Catholic Respect for Islam
Pope Francis Tears at History’s Walls against Islam
FEBRUARY 27, 2017
BY RAYMOND IBRAHIM
Pope Francis continues to argue for two interrelated points that, while
seemingly humane, compromise Western nations and expose their citizens
He reiterated his first point earlier this month when he said, “I
appeal not to create walls but to build bridges.” Francis has made this
appeal frequently, both figuratively (when imploring Western nations
not to close their doors against more incoming Muslim migrants) and
literally (for instance by characterizing Donald Trump’s proposal to
build a U.S.-Mexico wall as “not Christian”).
Francis reiterated his second point a few days ago when he said,
“Muslim terrorism does not exist.” His logic is that, because there are
Christians who engage in criminal and violent activities—and yet no one
blames Christianity for their behavior — so too should Islam not be
blamed when Muslims engage in criminal and violent activities.
In this, the Catholic pope appears unable or unwilling to make the
pivotal distinction between violence committed in accordance with
Islamic teachings, and violence committed in contradiction of Christian
But there’s another relevant and often overlooked irony: every morning
Francis wakes up in the Vatican and looks out his window, he sees a
very large and concrete reminder that gives the lie to both his
argument against walls and his argument in defense of Islam. I speak of
the great walls surrounding Vatican City, more specifically the Leonine
Context: A couple of years after Islamic prophet Muhammad died in 632,
his followers erupted out of Arabia and conquered surrounding
non-Muslim lands in the name of Islam. In a few decades, they had
annexed two-thirds of what was in the 7th century Christendom. They
took all of the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain, until they were
finally stopped at Tours in central France (732). By the late
9thcentury, jihadi incursions had transformed the Mediterranean Sea
into a Muslim lake; the major islands — Sicily, Crete, Rhodes, Malta,
Cyprus — were conquered, and the European coast was habitually raided
for booty and slaves.
According to the most authoritative and contemporary Muslim chroniclers
— al-Waqidi, al-Baladhuri, al-Tabari, al-Maqrizi, etc. — all this was
done because Islam commands Muslims to subjugate and humiliate
It was in this context that, in 846, Muslim fleets from North Africa
landed near Rome. Unable to breach the walls of the Eternal City, they
sacked and despoiled the surrounding countryside, including — to the
consternation of Christendom — the venerated and centuries-old
basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Muslim invaders desecrated the
tombs of the revered apostles and stripped them of all their treasures.
Pope Leo IV (847-855) responded by building large walls and
fortifications along the right bank of the Tiber to protect the sacred
sites from further Muslim raids. Completed by 852, the walls were in
places 40 feet high and 12 feet thick.
Further anticipating the crusades against Islam by over two centuries —
and thus showing how they were a long time coming — Pope Leo decreed
that any Christian who died fighting Muslim invaders would enter
heaven. After him and for the same reasons, Pope John VIII offered
remission of sins for those who died fighting Islamic invaders. Such
was the existential and ongoing danger Muslims caused for Christian
Europe — more than two centuries before Pope Urban’s call for the First
Crusade in 1095.
Today, many Muslims, not just of the ISIS variety, continue to boast
that Islam will conquer Rome, the only of five apostolic sees — the
other four being Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople —
never to have been subjugated by jihad. Similarly, Muslims all
throughout Europe continue exhibiting the same hostility and contempt
for all things and persons non-Islamic, whether by going on church
vandalizing sprees and breaking crosses, or by raping “infidel” women
as theirs by right.
In short, Pope Leo’s walls prove Pope Francis wrong on both counts:
yes, walls are sometimes necessary to preserve civilization; and yes,
Islam does promote violence and intolerance for the other — far more
than any other religion. This fact is easily discerned by examining the
past and present words and deeds of Muslims, all of which evince a
remarkable and unwavering continuity of hostility against “infidels.”
Perhaps most ironic of all, had it not been for Pope Leo’s walls — and
so many other Christian walls, such as Constantinople’s, which kept
Islam out of Europe for centuries, and Vienna’s, which stopped a
full-blown jihad as recent as 1683 — there might not be a pope today to
pontificate about how terrible walls are and how misunderstood Islam
is. And when Francis accuses those who build walls of not being
Christian, as he did of Trump, he essentially accuses men like Pope Leo
IV — who did so much to protect and preserve Christendom at a time when
Islam was swallowing up the world — of being no Christians at all.
Pope Francis: ‘Muslim Terrorism Does Not Exist’
by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.
17 Feb 2017
In an impassioned address Friday, Pope Francis denied
the existence of Islamic terrorism, while simultaneously asserting that
“the ecological crisis is real.”
“Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist,
and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist,” Francis said
in his speech to a world meeting of populist movements.
What he apparently meant is that not all Christians are terrorists and
not all Muslims are terrorists—a fact evident to all—yet his words also
seemed to suggest that no specifically Islamic form of terrorism exists
in the world, an assertion that stands in stark contradiction to
“No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent,” Francis said,
while also suggesting—as he has on other occasions—that terrorism is
primarily a result of economic inequalities rather than religious
beliefs. “The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence yet,
without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and
conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and will eventually
The Pope also reiterated his conviction that all religions promote
peace and that the danger of violent radicalization exists equally in
“There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and
religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger
because they feed on hate and xenophobia,” he said.
While denying the existence of Islamic terrorism, Francis also seemed
to condemn the denial of global warming, asserting that “the ecological
crisis is real.”
