Friday, February 21, 2014

Fr. Schall on mission, dialogue, and difficulties - esp. with Islam

How religious freedom went from the freedom to practice and explain the Faith to permission to merely do what the State allows

Pope Francis leads a meeting with religious leaders at the Vatican March 20. 2013. The pope met with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano vi a Reuters)

James V. Schall, S.J., "Mission, Dialogue, and Difficulties" (CWR, February 18, 2014):
A tension exists between the Church’s recent and urgent commitment to mission and its parallel emphasis on dialogue as a practical way to deal with differences in religions and philosophies....

Pope Francis recently, after pointing to the widespread persecution many Christians now experience in Muslim lands, suggested that Muslims are free in western states to practice their religion, so why do they not influence their countries of origin to allow such freedom of religion to non-Muslims. Part of the problem, however, is that the Muslims, who do settle in states with some freedom of religion, as soon as they can, form their own enclaves in which they seek to make the practice of Muslim law necessary. There really is not much of a conversion to the western notion of freedom of religion. What we find is the use of western freedom to set up the religious system that prevails in Muslim states. Given the population increase of Muslim people within these lands, they have a real hope of being able to set up Muslim cities or countries in these formerly unconquered lands.

... The lesson I draw from these reflections is that any missionary effort must take more seriously the duty of truth. We have been used to minimizing our relationships so that what we see and grant is what we have in common. We leave out what makes us distinct. But what is distinct is what we are charged to make known. In the case of Islam, it is not sufficient to try to say that we all have the same God in common when all the evidence, as Rémi Brague has noted, is that the Gods depicted in Scripture and in the Koran are very different. We know from Benedict’s experience at Regensburg that stating the truth about Islam, even in academia, can cause Christians to be killed in retaliation. When this happens, it is often the one who brought up the truth who is blamed, not the killers. Read more >>
In the com box is this revealing comment:
Do you know how rare you are Fr. Schall as a member of the Catholic Clergy for saying "The lesson I draw from these reflections is that any missionary effort must take more seriously the duty of truth. We have been used to minimizing our relationships so that what we see and grant is what we have in common. We leave out what makes us distinct. But what is distinct is what we are charged to make known. In the case of Islam, it is not sufficient to try to say that we all have the same God in common when all the evidence, as Rémi Brague has noted, is that the Gods depicted in Scripture and in the Koran are very different." We Catholics walk a thin line: what you say is true but it appears the Pope is wanting to focus in on encouraging relationships with people "of good will" so there is a real tension (in my opinion) between your mentioned-above 'new evangelisation' and the low key version being put forward in other quarters. If I am confused, it is not for want of trying to find clarity.
[Hat tip to JM]


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