Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pope on Islam

From alink found at LGF, we find an excerpt from the book "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.
I remember an event from my youth. In the convent of the Church of Saint Mark in Florence, we were looking at the frescoes by Fra Angelico. At a certain point a man joined us who, after sharing his admiration for the work of this great religious artist, immediately added: "But nothing can compare to our magnificent Muslim monotheism." His statement did not prevent us from continuing the visit and the conversation in a friendly tone. It was on that occasion that I got a kind of first taste of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam, which we have tried to develop systematically in the post-conciliar period.

Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God's self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.

Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.

Nevertheless, the religiosity of Muslims deserves respect. It is impossible not to admire, for example, their fidelity to prayer.

It seems His Holiness believes in the doctrine, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

So, he found something nice to tack on there at the end.

Because to say it is "not a religion of redemption" and "completely reduces" Divine Revelation, is a rather eviscerating, even damning, pronouncement by the diplomatic Holy Father!

The sales rank for this book on Amazon is a whopping #20 right now, and according to one review, it
originated out of a planned televised interview of Pope John Paul II by an Italian journalist. When the Pope's schedule forced the cancellation of the interview the project seemed to have lapsed. A few months later the journalist was surprised when His Holiness provided written answers to the questions which had been posed, hence, this book.
Another explains
This is not a systematic theology; it is more a series of reflective responses to questions posed by someone outside formal theological tradition (although it is obvious that Messori's questions have theological depth). This spans the life of the Pope, from his early days in Poland to recent times in the Vatican; he refers to theologians and figures Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, as well as people beyond the Christian traditions. He speaks with hopefulness toward a day when there will be greater Christian unity, and cooperation and mutual community with other religious traditions such as Judaism.
The Pope has astonished many by his attempts at reconciliation with the Jews. Debkafile reports,
A certain disappointment with the papal visitor’s failure to apologize for the record of his predecessor Pius XII in the Nazi era faded quickly when he stood at the Western Wall and said: “Personally, I have always wanted to be counted among those who work, on both sides, to overcome old prejudices, and to secure ever wider and fuller recognition of the spiritual patrimony shared by Jews and Christians. I repeat what I said on the occasion of my visit to the Jewish Community in Rome, that we Christians recognize that the Jewish religious heritage is intrinsic to our own faith: “You are our elder brothers.”

That said, he inserted the written text into a crevice of the Wall.
Never one for pompous or pious speeches, the pontiff took often revolutionary steps to make that edict come true.

In 1993, the Vatican extended long-overdue recognition to the State of Israel and in 1994, they exchanged ambassadors. He was the first pope since the founding of the Catholic Church to visit a synagogue when he paid his respects at the Great Synagogue of Rome in the ancient Jewish Ghetto. There, he said: “The Jewish religion is not extrinsic to us, but in a certain way is intrinsic to our own religion. With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion.”
The Pope knew, like anyone who reads the koran, that Islam is NOT an "Abrahamic" faith, despite its attempts to disguise itself as such.


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