Robert Spencer on Pope Francis and “dialogue” with Islam

Pope Francis has openly expressed desire for dialogue with Islam. HERE.

Here is a thought provoking piece from Robert Spencer about dialogue with Islam:

Pope Francis: “Intensify” Catholic “dialogue” with Islam

I am all for dialogue between Muslims and Christians when it is honest and not based on false pretenses. [That can be said for all interreligious dialogue and ecumenical dialogue.] There doesn’t seem to be any use to dialogue that ignores difficulties and points of disagreement rather than confronting them. They won’t go away if ignored. I discuss the genuine prospects for dialogue and its pitfalls at length in my book Not Peace But A Sword, which will be published next week by Catholic Answers.  [I’m putting that on my wish list.]


One thing that must be recognized is that for many Muslim spokesmen and leaders, dialogue with adherents of other religions is simply a proselytizing mechanism designed to convert the “dialogue” partner to Islam, as the Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb explained: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah [the society of unbelievers] is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the people on the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.” [Of course, from a Catholic perspective, do we not want to convert the whole world?]

In line with this, 138 Muslim scholars wrote to Pope Benedict XVI, inviting him to dialogue. The title of the document they sent to him was A Common Word Between Us and You. [NB] Reading the entire Qur’anic verse from which the phrase “a common word between us and you” was taken makes the Common Word initiative’s agenda clear: “Say: ‘People of the Book! Come now to a word common between us and you, that we serve none but God, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take others as Lords, apart from God.’ And if they turn their backs, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims’” (3:64). Since Muslims consider the Christian confession of the divinity of Christ to be an unacceptable association of a partner with God, this verse is saying that the “common word” that Muslims and the People of the Book should agree on is that Christians should discard one of the central tenets of their faith and essentially become Muslims. Not a promising basis for an honest and mutually respectful dialogue of equals.

“‘Intensify’ dialogue with Islam: Pope to Roman Catholic Church,” from PTI, March 22 (thanks to Milad):

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Friday called for the Roman Catholic Church to “intensify” its dialogue with Islam, echoing hopes in the Muslim world for better ties with the Vatican during his reign.
“It is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam,” the new pontiff said in an address to foreign ambassadors at the Vatican.
Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI was seen by some Muslim leaders as hostile to Islam and the change at the top had been welcomed by the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the Saudi-based OIC, said earlier this month that he hoped “the relationship between Islam and Christianity will regain its cordiality and sincere friendship”.
Mahmud Azab, adviser for inter-faith affairs to Al-Azhar imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb in Cairo, also told AFP earlier, “As soon as a new policy emerges, we will resume the dialogue with the Vatican“. Al-Azhar broke off ties in 2011 after Benedict called for the protection of Christian minorities following a suicide bombing at a church in Egypt.

So apparently the new policy that Azab wants is for the pope never to criticize the Muslim persecution of Christians. Then we’ll all be great friends — and what’s a few burnt churches and dead bodies when we’re getting on so famously?

Benedict was also heavily criticised early in his reign when he recounted a Byzantine emperor’s description of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed as a warmonger who spread evil teachings.

In his address on Friday, Francis also called for the Church to dialogue more with non-believers — returning to an effort begun during Benedict’s reign amid rising secularism in the Western world.

“It is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail but rather the desire to build true links of friendship,” he said.

True friendship cannot be built on false pretenses.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Imrahil says:

    dialogue with adherents of other religions is simply a proselytizing mechanism.

    Which, of course, when it comes to the crunch, is true for us as well. Or should be.

    Only… we are right. They are wrong.

  2. Lepidus says:

    I am hoping that Pope Francis chooses maybe an African cardinal to conduct the dialog with Islam. Many of those prelates have unfortunately been on the receiving end of the Religion of Peace ™ and won’t be quick to adopt the “all religions are equal” theory that you hear so much about.

  3. AvantiBev says:

    Thank you Father Z! I will happily buy you Mr. Spencer’s new book if you promise that when you are done you send it to Bishop McManus, Diocese of Worcester, Mass who disinvited Mr. Spencer from a panel discussion/workshop in the name of (phoney) “tolerance” and (false) “peace”.

    A sincere “thank you” for this posting. There is a large Nigerian (predominantly Christian Nigerian) community here in Chicago. I have seen grown men with tears in their eyes when they learned that my parish church was keeping Nigeria’s Christians in our prayers. They find little awareness among the average U.S. citizen or else find that every tale of violence against Christians is reduced with moral equivalency to “ethnic tensions” and “fighting over finances and oil”. Americans cannot fathom that someone could be burned to death for religious hatred. Perhaps in a few years after a SCOTUS decision or two, they will learn the hard way!

  4. Rob22 says:

    Robert Spencer and Pam Geller are very controversial. Geller is no longer allowed at CPAC. The problem is their approach seems to some bigoted.

    In any case, the Pope I think will re-emphasize a more corporate dialog with others. Say as opposed to the Ordinariate approach which he apparently does not favor.

  5. SimonDodd says:

    You know who is currently in “dialogue with Islam”? Father Michael Kayyal. What a fascinating (accidental or deliberate?) juxtaposition of two adjacent articles.

  6. AvantiBev says:

    Is it “bigoted’ to want to know the truth about someone who wants you dead? What part of they want you dhimmi or dead is so confusing to my fellow Catholics.?

    Geller and Spencer were not allowed at CPAC by two of its organizers, one of whom, Grover Norquist, is married to a Muslim woman. The wonderful folks carrying on Andrew Breitbart’s work in defense of free speech set up an alternate venue near CPAC and had invited Ms. Geller and Mr. Spencer to participate there.

    Give up one freedom – the freedom of speech — and you have breached the wall that protects the other freedoms such as the freedom of religion, freedom of thought that is not policed, freedom of the press (remember when we had one?), etc. I stand for freedom of speech including that of Islamic imams who wish to bully and incite, but insist on the right to counter with MORE speech.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    I have already said what I have to say on this issue except to point out the obvious: if dialogue with Islam would have helped at any time in the last thirteen centuries, then why hasn’t it succeeded? It sounds ridiculous to think that it took 1300 years for someone to think this might work. It has bern tried in the past. Obviously, they haven’t changed. They can’t change. The only reason for hope in such a dialogue is that the Church has somehow changed and that would be very ominous.

    It is not quite so bad with the Eastern Orthodox Church, since they have a valid sacramental system and there is real hope, in the long run that we may be re-united to them, but to unite two things that have never been nor can be united is to ask for something very hard. The only thing I could see uniting us is an invasion of space aliens (and then, just maybe). Islam is not a religion of reason, but of will. It is not amenable to logic. This was one thing brought out by Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg.

    The Chicken

  8. Legisperitus says:

    As Archbishop Sheen used to say, Christianity is not a “Religion of the Book.” It is the Religion of a Person, Jesus Christ, and our relationship to Him is the foundation of everything.

  9. AngelGuarded says:

    Here, here, Chicken! You put into reasonable words my initial gut reaction. Hasn’t the Holy Church already tried this? I wasn’t there but I seem to remember reading of a big initiative to “dialogue” with Islam way back when and from what I remember, it did not result in much good. There is always hope with Christ and if we use this dialogue as tool to convert…

  10. jarhead462 says:

    I spent 7 months in the middle east when I was in the Corps.
    after deleting the rather uncharitable post I was going to put up, I will just say that I will pray.

    Semper Fi!

  11. Stephen D says:

    On May 12th Pope Francis will canonise Antonio Primaldo and his martyr companions, 800 in number, who refused to deny Christ following a Muslim incursion into Otranto, Italy in 1480. The canonisations were announced by Pope Benedict at the time of his resignation. Thank you Pope Benedict. I wonder what our Muslim ‘friends’ will make of this.

  12. racjax says:

    “As soon as a new policy emerges, we will resume the dialogue with the Vatican“. Al-Azhar broke off ties in 2011 after Benedict called for the protection of Christian minorities following a suicide bombing at a church in Egypt.

    The arrogance of Pope Benedict! To actually ask that Christians be allowed to live and not be burned alive, kidnapped, raped, involuntarily “converted” to Islam, driven from their nations, murdered????? If only we had the leadership in the Catholic Church to really defend its flock.

    To think that as American Catholics, most go through each day without ever thinking of our persecuted Christian brethen and fail to vocally call attention to them daily to those we meet. The killings and persecutions MUST be exposed and put forefront. In addition to prayers for these poor souls, please think how you can daily call attention to this horrible situation. Take it upon yourselves to learn the truth and then share it!

  13. teomatteo says:

    St.Francis was a dialoguer no?

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    Islam had a choice in the 13th-century (?) between adopting the rules of logic and argument in seeking God, thus, understanding God, primarily, as a God of reason, as the Church was doing (Aristotle works were well-known to the Arab world by that point through their translation of the Greek into Arabic), or of understanding God as bring pure will. They chose to see only the aspect of God as pure will. These two conceptions of God are in commensurate. Dialogue has been tried. Here is Pope Bendicts analysis, from his Regensburg address:

    “I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.[1] It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor.[2] The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point – itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole – which, in the context of the issue of “faith and reason”, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

    In the seventh conversation (???????? – controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”[3] The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (??? ????) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.[4]

    The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature.[5] The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.[6] Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.[7]”

    The Chicken

  15. BLB Oregon says:

    “There doesn’t seem to be any use to dialogue that ignores difficulties and points of disagreement rather than confronting them.”

    There is surely a middle ground between utterly ignoring difficulties and endlessly “confronting” them, as any of us with in-laws who do not like us can attest. After all, some dialogue reminds us that in spite of our differences we also have some things in common. Sometimes, before and in-between talking about points of disagreement, there needs to be the sort of communication that accustoms each side to consider the other “one of us” in the sense of being a full member of humanity. If we were to accomplish that much–that is, if there were no more religious pogroms, if men and women of good will defended each other against unprovoked violence–then that would be an accomplishment worth the effort.

    “If dialogue with Islam would have helped at any time in the last thirteen centuries, then why hasn’t it succeeded?”

    Do you mean succeeded in the sense of wiping out Islam, or do you mean succeeded in the sense that a town can have residents of different religions who can shop in the same shops and live in the same neighborhoods without estrangement or shows of enmity? If you mean the latter, then that actually has happened. It did not result in mass conversions, one way or another, but a lot less fighting, hatred, and bloodshed, which is another way of saying a lot less sin and especially a lot less grave sin on both sides. After all, we do not just want to keep people from killing us because we want to stay alive. We want to keep people from killing us because they might go to Hell if they do. Christ thirsts for every soul, and we have a duty to help others stay clear of as much sin as possible.

  16. monmir says:

    I find it disturbing for 2 reasons
    1- the young people around Paris have started to follow young muslims and do the Ramadan, which means that the Catholic churches around are fairly invisible or don’t know how to gather them or don’t give them enough strict direction. The parents probably do not go to church either.
    2-In the US children have been taken to visit mosques and when the time of prayers is close they have been asked if they want to join.
    All Islam wants is new ways for convertion of the infidels. We would do well to be mindful of it. Peaceful as a minority, intolerant when the balance changes.
    We have to continue to voice our concern for the protection of Christians in many countries. What a good subject for dialogue as long as we can see progress.

  17. Phil_NL says:

    I will, assuming Fr. Z. doesn’t mind, repost a slightly edited version of my comments when Pope Francis made his remarks about a week ago, and add some thougths at the end.

    Pope Francis said: “and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.” This is problamatic, and ultimately even impossible. A dialogue requires two parties listening, yet islam will never do so. islam simply states that they are right, the rest are infidels, and at the opportune moment you (the infidels) will have to convert or be killed. You can have a dialogue with muslims (and that’s only fruitful insofar these muslims have no intention of implementing the agenda described above), but not with islam. And those muslims are few and far between, since whatever else islam is, it has a certain internal consistency. Once one accepts the central premise, the rest automatically follows, including all the violence; the only question is if the moment is opportune. There are no cafeteria muslims (in the sense that they deny teachings of their faith, but still regard themselves part of that faith), only muslims who practice poorly. To deny one aspect of islam, including its very political ideology, is to deny the lot.

    Sounds harsh? Ask the Christians in Nigeria, or Pakistan, and many other places where they are prosecuted by islam. There are plenty of martyrs there.

    Now there is great potential for the conflict between islam and the West to intensify, and take on horrible forms. It would be laudable if the Pope tries to prevent that, that is indeed among his tasks. But that won’t take the form of a dialogue, as the other side simply has no-one to dialogue with (not just because there isn’t a central figurehead, more important is that re-interpreting quranic verses has been outlawed for nearly a millennium, so the other side is stuck) nor any intention to give up its claims for bringing the world under its yoke. In islam, submission is all that counts, while Christianity should be embraced with heart and mind, in free will. That’s a chasm no pontifex can ever bridge.
    Which ties in nicely with what mr Spencer says. Any dialogue, from the point of view of islam, is merely a vehicle to facilitate our conversion. One could say ‘ok, fair game, we want to covert them too’. The problem is that we convert through force of reason, which islam denies, and love, which islam doesn’t care about. islam, on the other hand, converts through force. If you don’t heed the verbal or written warning, the sword is next. This renders any conversation simply a negotiation over the terms of surrender or the amount of the pay-off. (All of which has a rich islamic tradition). Such a ‘dialogue’ will therefore be pointless. yes, try to convert individual muslims, the more the better, but a dialogue with islam – political ideology as much as anything else, and anxious to apply the sword if it doesn’t get its way – should be off the table. It simply won’t be a dialogue.

  18. Priam1184 says:

    Following jarhead462’s example I will delete the entirely uncharitable post that I was writing about Islam inside my brain and will only suggest this to anyone who is at all interested in doing a bit of good for the world: pray a rosary each day from Monday through Friday of every week for each of the five great Sees (Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Carthage) lost to Islam so long ago, for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome. Nothing is beyond the power of God…

  19. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Do you mean succeeded in the sense of wiping out Islam, or do you mean succeeded in the sense that a town can have residents of different religions who can shop in the same shops and live in the same neighborhoods without estrangement or shows of enmity? If you mean the latter, then that actually has happened.”

    No, it did not. Not at all. Not in any way.

    What happened, simply put, is that Islam, up until that point (from, roughly, 1300 A. D., on) was largely anti-intellectual. During the Renaissance and early Industrial Eras in the West, superior firepower and battle tactics were developed that made it impossible for Islam to carry out its Jihad. They retreated into ghettoism, essentially, for the last two-hundred and fifty years. Only in recent times have they sought parity in technology with the West. This is greatly troubling.

    Dialogue has been tried, repeatedly. There has been no advance in the theology of Islam at all comparable to Church Councils. Nothing has substantially changed, nor can it. Dialogue is not, not, not a part of Islam, at least as we understand the term in the West.

    The Chicken

  20. Phil_NL says:

    And as a PS: I would highly recommend Mr Spencer’s ‘Blogging the qu’ran’ series of some years ago. He simply goes through all suras from beginning to end. While it is listed as commentary, it is in fact very light on comments, and focusses primarly on summarizing and explaining how muslims read these verses. To be found here:

    It doesn’t make for pleasant reading though, but that is no fault of Robert Spencer (or his writing skills).

  21. Traductora says:

    St Francis’ idea of dialogue was to go and preach to the Muslims. I think that’s the only reasonable and honest form of dialogue: preach to them, and let them weigh the contrasting claims.

    The problem, of course, is that the Muslims won’t let this happen and, in addition, muslims do not further their own religion by preaching it and “dialoguing,” unless they are in a very weakened and powerless situation, but by force and violence.

    In my opinion, the best form of dialogue would be to really go out and preach true Christianity and let the chips fall where they may. We need to defend Christianity in the Islamic areas, not back off on Christianity and act as if it (and its persecuted followers) were an embarrassment to us.

    The Muslims are used to getting away with their ugly behavior. They are never held to account by anybody, from the US to the international human rights organizations. Some of this is out of fear, for example, in places in Europe that have seen journalists and politicians killed by Muslims, but some of it is out of the misguided idea that “dialogue” with the Muslims means discreetly ignoring their hideous acts. An honest dialogue would be a good thing.

  22. Lynne says:

    AvantiBev, the Bishop of Worcester was asked by the Archdiocese of Boston to recind the invitation.

  23. ocalatrad says:

    “Dialogue” and “discourse” are what radical atheists in public universities call trampling on the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “Dialogue” means “I’m not so sure what my faith entails but I’d be happy to discuss yours!” It’s high time we as a Church put our foot down and start acting like we actually believe that the Good Lord is the King not just of all hearts but of all societies. The Mohammedans will not be so kind as to “dialogue” with us when they overrun Europe in the generations to come and convert the great cathedrals into mosques.

  24. any conversation with moslems must be in the context of understanding, to use a metaphor, the implication of two wolves and a sheep discussing what’s for lunch.

    there are two distinctively opposed views at work…and as others have diacussed, two different frames of reference: our dialogue is based on reason…theirs based on submittal that denies free will and freedom.

    we need another generation of Charles Martels.

  25. chantgirl says:

    Unfortunately, I’m afraid that the only dialogue that will produce converts from Islam will be the shedding of many martyrs’ blood. Islam, a religion of fear and domination, holds its’ followers in a type of bondage. Only the witness of Christians who FREELY lay down their lives for a loving and merciful God will breach the fortress of fear and slavery that is Islam. Jesuit missionaries came to dialogue with the Native Americans, and many of the first wave of missionaries were martyred. That witness eventually led to conversions. If Pope Francis wants a fruitful dialogue with Islam, I’m afraid that means sending missionaries to preach to them with the knowledge that torture and death are the groundwork of conversion.

  26. acricketchirps says:

    Viva Cristo Rey!

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    He’s going to get in even over his head, if he’s not careful. This isn’t about religion and I don’t know whether he realizes this fully or not. It’s an intransigent situation on both sides. Officially, it’s really about turf: physical, ideological, social and demographic turf. And it has been for more than a thousand years.

    IF it was really about religion, we wouldn’t be “dialoguing” with the leaders, we’d be picking off the sad adherents from the boundaries of Islam with good sound evangelization and then bringing them into our social circles (what puny social circles we have), while acting nonchalant about it. Christianity is much better than Islam, even in the most mundane ways. That’s why the reaction to us is so strong. That’s why they take huge pains to segregate their populations from us. They really fear us. And they should.

  28. veritasmeister says:

    I think we should carefully balance our approach to any other religion and avoid the extremes of sugar-coated luvvy-duvvy dialogue on the one hand and the dubious, hostile claims of political pundits.

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    “No, it did not. Not at all. Not in any way.”

    So Christian and Muslim populations have never lived in the same town in peace? I’m not talking about Islamic Spain. I’m not in a hurry to get into anyone’s time machine.

    I do have to wonder how many posting here have ever so much as met someone who observes Ramadan, let alone worked with them or had them as a neighbor and known that they did. I have to think very few posting here have done that. If you had, there wouldn’t be so many blanket statements about what “they” do and what they think and want of us.

    Meanwhile, here in Oregon we finally got a law off the books that forbids religious garb in schools, which means Muslim women who formerly held teaching positions in other states can teach here. Care to guess how that law got onto the books in the first place? It was put there to keep priests and nuns from teaching in schools that received public funding. Do you know who fought it? The ACLU!!! I kid you not!! There is a saying in the Mideast that there are times when the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Considering how the rabidly secular parts of the world are growing, we might want to think about that. Our religious freedoms are being severely threatened all over the world, and one excuse given for it is interreligious strife.

    As for the cathedrals of Europe becoming mosques, they are in far more danger of becoming museums. Do you not know what kind of talk our enemies love to use against us, as proof that our religion based on love is a bunch of hot air? They hate religion of all kinds, and there is nothing they’d like better than for the Christians and the Jews and the Muslims to eat each other alive. If we don’t ever talk to each other, they’ll obviously get their wish.

  30. Lepidus says:

    One must remember two things in this dialog. 1) the Islamic doctrine of Taqiyya (vs. our Lord’s comment about “say Yes when you mean Yes…everything else is from the Evil One) and 2) Mohammed quoting Allah is the greatest of liars (don’t have time to look up that reference) (vs. our Lord’s comment about who the Father of Lies actually is).

  31. BLB Oregon says:

    “Do you know who fought it? The ACLU!!! I kid you not!!”

    I mean that the ACLU fought changing the law that allowed religious garb in schools. They wanted to keep that one on the books. They are no friends of religious freedom. How many enemies can we afford to keep? Think about that.

  32. BLB Oregon says:

    “ACLU fought changing the law that allowed religious garb in schools.”

    I mean they wanted to maintain the legal prohibition against religious garb….for some reason, no matter how many times I read a post, I’m not seeing my mistakes until I hit “Post”.

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    Legisperitus, you said, “As Archbishop Sheen used to say, Christianity is not a “Religion of the Book.” It is the Religion of a Person, Jesus Christ, and our relationship to Him is the foundation of everything.” This is a great quote from Archbishop Sheen because it’s completely true. Converting to Christianity is about converting to a person, the person of Jesus Christ.

