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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Your Mission is Not Conversion?

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Matthew 28:18-20 – “Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.'”

The Holy Father praised the moderate Islam that is being fostered in Morocco? And yet, converts to Christianity are not recognized and they must often worship in secret. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal. Missionary outreach or evangelism is punishable with three years in prison. Jesus commanded us to be fishers of men… so how can the Pope say that making converts is not our mission? Catholics and other Christians are suffering for the faith… is it all for nothing?

I hear the story is getting a lot of press worldwide, not just among Muslims but among Buddhists and Hindus.  The link here is to a Jerusalem newspaper.  It has also made big headlines in the Hindu newspapers of India. Evidently this is being thrown into the faces of Christians who have sought to make converts there. There will be a lot of ripples from this.

It may be that I am too thick to understand the Holy Father. Certainly we should strive to live in peace with others. My posture will always be one of respect and obedience… even if I am somewhat befuddled. I may also be somewhat over-sensitive… particularly when it comes to the situation of Christians persecuted for their faith. The first glimmerings of my call to priesthood came with an admiration of those Catholics and clergy who suffered for their faith… oppressed by non-Christian religions and/or by Communism. My thoughts also turn to China where many worry about the underground church and pray that we have not betrayed them.

The Spread of ISIS Terror into Asia

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ISIS now has a foothold in the Philippines. Pray for our Catholic brothers and sisters.

Interfaith Pollution of the True Faith?

I thought it was a joke or exaggeration, but when I visited the website for the Catholic diocese of Hallam in the UK under Bishop Ralph Hesket I was shocked to see that charges of religious relativism or indifferentism might have merit.  As part of a national interfaith outreach, Christian believers were encouraged to visit and honor pagan shrines.  I fail to fathom how this is either genuine dialogue or true ecumenism.  Despite the directions given, Catholics should not bow to pagan images or eat the food that has been offered to idols.  Christians were persecuted and even martyred in the early days of the faith for refusing such acts that compromised the true faith and pampered superstition.

Indeed, the early apologists argued that despite the generosity of the pagans toward the poor, Christians should not eat the food of pagan sacrifices because the pagan deities were actually demons.

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Moses was commanded to remove his sandals when he encountered God in the burning bush. But what we have here is an image of Buddha and a pagan shrine.  While these locations may hold anthropological interest for learned Christians, most would best avoid such places. As Christians we may honor persons and give deference to religious liberty that also protects our rights in a multicultural society, but we should not underestimate the general ignorance and tottering faith of many Christians.  Already many are adopting Eastern ideas about the yin and yang of the Tao, the transmigration of the souls, the spirituality associated with yoga, and a pantheistic view of creation.

The removal of shoes may be a small concession but the added flower presentation and material sacrifice of money, mimics or parallels the offertory at Mass.  Christ and the Church he instituted is the one way that God has established for our salvation.  No one comes to the Father apart from Jesus Christ.  A confession of faith can be made both in words and with gestures.  We must be wary of making a wholesale compromise of the truth. Buddhism is incompatible with the Christian kerygma.  Pope John Paul II was criticized for his assessment in CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE.

Do we draw near to God in this way? This is not mentioned in the “enlightenment” conveyed by Buddha. Buddhism is in large measure an “atheistic” system. We do not free ourselves from evil through the good which comes from God; we liberate ourselves only through detachment from the world, which is bad. The fullness of such a detachment is not union with God, but what is called nirvana, a state of perfect indifference with regard to the world. To save oneself means, above all, to free oneself from evil by becoming indifferent to the world, which is the source of evil. This is the culmination of the spiritual process.

While some might note Buddhism as more a philosophy of negation than a deistic religion, the diocesan guidelines also threaten to taint the faith of believers under an effort to show respect to the adherents of Hinduism.

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The early Christians were put to death for refusing to throw the smallest fleck of incense into the fire for an idol of Rome and its emperor. Just as we would not expect Hindus to bend the knee and cross themselves in our churches; neither should Hindu shrines be honored by Christians with bowing before the idols of false deities. This act impugns the heroic sacrifices of the early martyrs. Such concession signifies a cowardice to accusations of intolerance where there should be a brave act of witness that promotes the missionary spirit within the scope  of both understanding and charity.

Christians need to respect the Eastern effort to discern truth while not abandoning our own rich inheritance.  The missionary effort, going back to the days of St. Francis Xavier, had many successes.  But we must admit that the faith also suffered from the stigma of being Western and foreign.  Right or wrong, the saint regarded all the Hindus as devil worshipers.  This is part of our historical faith inheritance.  Doors were closed where the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes might have opened them.  There is said to be an evolution in Hinduism toward monotheism; but this truth is already realized in Christianity.  We must be careful that weak Christians do not embrace Eastern religion due to an attraction to the strange or exotic.

Pope Paul VI stated in NOSTRA AETATE the following:

Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust.

We would not deny any elements that are true in such religions, but there are also wrong turns and false understandings (error).  All salvation truth subsists in the Catholic Church.  We do not have to look elsewhere. People who are largely ignorant of their own rich Christian faith inheritance might be lost if we are passive to their involvement in other religions.

Catholics should bow or genuflect before the Christian altar, or the Crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle but NOT before the image of alien gods.  Definitely they should not eat the food given to them, demons or not.

1 Corinthians 10:18-22 – Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything? No, I mean that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than he?

At a time when exorcisms are on the rise, this is the height of idiocy.   We can respect persons and work together for a more civil and caring society; however, we should not do so at the cost of our immortal souls.  Ignorance of the truth may save some from the full weight of judgment.  However, our Catholic and Christian community will be judged according to our understanding and fidelity to the revelation of Christ that is passed down to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

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Catholics and other Christians might visit such sites for educational purposes. They should do nothing that suggests worship. Pope John Paul II argued that the Allah of the Muslims is the same Father God of the Christians. This may be, but there remains much that divides us, particularly the role of Jesus as Lord and Redeemer. The Pope states:

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.