“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently
witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system,” he said.
We know “what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of
Nature,” the Pope said. “Let us not fall into denial. Time is running
out. Let us act. I ask you again—all of you, people of all backgrounds
including native people, pastors, political leaders—to defend Creation.”
While acknowledging that science is not “the only form of knowledge,”
and that “science is not necessarily ‘neutral’” and often “conceals
ideological views or economic interests,” he still insisted that people
of good will should not oppose “scientific consensus” regarding global
Leftist media like the liberal Guardian in the U.K. immediately
politicized the speech, predictably claiming that the Pope was backing
“anti-Trump protests,” despite the fact that the Pope himself denied
such a claim, explicitly declaring that “I am not speaking of anyone in
“I am not speaking of anyone in particular, I am speaking of a social
and political process that flourishes in many parts of the world and
poses a grave danger for humanity,” he said.
Moreover, although the Guardian claimed that the Pope was “condemning
populism,” in point of fact, he was speaking to populist movements and
praised their commitment to democracy.
“The direction taken beyond this historic turning-point,” Francis said,
“will depend on people’s involvement and participation and, largely, on
yourselves, the popular movements.”
Nevertheless, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro
Parolin, said Monday that the Holy See is concerned over growing
populist and nationalist movements, both in Europe and in the United
In an interview for the Italian evening news on the state-owned RAI
network, the Cardinal was asked whether the Vatican is worried about
what the interviewer called “the spread of nationalism and populism not
only in Europe but also in the United States with Donald Trump.”
“I think so, I think so,” Parolin said. “Certainly these closings are
not a good sign,” since many of them “are born of fear, which is not a
In his address Friday, the Pope denounced “the guise of what is
politically correct or ideologically fashionable,” which he described
as a “hypocritical attitude,” while urging real solutions to
unemployment, corruption, the identity crisis, and “the gutting of
“The system’s gangrene cannot be whitewashed forever because sooner or later the stench becomes too strong,” he said.
Pope embraces Al-Azhar imam in sign of renewed relations
May 23, 2016
By NICOLE WINFIELD
The Associated Press
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Monday embraced the grand imam of
Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, reopening an
important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull
and at a time of increased Islamic extremist attacks on Christians.
As Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib arrived for his audience in the Apostolic
Palace, Francis said that the fact that they were meeting at all was
“The meeting is the message,” Francis told the imam.
The meeting came five years after the Cairo-based Al-Azhar froze talks
with the Vatican to protest comments by then-Pope Benedict XVI.
Benedict had demanded greater protection for Christians in Egypt after
a New Year’s bombing on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria killed
21 people. Since then, Islamic attacks on Christians in the region have
only increased, but the Vatican and Al-Azhar nevertheless sought to
rekindle ties, with a Vatican delegation visiting Cairo in February and
extending the invitation for el-Tayyib to visit.
Francis and el-Tayyib spoke privately for 25 minutes in the pope’s
private library, bidding each other farewell with an embrace. El-Tayyib
and his delegation then had talks with the Vatican cardinal in charge
of interreligious dialogue.
The Vatican said the meeting held a “great significance” for
Catholic-Muslim dialogue. In a statement, spokesman the Rev. Federico
Lombardi said Francis and el-Tayyib discussed the need for “authorities
and the faithful of the world’s great religions to show a common
commitment to peace in the world.”
They also discussed the rejection of violence and extremism, and the
plight of Christians “in the context of conflicts and tensions in the
Mideast and their protection,” the statement said.
After the audience, el-Tayyib travels to Paris to open a Muslim-Catholic conference on East-West relations.
The Vatican’s relations with Islam hit several bumps during Benedict’s
papacy. He outraged Muslims with a 2006 speech quoting a Byzantine
emperor as saying some of the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings were “evil
and inhuman.” The subsequent suspension of talks with Al-Azhar
institutionalized the bad blood.
El-Tayyib, however, sent a message of congratulations to Francis upon
his 2013 election and said he hoped for renewed cooperation. Francis
responded, and has made clear over the course of his three-year
pontificate that relations with Islam are a top priority.
In a recent interview with the French Catholic newspaper La Croix,
Francis took a conciliatory line toward Islam, saying “I sometimes
dread the tone” when people refer to Europe’s “Christian” roots.
“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of
Islam,” he said. But he added that Christianity, too, had its
“triumphalist” undertones. “It is also possible to interpret the
objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all
nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”
He added that when looking to the causes of Islamic extremism, it is
better to “question ourselves about the way in an overly Western model
of democracy has been exported.”
PRO-JIHAD HATEMONGER ADDRESSES CATHOLIC SCHOOL KIDS
Exclusive: Pamela Geller reports on terror-group-linked Muslim's speech to student body
Despite the continuing Muslim genocide of Christians in the Middle East
and Africa, American Catholic leaders continue not only to turn a blind
eye to jihad terror and the persecution of their fellow Christians, but
are actively aiding and abetting the forces that are persecuting them.
Last month, the entire student body of St. Petersburg Catholic High
School in St. Petersburg, Florida, was called together to hear a
deceptive presentation on “Islamophobia” from the notorious Ahmed
Bedier, who openly supports the jihad terror group Hezbollah and has
worked for the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations
Bedier’s address was ostensibly about fighting the supposedly rising
level of “Islamophobia”; he also offered what he presented as a primer
on Islamic culture. In it, he blamed the U.S. for ISIS, claiming that
the bloodthirsty caliphate arose because we bombed innocent civilians
in Iraq. He also called out Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, white people,
Jews, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ben Carson – all as examples of
Muslim-haters – while proselytizing for Islam.
