AP reported breathlessly Monday that Pope Francis “embraced the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, reopening an important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull and at a time of increased Islamic extremist attacks on Christians.”
Why has there been this “five-year lull”? Because “the Cairo-based Al-Azhar froze talks with the Vatican to protest comments by then-Pope Benedict XVI.” What did Benedict say? Andrea Gagliarducci of the Catholic News Agency explains that after a jihad terrorist murdered 23 Christians in a church in Alexandria 2011, Benedict decried “terrorism” and the “strategy of violence” against Christians, and called for the Christians of the Middle East to be protected.
Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb, whom Pope Francis welcomed to the Vatican on Monday, was furious. He railed at Benedict for his “interference” in Egypt’s affairs and warned of a “negative political reaction” to the Pope’s remarks. In a statement, Al-Azhar denounced the Pope’s “repeated negative references to Islam and his claims that Muslims persecute those living among them in the Middle East.”
Benedict stood his ground, and that was that. But in September 2013, al-Azhar announced that Pope Francis had sent a personal message to al-Tayeb. In it, according to al-Azhar, Francis declared his respect for Islam and his desire to achieve “mutual understanding between the world’s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice.” At the same time, Al Tayyeb met with the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, Mgr. Jean-Paul Gobel, and told him in no uncertain terms that speaking about Islam in a negative manner was a “red line” that must not be crossed.
So Pope Benedict condemned a jihad attack, one that al-Azhar also condemned, and yet al-Azhar suspended dialogue because of the Pope’s condemnation. Then Pope Francis wrote to the Grand Imam of al-Azhar affirming his respect for Islam, and the Grand Imam warned him that criticizing Islam was a “red line” that he must not cross. That strongly suggests that the “dialogue” that Pope Francis has now reestablished will not be allowed to discuss the Muslim persecution of Christians that will escalate worldwide, especially since an incidence of that persecution led to the suspension of dialogue in the first place.
What’s more, his dialogue partner, al-Tayeb, has shown himself over the years to be anything but a preacher of peace, cooperation and mercy: he has justified anti-Semitism on Qur’anic grounds; and called for the Islamic State murderers of the Jordanian pilot to be crucified or have their hands and feet amputated on opposite sides (as per the penalty in Qur’an 5:33 for those who make war against Allah and his messenger or spread “mischief” in the land. Al-Azhar was also revealed to be offering free copies of a book that called for the slaughter of Christians and other Infidels.
Will the Pope during al-Tayeb’s visit to the Vatican again affirm his respect for Islam and contempt for Christianity? Will he convert to Islam before al-Tayeb, or just offer his submission and a jizya payment?
The Times of Israel opined that Monday’s Vatican meeting was a “sign of improved ties between Catholic Church and Muslim world.” Really? Where? Muslims have massacred, exiled, forcibly converted or subjugated hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq and Syria. Have these “improved ties” saved even one Christian from suffering at the hands of Muslims? No, they haven’t. All they do is make the “dialogue” participants feel good about themselves, while the Middle Eastern Christians continue to suffer. In fact, the “dialogue” has actually harmed Middle Eastern Christians, by inducing Western Christian leaders to enforce silence about the persecution, for fear of offending their so-easily-offended Muslim “dialogue” partners.
Has the Pope welcomed any of the persecuted Christians to the Vatican? Or is that honor reserved only for this man, who will allow for “dialogue” only when his Christian “dialogue” partners maintain a respectful silence about Muslim massacres of Christians?
This Pope is a disgrace to the Church, to Judeo-Christian civilization, and to the free world.
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)