A gesture for peace is also fine, as long as we do nothing to undermine or apologize for our identity as Christians. We should also insist that the Islamic community become more pro-active against discrimination and violence against Christians throughout the world.  Otherwise, gestures of human respect (not divine worship) become empty.

While we can respect others, we should not be giving directions to Christian believers on how to commit idolatry.

sikh
The Sikh religion is inherently pantheistic.  We believe that God maintains creation but he cannot be identified with it.  While its tenets include reincarnation and various Hindu teachings; it is monotheistic, rejects the caste system and the use of idols.  It also espouses a syncretism where it tries to unite various beliefs from disjointed sources.  Christianity might adopt elements of culture and even the symbols of others (as it did in the Roman and Greek world) but the content is always that of the Gospel.  The blunt matter is that, no matter how interesting, this still constitutes a false religion for Catholics.  Ours is a jealous God.  He will not share us with others.

While certain traditionalists would attack overtures toward the Jews, we must always acknowledge that Judaism is a true, albeit natural religion.  While they have yet to embrace the revelation of the Trinity, the Jewish faith was called into existence by Almighty God.  Pope John Paul II insisted:

The New Covenant serves to fulfill all that is rooted in the vocation of Abraham, in God’s covenant with Israel at Sinai, and in the whole rich heritage of the inspired Prophets who, hundreds of years before that fulfillment, pointed in the Sacred Scriptures to the One whom God would send in the “fullness of time” (cf. Gal 4:4).

We have a genuine historical and faith relationship with the Jews that we do not share with other religions. Interfaith efforts should not be so diffusive that we lose sight of this fact.  The Jews are our elder brothers and sisters in faith.  Their story is part of our story.  The truths of the faith preserved and passed down by the Hebrews made possible the coming of Christ and his kingdom.  While we believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the fulfillment of the covenant, God has not forsaken his first people.  God keeps his promises.  There are NOT two covenants.  Both Pope Benedict XVI and the late Cardinal-priest Dulles clarified that there is ONLY one covenant. The covenant of old now embraces (in Jesus Christ) both the first and the new People of God. We pray and hope that those first called will one day come to a full awareness of the fulfillment in Christ.

Muslim Terrorism Does Not Exist?

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Muslim terrorism does not exist

Is it true?

Back in 2006 Pope Benedict XVI urged that the concept of holy war or conversion at the edge of the sword be repudiated. Immediately the summons went out for Muslims to kill the Holy Father. Even the more liberal critics were surprised at the apparent millions of enemies of Western civilization and our cherish rights and freedom. The call went out for the execution of the Pope. Many moderate Muslims remained quiet or on the sidelines. Salman Rushdie could go into hiding, but Pope Benedict XVI could not. He showed his courage, with an abiding faith and confidence in Christ.

It was not a few words taken out of context that caused all this turmoil. This was a volcano growing beneath us for some time. Christianity and Islam never made a true peace, but rather had maintained a truce centuries long. The problems and conflicts remained. Both are missionary faiths. While they share certain religious elements, with each other and the Jews, they are in their core identities quite different. The Church has learned the hard lesson of tolerance and patient endurance; many in world-Islam have not. A Christian martyr dies for the faith loving and forgiving his murderers. A Muslim martyr sacrifices his life as well; however he is driven by hatred to take his enemy with him. There is a physicality and coarseness to Islam that distresses Christians, especially things like the seven virgins that wait to be despoiled in the afterlife as a reward to righteous Islamic male adherents. There are many personal things about Mohammad that repulse Christians, and yet any honest historical appraisal (not to mention real criticism) earns immediate rebuke, threats and maybe even death. This makes dialogue very difficult, if not impossible.

The Pope spoke about the Muslims as our brothers and sisters, and fellow sons and daughters of Abraham. He said that violence cannot be used in the cause of furthering religion. There was no way radical Muslims could agree to this. The signs they carried in protest said it all, Jihad was a basic tenet of Islam as they understood it. Despite the naysayers, the worldwide protests seemed to indicate that it was this form of Islam, and not the tempered version we usually see in the U.S., that was the true face of this worldwide religion.

Despite apologies from the Holy Father for any misunderstanding, events escalated. There was no more pretense. While men gathered at the mosque in Southern Mogadishu, a powerful Islamic cleric of Somalia, Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin, declared on a Friday night at prayers: “We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion. Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim. We call on all Islamic Communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope.” The Mujahideen Army of Iraq threatened a suicide attack on Pope Benedict XVI. They wanted revenge for his daring to quote a historical figure that criticized their religion and the violence of Jihad. Their website posted this command, “smash the crosses in the house of the dog from Rome.”

Given current tension and this crisis of a decade ago, is Pope Francis right in his assertion? What is his evidence in a terrorized world that “Muslim terrorism does not exist”?

Muslims & Religion in Schools

WHOA! This School Allows School Prayer, But Only For…

People are upset that Muslims are given facilities to pray in schools. I am more upset that we as Christians have so easily surrendered this liberty and have allowed the component of religion to be stripped from our lived culture and from the teaching of social studies. Freedom “of” religion does not mean freedom “from” religion. Such a mentality impoverishes us all and represents a sanitized or censored diversity. Removing the factor of religion falsifies history, as with Columbus, leaving us with charges of genocide, forced slavery, and greed but saying next to nothing positive about his faith and missionary mandate to bring the saving faith of Christ to the New World.

Mother Teresa’s Nuns Executed

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Mother Teresa’s nuns have a charism to tend the needs of the poorest of the poor. Friday, March 4, 2016, Muslim terrorists executed them.