Bedier compared a Jewish podiatrist with Osama bin Laden, claiming that
this podiatrist had weapons in his house and was planning to attack an
Islamic center. He didn’t address the disparity between this one
alleged attacker and bin Laden’s worldwide terror network. He dismissed
the jihad terror group ISIS, which controls a territory larger than
Great Britain and has attracted 30,000 foreign jihadis to its ranks, as
“a few people.” He blamed the rise of ISIS on Syria’s Assad, claiming
that when people demonstrated for freedom, Assad bombed the protesters
and insisted that we are overstating the threat of Islamic terror
groups, especially ISIS. We are spending too much on security and war,
he said, and declared that we should be spending that money on
The real problem, said Bedier, is anti-Muslim bigotry. “Islamophobia,”
he said, is all over TV, and no one is challenging it. He said that
“Islamophobia” is just like anti-Semitism and the same thing will
happen: We’ll have a Holocaust. He didn’t mention that FBI statistics
show that anti-Semitic attacks are much more common than attacks on
innocent Muslims. Nor did he address the Islamic texts and teachings
jihadis use to justify violence.
Bedier also falsified history, claiming falsely that “Muslims were here
even before America was founded.” He said that “some of Columbus’
navigators were Muslims – because he was from Portugal, and Portugal
and Spain were controlled by and were led by Muslims for over 700 years
until the Inquisitions happened. You can read more about that.” And if
you do, you’ll discover that no Muslims accompanied Columbus. And to be
completely accurate, it must be noted that Muslims did in fact play a
role in early America – America fought its first and second foreign
wars against the Barbary Pirates, who were Muslim jihad raiders, as
memorialized in the Marine Hymn, “to the shores of Tripoli.” The first
mosque wasn’t established in the U.S. until 1915, and relatively few
mosques were founded before the 1960s, when the great hijrah to the
West began in earnest.
Bedier’s lies didn’t stop there. He said that when the Muslims ruled
Spain from the 700s until the 1490s, they allowed the Jews and
Christians to worship freely: “The society could continue to be a
Catholic society. Now compare that to what happened when the Europeans
came to America.” He said that in contrast to how good the Muslims in
Spain were to the Jews and Christians, it took a couple of hundred
years for the Europeans to exterminate the Native Americans and
eliminate them from their lands. He said: “Now they are limited to
casinos.” This is nonsense. In reality, Jews and Christians could only
live in peace in Muslim Spain if they submitted to Muslim hegemony,
paid the jizya tax, and accepted the humiliating and discriminatory
regulations that ensured their second-class status.
Bedier asked the 350 assembled students if they thought it would be
fair to be called terrorists because of what Timothy McVeigh did,
falsely connecting McVeigh with Catholicism and Christianity, which of
course is erroneous since McVeigh was not a Christian at the time of
the Oklahoma City bombing. And besides, no one is calling all Muslims
terrorists anyway. He also showed the students pictures of Ahmed the
Clock Boy in handcuffs, telling the kids how the incident of his fake
clock/bomb and arrest showed anti-Muslim bigotry. He claimed that three
Muslims had been murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, by an
“Islamophobe,” when actually the killer was a deranged man who was
enraged over a parking dispute.
“Islamophobia” is not limited just to Trump and Carson, Bedier said. It
also comes from the media. He challenged what he claimed were false
media portrayals of Islam: Shariah, he said, is basically a code of
ethics. He didn’t mention that it’s a code of ethics that calls for
stoning for adultery, amputation of the hand for theft, the denial of
equal rights to women and non-Muslims, and restrictions on speech. He
claimed that there was no compulsion in Islam and that women were not
forced to cover their heads. Tell that to Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered
by her father and brother for refusing to wear the hijab – and the
innumerable other girls and women who have been similarly victimized.
By contrast to this supposed freedom from compulsion in Islam, he
claimed that “secularism is a religion in Europe” and that Europe
imposes its secularism on people of faith.
When he was asked if Muslim women have to walk a certain distance
behind men, Bedier answered: “This is some of the stereotypes. If the
women do happen walk behind the man, it’s not a protocol thing, it’s
just the men are silly and they walk ahead. I see a lot of white guys
walking ahead and their girls way behind. It doesn’t mean that he read
that is a protocol somewhere or he’s following his teachings, he’s just
being a guy. So it’s their male chauvinism. Yes, it exists worldwide.
It’s not because of the faith; it’s because men are not being
gentlemen.” This was ridiculous: He was relying on the ignorance of his
audience, counting on them not to know how Islam institutionalizes the
subjugation of women.
Bedier claimed that the only difference between Muslims and Christians
is the status of Jesus. “Jesus is a part of our faith,” he said.
“Muslims believe in Jesus, son of Mary” and that Jesus was born of a
virgin. “We don’t believe it because it’s popular,” he said, “we
believe it because it is written in the Quran.” He said that the Quran
was the only sacred book (other than the New Testament) that confirms
that Mary is from G-d – that Mary is the mother of Jesus, that there
was a virgin birth, and that Jesus is from G-d.
