Wednesday, August 18, 2010


"Saint Sophia" Mosque in Istanbul formerly known as "Constantinople". This former Cathedral was to the Church of the East what St. Peter's Basilica is to the Church of the West. When the Muslims invaded Turkey and conquered it, they suppressed Christianity, they took over this Byzantine, Orthodox Cathedral and turned it into a mosque. It would be like the Muslims taking over Rome and changing St. Peter's into a mosque--an act that would create centuries of hostility between the two religions. Would it be an act of ecumenical significance for the Muslims to return Saint Sophia to the Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) so that it might be restored as the center of Orthodoxy once again? What a grand gesture that would be. But don't hold your breath!

The Blue Mosque in Turkey

I won't rehash the politics concerning the building of a mosque near the site of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and a monument to all those killed there on 9/11. From a legal point of view, Muslims have a right to build this mosque. It is not overlooking the site of 9/11, not on government property and the site cannot be seen from where the Muslims intend to build the mosque. It is about three blocks away. Certainly, once the high rise is in place, one could see the new building from the mosque.

The greater issue is one of sensitivity on the part of the Muslims building this Islamic center. Families and friends of those killed find the building of the mosque in the vicinity of the 9/11 monument grossly insensitive. The nerves of many in New York and elsewhere are frayed when it comes to radical extremists in the Muslim community. For the most part, moderate Muslims have done a very poor job of distancing themselves from the more radical elements of some of their members, especially "clergy." In many Muslim countries, Catholics, other Christians and Jews can't even wear images of their religion in public, let alone build a Church or synagogue. There is no outcry against this sort of religious triumphalism and contempt for other religion from moderates in the Muslim community.

Should President Obama have entered into the fray and controversy about this? I personally think he should have moderated his comments and simply said, Muslims in New York should show sensitivity and other religious sectors of the same city should be concerned about the religious freedom our country protects as a constitutional right.

How would Catholics feel, in light of the clerical sexual abuse scandal, if politicians and other religions began to dictate where a Catholic Church and rectory could be built and couldn't be built? Is a public school too close? A child care center? What if the President of the United States entered into the fray?

Oh, President Bush did in 2002. He recommended, and I quote very loosely, that Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church attend to the issues surrounding the scandal. He had no doubt that the issues of the scandal would be addressed. He didn't go any further and I don't think any Catholics actually took any offense. I don't think it was a politically motivated statement and the President was wise not to get into too many details concerning the scandal.

We do have to be cautious about not painting all Muslims and their worship centers with the broad stroke of radical fundamentalism. That would be like painting the Catholic Church as terroristic because mainly Catholics formed the Irish Republican Army.

Would we do the same with other Christian denominations because mostly Protestants belong to the KKK?


Anonymous said...

It should be allowed, but we must understand what it means. Islam is going to grow quickly in this country and this site will be an important centre. In Europe churches are being converted to mosues as the Muslim population increases and the Christian population loses faith. Many parishes are mere skeletons of their past size. As they merge and share priests the smaller congregations will shutter and close, to be opened with minarets added to replace the cross.

New York is full of people yearning for something to believe and a faith that is firm and confident in its beliefs. Islam can provide that for them.

Henry said...

What you call the "Blue Mosque" looks to me suspiciously like what was for almost a thousand years the greatest church in Christendom, the Hagia Sophia ("Holy Wisdom") in Constantinople.

Where Russian envoys, sent to Constantinople in 988 to compare its religious services with those of other religions they were considering adopting, were so awed by the splendor and the sublimity of the Liturgy that, on their return to their capital city of Kiev, they declared to their master Prince Vladimir the Great, that in Hagia Sophia they thought they were "in Heaven itself." Resulting in the historic expansion of Christianity into Russia.

The 1453 sack of the Hagia Sophia and its forced conversion into a mosque tells much about what is happening in the world today.

Templar said...

Does anyone for one second really think the founding father's considered the Muslim's (or Hindus etc) when they wrote the first amendment? The writings of the early fathers are contain copious examples of how they believed that what they set in place would only be effective and maintained so long as the people who exercised it were moral men, and that morality was a Judeo-Christian morality. It is revisionism to apply the "rights" of a Judeo-Christian country to alien religions. The first Amendment was meant to permit the Freedom to Worship the Judeo-Christian God, not the God of Islam. And yes I know, supposedly Allah is our God, but that's a lie pure and simple. To believe that Allah is the same as my God, I would have to try and square how my God sent his son to us to tell us to Love Our Neighbor, and 700 years later changed his mind and sent the Angel Gabriel to Mohammad with the opposite message.

More self destruction being hidden behind acceptance of a false equivalency. Islam and Christianity are not the same, not equal, and can not survive forever in the same space. The Islamists know that, and that is why their plans of conquest call for immigration, and population as the way of conquest, because they know the stupid Christians in the West, tripping over themselves to be ecumenical and sensitive to diversity will welcome them, whereas the Muslim nations on Earth will not permit likewise in return.

No Mosques in the West until there's a Church in Mecca should be the answer.

As for Obama's comments on the situation, par for the course. The man isn't qualified to be a Mayor of a Small town, how on Earth did so many idiots swallow the snake oil he was selling?

JP2 Scribe said...

"We Christians joyfully recognize the religious values we have in common with Islam. Today I would like to repeat what I said to young Muslims some years ago in Casablanca: "We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection" (Insegnamenti, VIII/2, [1985], p. 497). The patrimony of revealed texts in the Bible speaks unanimously of the oneness of God. Jesus himself reaffirms it, making Israel's profession his own: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Mk 12:29; cf. Dt 6:4-5). This oneness is also affirmed in the words of praise that spring from the heart of the Apostle Paul: "To the king of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen'"(1 Tm 1:17)."
- Pope John Paul II

L'Osservatore Romano, 12 May 1999, page 11.