Four nuns and ten civilians were killed. Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar to Southern Arabia, spoke to AsiaNews about this morning’s “religiously-motivated” attack against the convent of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern Yemen. At 8:30 AM, the prelate said, “People in uniform stormed the compound where the Missionaries of Charity live. After they killed the security guard and all the employees that stood in their way, they came for the nuns and opened fire, killing four [sisters]. One (the superior) managed to hide and survive. Now she is in a safe place.” The victims are Sister Anselm from India, Sister Marguerite from Rwanda, Sister Judit from Kenya and Sister Reginette also from Rwanda.

The attackers seized Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest who lived at the facility. At the time of the attack, he was in the chapel praying. Overall, 16 people lost their life: four religious and ten lay people, employees of the community that also housed senior citizens and disabled people. Msgr. Hinder said: “We knew that the situation was difficult and that the sisters were running a certain risk. They decided to stay no matter what because this was part of their spirituality.” Groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to the Islamic State group are active in the country, which adds to the spiral of violence and terror.

No Where to Run, the Church & the World

It is argued that the Catholic Church has lost the contraception fight and now must move on. Similarly, I am today hearing the same said about other issues. Pope Francis is asked about homosexuals and he says, “Who am I to judge?” Critics rashly interpret this as a change in the Church’s stance and a leading gay magazine names the Pope as “Man of the Year.” A special synod is called on the family and revisionists suggest a coming change regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics. But the Pope is still Catholic and I think the dissenters are in for a big surprise. It may be that we cannot judge the souls of individuals, but we can make moral distinctions between right and wrong. Those who commit serious sin are not in a proper disposition for the sacraments. The Pope is the servant of the Word, not its master. He cannot invalidate either divine positive law or natural law. Of course, what might happen is that many Catholics will become accustomed to an ever permeating silence— about birth control, about gay relationships, about invalid marriages, and God-forbid, even about the murder of unborn children. Here again with this last point, too many make too much of papal remarks about there being other moral concerns beyond abortion. The fact is the Church is facing conflict from every angle, including the martyrdom of Christians by ISIS swords.

An essential thrust to Vatican II was a dialogue with the world, not so that the Church might be converted to the world but that the world might be more receptive of Christ’s kingdom. Many of us feel that this remains an important mission for the Church. However, critics can rightly point at instances of impotency and weakness toward a hostile world that seems to be more successful than we are at winning hearts and minds. The Church faces a mocking atheistic secular modernity on one hand and a radical militant Islamic extremism on the other. The Church is not only caught in the middle but old friends have changed alliances.

Can the Church engage cultures that feign courtesy when we are on the same side of its agenda but otherwise find ourselves targeted for extinction? Fight against the death penalty for the guilty and we are applauded; but then we are commanded to lay down our arms in the battle against aborting children and euthanizing the sick and elderly. The bishops are praised for supporting healthcare but condemned for not wanting to provide free contraception and abortifacients. The Church was once rendered accolades for her orphanages and adoption services; but today is shut down for refusing adoptions to homosexuals and lesbians. The Islamic world once protected Christian minorities, and utilized them in government and in schools of higher learning; after all, they were the one minority that was so small it would never be a threat to the ruling powers. But today, fanatics will not rest until every drop of Christian blood is spilt or the men are converted. From the Islamic East to the Secular West, there is nowhere to run and no place to hide. It is for this reason that I fear silence. Peace today will only lead to worse wars tomorrow. Silence will be interpreted as assent, or worse still, retreat.

Polygamy OUT, Monogamy IN

Msgr. Pope writes a good post on his blog about the seeming conflict between the monogamous plan of creation in Genesis and the practice of polygamy by the ancient patriarchs.

Msgr. Pope’s Blog Article: Don’t Do Polygamy

In passing, he notes that marriage is defined by God as a relationship between a man and a woman. The core purposes of marriage are also espoused:

  1. Adam is lonely and is given a helpmate who complements him in a shared nature.
  2. Adam and Eve are told to be fruitful and multiply.

The unitive meaning (fidelity) and procreation are stressed. There is nothing capricious about this bond. It is expected that it will be lasting and life-long. They are no longer two, but one.

But as we hear from our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew, there is a problem with their hardness of hearts. The early believers are much like their pagan neighbors. The marriage bed is compromised with many would-be spouses and Moses would even allow a writ of divorce. This is not the way things were supposed to be.

It may be that primitive men of faith lacked the capacity to receive the fullness of truth and God tolerated or even used a situation that would later be remedied. Further, as with various Islamic men today, such extended households were usually reserved to the wealthy and/or to the leadership. Most men had their hands full caring for one wife and family. By the time of Jesus, polygamy was frowned upon and the sin of adultery was attached to any who would compromise a singular union. We must learn from God’s Word, not by extracting isolated proof texts but by an integral approach which respects progressive revelation. The people of God grow in the ways of God and the fullness of truth.

Msgr. Pope argues that the rivalries between the wives and the place of their children are illustrative that polygamy was always frowned upon by God. It is fraught with problems. I would concur, although even having one wife can be a source of both joy and heartache, going back to Adam, the first man. When ladies lament that they feel sorry for priests and wish we could get married, I often respond (somewhat tongue-in-cheek), “Why would I want to get married; I have enough penance in my life!”

Today, our society is indeed returning to the transgressions and abuses of the past. Divorce and remarriage, or the practice of cohabitation and fornication, is essentially serial or successive polygamy. Similarly, just as certain Greeks tolerated and institutionalized homosexual liaisons, there are efforts today to condone and legalize same sex civil unions. When will we learn?

Pic:  Adapted from National Catholic Register Blog, America’s Most Complete Catholic News Source.

