Friday, May 03, 2013
Bishop McManus claims that Catholic-Muslim inter-religious dialogue has produced a good harvest; But has it?
In a previous post, I noted how Bishop Robert McManus (Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts) - the same Bishop who couldn't find the time to dialogue with me regarding my desire to discern a priestly vocation within the diocese - has asserted that the Catholic Church's inter-religious dialogue with Muslims "has produced a harvest of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation throughout the world and here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This is the sort of statement which is so asinine that only someone whose mind is far-removed from reality can actually believe it. Islam, as Hilaire Belloc reminds us, "began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was - not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing." (The Great Heresies, p. 42).
This perversion of Christian doctrine, which denies that Jesus is the Christ and that He died on the cross to atone for our sins, makes the claim that it alone is destined to become the religion of all mankind. Islam divides the world into two camps: those who are lost and those who are the elect, the Dar al-Harb and the Dar al-Islam respectively.
Is an authentic dialogue with Islam even possible? In any inter-religious dialogue, Pope John Paul II insists that, "There must be no abandonment of principles nor false irenicism, but instead a witness given and received for mutual advancement on the road of religious inquiry and experience, and at the same time for the elimination of prejudice, intolerance and misunderstandings." (Redemptoris Missio, No. 56).
But as Father Piero Gheddo has said, "In no Islamic country are Christians totally free, unlike Muslims in the West...The Muslims should examine their own consciences with regard to their collective behavior: the systematic violation of human rights, terrorism, oppressive practices against women and children, the lack of democracy, religious and social formalism that crushes the individual." ("Islam, accordo impossibile," Global Foreign Policy, March/April 2004).
And Bishop McManus insists that inter-religious dialogue with Muslims has produced "a harvest of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation"? More like a harvest of shame Bishop.
For some people, the purpose of dialogue is not to attain truth but rather to achieve personal victory and to triumph at any cost. As Dr. Montague Brown explains in his wonderful book "The One-Minute Philosopher" (Sophia Institute Books): "An argument (emotional, not rational) is a disorderly confrontation based on an unwillingness to learn from one another. Desire for victory takes precedence over love of truth, with the result that agreement becomes impossible....in an argument, I simply want my position to be the right one and you to agree with me. I am, indeed, looking for agreement, but on my terms, not in terms of objective truth." (p. 33). An authentic dialogue (which such people are not really interested in) is, "..an orderly confrontation based on a mutual willingness to learn from one another. It involves the presentation of evidence by each party and then a good-faith attempt of the participants in the discussion to come to agreement...In a discussion [or dialogue], I do not primarily want to disagree: I want to know the truth.." (The One-Minute Philosopher, p. 32).
Take note of what Dr. Brown is saying here. Authentic dialogue involves the "presentation of evidence by each party." Why then did Bishop McManus rescind Robert Spencer's invitation to speak at the Catholic Men's Conference? Where is the mutual willingness to learn from each other?