Tag Archives: Muslim

Radical, Political Islamic leaders declare: “Iraq’s Christians are legitimate targets & now face the “doors of destruction”

There’s no doubt that Christians in Iraq are facing the significant trails of their lifetime. These are our brothers and sisters. Some call it a jihad against the Christian minority and others say this is an example of a more globalized efforts to squeeze out Christianity in the Middle East. The horrific attack is religiously motivated driving the Christians from the region, an ethnic cleansing. Multiple religious groups in Iraq create diversity, it creates democratic processes, no matter the size of the community.

The Islamists as a group is small, perhaps not more than 5% but they have money and are mobilized. But where is the outrage of the Islamic leaders of the reasonable sort speaking against these attacks? Barely is the media reportiing on last Sunday’s events.

Vatican Radio reported that “The victims of Sunday’s massacre in Our Lady of Salvation Church Baghdad were laid to rest Tuesday. A telegram from Pope Benedict to the leader of the Syro-Catholic Church in the Iraqi capital, Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka, was read out to mourners during the funeral service. The Pope said ‘deeply moved by the violent death of so many faithful and their priests, Tha’ir Saad and Boutros Wasim, I wish, during the sacred funeral rite, to share spiritually in this occasion and pray that these our brothers and sisters are welcomed by the mercy of Christ into the Father’s House.for years this country has been suffering untold hardships and even Christians have become the subject of brutal attacks that, in total disregard of life – an inviolable gift from God – want to undermine confidence and peace. I renew my call that the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters may be the seed of peace and true rebirth, and that those who care about reconciliation, solidarity and fraternal coexistence, find the strength and motivation to do good.'”

Additionally, Asia News reported, “The so-called ‘War Department’ of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ (ISI) al-Qaeda in Iraq issued a statement on the Web to announce that the passing of the deadline of its ‘ultimatum’ to the Egyptian Coptic Church to release two Egyptian women, Camilia Cheh and Wafa Constantine, wives of Coptic priests, whom according to the terrorists are detained against their will in a convent after converting to Islam. Their conversion has been denied by all the Islamic religious authorities in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood have harshly attacked the authors of the massacre in Baghdad. Al-Qaeda, however, confirms that all Christians and their churches have become “legitimate targets” of the terrorist group and are therefore are in danger. The message issued today by the Iraqi cell of al-Qaeda also makes explicit reference to the Vatican.”

Further, “While confirming its desire to attack the Christians, the terrorists say they want to give one more chance to the Catholics of the Church of Rome. They claim that ‘the War Office of the Islamic State of Iraq’ announced that starting today all the churches and Christian organizations and their leaders are a legitimate target for mujahedeen. These politicians and their bosses in the Vatican should know that the sword will not fall on the heads of their followers if they proclaim their innocence, and distance themselves from what has been done by the Egyptian Church. Al-Qaeda calls on Catholics to ‘send a clear signal to the mujahedeen of their effort to put pressure on the Egyptian Church in order to obtain the release of two women, their prisoners.'”

Martin Chulov of the Guardian in Britain, wrote “Resurgent al-Qaida threatens Christians in Iraq with ‘destruction”:  “Al-Qaida in Iraq has threatened more attacks on Iraq’s Christians, claiming that they are legitimate targets who now face the ‘doors of destruction.’ The warning, published today on militant websites, came three days after gunmen from an al-Qaida front group, the Islamic State of Iraq, raided one of Baghdad’s main cathedrals during Sunday mass. More than 50 people were killed and dozens were wounded when Iraqi forces stormed the church in an attempt to lift the four-hour siege. In its statement, ISI described the pope as ‘the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican’ and warned that Christians would be ‘extirpated and dispersed’ from Iraq. ‘All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhajideen wherever they can reach them… We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood.'”

Catholics killed by Al Qaeda Muslims

Catholics in Our
Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad were held hostage and some killed and
wounded by a group of Al Qaeda militants. The siege tragically ended in death
when Iraqi security forces raided the church in order to free the faithful
being held inside.