    If Pope Francis isn’t careful, he’s going to get himself in totally over his head with the “dialoguing with the leaders” thing because a) it ISN’T about Jesus Christ for both parties and b) because of the way the two systems currently are. I hope he realizes this in time.

    The second reason (b) has to do with the fact that Islam is loosely hung together and “leaders” can contradict each other freely. It’s a system where the demands are strong but the leadership is weak. It depends on force coming from local leaders and family and politics to maintain itself.

    But the much bigger reason, the first reason (a), is that this dialoguing business isn’t about religion really. It’s really a turf war: demographic turf, ideological turf, political turf. It’s been that way for more than 1000 years and it’s not going to change. If it was really about religion, we wouldn’t be “dialoguing” with the leaders of Islam; rather, we’d be snooping around their fat and ragged boundaries and converting the sad people who are confused and looking for something better but can’t say so and don’t know what to do. They’re looking for Christ, although they may not know it yet. And we’d be providing cover and protection and fellowship for them one-by-one as they come to us. We’d totally have our hands full. Christianity is, by every measure, a better religion than Islam.

    There is this huge secret in Catholicism that no one wants to talk about. It used to be the case, a thousand years ago when social conditions were very different, that you converted people to Christianity by converting the ruler. Once you had the ruler, you went to work converting the families one by one, and the whole family came at once and stayed at once. In the dark ages, the downside of social chaos ( in those days living without the Church which was the only source of order) was so severe that even superficial conversion was better than no conversion at all. So conversion in many cases was like getting a postage stamp slapped on your forehead, but it was much better than the alternative. With Christianity, society got better as a result of Christianity because Northern European pagan life was animalistic and vicious and a system capable of replacing it was better. People didn’t question it; they were just relieved and that thankfulness sometimes provoked personal conversion but not always. There are some stunning examples of holiness, but they were not the norm.

    However, fast forward: This is no longer the dark ages. This strategy not only doesn’t work anymore. In fact, it backfires on a regular basis. The reason it backfires is because it’s a blanket approach that gets people in the door, but it’s not a relational approach that keeps them. Now they’re not relieved; there are no Huns at the door; and they’re free to decide for themselves what they want to do. This has a terrific upside and a terrific downside for Catholicism. Freedom makes holiness more accessible to people, but it also makes it easier to leave if they say “no.”

    So. If you want to convert people from Islam, or even if you want to do something about the Islamic system as a force for ill in society, what you have to do is convert people for real to this whole new world of choosing to live a life of discipleship to a person, Jesus Christ. So, how do you do that? NOT by trying to force yet another evangelism system from the dark ages down their throats by force.

    What you do is this:
    -Forget dialogue. It only lets the “leaders” know who you are, where you are and what you’re up to. Act nonchalant and eat good Middle Eastern food. Then do the work personally:
    -First you have to figure out how to strike up a relationship and build some trust. We’re not devils; we’re not going to turn them in to their religious authorities; no one is going to find out if they satisfy just a little bit of curiosity; God knows all they’ve ever seen is Islam and many of them are not happy with that. It’s an amazing opportunity for real evangelization.
    -Second, you have to answer $2 questions with $2 answers and let them find out what the differences are. None of this murder, force and strange miracles talk. They get enough of that where they are; it’s what they’re trying to avoid.
    -Then you let them become open. When they are open to you, you pray for them and let them deal with that openness. This is a free will thing. They have to choose. Otherwise, we are just another operational force working on them and that’s not conversion because it doesn’t motivate anything except more fear. Let them hang around. Make sure they have a Bible and can read it. Let them ask questions and study with you. Let them be them. Protect them, love them, no matter what they decide. It’s the Christian way.
    -At some point they will decide or not. It’s a big decision. IF and when they decide, they need company and if they’ve been Muslim, they may need practical protection and fellowship and encouragement. This is not easy what they’ve decided to do. It can be fatal in some cases.
    If this was really about religion, this is what we’d be doing. Not trying to negotiate a favorable spot in the turf wars, which really doesn’t convert anyone.

    The big secret is that even the martyrs who went to the lions in Rome didn’t do it just because they were raised Catholic or they were just making Grandma happy. No. They did it because they had a relationship with Jesus Christ going on, and they had a community of believers standing behind them and with them. They knew they weren’t wasting their lives. They knew it as a matter of fact. Only then, and in the company of the Holy Spirit, can a person face down a lion to the death like that. Or leave Islam in the face of threats. Or live a good faithful life in discipleship with Jesus Christ.

  34. Phil_NL says:

    BLB Oregon

    There are rabid atheist out there who hate any form of religion, sure. But spend some time in the European inner cities, which have large muslim minorities (unlike anywhere seen in the US, except perhaps around Dearborn), up to the point that nearly 50% of the youth is muslim, and you will see a wholly different situation. And you’ll conclude that atheists aren’t the real threat. They may be vocal and obnoxious, but rarely violent (early 20th century Mexico is the only exception that really revolved around religion, compare that to 13 centuries of warfare by islam). And most importantly, they reproduce so little that in a few decades, there won’t be a whole lot of rapid atheism around – unlike islam.

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    You know, freedom is what the Islamic world is afraid of. The whole system runs on coercion and a sort of social order based on force, metered out in an ancient way. Some Muslims can be provoked to violence when they see challenges to this system, and the worst challenges come because of the “big wave” atmosphere of modernity. People are bombarded by messages and choices in the modern world and that’s a huge threat to a system like classical Islam. Many Muslims actually feel and believe that they are under siege by the modern world. This is what motivates some of their behaviors.

  36. catholicmidwest says:


    You don’t generally get atheism from your parents. Atheists are, more commonly, people who either are exercising the freedom that they have to abstain from things they don’t understand or like, OR more rarely they’re closet social activists who figure out that atheism lets them do what they want to do.

    As such, a small measure of atheism has always been around, and will probably always be around. Atheists generally aren’t very threatening either, unless they’re the relatively rare second kind, who can conceal their religious stances and make common cause politically to get what they want.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    BLB Oregon,

    Before I was a Christian, I dated a Muslim man and I have celebrated Ramadan. I also know quite a bit about the religion and the culture.

    And you are correct about the Churches in Europe. It’s not that the Muslims are taking them over by force. Rather, it’s that we are abandoning them, and nature hates a vacuum.

  38. boxerpaws1952 says:

    Dialogue with Islam ? Sorry,but i wouldn’t waste my breathe.

  39. Rob22 says:

    I think the dialog approach is needed and it is what the Catholic church has done for a long time. Respecting other cultures and religions.

    When Napal was officially a Buddhist state it restricted missionary activity. The Catholic church respected this and had a small presence teaching a few schools. Evangelicals however refused to respect that country’s cultural history and covertly proselytized

    I think the Pope will re-emphasis dialog which respects other religions. This is important.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    Let’s be more specific and thoughtful about this, now that you’ve brought national identities into the picture, Rob22.

    The Vatican has more than one function. It is the headquarters of Catholicism in some sense (sense depending on who you talk to, of course, but that’s not at issue here) and the Pope is the Pontiff of Catholicism. But it’s also an independent nation, with a head of state which is the same person, the Pope.

    Speaking of its status as a nation, yes, of course, some dialogue is necessary. We, in the states, have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, as do many other nations. This is probably necessary in some sense. It does enable the Holy See to function in some ways that would be impossible otherwise. And it maintains the relationships that the Vatican city-state has with Italy and with the city of Rome. All this is practical in nature, and some of it is vestigial stuff from the European past.

    On the other hand, as a religion, a very old religion, we have a very clearly defined mission statement from our founder, Jesus Christ:
    The Commissioning of the Disciples
    16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking we’re not supposed to be out making disciples. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing as Catholics, as Christians. That’s always done best person-to-person. I suppose you can call it covert if you want, but it’s still what we’re supposed to be doing.

  41. StJude says:

    I’m thinking we’d have more luck talking to a brick wall.

  42. albizzi says:

    Our Holy Father Francis recently quoted Leon Bloy:
    “When one does not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the expression of Léon Bloy: “He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.”
    So the muslims, the buddhists, the shintoist are praying the Devil? Can we respect them?
    The muslims accept the dialogue with the christians with the unique aim to convert them to Islam while the christians are doing the same with the opposite aim.
    Don’t you think that the premises are flawed, that the dialogue will of course be useless and sterile?

  43. hilltop says:

    Chicken is correct and it is doubly enjoyable to be eating chicken (for lunch) and reading Chicken (during lunch).
    A VERY GREAT book that delivers the goods on Islam in an intellectually honest and historically accurate way is Robert Reilly’s “The Closing of the Muslim Mind”. In it we learn how Islam turned away from reason and faith toward emotion and belief. You also learn that that turn required a bloody pogram against the muslim intellectuals – you know, the guys that islam is always bragging about for its contributons to science, classical studies, philosophy, astronomy, mathemetics, numbering systems etc etc. Well, those bright young muslims were all slaughtered and it’s been all the way downhill for islam ever since.
    There’s another critical point to be made concerning dialogue with islam:
    It is not a religion that worships the Jewish and Christain God. The muslim god is different and is not God. (now before anyone jumps down my throat for writing that last sentance, let us all – in the spirit of “dialogue” – note that it is the very sentance that muslims use against God. They declaim: “There is no god but Allah.”
    The muslim god is not God. We can know this because of the many reasons (oops I just used that word “reason” again) stated and explained by Chicken above and can be read in much greater detail in Reilly’s book, and we can know because they insist on that very point themselves!
    Again, they say:
    “There is no god but Allah.” (ok, they score on monotheism.)
    They say “Allah has no companions” (here they mean no Triune Godhead)
    Since, from their viewpoint both statements above are true (funny thing: “truth” in the muslim cosmology simply is irrelevent), it can in no way be possible that Allah and the Christian God are the same. They MUST be different. Even Muslims INSIST in this point!!! Why can’t we Christians???
    Allah is NOT God. Muslims are not Abrahamic. Yahweh is not Allah.
    Now that we have established these truths, and now that Christians can agree with Muslims that Yahweh is not Allah, on what additional topics shall we dialogue?
    World cup soccer? principals of supply and demand? free markets?

  44. Imrahil says:

    Dear @hilltop,

    Why can’t we Christians?

    Because, you know (and let’s just cut all that ecumenic-in-the-wrong-place talk which, I grant, does also exist) we Christians have a certain fondness, and perhaps weakness, for exactness. Fr Johannes Messner once put it into the phrase “Christian teaching” (by which he meant, but it is not restricted to, social teaching) “is not catchphrase-suitable”.

