One day I will learn not to listen to Radio 4’s Sunday programme whilst getting ready to go to Mass; it is usually an irritating ‘Catholic’ who disagrees with Catholic teaching on almost everything, which raises my blood pressure, but this week it was a Muslim whining that it was Islamophobic (and anti-Turkish entry into the EU) for the Pope to be beatifying 800 martyrs at Otranto. He suggested that if the Church was going to do that, he would bang on about the Crusades. Well, I thought, I see your Crusades and raise you centuries of Islamic persecution of Christians in what we now call the Middle East.
So what has the Church said about our relationship with Islam
The Moslems, “professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who at the last day wiill judge mankind” (Lumen Gentium 16). Though the Islamic faith does not acknowledge Jesus as God, it does revere Him as prophet, and also honors His virgin mother. Moslems “prize the moral life, and give worship to God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting” (Nostra Aetate 3). Noting that there had been many quarrels and hostilies between Christians and Muslims, the Second Vatican Council urged that all “forget the past and strive sincerely for mutual understanding, and, on the behalf of all mankind, make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom” (Nostra Aetate 3).
I have no idea what ‘professing to hold the faith of Abraham’ might mean; I do know that neither Muslims nor Jews believe in the Trinity; therefore how they can be thought to believe in the same God as we do is beyond me. One would also find that Muslims think Jesus a prophet of Islam, so quite why this should be a cause of anything save condemnation, only the authors of the document can explain. As for the ‘moral life’, if the authors investigate a trifle further, they would find that Islam is not well-disposed to Christians and think the moral life confined to Muslims. As for ‘social justice’, as I have no idea what it means, I daresay it could be reconciled with the social systems at work in Saudi Arabia, but I doubt that Tabletistas would go with that one.
It may well that the Muslim the BBC found to comment on the martyrs of Otranto (note, there was no apology) is conversant with this fashionable cant and was therefore naturally surprised to find that Catholics might which to beatify those ho had chosen to die for their faith. Perhaps noone told the Blessed 800 that Muslims profess the faith of Abraham, and therefore converting was ‘no biggie’. Martyred by the sword, we are martyred more slowly by the jawbones of asses who in all sincerity think that Islam believes in the same God as Christianity.
From its eruption from the Arabia desert until now, Islam has seen Christianity as its enemy, and it is right to do so. Islam’s teaching is false, Mohammed was at best deluded and at worst a lying fantasist. There is one true way to Salvation and one name alone we can call upon – that of Christ Jesus.
I fear that the Vatican is deluded if it imagines that the friendly Muslims with whom it talks are in any way typical. I hope that Pope Tawadros II had an opportunity to bend the ear of Pope Francis on his recent visit to Rome – he, like all Copts, knows the reality of the way Islam treats Christians when it is the ascendancy.