Monday, April 17, 2006

The Right Thing

Catholic World News reports that "Opus Dei apologizes for cartoon of Mohammed"

The details:
The Opus Dei prelature has issued an apology for the publication of a sketch depicting Mohammed in hell.

The public apology released by Manuel Sanchez Hurtado, the director of communications for Opus Dei, follows the controversy caused by an illustration in Studi Cattolici, a magazine edited by members of Opus Dei. The illustration showed Mohammed in hell, as depicted by Dante in Canto XXVIII of the Inferno.

"It is one thing to appreciate Dante’s Divine Comedy and a very different thing to joke about this particular scene in the present climate and in a Catholic magazine," said that Opus Dei communications director. While the prelature is not directly responsible for Studi Cattolici, he said, the editors responsible had apologized for the illustration and Opus Dei leaders wanted to "unite ourselves to this request for forgiveness."
This is the right move for Opus Dei to make? Why.

Father Walter Coleman, commenting on this story, offers his perspective:
Opus Dei did the right thing. Some may ask, "Why are we Catholics apologizing?" The answer is clear, we should always go the extra mile to be peacemakers because it is the Christian thing to do. In no way does the apology undermine the Faith, the truth of Christ, or the imperative to evangelize. On the contrary, it is Christ-like to be respectful, even towards those who are in error. Also, we do not want to be indirectly responsible for Islamic fanatics victimizing innocent people.
He's absolutely right.

As Christians, our fight is not with rulers or particular people/nations or even terrorists as such; it's with the principals and powers of this world. We fight the enemy and his willing or unwitting agents throughout the world.

All muslims are not those agents. All islamofascists are.

Not sure how to tell the difference?

Ask the Anchoress:
I asked in response:If Muhammed himself turned his cheek and prayed for his persecutors, why is that not the common response, today? Why do jihad and fatwa seem to be the order of the day?

Ali: Fatwa - There was no such thing as a fatwa while Muhammad was alive. Fatwa came about with the jurists in later centuries and means “non-binding legal opinion.” Each and every Muslim can accept or reject a fatwa based on his or her personal determination. The fact that lay Muslims simply think that a fatwa is God’s word is not because a fatwa is authoritative, but because individual Muslims have conceded their individual autonomy to the scholars. This is a very curious phenomenon because the Quran categorically states that “none shall bear the burden of another” (on the day of judgment), to suggest that each one of us is accountable for our own decisions, and that reliance upon any other person’s opinion will not free you from accountability before God.


In other words, the problem isn’t that a person releases a fatwa, it’s that a believer doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, that he still has room to make up his own mind. A large part of this has to do with historical conditioning. Jurists have for the longest time controlled the “Islamic” discourse within Islam. In other words, if you want to talk about Islam, you first have to qualify for being a jurist. That’s absurd because the Prophet and the First Caliphs used to have debates in public squares with men *and* women who thought their decisions were absurd and yet were illiterate or country bumpkins. There is no clergy in Islam, yet we’ve created it.
Still not convinced? Ask Siggy:
Robert Spenser, author of the excellent Jihad Watch, notes in If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride,
I am all for supporting Muslim reformers. But I don't believe that people who ignore or brush aside material that obviously refutes their views are worth trusting as reformers. Because the mujahedin will not ignore or brush aside the material that these pseudo-reformers are busy sweeping under the rug.
His comments addresses a post by The Anchoress, Mohammed Turned The Other Cheek, in which The Anchoress recounts a conversation she has with Ali Eteraz, of Unwilling Self Negation.

In fact, Eteraz is the real deal. He is also as yet, a clumsy dancer. He cannot answer and apologize for Islam as is- and he knows it. His remarks to The Anchoress (and commented on by Robert Spenser) in and of themselves are out of context to begin with, because the Islam and the Quran have yet to be subjected a popular and accepted 'reformation.'

Imagine reading the Old and New Testaments in a vacuum. There are passages in those texts that are just as violent and just incomprehensible to modern Christians, Jews and civilized society. The slaying of Amalek, slavery and keeping women as second class citizens are not much different from anything found in the Quran. That said, Judaism and Christianity of old cannot be compared to much of Islam today. Christians and Jews have long abandoned, via an enhanced understanding and a more in depth reinterpretation, those parts of the Old and New testaments.

That cannot be said of Islam. As of yet, the only 'enhanced' understanding and reinterpretation of Islam have been developed only to serve the Islamists. For example, the Quran is quite specific that prior to the Prophet's return, the Jews will 'return to their land,' a notion conveniently ignored and not referred to. In fact, the Quran is quite clear- Allah recognizes the Land of Israel as the heritage of the Jews: "
To Moses We [Allah] gave nine clear signs. Ask the Israelites how he [Moses] first appeared amongst them. Pharoah said to him: 'Moses, I can see that you are bewitched.' 'You know full well,' he [Moses] replied, 'that none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has revealed these visible signs. Pharoah, you are doomed.'"

"Pharoah sought to scare them [the Israelites] out of the land [of Israel]: but We [Allah] drowned him [Pharoah] together with all who were with him. Then We [Allah] said to the Israelites: 'Dwell in this land [the Land of Israel]. When the promise of the hereafter [End of Days] comes to be fulfilled, We [Allah] shall assemble you [the Israelites] all together [in the Land of Israel]." (emphasis- SC&A)

"We [Allah] have revealed the Qur'an with the truth, and with the truth it has come down. We have sent you [Muhammed] forth only to proclaim good news and to give warning."

[Qur'an, "Night Journey," chapter 17:100-104]
The fact remains that if the radicals can come to define and redefine Islam, so can the reformists. One cannot 'talk the talk and not 'walk the walk.' Spenser and others cannot dismiss the Islam of Eteraz, in toto. Ali's voice, among others, are only now making themselves heard. As with reformers before them, they may fall, they may fail. Some will get up and succeed. They may not see their visions come to fruition but in fact, they are planting the seeds. It is just as clear that of we nurture and encourage Ali Eteraz, et al, we may very well see the crop of ideas and change that result from the few seeds planted. There could be easily be another 'shot heard round the world.'
We can't dismiss the worldview and aspirations of over a billion people just because the lunatics run the asylum. In fact, if the radical islamists that have embraced islamofascism as the true islam operate the institutions that manifest the religion, then we Fools must discern muslims even more cautiously. Otherwise, we'll betray our own principals:
The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)


3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.
(from Nostra Aetate)
We do not serve the Lord by offending those people for whom his Mystical Body rightly respects. We serve the Lord by joining with those muslims of good will that reject the agency of evil embodied by their islamofascist co-religionists. While it can feel entirely gratifying to indulge in the temptation of vengeance that far too many of us have personally experienced on account of islamofascist terrorism, we must not do so. Otherwise, we become the agents of the very enemy we're called to combat.

Opus Dei has done the right thing. Let us salute them for it, and then follow their example!