    Mohammedans worship the One God who created the world.

    This is the Christian God. Period.

    Withstanding neither their errors concerning the Trinity, Jesus Christ (where the Jews err in a similar way btw), the things He commanded for us men to do, and other things, nor the blunt, insulting, and in a proto-puritan way boring way they (beginning with the Koran itself) do so.

    I appreciate you are trying to find a catchphrase: “The Mohammedan god is not God”. It has all the merits of both shortness and serving a good cause. Only it is… incorrect, and with a weakness for exactness I might say that undue simplifying might prove to be a time-bomb in ways unforeseen.

  45. Clinton says:

    Stephen D pointed out that the 800 martyrs of Otranto will be canonized in about two months.
    They were decapitated by Moslem invaders in what is now Italy, slaughtered because they
    refused apostasy. Perhaps the Holy Father could address our Muslim brethren from the
    Martyr’s chapel in Otranto.

    It’s a remarkable chapel
    , and it would certainly be a visual to spark conversation…

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear @catholicmidwest,

    the problem is that on hearing the word “relationship with Jesus Christ”, I get some alarm bells ringing… even though I’m very probably more tolerant of charismatism than many commentators here.

    I’m not able to read something into the martyrs moods. But if I still do so (may He and they forgive me), I cannot see they were what people nowadays would describe as “I’m having a relationship with Jesus Christ”. What I can see is the honest confession of St. Peter, “well where else could I go”. What I can see is an abhorrence of, called with the precise term, treason. What I can see is gratitude for Our Lord’s redemption, which prompts sacrifice. What I can see is a charity for the unbelieving populace who, by the example and by mysterious ways God’s providence, might be helped to get closer to accepting the Faith.
    Relationship with Jesus Christ? Yes, in itself the word might mean all that. But let’s be honest, we don’t understand that on hearing. Nothing against a good feeling of closeness to God (I’ve said I’m more tolerant of charismatism than others), but that won’t prompt exposing oneself to the situation where Our Lord, very appropriately, quoted the psalm of Godforsakenness.

    Also, I have a faint guess that we are less different from the men of the Dark Ages than you suppose. Converting the rulers, I figure (which means, I cannot prove; but just let me figure for a time…), will still be one of the highliest effective methods to convert greater amounts of people. People have a fondness for their rulers, if these are not tyrants. Ask soldiers about their Minister of Defence, whom they have never met. Ask employees (well… maybe not Walmart) what they think of the head of their employing company major shareholder family. Ask Europeans (not the intelligentsia, but what is called the plebs) what they think of their king (grand duke, prince), where they have one, or their deposed princely Houses, where not.

    The actual difference will, perhaps, be that it is more difficult to convert rulers these days.

    [The deposed princely Houses, insofar as they are Catholics, very often are of the faithful sort. I grant that despite they are held in high esteem, their example does indeed not convert the Masses; they, and their Catholicism, are something like venerated as remnants of great times past “but you cannot turn the clock back”.]

    Anyway, even if if the rulers cannot be converted still the others should if they can. But in fact there are Huns at the door. Let us not fall into the error condemned by Chesterton to paint the picture of the joyous irresponsible man of the world. There is no such person. I consider myself a young person (24) and I most certainly will not paint the picture of the youth as wishing for the big thing and the great thing. Yet I can assure you that the general attitude of my generation is one of perhaps not direct despair, but permeating sadness or anxiety, as soon as you get out of school. I do not say my generation longs for my faith. I do say it longs for consolation, even if the consolation breaks the 6th commandment or the moderation rules on alcohol. Hedonism creates attachments that pose additional difficulties (including with myself); but hedonism is not the origin of the problem, it is itself a symptom. It is a symptom of the Huns at the door.

    Also, the aim of the missionary is not to produce holiness. I mean, yes, we are called to live a holy life, and all that sort of thing. But we should not forget that when we hear the word “holiness”, we probably understand a different sort of thing. When you cite the stunning examples of holiness as an excuse for an otherwise insufficient work, you seem to do so too. The missionary’s work is not to produce holiness; it is to spread the faith.
    The difference is that if Oskar Wilde calls a priest at the end of his life to give him the Last Sacraments, and whisper into his ear, “God, I believe in Thee; God, I hope in Thee, God, I love Thee, God, forgive me my sins”, the missionary’s work is done. If a man does his work, appears in Church on Sunday, fulfills the other four precepts of the Church, does not sin with malice (as opposed to weakness) against the commandments, has a horror of being excommunicated, sends his Children to religion classes if he cannot otherwise provide for them, and calls for the priest when he is about to die, the missionary’s work is done. When Henry IV, who was obviously so very much mistaken and disobedient, still gives all the indications of being a disobedient Christian, and most definitely not a pagan, the missionary’s work is done. Let then begin, if you wish, the work of the spiritual director. But do not despise popular Christianity even if it is not exceptional.

    Of course, your comments very heavily interesting, especially the method described. Forgive the criticism, thus, often enough a mere occasion to go into some thoughts which are not primarily critic but just that, thoughts.

  47. The Masked Chicken says:


    I would not go so far as to say the God of Islam is not the Abrahamic God for the simple reason that to do so would violate St. Anselm’s First Ontological Proof of God’s existence. “God is that of which nothing greater can be thought,” is a common way of putting it. Any God that satisfies that principle, must, at least in some cloudy way, be the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Certainly, or so it seems to me, that is the God that Islam seeks to worship.

    The problem is, they do it so badly and largely because they have not really understood the nature of the God to whom they give their worship. It was, precisely, the intellectuals who would have shown them the inconsistencies in the understanding of God that emerged at a crossroad in the 13th-century. As you know, these intellectuals were purged from Islam and so, Islam’s conception of God is locked into a misunderstanding of the Divine Nature. Now, one can have the right God, one can see the right God, but have glasses so out of focus that one believes that God is an amorphous blur rather than a Trinity of persons. This seems to be the problem with Islam. Judaism, by contrast, not only has the right God, but at least one of the lenses is in focus (the other one is still waiting to be fixed).

    BLB Oregon,

    You wrote,

    ” So Christian and Muslim populations have never lived in the same town in peace? I’m not talking about Islamic Spain. I’m not in a hurry to get into anyone’s time machine.

    I do have to wonder how many posting here have ever so much as met someone who observes Ramadan, let alone worked with them or had them as a neighbor and known that they did. I have to think very few posting here have done that. If you had, there wouldn’t be so many blanket statements about what “they” do and what they think and want of us.”

    I teach college in a city that has one of the largest Somali populations outside of Somalia. I have many Islamic students. I have some idea about their life style. Anyone can look me up on the Internet who knows my secret identity. It is no secret that I am a Catholic. I have written for Catholic Answers, who even made my work a selected article on their website. Anyone can read it. I am sure that many of my students have made comments about where I stand on professor ratings sites. I have taught the children of one of the country more famous Catholic personalities, who asked to be in my class. Certainly, if Islamic students felt threatened by me, I wouldn’t be having them recommend me so much.

    That being said, I am hard-pressed to think of a single region in the world where Christians and Moslems live in peace that does not fall into one of two categories: 1) extreme relativism (which may be equated to secularism, worldliness, or indifference to religion), or 2) the Moslem population is not the dominant one. Jews, since the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. in the Diaspora, have become very clever at surviving and one of the common means is to make accommodations with a culture and work on prospering. Islamists often adopt the same strategy when they are not in control of a culture. This seems to be part of the semitic mindset. Tell me of a place where either of the two conditions I have mentioned do not prevail where there is, “peaceful,” co-existence between Christians and Moslems. I can’t think of any. There are, I think, some places outside of Egypt and near Jerusalem where there is a relative peace (it has been a while since I studied the world situation), but these occur because of the large indifference to religion in the regions. Even in the United States, where there is relative peace, both conditions exist, but there are signs that this is changing.

    When Islam reaches a dominant status, they place Christians under dhimmitude and extract large financial payments for the right to live relatively uncoerced. This is Quranic teaching.

    I know of no place, not even 16th-century Spain, where there has been actual peace between Islam and Christianity for an extended period of time and certainly no peace that has been achieved through, “dialogue.” I could be wrong and I stand to be corrected, since I am not an expert on Islam.

    To be fair, Vatican II, in the document on the relation of the Church with other religions, Nostra Aetate, has the infamous passage (infamous because it is so hotly argued and discussed):

    “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these [other] religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)

    The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

    3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

    Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”

    I don’t quite understand what, “promoting …moral welfare,” means in this context, since the concept differs between Catholicism and Islam in some very important areas (although there is some overlap in such areas as pro-life, albeit for somewhat different reasons). Also, forgetting the past means exactly what – suddenly, all of the accumulated knowledge of the Other goes away? How can the two groups now work together when they couldn’t in the past. What changed, such that the Council Fathers could suggest such a fresh beginning. If the Church weren’t, at least at times in the past, working for a mutual understanding, what the heck were they doing?? Sincerely, we tried. It failed. I ask, again, what changed in 1965, such that the Council Fathers could make such a suggestion? Could someone shed some light on this, because I do not understand. Asking for a fresh beginning is noble, but unless people are willing to change, will not the old patterns re-emerge?

    A note in passing about ecumenical, “dialogue,” in general, however. It seems that few people actually read the documents of Vatican II. In the document on Ecumenism, it plainly states (here, talking about Protestants):

    [Chapter I, paragraph 4]

    “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. These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult; then, “dialogue” between competent experts from different Churches and Communities. At these meetings, which are organized in a religious spirit, each explains the teaching of his Communion in greater depth and brings out clearly its distinctive features. In such dialogue, everyone gains a truer knowledge and more just appreciation of the teaching and religious life of both Communions. In addition, the way is prepared for cooperation between them in the duties for the common good of humanity which are demanded by every Christian conscience; and, wherever this is allowed, there is prayer in common. Finally, all are led to examine their own faithfulness to Christ’s will for the Church and accordingly to undertake with vigor the task of renewal and reform.”

    [Chapter II, paragraph 9]

    “9. We must get to know the outlook of our separated brethren. To achieve this purpose, study is of necessity required, and this must be pursued with a sense of realism and good will. Catholics, who already have a proper grounding, need to acquire a more adequate understanding of the respective doctrines of our separated brethren, their history, their spiritual and liturgical life, their religious psychology and general background. Most valuable for this purpose are meetings of the two sides – especially for discussion of theological problems – where each can deal with the other on an equal footing – provided that those who take part in them are truly competent and have the approval of the bishops. From such dialogue will emerge still more clearly what the situation of the Catholic Church really is. In this way too the outlook of our separated brethren will be better understood, and our own belief more aptly explained.”