The Pope, Condoms & Stupid People

The devil must really be laughing today. He delights in ignorance and sin. He  assuredly has had a hand in the miscommunication of the Pope’s words on condom use. The Pope seemed pretty clear to me in his opposition. But Satan delights in dissent and the numbing of consciences.

WHAT DID THE POPE ACTUALLY SAY?

The Holy Father responded to a series of questions in a book entitled LIGHT OF THE WORLD by Peter Seewald. An over-sexed world latches upon a few remarks about condoms and reads far too much into them.

When asked about the Church’s view of condom use, Pope Benedict XVI replied: “It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution.”

The Pope answered: “In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality.”

He grants that the use of condoms might reflect the first stirrings of a MORAL SENSE and the desire not to harm or kill others through the spread of infection. He is not giving approval to condom use, merely to a movement away from selfishness and irresponsibility to a more mature regard for the needs and rights of others. Notice that he says this might be the “first step.” Later steps would have such a person come to awareness that condoms are an insufficient answer and that marital monogamy and/or abstinence is the way to go.

He clarifies this with an example: “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be … a first bit of responsibility, to re-develop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes. But it is not the proper way to deal with the horror of HIV infection.”

The Pope is very clear, despite misrepresentations in the news media, that condom use is “not the proper way” to deal with the HIV epidemic.

The popular misunderstanding of his remarks reflects this papal assertion: “Becoming simply fixated on the issue of condoms makes sexuality more banal and exactly this is the reason why so many people no longer find sexuality to be an expression of their love, but a type of self-administered drug.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

The remarks from the Holy Father have been sensationalized and misconstrued. The Church’s moral stand on condom use has NOT CHANGED. Condomistic intercourse is always and everywhere intrinsically immoral.

The press seems to think that the Church has changed its moral teaching, at least allowing male prostitutes to use condoms. Some idiots are actually complaining and questioning that if male prostitutes can use condoms then how about female prostitutes and those who live and act like prostitutes? One writer was upset that condoms were now permitted to all except married couples. But the Pope did not say that condoms were okay; indeed, he argued quite the opposite. He merely says that such usage might indicate the beginnings of a moral reflection. What they are actually doing is still condemned as a matter of mortal sin.

Cynics might argue that if you are going to sin then sin wisely. But the Church will never recommend sinful behavior, even to avoid other evils.

God save us from stupid people!

We pray to the Lord… LORD, hear our prayer!

I doubt you will hear this petition any time soon in our churches, but among faithful learned Catholics, it is certainly a plea we make in our personal prayers.

Media analysts and even governments need to be added to this plea. A similar ignorance led to an Islamic uproar over the Pope’s academic remarks back in 2006 in Regensburg, Bavaria when he urged a disavowal of violence as a dictated in the Koran for forced conversions. Protestors proved his point by murdering a nun and chanted, “Death to the Pope!” The Pope makes a subtle qualification about condom use and extremists on one side demand “further” compromise and on the other, chastise the Holy Father for heretical deviation. Even the Spanish government ridiculed the Pope for not going far enough, and yet the papal responses represent no retreat from the moral law. The Pope does not have the authority to declare right something which is objectively wrong. Pope Benedict XVI carefully nuances his words and many today do not have the intellectual savvy to parse his statements.

A United Nation’s top AIDS official said, “This move recognizes that responsible sexual behavior and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention.” It was nothing of the kind. The Pope still rightly condemns the use of condoms as an unacceptable solution. Activists in South Africa judged the statement as a “step in the right direction.” But I repeat, there has been no change of direction. Other enthusiasts for condomistic contraception wrongly rejoiced that this will allow for population control. The Holy Father will most certainly have to offer a grade-school-level explanation of his words to these thick-headed fools. Otherwise, they will spread the lie that we shall see Church approved artificial contraception. Indeed, some voices in the press are talking about this as I speak.

God save us from stupid people!

God save us from the manipulation of truth and the oppression of Satan!

Why Did Pope John Paul II Kiss the Koran?

Although a number of years have passed, many still wonder, why did Pope John Paul II kiss a Koran presented to him? The debate rages on.

FATHER JOE:

Is it not a book that speaks directly against the Catholic faith? Does it not reduce the Son of God to a mere prophet? Did not the popes of the past demand its burning? The answer to all these questions is YES, and yet what the Holy Father did was more complicated than what the anti-Catholic and/or sedevacantist spin-doctors might say about it.

One critic argues that it was a blasphemous act, showing his “hatred” of God and his apostate defection from the true faith. It was none of these things. The Pope is on the record about the differences between Catholics and the followers of Islam. Let us look at the situation. The Pope longed to go to Iraq in order to walk in the footsteps of Abraham, claimed as a “father in faith” by Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Pope John Paul II saw firsthand the depth of man’s inhumanity to his brothers and sisters. Our history as a world is written in blood. As illustrated in his repeated “mea culpa,” he strives for a new understanding between peoples where dialogue, tolerance, and cooperation will replace anathemas, persecution, and rivalry. Abraham is an integral figure of unity in turning things around politically. Looking at the incident in question, the Holy Father received a delegation that included the Shiite Imam of Khadum Mosque, the Sunni President of the council that operates the Iraqi Islamic Bank, and a member of the Iraqi Ministry of Religion. The invitation of a papal visit was renewed. They even went so far as to say that it would be “a grace from heaven.” While Iraq has been guilty of real violations of human rights, this Islamic state was the most tolerant of Christians than any of its Islamic neighbors. Many Catholics held positions in government, commerce, education, etc. The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon (Iraq), His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid, was a major spokesman for the delegation. He applauded the Pope’s actions and words as a true sign of concern from the Successor of St. Peter. (Christians represented 5% of the 20 million people in Iraq. Catholics of the large Chaldean rite [implementing the Aramaic language] and of the smaller Latin rite represented 80% of all Christians there.) It was said that a papal visit would confirm the faith of Christian believers while showing forth a genuine love for all in this mostly Muslim nation.

