A call to stop sacrificing the persecuted Christians of the world on the altar of a spurious and ineffective “dialogue.” This is not so much about me personally; it is about a wrongheaded approach by Church officials that is harming people.
“Bishop McManus, wouldn’t this be an opportune time to apologize to Mr. Robert Spencer and extend him a warm invitation to speak at next year’s Catholic Men’s Conference?,” by Paul Anthony Melanson, LaSalette Journey, August 12, 2014:
In an article which may be found here: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Pontifical-Council-for-Interreligious-Dialogue-slams-Islamic-Caliphate-crimes-and-barbarism-31876.html, we read:
“The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue deplores in no uncertain terms the acts of violence by the militants of the Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria.
The Vatican body calls on the members of all religions and on the international community to join in the condemnation. It also calls on Islamic religious leaders to condemn the use of religion as a false justification for terrorism and to make the culture of coexistence and dialogue that has developed in the past few years more real and credible.”
The full translation of the statement issued by the Pontifical Council is presented below.
“The whole world has witnessed with incredulity what is now called the “Restoration of the Caliphate,” which had been abolished on October 29, 1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Opposition to this “restoration” by the majority of religious institutions and Muslim politicians has not prevented the “Islamic State” jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.
This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:
-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;
-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;
-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;
-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;
-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidis and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);
-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;
-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;
-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;
-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other religious communities;
-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;
-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.
No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of peaceful coexistence and civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.
The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?
Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to re-establish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.
That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it.”
As I noted last year (see here: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com/2013/02/what-is-real-reason-for-bishop-robert.html):
“In a statement which was published in The Catholic Free Press…Bishop Robert McManus explained his decision to rescind the invitation to Mr. Robert Spencer to speak at the Diocese of Worcester’s Catholic Men’s Conference which is to be held next month.
Bishop McManus writes, ‘In light of my recent decision to rescind the invitation to Mr. Robert Spencer to speak at the Catholic Men’s Conference next month on the topic of Islam in its relation to Christianity, I should like to reflect briefly on the conciliar document entitled, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), specifically on paragraph 16 of Chapter 2 which speaks about the special relationship that Christianity has to Islam. The paragraph states, “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these are the Muslims who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”
As a result of such a theologically salient statement, the Catholic Church has engaged herself in inter-religious dialogue with Muslims. This dialogue has produced a harvest of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation throughout the world and here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. My decision to ask Mr. Spencer not to speak at the Men’s Conference resulted from a concern voiced by members of the Islamic community in Massachusetts, a concern I came to share. That concern was that Mr. Spencer’s talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inner-religious dialogue with devout Muslims and possibly generate suspicion and even fear of people who practice piously the religion of Islam…I based my decision solely on the concern that Mr. Spencer’s talk would impact negatively on the Church’s increasingly constructive dialogue with Muslims.’ (Bishop shares concerns about conference speaker, Catholic Free Press, February 8, 2013 edition).
At first, Bishop McManus cites a document of the Second Vatican Council – Lumen Gentium – to make it appear as if there is a theological basis for rescinding Mr. Spencer’s invitation to speak at the Catholic Men’s Conference. Then he later acknowledges that his decision was really entirely subjective, admitting that his decision was based “solely” on his concern that Mr. Spencer’s talk would have negative consequences with regard to Catholic-Muslim inter-religious dialogue.
While it’s certainly true that Vatican II insists, ‘The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems’ and that Christians and Moslems should ‘forget the past and..work sincerely for mutual understanding..’ (Nostra Aetate, No. 3), dialogue, if it is to be authentic, always means taking the other seriously and approaching him with reverence and love. And this can only be accomplished by communicating with the other in truth.
In his book entitled Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, Pope Benedict XVI makes a few observations which Bishop McManus would apparently find problematic. The Holy Father writes, ‘To what extent the new surge forward of the Islamic world is fuelled by truly religious forces is..open to question. In many places, as we can see, there is the danger of a pathological development of the autonomy of feeling..”‘ (p. 104).
Which is why Mr. Spencer’s talk would have been most beneficial.
On page 204 of the same book, Pope Benedict XVI writes, ‘…even with Islam, with all the greatness it represents, is always in danger of losing balance, letting violence have a place and letting religion slide away into mere outward observance and ritualism.’
Wasn’t this to be the point of Mr. Spencer’s talk? Would Bishop McManus accuse the Holy Father of undercutting the positive achievements which Catholics have attained with regard to inter-religious dialogue with Moslems? Why is it acceptable for Pope Benedict XVI to speak of the danger of Islam ‘letting violence have a place’ but unacceptable for Mr. Spencer to talk about ‘extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally’?
Bishop McManus insists that Mr. Spencer’s presentation would not be ‘suitable’ for the Men’s Conference because its focus ‘would be on the danger of militant Islamist jihad.’ But jihad is not just an aspect of ‘militant Islam.’ Jihad is the duty to engage in holy war against unbelievers or enemies of Islam if called upon to do so. It is one of the basic tenets and requirements of Muslim faith. Which is why Pope Benedict XVI has warned that Islam ‘is always in danger of losing balance’ and succumbing to violence.”
Now that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has called on Islamic religious leaders to condemn
to condemn “the use of religion as a false justification for terrorism and to make the culture of coexistence and dialogue that has developed in the past few years more real and credible,” perhaps now would be a good time for Bishop Robert McManus to apologize to Mr. Robert Spencer and to invite him to next year’s Catholic Men’s Conference?
Related reading here: