1999 December/Slap in the Face Ecumenism

On the 7 June, 1999, “Orient”, a Lebanese newspaper written in French, gave the following information which will not be know most people. On 14 May 1999, Pope John Paul II received in audience the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Raphael Bidawid. The latter hopes that the Pope will be able to visit Iraq, considering this visit to be “a gift from heaven”. Up to this point, everything seems all right. ‘ However, we are told by the Lebanese newspaper that “….at the end of the audience (…) the Pope bent over a Koran presented to him by Muslim members of the Iraqi delegation, and then kissed it. The photo of this act is often shown on Iraqi television to that the Pope not only is compassionate for the sufferings of the Iraqi people, but has also a great respect for Islam”.

Nothing at all strange, therefore, if the same newspaper on the 14 August 1999, tells us that ” ….President Charles Taylor of Liberia will convert to Islam during his visit to Saudi Arabia; this information from the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz. This same newspaper continues that is was during lunch in the Libyan beach town resort of Sierte that the Libyan leader Mouammar Kaddhafi gave the idea of conversion to Islam to President Taylor. The Liberian President affirmed that “he appreciated the values of Islam and that he was seriously studying its precepts”. “

Without a doubt, more than the “values of Islam” President Taylor is studying rather those of the Saudi Arabian petrol dollars; so, if a pope can kiss the Koran, why can’t a President do the same.? After all, ecumenical dialogue will certainly produce an abundance of fruits, …. the Muslims will convert en masse ….

His Grace Msgr. Giuseppe Cermano Bernardini OFM Cap., Archbishop of Izmir in Turkey, does not think so however. During the recent Synod of European Bishops held at the Vatican, Msgr. Bernardini distributed this extremely interesting written intervention, of which we publish the quasi totality.

“For the past 42 years I have been living in Turkey; a 99% Muslim country, and I have been Archbishop of Izmir – Asia Minor – for the last 16 years. The theme of my intervention is thus taken, for granted: the problems of Islam in Europe today; and in the near future (…).

My intervention is mainly to address to the Holy, Father a humble request. To be brief and clear I shall give three arguments, that, seen from where they come from, did truly happen.

1. During an official meeting on Islamic-Christian dialogue, a senior member of the Muslim delegation, turning to the Christian delegation, said with calmness but with certainty: “Thanks to your democratic laws, we shall invade you; thanks to our religious laws, we shall dominate you”.

One can believe this because the “control” has already begun with petrol dollars not used to create work in the poor north African or Middle Fast countries, but to build mosques and cultural centres in Christian countries where there is an Islamic integration, including Rome, center of Christianity. How can one not see in all this a clear programme of expansion and conquest?

2. At another Islamic-Christian meeting, organized, as always, by the Christians, one of the Christian delegates publicly asked the Muslims present if they would, at least once, organize a similar meeting. The leading Muslim delegate replied textually; “Why should we? You have nothing to teach us and we have nothing to learn”.

Dialogue among the deaf? Is is a fact that terminology such as “dialogue”, “justice”, “reciprocity”, or concepts such as “the rights of man”, or “democracy”, have for the Muslims a completely different signification to what they mean for us. But I believe that this is accepted and admitted by all.

3. In a Catholic monastery in Jerusalem, there was – and perhaps still is – an Arab Muslim domestic. A kind and honest person, he was well liked by the religious. One day with a look of sadness he said to the religious: “Our leaders have got together and have decided that all the “unbelievers” most be assassinated, but you must not be worried, for I shall kill you without making you suffer”.

We all know that a distinction must be made between the fanatical and violent minority and a peaceful and honest majority. But this, an order given in the name of Allah or the Koran, will take place without hesitation. Indeed, history teaches us that a determined minority are always able to impose themselves upon a silent and,: defeatist majority.

It would be ingenuity to undervalue – or worse – still to laugh about these three examples that I have given. I think instead, one should seriously reflect on their dramatic teaching.

Even though I may appear pessimistic, it is not the case. A Christian cannot be pessimistic because Christ has risen and lives. He is God to the difference of all other prophets or so-called prophets The final victory will be Christ’s, taut time for God can be very tong, and nearly always is. He is patient and He waits for the conversion of sinners: in the meantime though, He asks of the Church to organize herself and work to hasten the advent of His kingdom (…).

I shall end with an exhortation which I know from experience: never give to the Muslims a Catholic church for their religious services, because this, to them, is the greatest proof of our apostasy”. (from the Osservatore Romano, Italian edition [Vatican newspaper], 15 October 1999).