The Koran was a gift to him from the delegation. Islamic peoples are not casual in the giving of gifts. It represents the giver. They knew perfectly well that the Pope was a Catholic Christian, but they gave to him that which was regarded as most important in their life, their own holy book. Thus, at the end of the audience, the Pope showed his deep appreciation to this intimate self-donation, by bowing and kissing the Koran as a sign of respect. Such a gesture ran totally against the grain of crusades and condemnations. It did not mean that the Pope accepted all that was in the book, only that his love for the Muslim people, and the Iraqis in particular, was genuine. He makes the first move, not in the capitulation of our faith, but in the recognition that the followers of Jesus and those who cherish Mohammed should not be engaged in name-calling, or worse, killing each other. The Pope appreciated the suffering of the Iraqi people, particularly the women and children. It showed he did not look down upon them but had a genuine respect for them within the brotherhood of man.

DISCUSSION

COLETTE: I am thinking he does not know what the Koran says about Catholics. Was he pressured into it? Did he wrongly think this is was consistent with ecumenical dialogue or what? I cannot imagine any good reasons. There are none. Let’s face it— it was a crazy thing for a true Roman Catholic Pontiff to do. Would the leader of Islam do this with the Bible?

FATHER JOE: It seems to me that the Holy Father opted for the moral high ground. We cannot worry that such respect would not be reciprocal. His teachings clearly professed his faith in Jesus Christ. This gesture to the Koran is not dissimilar from his kissing the soil of nations he visited. It is a sign of human respect, but not a profession of faith or an imprimatur upon the Koran. The book was a visible symbol of a people and the Pope showed them welcome. It might also be seen as an invocation for peace between the Christians and Moslems.

RAY: I suspect that many of you do not know much about Islam. The Pope understood Islam and recognized the many messages we hold in common. People, who feel they must hate something, in order to love something else, are the reason why there are world wars and much suffering in the world.

FATHER JOE: True Christians hate sin, not sinners. One might show human respect to something like the Koran, particularly given its antiquity and meaning to so many; however, this is all a Christian and Jew can do. It is not our book. We neither acknowledge it as inspired nor as inerrant. We do not claim it as God’s Word. Indeed, it conflicts in many places with what God has genuinely revealed to us as his truth.

MANNY: It just goes to show that John Paul II saw the light before he died. I love this picture even though most so-called Christians are fearful of his simple act of kissing the Koran. He was a good man who had all the qualities of one who will go to heaven, even if he was not necessarily following God’s religion of choice. People in general need ever more to practice what they preach. We need inter-faith knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of other faiths. The religious hatred toward the Koran is very disturbing. This just goes to show that FEAR is the root of all evil. It is a shame that people from supposedly religious Christian backgrounds have commented in a very non-religious way about the Pope’s kissing of the Koran. He kissed the Koran out of respect, realizing that the three religions of the Middle East are not as dissimilar as some believe. He respected Islam. This is something that religious Christians should applaud and not criticize. Anyway, may he rest in peace.

LOLA: I read a third of the Koran and could not go any further when I read that a husband could hit his wife if she misbehaved. It is written that it is okay to kill Jews when they have been given two previous warnings. Jesus never said to kill anyone; he was the prince of peace. There are major contradictions! Well, I suppose I have read more of the Koran than most Moslems and more of the Bible than most Christians. The Pope kissing the Koran was not a wise thing to do. One can accept a copy of the Koran as a gift without compromising your own beliefs. This should especially be so for the Pope, who is the big honcho of the Catholic faith. Maybe the reason we have so many different religious beliefs is because God wants to test the tolerance of our hearts before we are taken home to him? One last comment, if you have half-doubted your faith then you have only half-believed. Just because your parents were of a certain religious faith, it does not mean that you should follow in their footsteps and maybe become a puppet on a string.

FATHER JOE: Christians can follow in the footsteps of parents and the long line of the saints and still not be puppets.  We, as Catholics, seek objective truth, both as revealed by God and in nature itself.

PAUL: I believe that what he did was an extremely spontaneous gesture of respect for Muslims, but not a belief in Islam per se. He was the kind of man who would even debase himself on behalf of others. If it were not a spur of the moment decision – if he had had time to think about it – he would not have done it because of the confusion it engendered. As the successor of Peter it is not his place to do such things. Like most of the fruits of Vatican II (thus far) it has caused more disorder and faithlessness than it has engendered. But because it was a holy act, just as it was a Holy Council, as Catholics, we should believe that it was ultimately good. An interpretation of it which enhances the faith will eventually prevail. The upcoming changes to the language of the Mass, the Motu Propio, etc. are the beginning of this with respect to Vatican II. But even clown masses and celebrants wearing cheese hats probably have a place in the Church of Christ. And popes make mistakes too. They are only human.

RYAN:

Kissing something is not necessarily a gesture of complete acceptance: It can signify love or respect. Think of this in the eyes of a Muslim. They are giving their most holy book, the holiest of their possessions to this man. To them, it is the word of God. What an honor for the Pope (or any person) to receive this most precious gift from them. His kiss was a show of respect and love for the Muslim people, not the Koran’s message itself.

My thoughts drift back to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Indy and his companions come to a very poor village where the people are starving. They are presented with food that would make most of our stomach’s turn. Still, when his companions are shy about eating, Indy urges them to eat anyway: the food offered is the equivalent to a week’s offering in the village.

