A Departure from Tradition: On Nostra Aetate and the Mohammedans

On October 28, 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the declaration Nostra Aetate. The document deals with the relation of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions. There are many statements in Nostra Aetate‘s five sections that deserve to be examined against Catholic tradition. Among the most eyebrow-raising of these conciliar segments is Section 3, which concerns the Muslims.

In the document, the Council Fathers [1] state that the Mohammedans adore the one God, revere Jesus, honor Mary, and value the moral life. Here’s the first part of the section:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their desserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. [2]

But are the claims of Pope Paul VI defensible? Do the Muslims adore the Holy Trinity? Do they really give honor to Jesus and Mary? Does Mohammedanism actually value a truly moral life? According to Saint John Bosco and the Koran, the Muslims entertain ideologies and behaviors that contradict Pope Paul VI’s promulgations.

Claim 1: The Muslims adore the one God

In the second sentence of Section 3, the Council Fathers declare the Muslims adore the one God. As every Catholic knows, the one true God is the Holy Trinity. It is the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – that created the angels and humans from nothing. It is the Holy Trinity that breathed life into every person on Earth. It is the Holy Trinity that is Divine and Infinite Majesty, and Goodness Itself. If the Muslims truly adore the one God, then they will never disparage the Holy Trinity.

But in spite of Nostra Aetate’s proclamation, the Muslims gravely blaspheme against the Holy Trinity. They reject the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They rebuke the essence of God. Mohammedans deny that the one true God is three distinct Persons in one substance. Instead of singing hymns in praise to the Blessed Trinity, they refer to the idea of the Trinity as excremental.

It is impossible to glorify God when you refer to His essence in so vile a manner. The individual Muslim might subjectively think he is doing a righteous thing, but objectively, he is a blasphemer yoked in a false faith. When you condemn the Holy Trinity, you do not adore God; you deny Him.

Claim 2: The Muslims revere Jesus

The statement by the Council regarding Muslims’ views on Jesus and Mary tries to endorse something absolutely terrible as being somewhat respectable. Here’s the quote again:

Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. [3]

But is it possible to revere Jesus when one denies His Divine nature, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension? Let’s quickly look at Jesus’s passion and death, and the Muslim stance on this, before returning to the question.

According to private revelation, Jesus was so brutally scourged by the Romans that there was no sound spot left where He had not been whipped. While walking to Calvary, people struck Jesus on His head and neck, with one individual punching Jesus so hard in the face that the Blessed Virgin distinctly recalled the event when conversing with Saint Bridget [4]. On the cross, Jesus’s skin and muscles had been so violently distended that His bones could be counted one by one. His wrists and elbows were dislocated, and His ribs jutted forth through His torn skin [5]. Jesus’s actions did not merit this cross, for He never sinned, as He is absolute perfection. Rather, He willingly endured indescribable torments so mankind could be redeemed and have the chance to enter Heaven.

Mohammedans believe that Christ’s crucifixion never happened. They adhere to Mohammed, who claimed he was greater than Jesus Christ [6]. Anyone who exalts an impostor over the Lamb of God breaks the First Commandment.

Again, while a Muslim might subjectively think he is praising Jesus, objectively, he rejects his Creator and glorifies a false prophet. Proclaiming that Jesus is not God, but only a man is one of the most irreverent things a person can do.

Claim 3: The Muslims honor Mary

The issue with the Blessed Virgin and Mohammedanism is similar to the previous matter with Jesus: can someone honor Mary while refuting her Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Queenship, and Virgin Birth to the Son of God? The Immaculate Conception and Assumption were dogmatically defined by Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII, respectively. They are dogmas that we know for sure are true: the Blessed Virgin Mary was objectively immaculately conceived and assumed into Heaven. Anyone who denies the Immaculate Conception and Assumption disbelieves in Mary’s prevention from sin and hallowed entrance into eternal beatitude. How could such a person give honor to her? When one considers that Mohammedans also repudiate Mary’s virginity and reject that she is the Mother of God, it becomes clear how erroneous and dishonorable Muslims’ views are on the Blessed Virgin.

Claim 4: Mohammedans value the moral life and worship God

In the last sentence of the first paragraph in Nostra Aetate‘s Section 3, the Council Fathers state:, “Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting” [7].

This declaration of Pope Paul VI is in stark contrast to holy literature written by Saint John Bosco. In his 1853 essay The Catholic Educated in His Religion, Don Bosco created a series of back-and-forth questions between a father and son concerning Mohammedanism. In his work, Don Bosco states (emphasis added):

Father: Mohammedanism is a collection of maxims extracted from various religions, which, if practiced, bring about the destruction of every moral principle[.] … We could say the Koran (Qur’an) is a series of errors, the most enormous ones being against morality and the worship of the true God [8].

Approximately 110 years before the convening of the Second Vatican Council, Saint John Bosco reprimanded the claim that the Koran promotes morality or instructs individuals on the proper worship of the one true God. (Nor is he the only saint to do so.) The book favors licentiousness and places all happiness in sensual pleasures [9]. It denies the indissolubility of marriage and promotes fornication. It excuses from sin those who deny God out of fear of death, permits revenge, and guarantees its followers a paradise filled only with earthy desires [10].This tome is diametrically opposed to Christ’s teachings. Any person who devoutly follows the Koran forsakes the moral life, blasphemes against God, and engages in a most perverse lifestyle.

The claims are unjustified

The errors in Nostra Aetate are exposed by the principle of non-contradiction. Based on the semantic version of Aristotle’s principle, opposite assertions cannot be true at the same time.

Pope Paul VI and Saint John Bosco cannot both be correct. One must be right; the other must be wrong. Given Saint John Bosco’s renowned holiness and the Koran’s promotion of blasphemy, fornication, and other evils, I’d have to say Don Bosco’s assertion is the truth, and Pope Paul VI’s is in error. The same can be said for the first three claims. A person cannot adore the Holy Trinity while simultaneously blaspheming against the Holy Trinity. One cannot revere Jesus while professing that Jesus is not God, but only a man. And a man cannot honor the Blessed Virgin Mary while concurrently denying her virginity and status as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven.

After reading Saint John Bosco’s essay and analyzing the manifest falsities present in the Koran, I cannot in good conscience say Nostra Aetate aligns with Catholic teaching regarding Mohammedanism.

Notes

[1] I use this phrase in a general sense. When I say Council Fathers, I am not saying all present at Vatican II, but rather only those who voted in favor of Nostra Aetate. Two thousand two hundred twenty-one voted in favor of the document, with 88 voting against (per America Magazine).

[2] Nostra Aetate, Section 3.

[3] Nostra Aetate, Section 3.

[4] Saint Bridget of Sweden. “Book 1, Chapter 10.” The Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden: Books 1-5. Edited by Darrell Wright, Kindle, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, Loc. 632-644.

[5] Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. “THE DOLOROUS PASSION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, Section 50.” The Complete Vision of Anne Catherine Emmerich (Illustrated). Illustrated by Myron Henkmen, Kindle, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, Loc. 24647-24688.

[6] Saint John Bosco. “Conversation XIII.” The Catholic Educated in His Religion: Conversations with the Father of a Family and His Beloved Son, in Relation to the Needs of the Present Day. Turin, 1853. Web. http://www.fatima.org/apostolate/vlarchive/pdf/lf352_st_john_bosco_leaflet.pdf.

[7] Nostra Aetate, Section 3.

[8] Saint John Bosco. “Conversation XIII.”

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

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