In a dig at Jews and Judaism, Bedier said: “As much as Ted Cruz and
others would like to talk about Judeo-Christian values, you realize the
Jewish faith did not accept Jesus Christ as the messiah, right? You
understand that? If the Jewish people accepted Jesus as the Messiah
then they would be Christian, correct? So for us, we accept Jesus and
the message of Jesus; the difference is that we don’t view Jesus as
divine or part divine, meaning we don’t believe Jesus is one with G-d
in the Holy Trinity.”
Bedier said that Muhammad was the founder of Islam, but that in the
Quran G-d talks about Jesus five times more than he talks about
Muhammad. “We believe that Mary is highly regarded. We have an actual
chapter in the Quran called Mary. My daughter is named Miriam after
Mary. Mary is very loved in the Quran by Muslims; we just don’t see her
as divine or that she somehow delivered G-d’s Son. We highly respect
Jesus. We follow his teachings and we believe Jesus will return before
the end of times. We don’t believe Muhammad is going to return at the
end of times, we believe that Jesus will actually return before the end
of times and will unite the believers together.”
This was open proselytizing for Islam, especially in light of the fact
that the students had certainly not studied Islam’s critique of
Christianity or been given any ways to counter it.
In sum, his presentation (unsurprisingly) was pure propaganda and
completely one-sided, and nothing short of a disgrace. No one should be
surprised by that. Bedier has a long history of extremely controversial
associations. According to Discover the Networks, as far back as 2002,
Bedier was the outreach director for the Islamic Society of Pinellas
County, “a mosque whose website features material calling for violence
against Jews. Moreover, he has cultivated relationships with
organizations and individuals connected to anti-Israel terrorist groups
overseas, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and
Hezbollah. In February 2003, Bedier began working as communications
director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR). This was subsequent to CAIR’s involvement in the
funding of Hamas, which had taken place prior to December 2001, at
which time Hamas’ American financing wing, the Holy Land Foundation for
Relief and Development (HLF), was shut down by the U.S. government.
Also in February 2003, the Tampa-based terrorist and former University
of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian was taken into custody by the
FBI – indicted for his leadership role within Palestinian Islamic
Jihad. Bedier became Al-Arian’s ‘unofficial spokesman,’ holding press
conferences where he voiced concern about the government’s treatment of
the professor, and allowing his radio program to be used as a
propaganda vehicle for al-Arian’s family and his PIJ colleagues.”
On his radio show, Bedier has given considerable airtime to guests who praised the jihad terror group Hezbollah.
Bedier’s association with CAIR is significant. It is a matter of public
record that CAIR is “an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror
funding case – so named by the Justice Department. CAIR operatives have
repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups.
Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes
related to jihad terror.
It is disgraceful that a Catholic school would host such an event, but
not surprising. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
recently launched a “National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue,” partnering
with pro-Shariah groups linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood: the
Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Society of North
America (ISNA). The pope insists that the Quran teaches peace. St.
Petersburg High School is just following along.
Still, its leaders should have more discernment and moral courage. The
principal of St. Petersburg High School is Father Richard Rosen; his
phone number is (727) 344-4065. Politely contact him and ask him why he
allowed someone with so many ties to terror as Bedier to address the
school. I called, but Rosen would not take my call. I was referred to
Sister Marie Daniel, the school’s marketing director, who confirmed
that Bedier’s presentation did happen and said she would try to have
someone get back to me. No one did, of course.
If Rosen had had the courage to take my call, I would have asked him these questions:
1. When you invited Bedier, were you aware of his connections with
CAIR, and of CAIR’s connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood –
established by the Department of Justice?
2. When you invited him, were you aware of his work as a spokesman for
Sami Al-Arian, an admitted leader of the terror group Palestinian
3. When you invited him, were you aware that he has featured supporters of the terror group Hezbollah on his radio show?
4. If you were not aware of those connections when you invited him, would you invite him again now that you know of them?
5. What were your impressions about what Bedier said? Do you endorse
his message – particularly his claim that “Islamophobia” is a
legitimate problem, rather than a term invented to intimidate people
into thinking it wrong to oppose jihad terror?
6. Do you plan to bring in a spokesman to discuss the reality of the
global jihad threat or the Muslim persecution of Christians? If not,
I hope Rosen will answer these questions. His students, and their
parents, deserve answers, rather than Islamic proselytizing followed by
ITALIAN ARCHBISHOP CALLING FOR CONSTRUCTION OF MOSQUE
March 11, 2016
By Juliana Freitag
The archbishop of Bologna, Italy is calling for the construction of a mosque in the city.
At a conference last week organized by the local Muslim community, Abp.
Matteo Maria Zuppi, recently appointed to head the archdiocese, seized
the opportunity to express his sympathy towards the Muslim community by
calling for a mosque to be built in Bologna.
He also asked for the accommodation of Muslim festivities in Italian
schools. Quoting Cdl. Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan — a cleric with
similar sympathies — Zuppi said, "I really think it's time for a mosque
in Bologna. Some people think otherwise but they are wrong."
"I also wish Islamic celebrations to be welcomed in schools," he added,
"as already requested by archbishop of Milan Angelo Scola."
Paraphrasing Pope Francis' controversial remarks regarding Republican
presidential candidate Donald Trump and his stance on immigration,
Zuppi added, "Those who say they stand for security usually create more
problems. ... To build walls only creates the illusion of security.
Walls are not equivalent to security."
