Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, the Roman Catholic Church’s apostolic nuncio emeritus to Egypt and apostolic delegate emeritus to the Arab League, as well as a past president of the Pontifical Council for Irreligious, er, that is, Interreligious Dialogue, on Sunday represented Pope Francis at the first prayer service in St. Francis of Assisi Church in Abu Dhabi, which is part of the new Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith shrine that comprises not just a church, but also a synagogue and a mosque. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty.
“The place of prayer,” Fitzgerald announced happily, “should also be a place of joy, and I hope that this will be true for all of us here present.” Fitzgerald also expressed the hope that the new three-in-one house of worship would be “a house of prayer for all the peoples.” Maybe it will, but Fitzgerald and his colleagues are ignoring the fact that the Islamic prayers held in the building three days before the St. Francis of Assisi Church was inaugurated were hardly as welcoming to non-Muslims as the Christians and Jews have been to the Muslims.
ChurchMilitant.com reported Wednesday that Fitzgerald also said: “Worship opens us up to others, instilling in us a care for justice, encouraging us to act with integrity. We cannot truly pray to God without remembering the other members of the Abrahamic family, and indeed of the human family.” Meanwhile, however, one of the other “members of the Abrahamic family” was not quite as generous. Muslims “had earlier prayed the Maghrib prayer in the mosque section of the shrine on Thursday evening.” According to a Muslim jurist who converted to Christianity, this was not the wonderful manifestation of interfaith harmony that Fitzgerald assumed it to be: “Remarkably, Cdl. Fitzgerald, an acclaimed Islamic scholar, ignored the fact that the Maghrib prayer contains Surah Al-Fatiha, which is one of the most anti-Christian and anti-Jewish texts in the Qur’an. The inclusion of this prayer, which is considered indispensable in Muslim worship, tells us everything we need to know about how serious Muslims are about interfaith dialogue.”
Indeed. The Fatiha (Opening) is the first sura (chapter) of the Qur’an and most common prayer of Islam. If you’re a pious Muslim who prays the five requisite daily prayers of Islam, you will recite the Fatiha seventeen times in the course of those prayers. The final two verses of the Fatiha ask Allah: “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your anger, or of those who have gone astray.”
The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam, while the path “of those who have evoked Allah’s anger” are the Jews, and those who have gone “astray” are the Christians. The classic Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains that “the two paths He described here are both misguided,” and that those “two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them.” Ibn Kathir is not alone; in fact, most Muslim commentators believe that the Jews are those who have earned Allah’s wrath and the Christians are those who have gone astray.
So as Cardinal Fitzgerald opened his “house of prayer for all the peoples,” one of the three principal groups included in it was praying not to be like the other two, but to be guided instead to the truth. What’s more, as I explained to Church Militant, no matter how friendly the relations are between the groups in the Abrahamic Family House, this friendliness will not lead Muslims to abandon core Islamic doctrines regarding how Christians wrongly proclaim Christ’s divinity and are under the curse of Allah as a result (cf. Qur’an 9:30; 5:17).
As in all other cases, Muslim/Christian dialogue is seen on the Muslim side as an opportunity to proselytize for Islam and intimidate Christians into fearing to discuss the rampant Muslim persecution of Christians, for fear of harming the dialogue. This interfaith shrine in Abu Dhabi is Pope Francis’ house of cards. It will result in nothing lasting except the continued ignorance and complacency of Catholics regarding the threat of Islamic jihad. Leftist Catholics such as Fitzgerald who think this is a positive step are being naïve. At best.
Article posted with permission from Robert Spencer
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