Biblically, we can look at Luke 19:1-10 (among others) for guidance. Zacchaeus, though rich in possessions, realized the meaninglessness of hoarding his riches upon the arrival of Jesus. He gives half of his belongings to the poor, and pays back the extorted four times over. Upon seeing this, Jesus says: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Always look at the giver, and not the gift. Jesus looked at the former, and all Christians should follow his example. His blessed Pope John Paul II followed his way, knowing full well that his obedience to Christ would cause him to be smeared. May we all be as brave as him.

MISTER JOE:

Wow, Father Joe!!! What a master stroke of Spin Doctoring Genius you display in your defense of the Pope’s kissing of the abominable book. I think you should go to work for the Democratic Party and tow Clinton’s line, “It depends on what you mean by ‘is.’”

Do you even have the slightest idea what is written in that book? For that matter, did the Pope have the foggiest idea what is written in it? What I have read in it is nothing less than satanic and demonic.

If you are really interested in knowing what the Quran says, then you must learn the Arabic language, and then find an un-sanitized copy of the Quran (in the Arabic language) and read it for yourself. A friend, who was working in Saudi Arabia, brought back to the USA a Quran he had obtained from a mosque, after befriending a mullah.

However, I seriously doubt that you will indulge in such undertaking.

FATHER JOE: I have read the Koran. Make no mistake about it; the book is full of errors and fanciful stories. Have you read it? Interpretation of the Koran is difficult because of inconsistencies. Some argue that earlier texts for mercy or toleration are superseded or made void by the later more harsh statements. Pope Benedict received death threats when he charged the Islamic community with disavowing violence. Unfortunately, the Koran is the source for such sentiments as espoused by the so-called Moslem extremists. Pope John Paul never said he agreed with the book or that it was inspired. He offered no act of worship or submission to a false religion. In the interest of peace, he welcomed his visitors by humbly accepting that which they most cherished. The kiss was not one of adoration but as in the liturgy, a kiss of peace. We can pray that it may have a transformative effect for good.

SIBYL: The true sons (and daughters) of Abraham are those that believe Jesus is The Christ, Savior and LORD, The I AM…that He is the Model, The Ikon of Man, Husband, Friend, Brother. See Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8, John 8, Acts 3 and 13, Romans 9, Galatians 3.

FATHER JOE: Then what about the Jews?

SIBYL: John Paul II made a grave error in kissing the book Mohammed wrote.

FATHER JOE: Such was a gesture of human respect, not divine worship. His guests knew that. There can be no doubt that the late Pope was a Catholic and not a Moslem. While you can disagree about an act of courtesy, it would be wrong to view this as a grave religious error. Your fundamentalism is showing. I am reminded of a Protestant iconoclast insisting that kissing statues and images is idolatry.

SIBYL: Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church Catechism’s # 841 is extremely dangerous and misleading.

FATHER JOE:

[CCC 841] The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (Lumen Gentium 16)

There is nothing outside of God’s providence, even the sins and errors of men. God’s will cannot be circumvented. While this speaks to the plan of salvation, the rest merely takes the Moslems at their word. They believe in one God. Monotheism is a higher and truer form of religion than polytheism. This is a basic appreciation from the philosophy of God. They look upon Abraham as their father, as do the Jews and in a spiritual way, as do Christians. The Pope and the catechism never say that Islam is fully a true religion. Such can be said for Catholic Christianity and for Judaism. All that is good in Judaism is embraced by the Church. Salvation comes from the Jews.

Moslems believe that God the Creator is the one true God who must be adored. They also believe that God is merciful and the final judge of all. Their religion has many errors, but about these essential points, we are in agreement. Notice how short the statement is. There is much about which we disagree. However, you would not even allow this small fragment of concurrence.

SIBYL: Mohammedism is a perverse mixture of the worship of the goddess of Ishtar, Judaism, and Christianity. Mohammedism produces a malevolent, mendacious, misogynistic male, full of hate, lust, lies and death, domination, bondage, war. In fact, Mohammedism produces the anti-christ, the opposite of Christ, who is Love, Truth and Life, who gives freedom, joy, life and peace.

FATHER JOE: There are plenty of antichrists in Christian garb as well. Anyone who sins and who refuses to repent is opposed to Christ.

SIBYL: Mohammedism is a metastasizing political religious system that does not tolerate or abide anything but domination and submission to its dictums and dogmas. You shall know them by their fruit.

FATHER JOE: (I suspect that given style transitions, you are quoting something.) Yes, but we should not be quick to judge. Further, we should not scapegoat an entire people because of the sins of a few. Some would judge of all Catholicism by the sinful acts of sick priests or by the abuses of Catholics in history.

WILLIAM: I can’t understand what’s so controversial about this event; it was a beautiful gesture by a beautiful man. If anyone could be seen as a great Christian, I think it would be the late Pope John Paul II. May he rest in peace.

CHRISTINE: I now know why our churches have emptied. We are no longer strong.

SHUKOUR: I believed there is no such thing in the Koran as a directive to kill Jews.

FATHER JOE:

Actually, there are directives in the Koran for what is apparently murder, both toward the Jew and the Christian. Often castigated as infidels or idolaters, the language is that of intolerance. Reconciliation is only recommended if one’s Judaism or Christianity is renounced for Islam. Radical Islam stresses such passages as below and does not cower from using violence for its ends:

[2.191] And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

[3.28] Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.

[3.85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

[5.33-34] The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement, except those who repent before you have them in your power; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (This literally means, convert or die! When Pope Benedict XVI recently recommended that world Islam denounce such violence, millions of protestors chanted and displayed signs, “Kill the Pope!”)

[8.12] When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

[8.60] And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them; and whatever thing you will spend in Allah’s way, it will be paid back to you fully and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.

[8.65] O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand. (This is sometimes translated as, “The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them.”)

[9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

[9.28] O you who believe! the idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.

[9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

[9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! (Literally this is interpreted as “The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them.”)

