican II.”

    It’s not clear whether Merton was speaking figuratively or referring to an actual incident that occurred. Given the horror stories of that era, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it actually happened.

  • I pray for the conversion of the Spirit of Vatican 2 crowd. We need them in our struggle with the secular world.

  • I pray for the conversion of the Spirit of Vatican 2 crowd. We need them in our struggle with the secular world.

    This is reactionary, ecclesial fortress thinking, foreign to the spirit of Catholicism. An authentic interpretation of VII does not see the “secular world” as something to fully embrace (as the priest in Blosser’s example) or to fully reject (as in the case of Tito Edwards).

    Read more De Lubac, Tito.

  • MI:

    I think there’s a difference between the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd that Tito’s talking about, and those who, as you say, authentically interpret VII. The SoVII crowd are almost the mirror image of the SSPXII (lots of abbreviations tonight, I know) folk. Both have distorted the meaning of Vatican II in their own ways.

  • MI – I agree with crankycon. Tito is referring to Catholics who use Vatican II (or, more precisely, its ‘spirit,’ since the documents are tiresome to cite) as a license to create a new Catholicism in their own image. Pope Benedict XVI has frequently decried this approach. It generally begins by describing Vatican II as a radical break with traditional Catholicism, then casts about for ways to establish a ‘new’ and ‘relevant’ Catholicism.

  • MI,

    I like the Vatican II documents and truly believe in their implementation. I don’t like how they have been hijacked by well-meaning Catholics who projected on them what they ‘thought’ were the actual interpretations.

    What Crankycon & JH said.

  • Tito, John, CrankyCon,

    I realize the “Spirit of VII” types that Tito is apparently critiquing, and I agree with that critique. But I am concerned about his follow-up statement that “We need them in our struggle with the secular world,” which to me sounds like a repudiation of VII. Our struggle, as Catholics, is not against the “secular world.” We affirm grace and the presence of the Reign of God wherever we find it. Our struggle is against sin, against the anti-Reign, and against the culture of death.

  • Just and FYI…that picture that you put next to the Jim Forest quote is actually a photo of his former secretary – Br Patrick Hart, OCSO.

  • Thanks for the tip, Kristen — have amended my error.

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