Thursday, September 28, 2006

Response to Regensburg, continued

I was sent this video last night, best to watch it without the sound turned off, the music is really irritating, it tries to put the words of Manuel ii into context, with some disturbing images. It is perhaps a little illiberal for my tastes, but even then I find that my opinions over the last few weeks like many are hardening.

In the aftermath of the Pope's Regensburg Address, the anger of many in the Arab world has abated somewhat, after the storm reasonable voices are being heard.
However Gulf News carried this story
"Islamic ministers ask pope to retract remarks on Islam. United Nations: Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference have called on Pope Benedict XVI "to retract or redress" his "inappropriate" comments equating Islam with violence, according to a communique seen here yesterday.
Meeting late Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the ministers of the 57-member OIC "expressed their profound regrets over the terms used by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in his lecture at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany, with regard to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)."
Some are waiting for Al Quaida's number 2 to issue a statement about the remarks, which he has threatened to do. i presume in some parts of the world that will mean more burnt churches and lives threatened.
Sheikh Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza's Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, which seeks to make secular Muslims more religious, called the pope a "puppet" for "that Crusader George Bush."
The Gaza imam said the only Christian-Muslim dialogue that is acceptable is one in which "all religions agree to convert to Islam."


Henry said...

Islam is a deadly threat which must be fought. But it is a spiritual force, which is why the "War on Terror" positively counter-productive - it feeds the beast, and it is only to be expected that this policy would lead to an increase in "extremism".

There are things we need to be clear about. Most Moslems are not violent, but violence is explicit in the life of Mohammed, it is advocated in the Koran and it can be seen in the conduct of Moslems throughout its 1400 year history.

What should we do? Hate the heresy, love the heretic. All we need to do is try to be good Catholics and pray for their conversion. That is the most powerful weapon we have - indeed, the only effective weapon there is. We should not be wasting our energy on dialogues and "accommodations". And we should be opposing policies like the "War on Terror".

Michael Petek said...

There's a good website by Bat Ye'or at She is a Jew born in Egypt who now lives in Switzerland, and she is an expert in dhimmitude, the condition of Jews and Christians under Islamic rule.

In one of her on-line articles ("Anti-Christian Anti-Zionism") she makes the point that Christian adversus Iudaeos polemics are reformulated by Muhammad in the Koran, where some anti-Jewish phrases from the Church Fathers are re-used.

So these became the infallible word of Allah, and no longer that of St. Augustine or St. Ambrose, marked with the prejudices of their time, or the invectives of St. John Chrysostom.

Also, certain verses of the Koran claim that divisions between the different branches of Christianity will endure eternally (5:17). "Christians are no longer free to find reconciliation with the Jews, nor amongst themselves. The Islamic world keeps them imprisoned within the koranic interpretation of anti-Judaism and of Christological conflicts - as expressed by Syrian monks from the 4th to the 7th centuries."

The entire edifice of adversus Iudaeos is something Pope John Paul II worked tirelessly to dismantle following its repudiation by the Second Vatican Council.

It occurs to me that the ancient "teaching of contempt" for the Jews may have something to do with the rise of Islam and with the divisions among Christians.


The credibility of Islam depends on a view of God that imagines Him as electing a people, and then casting them aside for not measuring up to His standards of righteousness.

Just as Christians once held the Jews to have been cast aside by God for rejecting Christ, so the early Muslims saw the Christians and the Jews as falsifiers of God's message, and themselves as the new people of God, in replacement of the old - indeed Islam was entirely discontinuous with its predecessors, since Mohammed - unlike Jesus - was not a Jew, neither was ever a Christian.

How does Islam undermine Christian unity? Historically, the split between the Eastern and the Western Churches was tenuously repaired at the Council of Florence. But the union was repudiated by Patriarch Gennadios II of Constantinople, who had been installed by the Sultan after the fall of the city in 1453.

Secondly, the narrative of the Reformation is predicated on supersessionism: the Church of Rome has fallen because of the sins of the Papacy, therefore God has cast her aside and begun again with new national Protestant churches, in radical discontinuity with the old order.

But since God is faithful to His covenant the "Bad Popes" accusation, even if true, is irrelevant to the question of whether the Catholic Church is the true Church or not.

