Thursday, March 14, 2013

Will Pope Francis Challenge Muslim Persecution of Christians?

Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, assumes the papal throne at a time when Christians in many countries around the world are more threatened, and are living more precariously, than they have for centuries. Christians face violent persecution on an increasingly frequent basis in Pakistan, Egypt, and Nigeria, and to a lesser degree in Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Islamic world. Yet for the most part the Church in recent years has been silent about this persecution, and in the West has pursued “dialogue” with Islamic groups that glosses over the grim and bloody realities that all too many Christians in the Islamic world face. Will Pope Francis end this deceptive and fruitless posturing and raise his voice for his threatened and embattled brethren?
The Catholic Church has adopted an irenic stance toward Islam ever since the Second Vatican Council issued its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) in 1964. This document asserts that the “plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind” (16).
The statement that “the plan of salvation also includes” Muslims has led some to assert that the Council Fathers were saying that Muslims and Islam should not be criticized or challenged. This has become such an axiomatic assumption for many Christian clerics that they dare not utter a word to disrupt Muslim-Christian “dialogue” even when Muslims worldwide shed the blood of innocent Christians with increasing impunity.
Also, as Pope Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, noted, Vatican II was not a super-council whose teachings superseded all previous Church teaching; rather, its teachings must be understood in light of Catholic tradition. “The council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient,” he said in October 2012. “Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.” When it comes to Islam, the consistent focus in earlier statements about Islam is generally not on what Muslims believe but on the hostility of Muslims to Christians and Christianity. In that vein, Pope Benedict XIV, in 1754, reaffirmed an earlier prohibition on Albanian Catholics giving their children “Turkish or Mohammedan names” in baptism by pointing out that not even Protestants or Orthodox were stooping so low: “None of the schismatics and heretics has been rash enough to take a Mohammedan name, and unless your justice abounds more than theirs, you shall not enter the kingdom of God.” Pope Callixtus III, in a somewhat similar spirit, in 1455 vowed to “exalt the true Faith, and to extirpate the diabolical sect of the reprobate and faithless Mahomet in the East.”

Read More:

No comments: