Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi is the Patriarch of Antioch. So he is an Eastern Rite Catholic, not a Roman Catholic. But that still makes him a “full” Cardinal of the Catholic Church in all the relevant ways.
Indeed, Bechara Boutros al-Rahi is one of the only 119 Cardinals under the age of 80 who could vote for the next pope if the election were held today. For context, there are a total of 218 Cardinals, and as many Eastern Rite Cardinals (8) as, say, Central American Cardinals.
This bishop understands what’s at stake, and presumably some of this is due to the fact that he is almost at ground zero in the great 21st-century purge of Christians from the middle-east.
Note, however, what he does not say. He doesn’t say that Muslims will conquer Europe through violence per se. Nor does he claim that even Muslims might think that. Rather, the core of his fear is based on the current relative strength of the two belief systems, at least as it is manifested in the dedication of their contemporary adherents. He also makes a number of other unassailable but recently neglected points.
If history teaches us anything, it is that circumstances change and even impregnable seeming systems and ideologies can collapse overnight (see communism). Can the reverse also occur?
Regardless, who can say that he is now wrong?
From the Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, translated and summarized by Breitbart (in turn referenced by Credo):
In a stunning interview, the Maronite patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, has contended that Islam has a clear, two-pronged strategy to take over Europe: religion and procreation.
(By Thomas D. Williams, 6 November) The cardinal said that Muslims look on Christians as weak and believe that since they have no children and barely practice their faith, Islam will easily conquer them. Sadly, he said, Muslims take their faith more seriously than most Christians, and they are gaining ground because of it.
“I have often heard from Muslims that their goal is to conquer Europe with two weapons: their faith and their birthrate,” al-Rahi said in a recent interview with Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian Catholic weekly magazine.
For the Muslims, the Cardinal said, “the practice of the faith is essential and fundamental. In Saudi Arabia they go to Friday prayers even if they need a walking stick. They know the Koran by heart, and when they talk they often cite it. The same is not true for Christians who do not refer either to the Bible or the teachings of the Church.”
The Muslims “believe that God’s will is to procreate and that marriage is aimed at this,” he said. “They think that numbers will give them the upper hand.”
Christians, however, “hardly get married anymore, and have few children,” he said.
The Cardinal also said that Muslims “identify anything that comes from the West as Christian per se. All Western politics is Christian politics, it is a new crusade. They say that Christians are the remains of the Crusades and of Western imperialism,” he said.
At the same time, al-Rahi sharply criticized the EU’s ineffective solutions to Europe’s migration crisis, arguing that the only way to end the chaos is by stopping the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The 75-year-old cardinal is the Maronite Patriarch of the ancient city of Antioch, where Christianity has deep and millennial roots. He said that the ongoing conflict provoked by the Islamic State is forcing both Christians and moderate Muslims to emigrate from the Holy Land, so before all else, attention must be given to putting an end to the siege.
It is useless for Europe to quarrel over the reception of refugees without addressing the root cause of emigration from the Middle East, which is armed conflict, he said.
“The first thing to do to protect Christians in the Middle East is to end the war in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine,” the Cardinal said. “European states quarrel with each other about the number of refugees to be admitted but do nothing to end the conflict.”
“The Middle East is emptying and leaving the field open to fundamentalist and terrorist organizations,” al-Rahi said. For some reason, he said, “States do not talk about it, the only one making appeals is Pope Francis.”
“Europe is talking about the reception of refugees, those who would like ten thousand and another who will take three thousand people, but this does not help us,” he said. “Europe should focus on the cause of migration, namely the war. You have to turn off the tap and ensure that Muslims and Christians will return to their lands.”
“A Middle East without Christians,” the Cardinal continued, “has no identity.”
“This is the place of all divine revelation. It is where Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. It is where the Church was born and began to proclaim the Gospel to the world,” he said.
Al-Rahi also noted that Christians resent being called a “minority” in the Middle East. We have been here for two thousand years, he said, “six hundred years before the arrival of Islam.”
“Just as Europe discusses how to preserve its identity, it is urgent that we do the same,” he said.
This post originally appeared at Mahound’s Paradise.
Oakes Spalding is a Catholic writer living in Chicago.
As the Cardinal said, most Catholics today do not care much for the faith. For many who still go to the Sunday liturgy, the faith is just some cultural inheritance they received or a mere habit. It does not really shape the way they live or how they make choices in tough circumstances. To the contrary, they hold that how they live, choose, and their sensibilities should shape the Church.
What makes this whole issue so annoying is that our Priests, Bishops and Popes are adamantly trying to find novel ways to make nominal Catholics continue to think that the Church has to shape herself according to the demands of the world. It is insanity!
Tony, it is a BIG business..and they are doing what they have to do to appeal to many fo rmoney. In their quest to get numbers they feel the necessity of making changes to link to modernism. Too bad that they never got the key to all of this was to make marriages stronger via a message of love/sex combined so that families thrived/survived. I went to a Catholic high school and most the students there in the 1950’s had gone to Catholic schools for 12 years. At our 20th high school reunion I was shocked to learn that well over half of those kids were divorced and many on 2nd, 3rd, 4th marriages. And this was a very prestigious high school in Royal Oak, Michigan where the famed radio priest, Father Coughlin reigned supreme. Every morning we kids attended mass and I cannot recall any mass where that priest ever spoke of Christ, the apostles or anything biblical…BUT he did wax eloquently on the evils of capitalism and talk politics at every mass..and this was in 1956, far ahead of the so called commie infiltration. Funny thing is that this man disavowing capitalism lived in luxury and splendor. I found this out when the art teaching nun asked me in my senior year to make some copper cuff links for Father’s white shirts. I did make a half dozen pair for him and then she had me present them to him at the rectory. I will never forget my mind blowing experience of being invited into that rectory which looked like some Hollywood setup made for millionaires..the most luxurious home I had ever been in…extremely so. Thus I learned at a young age that priests can talk one game and live another. Ditto with my husband’s priest uncle who had an easy peasy gig in Chicago. Father Ray had a parish of elderly, so few problems with old folks…no doubt mostly funerals. As he had such an easy job, he had loads of time and money on his hand. You would always see him driving his fabulous high end cars….and his secretary of the parish was a widowed gorgeous gal…everyone knew they were a two-some as they were seen out driving together, at restaurants and other. Years later I thought, ‘well thank god for small favors…at least the priest wasn’t hitting on kids’ lol, but not really!
Well, French Quebecers had the same idea early in the 20th century; they called it “the revenge of the cradle” and figured they’d outbreed the English and somehow reverse the conquest of the 18th century. But something went wrong along the way, and while throwing out their Catholic faith they also gave up having children. Now they’re worried that “ethnics” (including Muslims) might outbreed them in turn. Which just goes to show that human beings are not really as predictable as they may seem.
Difference is those Quebecers were full of it, and Europe’s legions of polygamous Muslim men are not.
‘Polygamous is key to this topic”, for many entering the US have a gaggle of kids and 2-4 wives and set themselves up nicely on YOUR tax dollars. Then we had Alquada warning us years ago, that “We do not need guns, missiles, nuclear for we have our women’s bodies and in time our numbers will take out Jews/Christians/Hindus”, et al. The religion of jihad, stealth as is taking place in the west now, or violent terrorism jihad as we see in the ME, both have goals of conquering/forcing submission to their so called false faith. A faith borne out of a demonic god demanding death at any cost and with anyone, be they of their own faith, i.e. honor killing or chopping heads off, or clit cutting. A must read is FIrst Comes Saturday, Then Comes Sunday…open your eyes!
They weren’t “full of it” when they said it, in 1910 or so. Are you kidding? NO place was as Catholic as Quebec. The size of Quebec families was legendary: 8, 10, 12 kids. When they lost their faith in the 1960s, all that went too. It might happen the same way with Muslims – the birth rate in Iran has cratered and isn’t even at replacement level anymore – but nobody even tries to attack the tree at its root and destroy Islam. If something as strong and deep-rooted as Quebec Catholicism could blow away in 2 generations, what might happen if a campaign of destruction against a phony, jerry-rigged pack of hashish dreams like Islam were launched? Every claim, every promise, every assertion must be exploded, as publicly and humiliatingly as possible, until a Muslim can’t open his mouth to say “Allah” without being greeted by roars of scornful laughter. Try THAT, and all the kids in the world won’t save them.
I won’t profess familiarity with 20th century Quebecer history, but I doubt the strength of any people’s faith if it just evaporates over the course of a few domestically peaceful decades, even figuring for the wrecking ball that was the worldwide Conciliar program and the remarkable liberalism of the Canadian episcopacy. Your account makes it sound like they staked their demographic-political gains on a surging birthrate. When those gains didn’t materialize and the Church quit nourishing them, their “deep-rooted” faith went belly up.
Contrast them to Muslims who already multiply considerably by non-politicized default and in keeping with family practices that no authoritative body of their clerics is itching to discourage. Attach to THAT a very achievable goal of dominating their lifeless sterile host nations within decades, and Muslims in Europe will most definitely sustain their exponential growth.
And what is this talk of Westerners wielding a “campaign of destruction” to uproot Islam? Europe (and the entire Anglosphere in its turn) cannot ideologically combat this horde. Native Europeans have abandoned Christianity across the board. And all their professedly cherished enlightenment principles take a backseat the moment a more muscular, patriarchal, mystical population moves in. Their self-preservation instinct has been pathologized by many decades of post-War Marxist programming. Their women’s mothering instincts have been diverted from rearing children to showering arriving trainloads of Syrians with flowers. That is literally happening right now. Nearly the entire continent has morbidly resigned itself to invasion. These people are getting raped off the charts and displaced by the hour. And the Vatican exhorts pastors to instruct their flocks about hospitality, to the point of opening up one’s own home. Will these betrayed Catholics taunt the looming mosque into submission !? Post-Christian man cannot delegitimized Islam, because he cannot legitimize himself.
I wish writers here and elsewhere would stop referring to “Eastern rite” and “Byzantine rite.”
These are sui iuris churches with their own canons, customs and governance that go well beyond rites of worship.
The Patriarch is the head of a local church, not a rite.
If Pope Francis wanted to substantially alter the liturgy of the Byzantine Catholic Churches, would he REQUIRE the approval of the local churches? Meaning, would they have to approve such changes, or could he technically make them without their consent? I’m just using liturgy as an example.
He could in theory but would not because he is the head of the Roman Church and it is considered bad form to order another patriarch to alter his ritual.
JP II did order the Eastern Churches to return to the true praxis of their traditions, including restoration of liturgical vestments and de-Romanization of their liturgies.
We need nomenclature that signifies accurately without being unduly complex. When you speak of “churches” you evoke imagery of something separate from the Universal Church. We refer here to the “Roman Rite” just as we do to the “Eastern rites” or the “Ruthenian rite,” etc.
It allows us, in a word or two, to indicate unity. The complex reality of the situation certainly warrants further explanation, but not each and every time it appears in a sentence.
In the decades to come, perhaps the terrifying spread of Islam into the post-Christian secular West will be a heavenly correction for eventually reviving the Christian Faith? I believe Islam is God’s judgment on the anti-life, anti-faith, hedonistic Western nations that have abandoned their faith in Christ.
Islam *was* the catalyst for the defeat of Arianism in the Eastern part of the Church. Common enemy and all that.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
Abortionists do not.