In what is an ongoing frustration for many Catholics, the Vatican continues to insist on friendly relations with Islam. It started with Nostra Aetate #3 and Lumen Gentium #16, neither of which are particularly compatible with what the saints previously said about Islam. Since the Second Vatican Council, this innovative understanding of a religion Catholic thinkers like Belloc have characterized as a “great heresy” continues to spiral. In Evangelii Gaudium #253, Pope Francis asserts that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” More recently, there has been common prayer in the Vatican gardens (where the imam went off-script and used subversive, anti-Trinitarian language in Arabic).
Meanwhile various Islamic groups have been talking about conquering Rome.
Even now, the Vatican is insisting that dialogue with Islam is possible:
Amid continued violence by ISIS and other militant Islamist groups, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a declaration stressing that dialogue with Islam must be sought “now more than ever.”
The council emphasized that “killing in the name of a religion offends God, but it is also a defeat for humanity.”
The declaration was released April 22, and is the second of its kind issued by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
On Aug. 12, 2014, as the violence of ISIS was spreading through Iraq, the Pontifical Council delivered a strongly worded communique to condemn the self-proclaimed caliphate’s actions and to call all religious leaders, especially Muslims, to take a strong stance against violence.
Eight months later, the Pontifical Council is once again underscoring that “believers are a formidable potential of peace,” and so continuing dialogue, “even when we experience persecution, may become a sign of hope.”
In the current scenario, “we are called to strengthen fraternity and dialogue,” the council said.
The declaration comes shortly after the latest killings of Ethiopian Christians in Libya by militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
“After the recent events, many people ask us whether ‘there is still space to dialogue with Muslims?’ The answer is: yes, more than ever,” the declaration begins.
Dialogue may be first of all fostered, it says, because “the great majority of Muslims themselves” do not identify with “the barbarity put into action.”
“Unfortunately, the word ‘religion’ is nowadays often associated with the word ‘violence’, while believers must prove that religions are called to be bearers of peace and not of violence.”
But as Islamic scholar and 1P5 Contributor Andrew Bieszad has been trying to warn us, dialogue with Islam is a “delusion”:
I have a lot to say about Islam because there’s a lot that needs to be said that is NOT being said, and the Catholic faithful are suffering because of it. But I’ll begin with a simple proposition … The current, post-Vatican II view on Islam and Catholic-Muslim relations is in direct opposition to all related Catholic teaching that came before it.
“Dialogue” is not a solution to the problems of sin and salvation. That’s why Christ lived and died, established the Church on Peter, instituted the sacraments, and so on. This is understood intellectually by many Catholics involved in “dialogue,” but it is almost never realized in practice. The fact is, most “interreligious dialogue,” especially with Muslims, is a poor excuse for the inability or failure of those Catholics to evangelize. They choose to seek acknowledgement, approval, and even friendship from others instead of addressing the important issues of death, judgment, Hell, and Heaven with them.
There is no easy way to address any of these issues because Catholicism and Islam are dogmatically irreconcilable. One must accept one and reject the other or vice versa. There is no “common ground” with Islam except in mere superficialities, and even those “similarities” are often rooted in directly opposing dogmas. It’s like two people agreeing that doughnuts are bad because one doesn’t like the way doughnuts taste, while the other thinks doughnuts are an unhealthy, nutrient-void substitute for real food.
But the greater issue, I believe, is the unspoken statement by the two Muslim women who called me an infidel: Dialogue cannot exist with non-Muslims because they are infidels.
[T]he central problem with Catholic-Muslim dialogue, however … is this: Any “interfaith dialogue” is absolutely pre-conditioned upon one person wanting to seek an accurate understanding of the other. Islamic theology dogmatically defines as divinely revealed truth Christian dogma according to its — Islam’s — own understanding. Catholic-Muslim dialogue consistently fails not because of a lack of willingness on the part of the participants — especially in our own Church — but because for any Muslim faithful to orthodox Islamic theological teaching, to dialogue with Christians would be an act of heresy.
As far as Islam is concerned, there is no such thing as “dialogue.” There are only three things: (1) Islam or falsehood; (2) belief in or rejection of Islam; and (3) the subsequent consequences for acceptance or rejection.