Using another favorite metaphor among immigration-loving bishops, Zuppi
also asked for "the construction of bridges between cultures — to love
our communal house means to love it and leave it open to others, to
He continued, "We shouldn't be carried away by hateful generalizations,
like the comparison between Muslims and terrorists."
Zuppi's reflections are far distant from those of his predecessors.
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, previous head of the Bologna archdiocese and
founder of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, once
warned the faithful to be wary of the West's current integration
project of Middle-Eastern, largely Muslim migrants. Under his guidance,
the Bolognese Curia proposed a dialogue in 2015 with the Muslim
community regarding interpretations of the Koran that encourage
The late Cdl. Giacomo Biffi, archbishop of Bologna before Caffarra, was
a respected theologian known for being "extremely politically
incorrect," and some note that his prophecies about Europe either
returning to Christianity or surrendering to Islam were prescient for
Zuppi's comments came in response to the argument that Christian
churches are not welcome in the Islamic world. "This should push us to
work even harder to allow every believer to pray, and I am convinced
that among all believers we can find that unique sense of belonging,
that one God, which is named 'peace.'"
In contrast to Zuppi's enthusiasm, Virginio Merola, mayor of Bologna
and member of the Italian Democratic Party, is expressing greater
reserve. After years of aggressively pushing for a mosque in the city,
he backed down after public opposition, admitting he was "wrong about
So are other members of the party, including vice president of
Emilia-Romagna (the region to which Bologna serves as capital), who
doesn't regard a mosque as a priority, "especially because the Muslim
Community has declared this isn't urgent."
The newspaper Corriere della Sera is speculating that the politicians
are concerned that starting this discussion might affect local
elections in May, considering the public's strong hostility to the idea
of a mosque.
Conservative politicians reacted with caution to Abp. Zuppi's
statements, claiming it's impossible to open new mosques in Italy
without first establishing clear rules and a prior agreement between
the Muslim community and the State, as well as requiring that all imams
register. Several Muslim projects presented for regularization have
already been rejected by the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna.
Alan Fabbri, from the Northern League, said that this is not the right
historical moment to open mosques. "Zuppi should worry about the
reconstruction of the churches under his Curia affected by the 2012
earthquake, before worrying about the places of worship of other
religion," he remarked.
The Muslim community itself is responding with reservations. Yassine
Lafram, representative for the Bolognese Muslim community, made it
clear he isn't interested in discussing the construction of a mosque
before the upcoming elections to avoid the public backlash it would
engender, and that their community is more preoccupied with
"The starting point for us is to form good Bolognese citizens of Muslim
faith," Lafram explained. "We could consider the construction of a
mosque in the future, if the conditions are right. From our part we
make no presumptions."
On the other hand, Hassan Samid, representative of Young Muslims of
Ferrara, spoke warmly of the "interesting opening" from Zuppi, and used
the occasion to ask for a mosque in the town of Ferrara, within the
archdiocese of Bologna. When asked about the inclusion of Islamic
celebrations in school, he replied, "This could be discussed further,
but it might be a bit much. It'd be enough to recognize Muslims' right
to be absent from school and work during the two main festivities of
the Muslim Calendar."
Bishop challenges Catholics to combat 'ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry'
By Denis Grasska Catholic News Service
SAN DIEGO (CNS)
-- San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy is challenging U.S. Catholics to
take an active role in combating "the scourge of anti-Islamic
"We are witnessing in the United States a new nativism, which the
American Catholic community must reject and label for the religious
bigotry which it is," he said in a keynote address delivered Feb. 17 in
the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and
The evening event took place against the backdrop of the first national
Catholic-Muslim dialogue, which was held Feb. 17-18 at the Catholic
Last May, after more than 20 years of regional dialogues with
representatives of the U.S. Muslim community, the Committee on
Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops established a national Catholic-Muslim dialogue.
Motivated by the call of "Nostra Aetate," the Second Vatican Council's
declaration on the relationship between the Catholic Church and
non-Catholic faiths, the dialogue seeks to foster understanding and
collaboration between Catholics and Muslims. Chicago Archbishop Blase
J. Cupich has been named its first Catholic co-chairman.
In addition to Bishop McElroy's speech, the evening also featured a
keynote speech by Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic
Society of North America's Office for Interfaith and Community
Alliances, who reflected on the state of Catholic-Muslim relations from
the Muslim perspective.
A discussion with both men was conducted on stage by Ami Carpenter, an
associate professor at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, with
members of the audience invited to ask questions.
In his remarks, Bishop McElroy exhorted Catholics "to recognize and
confront the ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry" in the United States,
to actively seek relationships with Muslims on a personal level, to
accompany the Muslim community as it wrestles with religious liberty
issues, and to join with them "to witness to and fight for" a Middle
East where Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities can coexist
Bishop McElroy said U.S. Catholics should view with repugnance the
"repeated falsehoods" that Islam is inherently violent, that Muslims
seek to supplant the U.S. Constitution with sharia law, and that Muslim
immigration threatens "the cultural identity of the American people."
Such claims, he said, are strikingly reminiscent of the anti-Catholic
bigotry that was once prevalent in the United States.
However, the bishop's denunciation of prejudice does not signify a denial of the reality of terrorism.
"I want to underscore that it is not bigotry to fear or to combat the
violence and terror which some Muslims in the world have unleashed in
the name of faith," he explained, while acknowledging that some
Christians also have attempted to use their faith to justify acts of
Bishop McElroy also challenged U.S. Catholics to overcome the "patterns
of social segregation" that lead them to associate almost exclusively
with people from similar backgrounds. Because of this trend, he said,
many Americans do not have a significant friendship with a single
member of the Muslim faith.