    It is plain that it is relatively competent people (mostly experts) only who were expected to engage in dialogue, at least with Protestant, and how much moreso should it be with Moslems. Steve Clark appealed to this document to justify the incursion of Catholics into Pentecostal prayer groups in the late 1960’s, but I can tell you that not a one of them who did so was a competent expert in Pentecostalism. I might dialogue with a Pentecostal, since I do have some expertise in the area, but such knowledge did not exist back them. The whole concept of, “dialogue,” has been overused to justify any excuse for talking with people of other faiths. You and I and the common man are not supposed to be having dialogues of the sort normally thought of with people of other faiths, at least in the whole (circumstances and Acts of God, notwithstanding).

    I can, however, see Robert Spencer having such a dialogue with Moslems.

    Now, in other documents of Vatican II (such as Apostolicam actuositatem), however, the apostolic outreach of the Church is seen to express itself in service to those outside of the Church and in this sense, the best dialogue that a Catholic who is not an expert may have with a Moslem is at the end of a smile, a kind word, and a strong, helping hand. We people in the pew are, by-and-large, supposed to dialogue by example, not words.

    Now, that sort of dialogue I can get behind because that is the dialogue of the saints.

    The Chicken

  48. The Masked Chicken says:

    One last thing…it must be tedious reading my long-winded comments, so tomorrow, for a limited time only, one sentence comments!

    The Chicken

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    Chicken, you said, “The missionary’s work is not to produce holiness; it is to spread the faith.
    ……. If a man does his work, appears in Church on Sunday, fulfills the other four precepts of the Church, does not sin with malice (as opposed to weakness) against the commandments, has a horror of being excommunicated, sends his Children to religion classes if he cannot otherwise provide for them, and calls for the priest when he is about to die, the missionary’s work is done. ….

    So this is the whole of it, just to get people in the doors and get them to follow the rules. And keep them from leaving, by horror of excommunication if necessary. Is that it? That’s what I hear you telling me.

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    Masked Chicken, I just realized that I had addressed my comment to you, but I should have addressed it to Imrahil. I’m sorry for the misaddress in my comment.

  51. hilltop says:

    Imrahil wrote:
    Mohammedans worship the One God who created the world ( and therefore worship the Christian God)
    Sorry, Imrahil. Worshipping a single creator entity as a god is a necessary but insufficient criteria for Christian Faith. Monotheism among disparate faiths is not an indication that the single god worshipped is the same god. When Islam rants that their God is not triune, as in “Allah has no companion”, they, not Christians, assert the mutual exclusivity of the Muslim and Christian Gods. I do not assert it, I simply listen to their assertions and conclude accordingly.
    Chicken, you’re next.

  52. Imrahil says:

    Dear @catholicmidwest,

    I’m greatly honored that you mistook my comment for one of the dear @Chicken’s.

    On the rest… it’s getting late etc…. I was not talking about fear that is imposed from eternal, by … like… violence (including of the psychologic sort), but rather of the intrinsic fear of the weak faithful man who believes his faith will have for e. g. excommunications. In fact, coming to think of it, I was already talking of filial fear and not subservient fear.

    Yet, and I stick to that: downvaluing the humble poor-in-spirit who believes his faith, just because he is a sinner, or he cannot claim religious experiences, or he is not the best at catechizing even his children, or he in honesty does not feel able to say he is totally and completely following the Lord etc. etc., is not what missionary work is about. Often things come step by step. Did you see the movie “Under the Roman Sky”? What Pius XII does to General Stahel is what I mean… Did you read Berlin Alexander’s Place? What happens to the small-scale criminal there described is what I mean (Döblin converted some 15 years later to Catholicism, and on getting that info I thought I should have known).

    Indeed even beyond the “job distinction” (missinonary/spiritual director/confession father/ etc.”, which even though the roles are of course overlapping still is necessary for clearness’ sake, there are so many things actually more important than claiming conversion experiences. We get our relationship with Jesus Christ in Holy Baptism. And that includes childhood Baptism.

  53. Imrahil says:

    Dear @hilltop,

    you are disproving what I never in my wildest dreams attempted to state.

    Of course Mohammedans do not have the Christian faith!

    They have the Mohammedan belief. Which worships God, the same that we Christians worship, with a heavily distorted (heretical and also apostatical – which is the utmost you can say, in fact!) image of Him.

  54. boxerpaws1952 says:

    St Jude (just the saint we need for this one)commented: “I’m thinking we’d have more luck talking to a brick wall.” Yep.A brick wall doesn’t blow ppl up when you’re done either.One of the main tenets of Islam is convert or die. Conversation over.

  55. Bill Foley says:

    A suggestion and a challenge

    1. Subscribe–it is free–to Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch on the Internet.

    2. At least read Robert Spencer’s two books: The Truth About Muhammad and the The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.

    3. View Frank Gaffney’s video on the Internet:

  56. catholicmidwest says:


    I understand completely what you’re telling me because I’ve heard it a great many times before, and in considerable depth, almost exclusively from cradle Catholics. It’s very typical. That doesn’t mean I buy it — either the fear part or the “step-by-step” part — because I don’t. Not at all. It still shocks me every time I hear it laid out, and you laid it out very well. There is no mistaking that that’s what I read.

    You should know that when I say “evangelization,” I’m not referring to “missionaries” as Catholics usually think of them. I’m referring to the New Evangelization, which is directed to those Catholics inside the Church as much as anyone else.

    Definition: “In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-proposing’ the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith.Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.”1 The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.
    USCCB Website:

    To be evangelized is to become an disciple of Jesus Christ precisely BECAUSE that is the mission of the Church: to make you into a disciple. The Scriptures say,
    “18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.””
    Revised Standard Version, Matthew 28: 18-20.

  57. hilltop says:

    Chicken chickened out when he wrote:
    I would not go so far as to say the God of Islam is not the Abrahamic God for the simple reason that to do so would violate St. Anselm’s First Ontological Proof of God’s existence. “God is that of which nothing greater can be thought,” is a common way of putting it. Any God that satisfies that principle, must, at least in some cloudy way, be the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Certainly, or so it seems to me, that is the God that Islam seeks to worship.

    Some cloudy way, eh?

    Islam holds that Allah is all powerful, all willful. It is the will of Allah that makes the world spin, butterflies to flap their wings, each human breath, objects to fall toward the center of the earth, each snowflake to form and then to fall, wind to blow, books to be written, grain harvested, cars to operate, air/gas mixtures to explode in combustion engine cylinders. Allah wills all things at all times. Allah is right now willing that each one reading this is reading this and Allah wills me to now
    misspell this next ward. Allah is all will, all power at all times. Now that we know some things about Allah, let’s try to fit man into that Muslim picture…
    Because (not if) Allah is all will, there is no will remaining. No will therefore remains to man in the Muslim cosmology. Hence Islam gives us expressions like ” God willing”. Now, Christians use that phrase as well at times appropriate to the Christian cosmology, but Muslims use it as a response to anything and everything, including, for example, “I will now eat chicken for lunch, God willing”.
    The Muslim has no will. He cannot have, for Allah is all Will.
    Entirely contrary to this muslim understanding of the relationship between Allah and man, The Christian Faith mandates that man is made by God in the image and likeness of God in that man is endowed by God with both an intellect and a will. This is ” de fide”.
    With this brief but accurate portayal of the two, let’s now take the Muslim cosmology and Christian cosmology in hand and go for a walk up the Mountain with Abraham and Isaac:
    The Christian God, having bestowed Abraham with his own individual will, puts His servant’s will to the test. Old Abe passes. Abraham wills -of his own- to slaughter his son in obedient sacrifice to Yahweh.
    He knowingly and willingly subjects his will to the will of Yahweh. He conforms his individual will to the will of God, the God who gave Abraham his will in the first.
    The Muslim god has no need, indeed, no capability, to test Abraham’s will. Allah never gave Abraham a will. The odd thing is that Allah, the God that is all willing, is not able to test Abraham. Abraham does not have what it takes to be tested. There are other great tales of Abraham, and Islam may prefer them to the Sacrifice of Isaac, but Islam does not get to pick and choose. Since it claims Abraham, Islam gets all of him including the will given him by Yahweh and tested on the Mount.
    Thus Islam cannot claim to be Abrahamic because it cannot reconcile it’s Allah of Pure Will with the central defining interection of a man with a will and a God with a will: Yahweh’s test of Abraham.
    Islam, despite thoughtless accommodations by Christian “dialogue-ists”, is not Abrahamic.
    Allah is not Yahweh. Not even close. And all of the above is offered without even using the word “Love”. Try that word on a dialoguing Muslim sometime in discussions of Allah…

  58. catholicmidwest says:

    A person’s relationship with God may start at baptism, even infant baptism, but it’s supposed to grow and flourish, as the person grows and flourishes. If we find that this isn’t happening, then we need to create the practical fellowship situations where it can happen. Spiritual growth throughout a person’s lifetime is normal and should not be punished or neglected.

  59. JMody says:

    Fr Z said:
    [Of course, from a Catholic perspective, do we not want to convert the whole world?]
    and that is correct. This is why Belloc said that Islam is really a severe Christian heresy. The difference comes when you disagree with the proselytizer (sp?). Christ told the Apostles that if the people will not hear you, leave, and shake the dust of their town from your sandals. Mohammed tells the Faithful that if the infidel will not accept Islam, then he is to be offered second-class citizenship, dhimmitude, requiring him to pay a tax, be submissive, and accept his beatings — he may keep his faith, to himself, behind closed doors, and may neither build nor repair churches (what, a mob burned your little church? How terrible — you may not rebuild it.) If he will not accept this, he is part of dar al Harb, the world at war, and must be killed.

    Dialogue on those terms will be interesting indeed. The one thing nobody here has mentioned is that St. Franis of Assissi did go to the caliph in Egypt and try to convert him. He supposedly declined for fear of his subordinates — and not fear of the dust on their sandals, I’ll bet.

  60. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m glad these efforts are not up to me. There is no reason to dialogue as far as I can see. There is only one person who can dialogue effectively with Muslims, in my opinion, and that would be Jesus Christ. The plight of Christians all over the world is shocking, so much persecution, harassment, suffering, death, caused predominantly by Muslims against Christians. But we are to remain silent about it or risk offending someone. Absurd. In this regard it is alot like the massacre that is abortion. Babies are pulled apart, but let’s not offend anyone by dropping that fact in polite company. We live in a Bizarro world.
    Robert Spencer is a courageous man with integrity to spare.

  61. nykash says:

    I would urge everyone to read “Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for The Soul of The West” by William Kilpatrick.