During his All Saints Angelus address today in Rome, Pope
Benedict said, “Last night, in a very serious attack on the Syrian Catholic
Cathedral in Baghdad, dozens of people were killed and wounded, including two
priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday Mass.”

Benedict continued, “I
pray for the victims of this senseless violence, all the more ferocious as it
affected defenseless civilians, this closeness to the martyred Christian
community, targeted yet again by terrorists, and encouraged all pastors and
faithful to be strong and firm in hope.”

“Faced with the brutal violence that
continues to tear the peoples of the Middle East apart,” Pope Benedict ended the Angelus talk by saying: “I renew
my appeal for peace: it is God’s gift
, but it is also the result of the efforts
of men of good will, national and international institutions. We must all join
forces to ensure an end to all violence!”

Has the Catholic Church in Turkey been too neglected by us?

Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini, OFM Cap. of Izmir,
Turkey, and Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia and President
of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, gave the following intervention today. The
point of noting the Archbishop’s intervention here is that I believe we have to be concerned with
the reality of the Catholic faithful in places outside our neighborhood. Catholics can’t simply concerned with matters that are near. The June murder of Capuchin Bishop Luigi Padovese‘s death has remained a key point in my prayer, interest
in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, the missionary aspect of the Church’s
preaching program and the extent to which one would lay down his life for the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is Luigi Padovese a martyr? Franceschini has been clear that Padovese’s death was premeditated by Islamic radicals with a hatred toward Christianity while the Turkish authorities insist the murder was personal and not politically or religiously motivated. I am not sure as I didn’t know the state of his soul or his true relationship with Christ. The designation of a person as a martyr is a matter for Mother Church to make, but I might be persuaded to think in that direction. Christians comprise less than one percent of the Turkish nation.

Bp Padovese.jpg

“The little Church of Turkey, at times ignored,
had her sad moment of fame with the brutal murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese
O.F.M. Cap., president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference. In a few words I
would like to close this unpleasant episode by erasing the intolerable slander
circulated by the very organisers of the crime. It was premeditated murder, by
those same obscure powers that poor Luigi had just a few months earlier
identified as being responsible for the killing of Fr. Andrea Santoro, the
Armenian journalist Dink and four Protestants of Malatya. It is a murky story
of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics, experts in the
‘strategia della tensione’. The pastoral and administrative situation in the
vicariate of Anatolia is serious. … What do we ask of the Church? We simply
ask what we are lacking: a pastor, someone to help him, the means to do so, and
all of this with reasonable urgency. … The survival of the Church of Anatolia
is at risk. … Nonetheless, I wish to reassure neighbouring Churches –
especially those that are suffering persecution and seeing their faithful
become refugees – that the Turkish Episcopal Conference will continue to
welcome them and offer fraternal assistance, even beyond our abilities. In the
same way, we are open to pastoral co-operation with our sister Churches and
with positive lay Muslims, for the good of Christians living in Turkey, and for
the good of the poor and of the many refugees who live in Turkey”.

No Islamic worship in former mosque, bishop says

Córdoba cathedral.jpgEuronews reported today that the bishop of Córdoba, Bishop Demetrio Fernández González made a decision not allow Muslim worship in a former mosque in what is today a Roman Catholic Cathedral. I believe that Bishop Demetrio made a correct and prudent decision here.

But his reasoning seems to lack some precision: it is not the length of time (or how the building came to be Catholic), it’s legal title is held by the Church much like Hagia Sophia’s title is not held by the Church but by a museum. Christians accept this latter fact and are not arguing for its return. The Cathedral is a Catholic Church and no longer a mosque even though the two religions worship the transcendent God.

In Nostra Aetate and in other statements of the Holy See teach that Muslims worship the God of Abraham. They believe in only one and their intention is to worship that one, transcendent God and is the same God that Jews and Christians worship.