"Religious bigotry thrives in an environment of social isolation," he
said. "Encounter, which leads to friendship and, thus, deeper
understanding, is the most important antidote to prejudice and bigotry."
Through such encounters, he said, Catholics may take inspiration from
the rich spirituality of the Muslim people, which includes the
centrality of daily prayer, a commitment to asceticism and an
understanding of "the immensity and the richness" of divine mercy.
Bishop McElroy reflected on the development of Catholic doctrine on the
subject of religious freedom and noted that it was once suggested that,
"in a (John F.) Kennedy presidency, it would be the pope who would
ultimately govern the United States." He said Catholics must speak out
against "distortions of Muslim theology and teaching on society and the
state, because these distortions are just as devastating in the present
day as the distortions of Catholic teaching ... which were disseminated
in American society in the 19th century."
He encouraged Catholics "to walk with the Muslim community" as it
reflects upon issues of religious liberty and the relationship between
church and state.
Before concluding his presentation, Bishop McElroy issued one last
challenge: Catholics and Muslims should work together toward a peaceful
future and an end to religious conflict. Praising Islam's respect for
"the peoples of the Book" -- its term for adherents of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam, each of which trace their lineage back to the
patriarch Abraham -- the bishop acknowledged the fear and grief that
has been caused by religious violence worldwide.
He called it "a terrible wound to the Christian community" that
Christians in the Middle East are facing "extinction" in a region that
has been there home for more than a millennium, while it is "a great
tragedy for the Muslim community" to see Muslim refugees denied safe
haven in Europe.
"This final challenge to the Catholic community in the United States,"
Bishop McElroy said, "is in reality a challenge to both the Catholic
and Muslim communities to walk in solidarity, witnessing, strategizing
and advancing public policy within the U.S. and within the Muslim world
to forge a secure future for all of the 'peoples of the Book' in the
Middle East and throughout the world."
In his own keynote presentation, Syeed noted that the first millennium
was marked by positive relations between Christianity and Islam, but
that changed in the millennium that followed, which included the
"The long stretch of endless confrontation between the two faiths
divided the world into a 'house of Islam' and a 'house of
Christianity,'" he said. "Such a division ... helped to establish
mutually destructive attitudes and stereotypes that shaped our
respective cultures and formed our individual consciences for
But "a new era of understanding and recognition" dawned during the
latter half of the 20th century, he said. "Nostra Aetate" was
instrumental in bringing an end to "the millennium of confrontation
between Islam and Christianity." This improved relationship, he said,
also has coincided with the emergence of a "vibrant Muslim community"
in the West.
Unfortunately, said Syeed, the Islamic State terrorist group has
reintroduced "the terminology of (the) Crusades era." It identifies
Christians as "crusaders" rather "people of the Book." The "antidote"
to the Islamic State philosophy, he said, comes through robust
Catholic-Muslim dialogue as well as the lived experience of Muslims in
He specifically cited his own organization, the Islamic Society of
North America, whose members have lived peacefully among American
Christians for more than 50 years. Living in a pluralistic society has
encouraged American Muslims to re-examine the original sources of Islam
and to reconsider some conventions that were adopted centuries later.
For instance, while women are prohibited from driving cars in Saudi
Arabia, Syeed explained, many American Muslims have taken a different
view on the subject, citing Muhammad's own exhortation that parents
train their sons and daughters to be good camel-drivers and applying
that directive to modern-day modes of transportation.
"'Nostra Aetate' and the Islamic practices of American Muslims have
thoroughly identified natural allies between the Abrahamic faiths and
other religious communities," he said. "This is the shape of a new
millennium of alliance-building for common values of mutual respect and
"All faiths are striving to promote those divine values enshrined in
our sacred texts and scriptures," he continued, "so that those who
exploit them for reinforcing hate, extremism, violence and instability
are identified as the enemies of all faiths."
- - -
Grasska is assistant editor of The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.
US Bishops Launch National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue
Chicago archbishop to be co-chair
FEBRUARY 9, 2016
ECUMENISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago will serve as the first Catholic
co-chair of a new National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, sponsored by the
Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Archbishop Cupich’s tenure as
dialogue co-chair will begin January 1, 2017.
The bishops’ ecumenical and interreligious committee has co-sponsored
three regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues for over two decades. Bishop
Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, chair of the
committee, said the time is right to begin a national dialogue.
“As the national conversation around Islam grows increasingly fraught,
coarse and driven by fear and often willful misinformation, the
Catholic Church must help to model real dialogue and good will,” said
Bishop Rozanski. “Our current dialogues have advanced the goals of
greater understanding, mutual esteem and collaboration between Muslims
and Catholics, and the members have established lasting ties of
friendship and a deep sense of trust. I am grateful to Archbishop
Cupich for agreeing to represent our Conference in this crucial
The current regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues are the Mid-Atlantic
(partnering with the Islamic Circle of North America), Midwest
(partnering with the Islamic Society of North America) and West Coast
(partnering with the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and
the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County). Each is co-chaired by
a bishop and a Muslim leader from the corresponding regional
organization. These dialogues will continue to meet and will work
collaboratively with the members of the new national dialogue.