Templar said...

Find out what the Quran really says:

Marc said...

I think I have to begrudgingly disagree with this quote from Pope John Paul II to this extent: We, as Catholics, believe in the Holy Trinity, Muslims do not. We, as Catholics, believe that Jesus Christ was true God and true Man, Muslims do not. Therefore, we cannot possibly believe in the same God. This type of religious "acceptance" brings to mind this reference:

"Here it is well to note at once that, given this doctrine of experience united with the other doctrine of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true. What is to prevent such experiences from being met within every religion? In fact that they are to be found is asserted by not a few. And with what right will Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? With what right can they claim true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed Modernists do not deny but actually admit, some confusedly, others in the most open manner, that all religions are true. That they cannot feel otherwise is clear." - Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907).

As an aside, and as proof that Muslims do not hold Pope John Paul II's view of "ecumenism," I can present a copy of the Koran that I received free from the Saudi Arabian embassy several years ago (all you have to do is ask -- they'll send anyone a copy for free). The back portion of that book contains a hundred pages or so of "bonus material" that seeks to disprove Christianity (an Islamic apologetics appendix, if you will). It includes arguments against the divinity of Christ and the existence of God as Trinity. If we believe in the same God, why is that material necessary?

Tony_Lyons said...

The first amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As such I agree with Father McDonald that we mustn't prohibit the Mosque. However, I also agree that those wishing to build it need to be more sensitive to the fact that the area has become hallowed ground. It would not be too dissimilar than if those of Japanese decent insisted upon a memorial honoring Japan be placed at Pearl Harbor. One cannot imagine it and nor would one of Japanese decent be so insensitive.

As a final note the 1st amendment pretty explicitly applies to Congress. You know the body that was meant to write the laws. It also is pretty explicit in that no religion should be established by Congress or that the free exercise of religion be impeded. Why do the courts always ignore the last part?

Anonymous said...

Would we have the same hesitation to stop construction of a shrine to Hitler? Why should we have any hesitation about Islam? Is Islam a religion of Peace? Where is the evidence. If some Muslims have hesitation to kill Jews does it come from Islam or does it come from Western influence on their secular ideas?

We would have no problem stopping someone from building a worship place for Thugee because we know it is violent and hateful. Do we KNOW Islam is peaceful, or do we wish it is? Are we refraining from confronting Islam out oa spirit of peace, or because we are afraid to speak the truth about Islam and stand up for Christianity?


Gerbert said...

It is true that legally Muslims have the right to build the Islamic center any where. Problem is we look at this issue from a western mind, and not from an Muslim mind, and they are very different. At the time of the Islamic invasion of Spain, the Muslims built a mosque over the remains of a Christian Church to make a statement; "what has been conquered for Allah will always belong to Allah". What the western mind has to understand it that there is no separation between religion and politics in Islam. This is why they want sharea law established every where. Democracy is looked upon as evil, they believe in absolute Islamic rule by a monarch under sharea law. It is not what message it sends to Americans it is what message it sends to the Islamic world. As Christians we would be compassionate and sensitive to the Muslim desires and wishes, the problem is they do not recognize the sensitivities of non Muslims especially not Christians. The Hagia Sophia will never peacefully return to the Church, and I do not think a mosque should be built any where near ground zero. If we are to get along and work to understand one another mutual respect, and a recognition of the dignity of all people must be established. I am not trusting of Muslims at all, history has shown us that we should be cautious and skeptical. I find it hard to trust anyone who looks at me as an infidel.

Pater Ignotus said...

We worship God as Trinity, Muslims do not. We worship Jesus as the Divine/Human, Muslims do not. That we worship the same God in different ways does not, ipso facto, mean we are not worshipping the same God.

Suppose a child's father died when the child was five, but his older sister was 20 years old at the time of their father's death. They would have known the same father in significantly different ways, but the father would have been the same.

The copy of the Qur'an I was given, free of charge, by a masjid in Atlanta contains no appendix with arguments of any kind.

Anonymous said...

Here is what Arch. Timothy Dolan had to say:

Anonymous said...

Peter, not to be trite, but our Father is not dead. Their's is.


Gene said...

I get a little weary of these, "well, its all the same God arguments." The Creeds are pretty specific and exclusive. This is just more of Pater's and his ilk's egalitarian/equivalence nonsense that has brought us to the sorry state in which we now are. That is just p-poor theology and sloppy thinking.

The incredible naivete of those who support this mosque, or Islam, in any way is quite appalling. The enemy is at the gate...and so we go and open it wide. Sad that Western culture and the Judaeo-Christian tradition remain in decline due to misguided egalitarian/globalist notions and a nation that has completely lost its compass.

Gene said...

Pater, your example of the two children experiencing the father in different ways is not good analogy. God's nature is not predicated upon our "experience" of Him. Rather, He is determinative of our experience of Him through Christ and the Holy Spirit. In fact, Holy Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church tell us rather specifically just how we may properly experience Him.

That other religions may in some way "prepare" the heathen for Revelation, does not mean they are experiencing the same God. It means that the "One God the Father Almighty," and "one Lord Jesus Christ...eternally begotten of the Father" is merciful.

Templar said...

Something awful must have happened to this father in the 15 years between the birth of his 1st child and 2nd, since the first child was told to love thy neighbor as you love thyself, and the 2nd child was told to go kill anyone who is not like you.

Maybe his wife cheated on him? Maybe that second child isn't really his? What else could possible make someone so bitter as to change so dramatically?

Oh wait a minute, we're talking about God, and God doesn't change EVER. Therefore if the message changes it must have more to do with the messenger than God.

Islam seeks the destruction of Christianity, and any attempt to hide or ignore that fact is is pure Pollyanna.