Without getting into theological specifics here, it has be noted that with the Muslim religion there is doubt among theologians and experts about nature of the divine inspiration of the Koran and the place of Muhammad as a true prophet; but the Muslims can’t be accused of not worshipping one God and the elements that are true in Islam come from Judaism and Christianity which were present in Muhammad’s time. Some would make the claim that the tenets of Islam are similar to a Christian heresy much like Arianism. Orthodox Christians accept that Arians believed in the God who revealed Himself in the Bible however Arianism is rejected because of its denial of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity.

A friend raised a question about Jews and Christians viz. as what might be said of Muslims. The difference with Islam that can’t be applied to Judaism is that we believe Judaism to be true but incomplete without Jesus; the Torah and the books of the Old Testament is the inspired word of God.

So for these reasons Christians and Muslims cannot worship together or share places of worship because Islam does not have an orthodox faith.

Secular and pluralistic society won’t agree on what makes a religion true: talk about truth and heresy makes no sense to people who question the possibility of there being truth, claims of objective truth and revelation. Therefore, I think the matter needs to be addressed in terms of reason.

Catholic worship of God in a consecrated space has a special and essential distinction because the Church is a place of sacrifice and salvation with its focus on the person of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life; no confusion should happen. The same line of thinking would apply to other religions and for Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Additionally, it’s not merely “opening the door” for the possible expulsion of Catholics again from their mother church but it is improper to allow a religion who does not accept even the basics of Christian faith to worship in a “Catholic space” –and so frequently at odds with Christianity as seen in the murder of Catholic clerics– and against reason.

Historically, Córdoba is a Roman city but was forcibly converted to Islam in 711 and recaptured by the Spanish King Ferdinand III in 1236. For much of the 525 years that Córdoba was Muslim it was also caliphate, the seat of authority. What is intellectually interesting is that The Great Mosque of Córdoba was the protector of the world’s largest library at that time estimated to have between 400,000 and 1 million volumes (I can’t account for a discrepancy but the numbers are impressive).

Having visited Córdoba a few years ago I can say that the Islamic influence of former times is still very recognizable and much of the artwork beautiful, even though I can’t read Arabic.

Córdoba ceiling.jpg

The article:

“Bishop Demetrio Fernández González of the southern
Spanish city of Córdoba, once the seat of Muslim power in Spain, said that he
will not permit Islamic worship at the city’s cathedral. The cathedral was
formerly a mosque, which in turn had been built on the site of a Catholic

“Sharing the cathedral with Muslims, Bishop Fernández González said in
an interview, “is a euphemism which means: get Catholics out of here … The
answer to the question about sharing the Cathedral is that no, we’re not,
because this place has been a Catholic church 16 centuries, while Muslims have
been four and half centuries.”

“If I let in the Muslims pray in the
cathedral of Cordoba, it is equivalent to Catholics saying goodbye and good
night; it would be irresponsible,” he added. “There are things that are
shared and others that are not, and the cathedral of Cordoba is not shared with
Muslims (…)”

Luigi Padovese murdered by Turk

Luigi Padovese.jpgBishop Luigi Padovese, OFM Cap, 63, was murdered today at about 1pm local time by his driver who it is claimed had psychological problems and history of violent outbreaks was supposedly a convert to Christianity but some news agencies are naming the driver a Muslim. At the moment no one is claiming political motivation for the murder.

Bishop Padovese was born at Milan, Italy and a member of the Capuchin Franciscan order. He was ordained a priest for nearly 37 years and a bishop for 5.5 years. He was the Vicar Apostolic in Anatolia.

Bishop Padovese was to meet Pope Benedict XVI with other Middle East bishops in Cyprus to receive the Instumentum laboris, the working document for the forthcoming Synod of Bishops, scheduled to meet in October.

The Minister General of the Capuchins posted this brief bio for Bishop Luigi.

The BBC story noted here and Spero News here.

May God grant mercy Bishop Luigi Padovese mercy and may his memory be eternal.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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