[9.123] O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

[22.19-22] These are two adversaries who dispute about their Lord; then (as to) those who disbelieve, for them are cut out garments of fire, boiling water shall be poured over their heads. With it shall be melted what is in their bellies and (their) skins as well. And for them are whips of iron. Whenever they will desire to go forth from it, from grief, they shall be turned back into it, and taste the chastisement of burning. (Here torture against Jews and Christians is recommended.)

[47.4] So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish. (This is sometimes translated as, “Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them.”)

SHUKOUR: Do you know that most of the prophets of Islam were Jews that include Jesus a.s., Moses a.s., etc.

FATHER JOE: No, I did not know that and the reason is simple, it is a lie. Moses and Jesus are embraced and reinterpreted by Islam, but they did not preach or teach the dictates of Islam. Islam was only founded by Muhammad in 622 AD. Although he argued that his was a restoration or purification of Judaism, historical research shows this contention cannot be sustained. Islam represented something new, although with many borrowed elements. Angered when Christian monks uncharitably expelled him as stupid from their community, Muhammad set off to create his own religion. He combined elements of the various tribal religions and their gods with that of the Jews and Christians. The majority of converts to Islam in its first days came from polytheistic tribal religions. A large number of deities were worshipped, including that of the moon and the goddess of the sun. Christians and Jews were initially invited into the movement, but Muhammad’s so-called revelations became increasingly antithetical to their beliefs and practices.

SHUKOUR: In the Koran, a chapter is devoted solely to Jesus a.s.’ mother, Mariam or Mary who happens to be Jewish.

FATHER JOE: Salvation comes from the Jews. Mary was a Jewish maiden. Muslims accept the Catholic teaching of her as a virgin giving birth to Jesus. However, despite the teachings of Christ and that of the apostles, they reject that he is both God and Savior. Jesus is much more than a prophet. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Muhammad could never get his head around the Trinity. Indeed, the Koran errs in its description of the Trinity as believed by Christians.

SHUKOUR: No mention of Muhammad s.a.w’s mother. We, Muslims should be angry that Muhamad s.a.w’s mother was not mentioned and considered to be the greatest mother and woman for Muslims to follow instead of Mary.

FATHER JOE: Muhammad was purported raised early on by a nurse. Halima. As a baby, Muhammad seemed to have epileptic seizures. It was feared that he was demon possessed. His mother took him back but then quickly died and he was passed off to his grandfather. Evidently, there is not much one can say about his mother. However, Muhammad had access to the Christian gospels. Luke especially, spoke a great deal about Mary. Such becomes a source text for Muhammad’s reworking.

SHUKOUR: But we Muslims accepted wholeheartedly and loved and revered Jesus a.s.’s mother to be followed especially in the concept of motherhood and the excellent characteristics of a woman accepted by God!

FATHER JOE: Yes and no, for while Muslims love and respect Mary to a certain degree, they would not understand her as the chief of the saints in offering intercession, and the full significance of the Catholic dogmas.

SHUKOUR: The Koran also mentioned that since Christians and Jews are peoples of the book; that we, Muslims, should engage them in the kindest manner and that Muslims should engage them in dialogues in a friendly manner.

FATHER JOE: Yes, there are places in the Koran where such sentiments are expressed. But then they are spoiled by sections espousing forced conversions and violence. Interpretation of the Koran is problematical. Since it is not consistent, some authorities argue that the later harsher stipulations overrule or abrogate the earlier statements for friendship. Unlike the Bible, where we see progressive revelation realized in Christ where the primitive harshness of the Old Testament is replaced with the admonition for love and mercy in the New, the Koran seems to grow more intolerant as Muhammad became increasingly frustrated and unsatisfied. Further, while as a priest I can show human respect to Muslims, Catholics neither believe that Muhammad was a prophet nor that the Koran was inspired or from God. This statement alone would earn a Christian (or Jew) imprisonment and maybe the death sentence in certain Islamic strongholds.

SHUKOUR: My dear friends, Muslims also revered Jesus a.s. and Muslim children were told fascinating stories about Jesus a.s., his birth, his mission etc.

FATHER JOE: Yes, and Christians would judge the refashioned stories as largely fiction.

SHUKOUR: Muslims revered Jesus a.s. second to Muhammad and the only difference with Christian belief is that Muslims believed that Jesus a.s. never dies on the cross but was taken up into heaven by God as God loved Jesus a.s. so much that he (God) did not want Jesus a.s. to suffer the torture.

FATHER JOE: Christians regard this as both as unsubstantiated and as blasphemous. We regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but not as a prophet. Christians understand Jesus as a divine person with a complete human nature. Jesus suffers his passion and death as his great redemptive work to save us from our sins. Further, we believe that Jesus Christ conquered the grave by rising from the dead, ascending to the Father and now sits on his right hand, and that he sent his Holy Spirit to inspire and to protect his Church. Islam rejects the entire kerygma of salvation as understood by Catholics.

SHUKOUR: Muslims believe that Jesus a.s. is still in heaven and are eagerly waiting for him (Jesus a.s.) to return in order to bring peace in the “now troubled world” of ours.

FATHER JOE: Catholics believe that Jesus is in heaven but that as God he cannot be limited to heaven. We believe, as the true Scriptures and the sacred traditions of the Church teach; that he is present in the gathered assembly and Church; he is present in the Word proclaimed; he is present in his priests; and he is present in his sacraments and the Eucharist.

SHUKOUR: And also, Muslims do believe in the Bible brought by Jesus a.s. as words of God. It is believed as a holy book and is one of the cornerstones of the faith of Islam that include the Koran, Torah etc.

FATHER JOE: No, Muslims do not believe in the Bible. They approve of elements only. They place the authority of the Koran over that of the Bible.

SHUKOUR: That which is taught in the Bible, Torah, etc. is also contained in the Koran as a full guidance of a way of life approved by God!