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO KENYA, UGANDA AND THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
(25-30 NOVEMBER 2015)
MEETING WITH THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Central Mosque of Koudoukou, Bangui (Central African Republic)
Monday, 30 November 2015
Dear Muslim friends, leaders and followers of Islam,
It is a great joy for me to be with you and I thank you for your warm
welcome. In a particular way I thank Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi for his
kind words of greeting. My Pastoral Visit to the Central African
Republic would not be complete if it did not include this encounter
with the Muslim community.
Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters. We must therefore
consider ourselves and conduct ourselves as such. We are well aware
that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your
country were not grounded in properly religious motives. Those who
claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace.
Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived
together in peace for many years. They ought, therefore, to remain
united in working for an end to every act which, from whatever side,
disfigures the Face of God and whose ultimate aim is to defend
particular interests by any and all means, to the detriment of the
common good. Together, we must say no to hatred, no to revenge and no
to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the
name of a religion or of God himself. God is peace, God salam.
In these dramatic times, Christian and Muslim leaders have sought to
rise to the challenges of the moment. They have played an important
role in re-establishing harmony and fraternity among all. I would like
express my gratitude and appreciation for this. We can also call to
mind the many acts of solidarity which Christians and Muslims have
shown with regard to their fellow citizens of other religious
confessions, by welcoming them and defending them during this latest
crisis in your country, as well as in other parts of the world.
We cannot fail to express hope that the forthcoming national
consultations will provide the country with leaders capable of bringing
Central Africans together, thus becoming symbols of national unity
rather than merely representatives of one or another faction. I
strongly urge you to make your country a welcoming home for all its
children, regardless of their ethnic origin, political affiliation or
religious confession. The Central African Republic, situated in the
heart of Africa, with the cooperation of all her sons and daughters,
will then prove a stimulus in this regard to the entire continent. It
will prove a positive influence and help extinguish the smouldering
tensions which prevent Africans from benefitting from that development
which they deserve and to which they have a right.
Dear friends, dear brothers, I invite you to pray and work for
reconciliation, fraternity and solidarity among all people, without
forgetting those who have suffered the most as a result of recent
May God bless you and protect you! Salam alaikum!
Our Muslim brothers and sisters
December 3, 2015
This is not a good time to be a Muslim in the Western world. As the
violence perpetrated by radical Islamic groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda
and Boko Haram becomes more and more prevalent, huge numbers of people
are becoming paranoid about, and even openly hostile towards, the Islam
religion, seeing all Muslims as a threat.
Popular opinion more and more blames the Muslim religion itself for
that violence, suggesting that there is something inherent in Islam
itself that’s responsible for this kind of violence. That equation
needs to be challenged, both in the name of truth and in the name of
what’s best in us as Christians.
First of all, it’s untrue: Painting all Muslims with the same brush is
like painting all Christians with the same brush, akin to looking at
the most depraved man who calls himself a Christian and saying: “That’s
Christians for you! They’re all the same!”
Second, it’s also unfair: Islamic militants no more speak for Islam
than Hitler speaks for Christianity (and that comparison isn’t idly
chosen). Finally, such an equation misleads our sympathy: The first
victim of Islamic terrorism is Islam itself, namely, authentic
God-fearing Muslims are the first victims of this violence.
When we look at the history of any terrorist Islamic group such as ISIS
or Al-Qaeda, we see that it first establishes itself by terrorizing and
killing thousands of its own people, honest, God-fearing Muslims. And
it goes on killing them. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have killed
thousands more Muslims than they have killed Christians or persons of
any other religion. While their ultimate target may well be the
secularized Christian West, more immediately their real war is against
Moreover the victims of Islamic terrorists are not just the thousands
of moderate Muslims who have been direct victims of their violence and
killings, but also all other Muslims who are now painted with the same
brush and negatively judged in both their religiosity and their
sincerity. Whenever Islamic terrorists perpetrate an act of violence,
its victims are not just those who die, are injured, or who lose loved
ones, it’s also all true Muslims, particularly those living in the West
because they are now viewed through the eyes of suspicion, fear and
But the Muslim religion is not to blame here. There is nothing inherent
in either the Koran or in Islam itself that morally or religiously
undergirds this kind of violence.
We would holler “unfair” if someone were to say that what happened
during the Inquisition is inherent in the Gospels. We owe Islam the
same judgment. One of the great students of world religions, the
renowned Houston Smith, submits that we should always judge a religion
by its best expressions, by its saints and graced-history, rather than
by its psychopaths and aberrations.
I hope that others offer us, Christians, this courtesy. Hitler was
somehow a product of the Christian West, as was Mother Teresa. Houston
Smith’s point is that the latter, not the former, is a truer basis for
judging Christianity. We owe our Islamic brothers and sisters the same
And that’s more a recognition of the truth than a courtesy. The word
“Islam/Muslim” has its origins in the word “peace,” and that
connotation, along with the concept of “surrender to God,” constitutes
the essence of what it means to be a Muslim. And for more than 90
percent of Muslims in the world, that is exactly what it means to be a
Muslim, namely, to be a man or woman of peace who has surrendered to
God and who now tries to live a life that is centered on faith, prayer,
responsibility and hospitality.
Any interpretation of Islam by a radicalized group that gives divine
sanction to terrorist violence is false and belies Islam. Islamic
extremists don’t speak for God, Mohammed, Islam, or for what it means
to surrender in faith, but only for a self-serving ideology, and true
Muslims are, in the end, the real victims of that.
