By Michael Haynes
The Vatican Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue praised the Muslim period of Ramadan as 'important' to Christians in a message which contained no mention of Jesus Christ.
The Vatican has issued Ramadan greetings to Muslims, writing that the Islamic period of Ramadan is important also to “Christians.”
In a message released March 24, the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue addressed the Muslim world via a “congratulatory message” under the title “Christians and Muslims: promoters of love and friendship.” Dated March 3, the message was signed by the Dicastery’s prefect, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J, and its secretary.
“The month of Ramadan is important for you, but also for your friends, neighbours and fellow believers of other religions, in particular Christians,” wrote Guixot.
“Existing friendships are reinforced and others are built, paving the way for more peaceful, harmonious and joyful coexistence. This corresponds to the divine will for our communities, and indeed for all the members and communities of the one human family.”
Ramadan, the annual month-long event by which Muslims commemorate Mohammed’s “reception” of the Koran, is marked by fasting during the daylight hours. At the close of the month, a major celebration is kept to conclude the fast.
Addressing the Muslim world, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue highlighted the “challenges and threats” to “peaceful and friendly coexistence,” listing them as “extremism, radicalism, polemics, disputes, and religiously motivated violence.”
Citing a “culture of hate” as the fuel for this, Cardinal Guixot called on Muslims and Christians to enhance “love and friendship … due to the bonds that unite us.”
“This is why we deemed it opportune to share some thoughts with you in this regard, hoping to receive yours as well,” he said.
Drawing from the Second Vatican Council’s Nostra Aetate, Guixot argued that “[d]ifferences can be perceived as a threat, but everyone has the right to his or her specific identity with its diverse components, yet without ignoring or forgetting what we have in common.”
Not mentioning any Catholic efforts at evangelization, Guixot instead called for Catholics and Muslims to practice “respect, goodness, charity, friendship, mutual care for all, forgiveness, cooperation for the common good, help to all those who are in any kind of need, and care for the environment.”
Invoking the “Almighty,” Guixot expressed the hope that Muslims might receive the “Almighty’s abundant blessings during Ramadan and celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr in the joy resulting from fidelity and love for the Almighty and all persons you live with or meet.”
The Vatican prelate did not mention the primacy of the Catholic faith or Catholic teaching on Jesus Christ. Neither did he issue a call to conversion in his “congratulatory message” to the Muslims.
While the Vatican continues a soft approach towards Muslims, Cardinal Robert Sarah – the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments – has in fact warned against such a stance.
Writing online following an October 2020 attack at a Catholic church in Nice by a Muslim man – which left three people dead – the African cardinal called upon “the West” to realize the danger of Islamism. “Islamism is a monstrous fanaticism which must be fought with strength and determination. He will not stop his war. Unfortunately, we Africans know this all too well. Barbarians are always the enemies of peace. The West, today France, must understand this. Let’s pray.”
L’islamisme est un fanatisme monstrueux qui doit être combattu avec force et détermination. Il n’arrêtera pas sa guerre. Nous africains le savons hélas trop bien. Les barbares sont toujours les ennemis de la paix. L’Occident, aujourd’hui la France, doit le comprendre. Prions. +RS
— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) October 29, 2020
In light of that attack, even France’s notoriously liberal president Emmanuel Macron warned about the specifically anti-Catholic nature of the increasingly frequent Muslim attacks. “After 2016, with the killing of Father Hamel, it is the Catholics of our country attacked once more, and just before All Saints’ Day,” Macron said. “We are at their side in order that religion can be freely exercised in our country.”
While Cardinal Guixot’s recent message decried a “culture of hate,” he did not mention the numerous Islamic attacks made against Christians in recent years which have been made in the name of Islam, and defended by appeals to Islamic texts.
As William Kilpatrick wrote in late 2020:
Fratelli Tutti contains a reminder from the “Human Fraternity” document signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb that religious violence is “the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings.”
That may be true of some religions, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Islamic violence is very often a direct consequence of following the teachings of Islam.
Additionally, the Vatican’s attempts to find ecumenical common ground with Muslims, consistently appears to be made by sacrificing Catholic teaching. While Pope Francis promotes unity with Islam in the style of Fratelli Tutti, a number of leading prelates have warned that Islam rejects fundamental aspects about God.
In the words of Islam’s holy text itself, it can be noted that there is an outright rejection of many fundamental elements of Catholicism. Firstly, the Koran rejects the notion of God as Trinity; secondly, it rejects that God has a son, saying it is beneath Him to have one. Thirdly, Jesus is viewed simply as a messenger of God, thus it claims that Mary could not be the Mother of God.
With this in mind, Bishop Athanasius Schneider in his book length interview Christus Vincit, stated “Islam in itself is not faith.”
The bishop continued by explaining that faith is only found in Christianity and “is applicable only to belief in the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … When someone does not believe in the Holy Trinity, he has no faith but simply natural religion.”