Dr. Joseph McCabe, another student of Islam, has also argued that the most strongly associated form of Islamic violence — the practice of beheading — is actually grounded directly in Islamic sacred texts:
[L]et us turn to the Qur’an. Islam’s defenders frequently refer to Qur’an 8:12 and say that this verse has somehow been “misinterpreted” by Islamic jihadists today (e.g. Islamic State) and that in fact this verse does not command beheading. The verse reads [Sahih International translation]:
[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them]upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.“
First, despite its obvious connotation, it should be noted that this particular verse (8:12) is not the verse typically cited within Islamic jurisprudence to justify beheading. The verse which overwhelmingly is used by Islamic scholars to do so is not verse 8:12, but rather verse 47:4 [Sahih International]:
“So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their]necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either confer favor afterwards or ransom [them]until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]…” [emphasis added].
The significance of verse 8:12 should not be discounted. But for the record, 47:4 is the verse that deserves particular attention, because it is the verse that respected Islamic scholars themselves cite to justify beheading [see Bulandshahri, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Ibn Kathir, Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi, al-Akham as-Sultaniyyah, among many others].
Second, it is universally acknowledged by the most respected Islamic scholars and Qur’an commentators, both classical and modern, that the interpretation of Qur’an 47:4 is precisely that beheading is justified by this verse. All four schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Shafi, Maliki, Hanafi, and Hanbali) interpret 47:4 as an unambiguous justification — within the Sharia — of the practice of beheading. Also, Zamakhshari takes “strike at the necks” to mean that Muslims should strike non-Muslims specifically on the neck rather than elsewhere, so as to make sure they are dead, and not just wounded.
So what is happening in Rome? It’s almost as if the Vatican is willfully refusing to see the truth of this threat. To what purpose? I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. But things will not end well if this approach continues. Proof of the continued delusion that the Church and Islam can get along comes in a story that broke just this morning. An Al Qaeda network set up to attack the Vatican was just taken down by Italian police:
Italian police raided several locations today throughout the country, arresting eighteen people in an effort to shut down a “very well-structured” al-Qaeda finance and operations network. The ring had targeted the Vatican in 2010 and again just recently, and had also worked to raise money through human-trafficking operations. Even with that, though, the ring predates the post-Qaddafi surge in refugees, and was comprised mainly of Pakistanis, not North Africans.
Prosecutor Mauro Mura told a press conference in Cagliari, Sardinia, on Friday that wiretaps indicated the suspected terrorists were planning a bomb attack at the Vatican and that a suicide bomber had arrived in Rome.
Mura said the attack plans never went further and that the suicide bomber left Italy, though it wasn’t clear why. He said the wiretaps gave “signals of some preparation for a possible attack.”
It’s time for Catholics — and especially our leaders in Rome — to wake up. These militants intended to target Pope Benedict in 2010; some believe that Pope Francis may be an even bigger target today.
We are called to love our enemies. This is why the message in the video we posted earlier this week is so powerful. But we must also be honest enough to call our enemies enemies.
Catholics have sought the conversion of Muslims for fourteen centuries. But they have also fought them with arms. The reason Europe is not under Sharia law (yet) today is because of the valiant armies that marched under the banner of the Cross, who won critical battles against Islamic armies at Lepanto, at Malta, at Zenta, at Vienna, and more. The Spanish fought Islamic invasion in their own country for eight hundred years. Islam is a religion that spreads, assimilates, and consumes. If it is not resisted, it conquers. The very word “Islam” itself means “submission.”
When your house is broken into in the middle of the night by a man who has been publicly proclaiming that he’s going to come in and kill you and your family, it might not be in your best interest to attempt “dialogue” with him once he’s already inside. Still, if you feel that it’s important to talk him out of doing something stupid, your side of the conversation is going to be a lot more persuasive if you’re pointing a loaded gun.
We have a right to defend ourselves, our nations, and our society. We also have an obligation to evangelize and save souls. When it comes to Islam, we must begin with an understanding that for truly orthodox Muslims, anyone outside their worldview is seen as either a conquest or a threat to be eliminated. Any strategy for dealing with them must start there.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.