Terrorist attacks, like the recent ones in Paris and Mali, call for
more, not less, sympathy for true Muslims. It’s time to establish a
greater solidarity with Islam, notwithstanding extremist terrorism.
We are both part of the same family: We have the same God, suffer the
same anxieties, are subject to the same mortality, and will share the
same heaven. Muslims more than ever need our understanding, sympathy,
support and fellowship in faith.
Christian de Cherge, the Trappist monk who was martyred by Islamic
terrorists in Algeria in 1996, wrote a remarkable letter to his family
in France shortly before he died. Well aware that he had a good chance
of being killed by terrorists, he shared with his family that, should
this happen, they should know that he had already forgiven his killers
and that he foresaw himself and them, his killers, in the same heaven,
playing together under God’s gaze, a gaze that lovingly takes in all of
God’s children, Muslims no less than Christians.
Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Ronald Rolheiser is a specialist in the field of spirituality and systematic theology.
L’Osservatore Romano accuses Charlie Hebdo of “distorting faith”
The Vatican newspaper speaks out against the cover of the French
satirical weekly, which marks the first anniversary of the attacks on
its offices in Paris
DOMENICO AGASSO JR
January 5, 2016
The Holy See has strongly criticised the illustration on the special
issue of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which depicts God
carrying a machine gun. Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano said
the image “illustrates the sad paradox of a world that is becoming so
sensitive to political correctness it is verging on the ridiculous”.
The special issue marks a year since the attack by Islamist radicals on
the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. L’Osservatore Romano says the
French daily’s gesture dismissed and disrespects “all believers’ faith
in God , whatever their credo”.
“This episode is nothing new because behind the deceitful flag of an
“uncompromising secularism”, the French weekly has once again forgotten
what all religious leaders have been repeating for some time now,
rejecting violence in the name of religion: using God to justify hatred
constitutes real “blasphemy”, as Pope Francis has said on so many
The illustration on the newspaper’s front cover ‘is insulting towards
faithful of all religions: it is a caricature which is not at all
helpful at a time when we need to stand by each other’,” as “Anouar
Kbibech, President of the Conseil franšais du culte musulman said,
condemning the unfortunate cover published by Charlie Hebdo, a year on
from the massacre, using unmistakeably Christian iconography to depict
God as a terrorist, covered in blood and running away with a
Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder. Words which echo the statement
made by the French Episcopate, which asks whether this ‘is the kind of
controversy France needs right now’.”
Speaking to news agency AdnKronos, the theologian and secretary general
of the Synod of Bishops, Mgr. Bruno Forte, described the French
weekly’s choice as “distressing, as well as unfounded” . “The potential
for violence can, if anything, become detached from an authentic
religious experience, certainly not encouraged or incited by it. As
Pope Francis has said, killing in the name of God is to act against
“It offends the sensitivity of all people, not only Christians, Jews or
Muslims. It also offends those who despite not being believers sense
how important it is to respect the religious conscience and dimension
in life. Hence this act is strongly condemned,” he added.
Forte added that the French newspaper’s insinuations “are far from the
truth, because all religions, not just Christianity, but also the
Jewish and Muslim faiths, preach non violence in the name of God. If
anything, one shows violence by adopting an ideological stance,
claiming to possess the truth, judging and excluding others. Religions
are faced with the mystery of God and therefore have a strong antidote
against such attempts: the supremacy of the Lord whose will we must all
How could an organization that
claims to speak for God and to be led by the Holy Spirit be so
indefatigably committed to a lie? For it isn’t only Bruno Forte: the
Pope has said the same thing, and it’s the official policy of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops, which winks at dissent on any number of
actual Church teachings, but moves ruthlessly to suppress voices that
dare to suggest that maybe Islam is not a Religion of Peace. It appears
as if protecting the image of Islam is more important to Church leaders
today than teaching the contents of their own faith.
Here are some salient quotations from the Qur’an:
2:191-193: “And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them
from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than
slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight
you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense
of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving,
All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the
religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity
save for evildoers.”
4:89: “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and
then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of
them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their
backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to
yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”
5:33: “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His
Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they
shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall
alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land.
That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come
awaits them a mighty chastisement.”
8:12: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so
confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts
terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!’”
8:39: “Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is
Allah’s entirely; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things
8:60: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you
can, to terrify thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others
besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you
expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be
9:5: “Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters
wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in
wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform
the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is
9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not
forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as
practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given
the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been
9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their
possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of
Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah
in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his
covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with
Him; that is the mighty triumph.”
9:123: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let
them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the
47:4: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you
have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them
free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So
it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself
upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And
those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works
Think these are just a bunch of verses taken “out of context” and that
they’re interpreted in a benign manner by Islamic authorities? Think
again. The authoritative sources in Sunni Islam, the schools of Sunni
jurisprudence (madhahib), all teach warfare against unbelievers:
Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in
1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading
authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni
orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews,
Christians, and Zoroastrians … until they become Muslim or pay the
non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh Ali Salman, a
Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war
only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and
Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will
not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the
non-Muslim poll tax (jizya) … while remaining in their ancestral
religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).
Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same
injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam
before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders,
directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that
jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious
reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that
they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of
taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this
consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the
call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”
However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to
it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the
Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them,
because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer
of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid
upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.”
Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and
philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned
Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the
Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the
universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert
everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the
person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power
politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other
Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known
today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din
Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that
“since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that
the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore
according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must
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