The way to defeat Islam in the battle of ideas is to listen to what Pope John Paul II said in the course of a meeting in 1997 on the roots of anti-Jewish feeling among Christians: "This people has been called and led by God, Creator of heaven and earth. Their existence then is not a mere natural or cultural happening, . . . It is a supernatural one. This people continues in spite of everything to be the people of the covenant and, despite human infidelity, the Lord is faithful to his covenant."

Here is a provocative question: dare we say that Islam is a punishment from God on Christians for our historical contempt for the Jews our elder brethren?

If so, then we ought to concentrate on mending fences with the Jewish people, after which Christian unity and the spiritual defeat of Islam should take care of themselves.

But as for opposing the War on Terror, Henry, I think not. Islam is the only religion in the world which commands its followers to seek political power and to use all means to acquire it, including the sword where this is advantageous.

When it does so, it is unreasonable to admonish the civil power to desist from the duty God has given it to suppress malefactors such as al Qaeda. Furthermore, I can think of no occasion in history when a country has ever been won back from Islamic rule without the use of the sword at the hands of the State.

Had Christianity been founded among the Jews in an Islamic empire instead of a pagan one, it would have been strangled at birth, for Islam persecutes universally, perpetually and by reason of a divine precept, whereas pagan persecution tends to be local, sporadic and resorted to only when judged to be expedient.

The Islamic law concerning the treatment of dhimmis forbids Jews and Christians from converting to any other religion than Islam, or to attempt to convert a Muslim. In view of the Great Commission, it is unconscionable for a Christian to give such an undertaking (Acts 4:18-22).

Violation of the pact of protection (the dhimma) lays the entire dhimmi community open to the resumption of jihad, and to extermination. This was how the entire 5,000-strong Jewish community of Mulsim Grenada was destroyed.

So Henry, let the civil authorities and the armed forces get on with their job, while we Catholics in private life get on with ours!

J pickering, major (retired) said...

"So Henry, let the civil authorities and the armed forces get on with their job, while we Catholics in private life get on with ours!"

Michael, You want to seperate Church and state too much. Chrisitans have a duty first of all to act according to their conscience, which must be properly formed by the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church. They also have a duty to form society and its opinions and become involved in PUBLIC LIFE.
Michael, you seem to want to reduce Catholics to "dhimmis" of the state, or worst the States. This is hardly in keeping with Catholic teaching.
As a retired soldier I find it terrifying that you suggest we simply allow the armed forces to "get on with their job". I had always thought it my job to protect civilised society, in Britain that demands an in put by the Church and Christians.

Michael Petek said...

Good to see you on the blog, Major! Let me give you my view on Church-State relations. Pope Leo XIII taught the following in Immortale Dei:

"One of the two has for its proximate and chief object the well-being of this mortal life; the other, the everlasting joys of heaven. Whatever, therefore in things human is of a sacred character, whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls, or to the worship of God, is subject to the power and judgment of the Church. Whatever is to be ranged under the civil and political order is rightly subject to the civil authority. Jesus Christ has Himself given command that what is Caesar's is to be rendered to Caesar, and that what belongs to God is to be rendered to God."

Elsewhere Leo and/or his predecessor Pius IX, and all the Popes up to and including the Council taught that the State has the duty to serve God according to the Catholic religion, and not otherwise. This implies a duty to do all that is necessary, not excluding the use of its penal power, to ward off all that presents a clear and present danger to that service.

The State must also recognise that whatever is repugnant to divine law has not the force of law. It can introduce divine law into judicial proceedings via the conscience of the Catholic judge (internal forum). Or it can introduce it via the external forum, either by requiring the court to take judicial notice of it as of positive civil law, or by receiving it in the same manner as foreign law, on the testimony of expert witnesses.

None of this implies that a confessionally Catholic State need restrict the religious freedom of the citizen, for the State has the obligation of leaving people alone to do as their consciences command them. Within the limits of its manifold duties the State may tolerate or repress religious dissent, generally or selectively, according to the demands of the common good.

Nowadays, the general rule is to tolerate, for it is better that people be able to debate religious ideas without fear of the police.

But when it comes to the use of the sword, the Church can and must set out the rules of divine law concerning the use of armed force. The prudential application of this law to the facts at hand belong to the State exclusively by virtue of Romans 13:1-7. This seems to establish an exception to the Church's general competence to judge dogmatic facts.

PS. By the way, as a retired military officer, have you by any chance read General Sir Rupert Smith's The Utility of Force?

Daniel said...

I await Major Pickering's response with interest.