    Dialog has proven to be useless in the face of aggression.

  62. MikeM says:

    Dialogue about what? Don’t get me wrong, sitting around and talking about religious topics with people from different religions is something of a hobby of mine. I enjoy it as a recreational activity. But, presumably neither the Pope nor any high ranking bishops are considering converting to Islam, and presumably the Muslim authorities aren’t particularly open to accepting the divinity of Jesus of Christ, the concept of true friendship with God, Catholic doctrine on Grace, forgiveness of sin, or anything else that really matters.

    It’s a good thing when people of different religions can sit down and converse amicably, and we can “dialogue” away, but let’s not pretend that the dialogue itself is an important endeavor. It won’t bear any more fruit than sitting down together to drink tea or watch a soccer game.

  63. maryh says:

    @The Masked Chicken says Islam had a choice in the 13th-century (?) between adopting the rules of logic and argument in seeking God, thus, understanding God, primarily, as a God of reason, as the Church was doing (Aristotle works were well-known to the Arab world by that point through their translation of the Greek into Arabic), or of understanding God as bring pure will. They chose to see only the aspect of God as pure will.
    The question then becomes, since Islam made one choice in the 13th-century, is it possible for it to undo that choice and make the other one now?
    Here’s are two very interesting articles by Tawfik Hamid, a Muslim Islamic scholar who is trying to reform Islam:
    A quote from this article:
    Those who deny the existence of any violent teachings in mainstream Islam must face the unavoidable reality that violent teachings do exist, and are still unchallenged in the mainstream Islamic books. This group needs to provide at least one single mainstream-approved Islam book that negates and theologically refutes the violent Sharia concepts.
    As long as this approved book does not exist, the problem will remain. Claiming that “Islam is peaceful” without changing the violent teachings is merely unrealistic lip service that aims at deceiving others.

  64. robtbrown says:


    There are problems between Islam and the Church, but IMHO they concern more the concept of man than the concept of the One God.

    1. Acc to St Thomas God is the 1st efficient cause of everything that happens, but there are also intermediate causes. Thus God wills birds chirping and bees making honey. The problem is that man is able to commit evil. God is said to permit evil accidentally, willing the existence of the evil man but not his evil work.

    2. IMHO, the concept of human free will follows from God’s Freedom in Creating. The Creation does not exist necessarily, which some of the Arabic philosophers of the Middle Ages were accused of promoting.

    3. Human faculties include the freedom to assent or not assent, to choose the means appropriate for a good end, but not the freedom to determine man’s Last End.

    3. Of course, in Catholic thought there is Free Will but also Predestination. These seem contradictory concepts. In fact, they are able to be held at the same time by placing the latter in the order of Grace, which perfects nature and thus the human will.

  65. hilltop says:

    Please folks, I am familiar with the Angelic Dcotors proofs for the existence of God. And I agree with them! But in “inter-religious” “dialogue” one must be familiar with one’s own beliefs AND familiar with the other’s beliefs.
    We must not assess muslims’ monotheism in Christian terms. (which is what is going on above) We must assess their monotheism in Muslim terms. That’s what they do after all. From the Muslim standpoint, They do not buy Aquinas or his ‘proofs’. Proofs? They do not need no stinkin’ proofs, they have something better – the Koran. And the Koran is the word of Allah written by Allah through the willed physical manipulation of Mohammed’s hand. (no Holy Spirit there) in Islam you either believe the Koran in toto (oops, Latin) or you are infidel. If you believe the Koran you are a “BELIEVER”. With Christianity one is FAITHFUL. Please understand the distinction for it is a distinction made first by Muslims.
    So, yes, we are kind and thoughtful and sharing Christian folk and being such we are predisposed to assume the same traits in others. But in a dialogue we MUST first listen to Muslims and hear them not from our Christian mindset but from their Muslim mindset. PLEASE.
    Only then can true dialogue begin. Once it does begin on that firm ground we Christians will find precious little to discuss with Muslims.

  66. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Hilltop,

    describing (as you did) how much and much Mohammedan tenets differ from Christian, true ones, does not alter the fact that He whom they set out to reach with it is Our God.

    (Besides, and this is not really the point here, it is in quite actual truth the will of God that makes the world spin, butterflies to flap their wings, each human breath, objects to fall toward the center of the earth, each snowflake to form and then to fall, wind to blow, books to be written, grain harvested, cars to operate, air/gas mixtures to explode in combustion engine cylinders. We Christians have not evaded the complex problems when it comes to free-will of the men (and angels), which we hold, and when it comes to the distinction between positive will and permissive will. But still, we do hold and should not forget that God has an all-powerful will, also in our religion.)

    Dear @catholicmidwest,
    When the USCCB says this, I go into interpretation and say, “well that means what we used to call start to practice the faith, they only exchanged the name to be more cool”. And I might mention that some could say, “I agree to the thing itself, yet I do not think the name more cool; it sounds so charismatic”. I could be one of them.

    As to the appeal to the practicing Catholic, that has probably been done to not make the outsider feel bad; whether this is helpful or not, let be open, for they know well enough that the difference exists. For the rest, let it be interpreted as “grow spiritually”, or more directly, to quote our reverend host, Go to Confession.

    Still we might say that these are things with a certain difference, which just happen to be brought included under one word.

    I never denied with a word that there is spiritual growth, and in so far, an evangelization, or even a self-evangelization, of the faithful. What I did want to say is that spreading the faith must be at least mentally distinguished from growing in it.

    Anabaptism has, even in the denominations which rightly rejected it, and even to a degree among the Catholics, brought a certain minority complex of those baptised as a child, because they did not really decide, etc. etc. It is mostly cradle Catholics that, with a little tear in their eye, defend Catholicism in the only form possibly present among greater populaces, even if it not each of these populaces goes into enthousiasm? Go figure.

    (Am I a cradle Catholic? Depends. Baptised as a child, Catholic kindergarten because it was the one available, not practicing until First Communion preparation which was a popular tradition, positive desire to be Confirmed even apart from popular tradition, too coward for 2nd Confession until the age of 16.)

    The problem is that when the practicing Catholic is called to “renew His relationship with Jesus Christ”, he might get some disillusion. There I am, I’m a part of the Lord’s flock for so and so long a time, Communicate every week or more often, have – maybe – not to my knowledge sinned mortally since my last Confession, and they say: Renew the relationship! Renew! They don’t say “repent of such sins as remain in you”, which I do need, they say: renew! they don’t say, pray more often or get some more fervour into your prayers, they say: renew! They don’t say, Go to Confession, for which it might indeed be time again, they say: renew!

    The idea of reaching out for God and not reaching Him is, notwithstanding its truths, one predominant rather in Protestantism; it is heavily present in C. S. Lewis’s so-called Mere Christianity, it has been described by the Bl. John Henry Newman as such, and here it becomes interesting: I’m sorry for not quoting but only remembering, but the Bl. John Henry Newman said that then he came to a Catholic country: and God simply lived there. They simply had God in their midst, as a good friend and neighbor – whom they of course also sinned against, but still.

    To say “renew” is defensible, though. What is not defensible (even if excusable and not the worst of indefensible things), is that some say in the same mood, “get to know Jesus Christ”. A person who has received Holy Communion worthily and not mortally sinned since, cannot without objective ingratitude speak of “getting to know Jesus Christ”, only of getting to know Him deeper and better.

    [Yes, I recently was subjected to some talk of the charismatic sort, and this is probably a reaction.]

    But then, apparently it’s simply this: some people say “relationship with Jesus Christ”, some people say “disciple of Jesus Christ”, some people say “practicing Catholic”. In the reality they’re roughly the same thing, yet you think (I suppose) that people do not like (traditional) religion*, and hence one of the first two should primarily be used. I think the latter should for practical matters primarily be used; because to have to profess oneself one of the former, brings a great barrier of humilty (even if perhaps false humility); and also [*] because Catholicism, after all, is a religion, though the true one – even a traditional one -, and we should not bring disillusionment on this part.

  67. Imrahil says:

    I might also say: If you insist on “relationship with Jesus Christ” and “disciple of Jesus Christ”, then please use, for men, the latter exclusively. Male friends do not speak of having a relationship with each other, nor does a vassal speak of having a relationship with his liegelord.

  68. Supertradmum says:

    Robert Spencer is the one voice of honesty about the situation with Islamists.

    We need more prophets like him.

    Do you realize how many of us women in London have experienced very rude and even threatening behavior just walking on the street from Muslim men? Several of us have experienced aggressive and nasty behavior, like not moving over so that we have to walk in the street, as the Muslim men will not move over.

    I exaggerate not.

    The discussions must include how women are treated not only in Muslem countries, but increasingly in the West.

    And, there is sex slavery here, just read the newspapers and talk to Muslim women who are afraid to talk about how they are treated.

    Catholicism civilized the world and the love of Mary created respect for all women. We cannot pretend and cover over real difference which are not merely cultural but religious from the Muslims

  69. ji says:

    I lived in the Middle East for 18 years. Oh, the stories I could tell. For the most part it was a great experience (especially since I could walk to Church and Mossad were protecting my diplomatic neighbor). Islam is an immature religion therefor does not allow for the questioning of its beliefs. This falls over into their society. While they revile the West and pretend not to have the same problems, they are not being honest with themselves. Why tell the truth when you can lie is a motto I would use to describe many over there (confession is soooo good for keeping a person honest).
    Their minds are closed to other religions because they are afraid of the truth.
    Just as an aside, During a time of religious tension there, a local priest said, “God gave us the ability to bend a little so we do not break. We have been here for centuries, so we do not worry.”
    Honestly, if you could see where St. Anthony called home in the dessert, you would wonder how he survived at all.
    There is a pecking order of the worst infidels > Jews first, Christians second, all others.
    Converts are just that. Unless born into the religion, you will never quite make it their eyes.
    Up in the monastery of Mount Sinai, there is a decree from a Muslim ruler (forget his name) granting safe status to the monastery for eternity.

  70. hilltop says:

    Imrahil, your first paragraph to me above is rubbish. Intent to force a common ground with Islam where one does not and can not exist does not make you a great thinker. Every Muslim would disagree with you on your own grounds! That should give you pause in inmparting Christian beliefs to Muslims. Alas, it does not seem to do so.
    As I write this I am riding a train watching the sun rise. Here’s the difference between the Allah and Yahweh:
    Yahweh made -willed- everything as indicated in Genesis. This includes making-willing- man with an intellect and a will of his very own andthe sun that is now rising over His created earth. Yahweh did not will trains or tracks or runoff ditches or the use of His trees to be fashioned into track ties. Those are products of man’s will, the will God gave man at His creation of man.
    Allah did not give man will. Allah kept all will to Allah. The Muslim has no will. (this is absurd, of course, but it it is nonetheless what Muslims hold and you do not get to change that fact even though you are obviously a nice guy for wanting to)
    Now the Muslim train ride is very different from mine. It is different in every possible way. I can ride the train and marvel at the beauty of the sunrise over the waters as the celestial orb’s ray penetrate the branches of deciduous trees in the early spring AND I canallow MY mind to wander to admiration of the will-ful hard labor of Irish rednecks who made and laid the tracks, hand dug the runoff ditches, the will-full titans of industry who scraped iron ore from mountains and moved mountains to make way fro the tracks. Yahweh did none of these things. Yahweh willed none of them.
    The Muslim sitting in the next car with the exact same view sees every thing as the repeating creating will of Allah. Allah must continually re-will EVERY thing. This muslim’s every thought is Allah’s will, his admiration of Allah’s creation is because Allah willed him to admire Allah’s creation. Rednecks laid track because Allah willed it and the Christian infidel in the next car is engaged in a blog debate with Imrahil in which the infidel excoriates Allah because Allah is willing it.
    Please see the difference. Please re-cognize the difference. Otherwise you have to carry a prayer rug next time you travel to Assisi.

  71. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Because (not if) Allah is all will, there is no will remaining.”

    To say that God is all-anything is enough to satisfy Anselm’s Ontology, since Divine simplicity implies that God, the only God, is the only being who is not decomposible into parts (so, God’s will and his reason are one – a point not understood in Islam), so whether they contradict the doctrine of the Trinity does not mean that they do not worship, however imperfectly, the one, true God anymore than it means that the Jews, who also deny the Trinity don’t.

    The Chicken

  72. The Masked Chicken says:

    See, I can answer in one sentence (a very long sentence :) ).

    The Chicken

  73. Imrahil says:

    Dear @hilltop,
    your first paragraph to me above is rubbish.

    If it was, would you not have better arguments to conquer it?

    Intent to force a common ground with Islam where one does not and can not exist does not make you a great thinker.

    First, I’m not a great thinker, but you need not be one to be perhaps correct in what you think. Second, you’re misunderstanding me again if you think I wanted to force (or find) a common ground or any such thing. I merely want to make your criticism of Mohammedanism more strong by removing from it the one sentence which, alas, is incorrect. This happens to be true about the “Allah is not God” sentence.

    And I’m not imparting Christian beliefs into Mohammedans. The question whether God is Allah is an entirely different one. (By occasion, I am against your imparting contrary-to-Mohammedanism beliefs into Christianity).

    Besides, while I’m more in favor of uttering God’s Most Holy Name than is the Pope emeritus, who wants it forbidden at all even where occasional prayer is concerned – still let’s rather remove it from discussions, okay?

    Then, even in debating the Will, you, sorry, get carried off into disagreeing with Islam at all cost. I could use harder words than incorrect, but: It is incorrect to state that “the Lord did not will the train trecks to be made”! This is incorrect!!

    The Muslim has no will. (this is absurd, of course, but it it is nonetheless what Muslims hold and you do not get to change that fact even though you are obviously a nice guy for wanting to)

    Yes, this is absurd. Yes, this is what Muslims hold. There’s only two problems:
    1. this has nothing to do with the question “whether Allah is God” (to quote my drill instructor, “I don’t understand the mere question”),
    2. we Christians heavily differ in asserting that Man has a will. But you won’t help the Christian cause if you make that the entire focus and deduce simply wrong statements of it, such as God not willing the Eiffel Tower to be set up in Paris. Of course He did. Although you’re obviously a nice guy for taking the course that, as you believe, is most against Mohammedanism. (One condescending phrase deserves another, right?)

    (As to no. 2, and this is a parenthesis, what do you say about Ludwig Ott, Dogmatics, II, § 8, where it is said. “God preserves all created things in their being. De fide. […] Cf Cat Rom I 2,21: If His Providence would not preserve the things with the same force with which they were created in the beginning, they would immediately fall back into nothing. […]
    § 9. God directly co-acts in any act of the creatures. Sent. comm. […] The coaction of the causa prima with the causas secundas is called concursis vivinus. [… Proof:] Holy Scripture often ascribes the actions of created causes, such as the forming of the human body in the mother’s womb, the giving of rain, food and clothes, often to God, cf Job 10,8ff, Ps 146,8f, Mt 5,45, 6,26.30, albeit these verses can be understood in the sense of an indirect coaction of God. To a direct coaction points Is 26,12 and especially Acts 17,28. Is 26,12: ‘All our deeds Thou hast acted for us.’ Acts 17,28: ‘Within Him we live, move and are.’ Hieronymus and Augustinus [concur] […]. The inner [i. e. speculative] reason for the necessity of Divine coaction is in the total dependence from God of all created being. As the action of the creature has a being realiter different from the potency, this being as well must be caused by God.”

    I’m, need I say it, not saying so for “finding common ground”. I’m correcting what I think, and have ground for thinking, wrong in your statements, because I have this curious feeling that falsehoods, even in good intent as yours certainly are, are a time-bomb.

    Once again for the record: I. am. not. saying Mohammedanism were not so un-Christian after all.)

  74. The Masked Chicken says:

    One last thing – we are indebted to the pre-purge Islam for the Kalam Cosmological Argument (a paraphrase of Aristotle’ Prime Mover Theory) that may have inspired some of St. Thomas’s Five Ways proof of the existence of God (I know about twenty-one proofs…always nice to keep a few extra lying around).

    The Chicken

  75. veritasmeister says:

    While we can certainly label Islam as a false religion and theological evil, stemming from the fundamentals of our Catholic faith, it is unfortunate that so many here seem to be rather presumptuous in their treatment of another religion, however false it is. We have no such license in Catholicism.

    Archbishop Lefebvre provided a useful, traditional perspective.

    “Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet and has great respect for Mary, and this certainly places Islam nearer to our religion than say, for instance, Judaism, which is far more distant from us. Islam was born in the 7th century and it has benefited to some degree from the Christian teachings of those days. Judaism, on the other hand, is the heir to the system, which crucified our Lord. And the members of this religion, who have not converted to Christ, are those who are radically opposed to our Lord Jesus Christ. For them, there is no question whatever of recognizing our Lord. They are in opposition to the very foundation and existence of the Catholic faith on this subject.”

  76. nykash says:

    “They are in opposition to the very foundation and existence of the Catholic faith on this subject”

    Islam denies the divinity of Christ. There is no greater proximity to Christianity than Judaism.

  77. veritasmeister says:


    I believe what the archbishop was pointing out is that the lack of any regard of any kind and the accompanying antipathy and insult traditional classical Judaism hurls at Jesus and Mary are absent in Islam. As well as the fact that Muslims are not the ones who crucified the Lord.

  78. catholicmidwest says:

    You’re just further confirming what I heard, that’s all. You can stop now, I understand what you’re saying. I don’t agree with you, but I’ve heard this before and I know what you mean to say.

  79. Imrahil says:

    Dear @catholicmidwest,

    I was not trying to explain myself (that’s what I’ve been doing to the dear @hilltop), but very well knew that you had caught me in this sufficiently already.

    What I was was trying to convince you. :-)

  80. Pingback: Islam and Dialogue - Big Pulpit

  81. catholicmidwest says:

    No, no, Imrahil. You’re not convincing me of anything. On the contrary. I was just remarking that I understand your point of view. I’ve already heard it many times already. I don’t agree with you.

  82. Imrahil says:


    If I’d now ask why you do not agree, I’d be of course laying undue focus on my comments and, what is worse, get off topic.

    Still I’ll stick to the popular and traditional Church, for my part; the Church that is called “Catholic” but is not called elitist; the Church that expels heretics and perhaps grave sinners from her by excommunication, but does not establish an entrance barrier. Also I think the martyrs belonged to her. This is the fascinating mystery of the martyrs: not that they were people different from me, but that they were very much like me. Normally I’d have inserted “you and” before the “me”s, but I wonder whether that’s appropriate.

  83. Imrahil says:

    that they were very much alike … and nevertheless managed to exult in the supremely heroic deed of martyrdom. Only that you don’t misunderstand that.

  84. Imrahil says:

    All right, still one piece of Scripture: Don’t you think that “let the children come to Me” refers also to those of less than optimal emotional religious experience?

  85. Fr Jackson says:

    cf. Lumen Gentium 16: “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Moslems: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

    But then Fr Z says: “Since Muslims consider the Christian confession of the divinity of Christ to be an unacceptable association of a partner with God, this verse is saying that the “common word” that Muslims and the People of the Book should agree on is that Christians should discard one of the central tenets of their faith and essentially become Muslims.”

    So, is it the same God, or not?

  86. schmenz says:

    In my opinion, I would approach with caution any words that come from the likes of Mr Spencer and his mentor David Horowitz. Their approach is extremely hypocritical and they seem rather bent on creating war propaganda rather than engaging in serious discussion. Pamela Geller is of the same ilk, refusing to see the reality on the ground and trying instead to stir up animosities. These people are not reliable.

    May I recommend some words from Patriarch Rai that might cast a different light on things? I refer you to: There you will find referenced the Patriarch’s words from an interview with “Vatican Insider”.

  87. acardnal says:

    Islam considers Christians infidels. We either convert to Islam or succumb to servitude, pay tax to them, and so on. There is no room for Christians in the Muslim world. Example: Saudi Arabia which prohibits by law ANY Christian church or presence or literature in their country.

  88. Johnno says:

    You want to convert Muslims?

    You’ve got to convince them your religion is correct. Their’s isnt.

    You can even use their own Scriptures against them. The Koran itself testifies that Christ possesses more authority than Islam. That the Bible should be referred to for understanding if the Koran does not suffice. It’s all there.

    If they are unwilling to use reason, then demonstrate to them something they cannot ignore: A miracle.

    How did the Prophet Elijah defeat the priests of Baal?

    With the help of God, who can perform miracles unimaginable!

    We should turn to God. He can do it. He’s provided us a solution through Our Lady of Fatima, a name that symbolizes both the defeat of secular communism, and named after the Muslim Princess who converted to Catholicism.

    Consecrate Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

    Do it!

  89. Supertradmum says:

    A gentle reminder to some commentators: there are only two revealed religions in the world; that is, begun by God Himself. All the rest are man-made, and therefore, false.

    The two revealed religions are Judaism and Catholicism; read Dominus Iesus and other things…..

  90. veritasmeister says:

    A few reminders for you, Supertradmum,

    All religions other than Catholicism are false, including Judaism. Please read Mystici Corporis Christi as well as the normative fullness of Catholic truth and teaching for 1,900 years.