FATHER JOE: There are purloined elements of the Bible in the Koran, as well as from the now defunct tribal religions which Muhammad encountered. However, the Koran rewrites, subtracts and adds to the biblical testimony.

SHUKOUR: My dear friends, I’m just sharing with you a bit about Islam, the Koran and about the Muslims so that we can avoid a misunderstanding.

FATHER JOE: I can well appreciate your effort, but from my perspective, and I say this respectfully, the misunderstanding is yours.

EYNAR: Is it so hard to understand? He was a real Muslim in his heart. To kiss the Koran is more than to accept it. So Christians, are you more clever and faithful than him? I really love him as a Muslim.

FATHER JOE: Really, it is not so hard to understand. There is no such thing as a “Muslim in his heart,” just a recognition by the Pope that the one God of Christians is the one God worshipped by Muslims. The Pope taught and lived the Catholic faith. His witness is part of the public record. As a Muslim you can love the late Pope. But while he also displayed human respect, he professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was the visible head of the Church established by Jesus. He believed in the Trinity, and thus that Jesus is divine and human.

CHUCK: I was fascinated with your collected, inspiring discussion and explanation of Christian teachings. My intent is to educate myself on the truths of Islam as my son has recently become fascinated with a young Muslim girl. I am torn by the impulse to protect him from becoming complacent in his religion in an effort to win her affection. On the other hand, he has been raised to love and accept all people. Although their relationship is still in its infancy, can you say something about serious relationships between a Muslim young woman with religious parents and a Christian young man with the same? Mind you that I have received advice from other Christians to “stop the relationship immediately.”

FATHER JOE: The Archdiocese of Washington tried to impose a moratorium on Catholic-Muslim weddings a number of years ago. Given that such marriages have an extremely high failure rate, as much as 90%, such relationships are very problematical. I would advise against such dating. Respecting practicing Muslims and having romantic relationships must be distinguished. The former is admirable, the latter is precarious. It is best not to allow such things to heat up. If the young lady wants to convert to Christianity that would change the dynamics in their favor; however, she might face alienation from her family. Indeed, in some countries a conversion of this sort could bring imprisonment, torture or even death.

JESSICA:

How can the “Vicar of Christ’s” actions be justified? The Quran, Surah 4:157 it states:

YUSUFALI: That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.

He kissed a book that undermines all of Christianity. Without the Death and Resurrection of JESUS CHRIST there is no Christianity or Catholicism. Or for that matter no “Vicar of Christ.” And this was done by a man who claims to be infallible? And yes I do sound upset, because I was Catholic, I went through RCIA twice. Two times because I wanted to learn as much as I could before I agreed to accept the teachings of Catholicism. Given the history of the church, etc. there was a lot to accept. But John Paul II’s actions were…. I can understand him wanting to make peace with the Iraqi peoples, or stepping into a Mosque, even accepting a Quran. But kissing the Quran? No. And no I do not believe that he is Muslim, or accepted Islam. I believe he is Catholic. But he sinned. He went against GOD. The one question that I ask is WWJD?

FATHER JOE:

It seems that upon this question I must continually return to cover old ground. No Christian contests that the Koran is a non-Christian book which speaks against many of the tenets of our faith. Not only does it deny the redemptive work of Christ but also his divinity. Further, despite an inconsistency in its remarks, there are sections which disparage Christians and admit violence against them for purposes of conversion. It is quite clear from the late Pope’s books, letters and talks that he believed and taught the Christian kerygma. That is why there is silliness to such debates as this. The question that anti-Catholic fundamentalists and sedevacantist traditionalists ignore is this: Given that the Pope is a Christian, why did he kiss the book? It was no action of apostasy. Rather, it was a gesture of respect and benignity to his visitors and world Islam. Any legitimate answer brings us back to the fact that the Pope is both a religious leader and a head of state. Christians must seek to live in peace with the world’s one billion plus Muslims. What would you have had the Pope do, throw the book back into the faces of his guests? Would you have preferred that he spat upon it? While it may not be our custom, gifts are traditionally kissed. Men even kiss men in parts of the Middle East and Orient. Place yourself for a moment into the cultural setting of the Islamic representatives. The Koran signified their greatest treasure. It stood for them and their identity as a people. The Pope’s gesture said to them, that despite our differences and difficult past history, we love you and want to live in peace with you. The tactics of the past meant both adversity and bloodshed. What would Jesus do? While we can argue prudential actions, I think he would seek the same aims as the Holy Father. The Pope is the visible head of the Church and Christ is the invisible head. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. What would Jesus do? I think that in the Pope we have already seen it. However, modern day Pharisees and scribes are aghast and filled with hypocritical rebuke and disdain. Just as Jesus was rejected by his own for association with tax collectors, sinners and gentiles; the Holy Father was slandered for reaching out to the great historical enemies of Christianity. As an aside, your comment confuses infallibility with impeccability. Within certain constraints, and regarding faith and morals, Popes are infallible but not necessarily sinless. The Popes even have priest confessors.

If you were a convert who has since left Catholicism, then you apparently could not think and believe with the mind of the Church on other matters, too. I will keep you in prayer that you might one day return to the safe harbor of faith… before it is too late. We know how you feel about the Koran, but I would urge you to read the writings of the late Pope and his successor. You might take special benefit from the Bible, particularly the Gospels, and the universal catechism. The latter work was promulgated under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Since you have spent time reading the Koran, you should at least spend a little time reading the Church’s books. It is funny in a way. You condemn the Pope for kissing the outside of a book while you evidently opened the Koran and read a portion of it. The latter was once an offense given that the Koran was on the Index of Forbidden Books. What would Jesus do? Jesus will never abandon (as you have) the Church that he founded.