    I would remind folks here about the gravity of possible violations of the Eighth Commandment and making any possible sweeping claims about the behavior of an entire group of people, however false their religion is, or ill-informed claims regarding what their mainstream juridical consensus of today is within that religion regarding certain points of doctrine.

    Lastly, I would call upon you, Supertradmum, to reconsider your claim that Robert Spencer is some kind of prophet, somebody who does not appear to place a high premium on exacting care, balance and accuracy with regard to theological discussion and deliberation, as well as one who is rabidly committed to the separation of church and state, appears to express an affinity for a host of modern errors, and implacably opposes a classical restored Christendom and return of the Social Reign and Kingship of Christ.

  91. The Masked Chicken says:

    “All religions other than Catholicism are false, including Judaism.”

    You are using the word, “false,” equivocally. Judaism is false in what sense? It has the right God. It has the right Ten Commandments. Judaism is incomplete, not false. In Mystici Corporis Christi, the word Judaism is never used and Jew is only used in reference to the Body of Christ, so I’m not sure why you are citing this document. Catholicism completes Judaism, or else Christ would have abolished the teachings of Judaism. He did not, only the Ceremonial Laws. The moral laws are, arguably, still in place. Jesus said that he came.” not to abolish the [Jewish] Law, but to fulfill it.”

    Islam has some true parts – it gets the right God, and some false parts – Jesus is not, merely, a prophet. It is more false than Judaism, which contains no false parts, merely incomplete parts, so I don’t understand why Islam is ranked as the first among other religions in LG (although. perhaps, it might be because most in Judaism do not even see Christ as a prophet).

    In any case, logically, if something is true and false, then it is false by conjunction and in this sense, I can see your point, but the word false must be properly used and in this case, false does not apply, it seems to me, to the Jewish religion. Not recognizing that the Messiah has come is not quite the same as saying that it isn’t true in that religion. It is true in that religion – they just don’t see it and recognize Who it is. Just because they don’t believe that Christ is the Messiah doesn’t mean that the religion is false – only that they have a false understanding of their religion. Do you see what I mean?

    So, the Jewish religion is not false. It is merely misunderstood by its participants. People who correctly understand the Jewish religion are called, Christians.

    The Chicken

  92. veritasmeister says:

    I think I see what you are saying, Chicken, but…

    The Judaic understanding of messiah is vastly different than that in Christianity, and most certainly does not include for them any notion that the messiah is divinity incarnate, a Divine Word in the form of a Person. Judaism sternly rejects the Trinity every bit as much as Islam does. Orthodox Judaism would certainly say that any abolishing of any of the ceremonial law is a form of abolishing the teachings of Judaism. And I would remind you that, classically, much of Judaic orthodoxy has considered Catholicism not merely to be false and wrong, but to be idolatrous as well.

    So, Chicken, if your claim that the Jewish religion being true is somehow correct, then I’m forced to conclude that today’s self-proclaimed adherents of Judaism are actually affirming and practicing something other than Judaism.

    By the way, does this mean that you consider all non-Catholic forms of Trinitarian Christianity to not be false as well?

  93. Hunter Cuneo says:

    I have read Spencer’s book, Islam Unveiled.

    I have also read David Duke’s book, Jewish Supremacism.

    Honestly, the latter is a far more accurate depiction of the state of the world today and a much more thoroughly researched body of work.

    Judging by Spencer’s work, he is much more concerned about democracy and the spread of ‘Americanism’ than he is about evangelizing the True Faith.

    Also, why is it that any mention of dialogue with the muslims sparks such outrage but when the Holy Father reaches out to the Jews and even breaks the First Commandment in public by taking part in Jewish ceremonies, all are silent?

  94. Phil_NL says:

    The above illustrates nicely why it isn’t very fruitful to discuss religions in terms if they are ‘true’ or ‘false’. To put it succintly: the Catholic Church has it all, the rest lacks certain elements, but there is no clear cut-off point where these missing elements create a switch between ‘true’ and ‘false’. Even the teachings on the topic of salvation provide no help here, since that involves individuals, rather than the religion as such. And not to forget God’s mercy.

    Much more to the point would be to ask ourselves if other religions originate from God, or not. We can answer that in the affirmative for Christianity (even though some of our protestant brethren mangled it pretty badly, that doesnt change the source and is thereby a matter of putting this into practice. Not insignificant, surely, but one still tries to build on the Lord) and Judaism (our Lord was, after all, a faithful Jew during his stay on earth). And beyond that, we have nothing but the flimsiest of arguments to suppose God might have had a hand in their origin. In fact, one could wonder if they are man-made, or perhaps by those even further down on the good vs. bad scale….

  95. stefangillies says:

    ROBERT SPENCER is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center that states…
    “Israel, the only democracy and tolerant society in the Middle East, is surrounded by Muslim states that have sworn to destroy it and have conducted a genocidal propaganda campaign against the Jews, promising to ‘finish the job that Hitler started’.”

    The criminal intentions that are attributed to Hitler have never been proven and article 19 of the Statutes of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg indeed states – “The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence.”

    Stefan Gillies

  96. veritasmeister says:

    Here’s a news flash of some relevance: during Thursday evening mass, our Supreme Pontiff broke more new ground and washed the feet of two Muslims and two females.

  97. The Masked Chicken says:

    OrthodoxChick and Veritasmeister,

    I can’t post a comment in the Martyrdom post (maybe having cache issues with the browser), so just quickly…


    Anthony Boucher (pen name of William White) was a devout Catholic and the author of mystery stories (including ecclesiatical mysteries involving Sr. Ursula, such as Rocket to the Morgue) and science fiction. He was the famed mystery review for the Saturday Evening Post for many years (if memory serves). He wrote opera reviews and wrote radio mystery scripts. He is memorialized by the Bouchercon conventions for mystery writers and is the source of the Anthony prize for mystery writers. He was also one of the founders of Galaxy magazine, one of the premiere science fiction magazines of the late 1940’s through 1960’s or so.

    The Quest for St. Aquin is considered the best Catholic science fiction short story every written, next to the serialized Canticle for Leibowitz. It is well worth reading. I am sorry that he chose a poor name for the robot donkey (although, it is a technically correct name, after all). Boucher is considered one of the most identifiably Catholic science fiction and mystery authors of the twentieth-century. I am sure he was friends with Mnsr. Knox.


    You wrote,

    “So, Chicken, if your claim that the Jewish religion being true is somehow correct, then I’m forced to conclude that today’s self-proclaimed adherents of Judaism are actually affirming and practicing something other than Judaism.”

    Yes, that is absolutely true. That is one of the things Christ was trying to tell them when he said such things as, “You have heard it said…but I say…” He was trying to get them back to an authentic Judaism as God intended it to be. In his discourse on divorce he makes it clear, “…but in the beginning, it was not that way…”

    Modern Judaism is a misinterpretation, in parts, about how God intended it to be. Along the way, some rabbinical traditions were added that were not parts of Judaism, such as the misuse of the crobun rule.

    Ask yourself, this – if Judaism were a false religion, would the God of truth vouchsafe it? Jesus did, after all, die at the end of a Passover memorial he was celebrating. How could salvation be from the Jews if the religion were false? Then, the salvation would be false. Jesus was a Jew. Full stop. Jesus, who is Truth, itself, was a Jew. It would be impossible for Judaism to be false and have Truth at its center, for that was the whole message of the Transfiguration: Christ stood, literally, between the Law and the Prophets of Judaism, the whole of the Tanakh, speaking what? Speaking truth. Christ is the Revealer of the Old Testament and the Revelation of the New. If there were any falsehood in Judaism, the whole religion would be false and then, Christ would be false.

    The concept of Messiah of which you speak was an incomplete understanding on the part of the early Jews. Jesus is the Messiah, the proper Messiah, the true Messiah, if the Jews but had the eyes to see it. They did not. They still do not. That does not make their religion false. That makes their religion misunderstood by them. When they finally do understand it, they will convert to Christianity. St. Paul is clear about this.

    Islam is another story and a more complicated one.

    I don’t know if I will be commenting during the Sacred Triduum. If not, I will try to answer any comments early next week. If that is not possible, then thanks, everyone for a god discussion and, God willing, I will see you after Easter, if not before.

    The Chicken

  98. OrthodoxChick says:

    M. Chicken,

    Thank you for the clarification!

  99. veritasmeister says:

    Hunter Cuneo: David Duke aside, I think you hit upon some important points.

    Chicken: the only Judaism that is true is the one that was fulfilled and rendered inoperable 2,000 years ago, whose Law now is a bearer of death, per Pope Pius XII and 1,900 years of Christian tradition, and has given way in full, in total, to Christ and Christianity. Any Judaism of any kind that exists today is false.

  100. The Masked Chicken says:


    We may have to take this up after Easter, but it is impossible to fulfill a lie by the truth. You are misinterpreting Pope Pius XII, I think. When you write:” whose Law”, I don’t know what you mean, since the Ten Commandments are part of the Law and they are not the bearer of death. It would help me to understand what you mean by citing a document by Pope Pius XII for me to read. Was Pope John-Paul II wrong to refer to the Jews as our, “Elder Brothers?” How can falsehood be the Elder Brother of Truth?

    Interesting question: at what point did Christ stop being a Jew?? Certainly, he would have proclaimed it to someone, no? Should they not have buried him according to Jewish burial customs? According to your logic, he was no longer a Jew? The idea that he abolished the Law is in direct contradiction to Christ’s own words. Usually, one truth may be completed by another, but not negated so as to make it a lie. Christ did not negate Judaism. If Judaism has been completed, that does not make it false, merely inoperative.

    Anyway, could you give me something to read?

    Have a happy Easter and hopefully, we can work this out on Monday or thereafter.

    The Chicken

  101. veritasmeister says:


    I am not saying Christ [or the Apostles] ever ceased being a Jew. Being a Jew and adherent of Judaism are not exactly the same thing.

    The following is from Pope Pius XII
    And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. For, while our Divine Savior was preaching in a restricted area — He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the house of Israel [30] -the Law and the Gospel were together in force; [31] but on the gibbet of his death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees, [32] fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, [33] establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. [34] “To such an extent, then,” says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, “was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom.” [35] On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a bearer of death, [36] in order to give way to the New Testament of which Christ had chosen the Apostles as qualified ministers. [end of Pius XII encyclical quote]

    Yes, I believe JPII was incorrect in stating that Jewish non-Christians are our elder brothers in faith. What faith? Our faith is in Christ and His Church. Their faith is not.

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