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New Roman Offices

2010 June 29
by Gordon Reid

It is reported that the Pope has established a new office in the Vatican to examine those countries which once had a deep and vibrant Christian faith.

Some commentators have assumed that this refers to the post-Christian situation in Europe, and that may well have been the Pope’s intention.

But “countries which once had a deep and vibrant Christian faith” could apply even more to North Africa and the Middle East where for centuries Islam has tried to eradicate the Christians. The ancient patriarchal sees of Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople are shadows of a shade; the Ecumenical Patriarch is constantly harassed; Syrian Orthodox Christians have been fleeing their ancient homelands for Sweden and the United States; the Christian population of Palestine grows smaller and smaller every year.

The Islamic countries are the real threat, not just to Christianity but to the peace and stability of the world. The real danger of the secularism of Europe is that it leaves a vacuum of faith which may well be filled with a fanatical Islam.

So I hope the new Roman office will study and find ways to re-evangelize both Europe and those countries where the ancient Christian Churches have been all but eliminated.

And the next Roman office that needs to be set up is one to examine the crazy, unhealthy, fanatical and fundamentalist Christianity that afflicts so many in the United States!

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Jeff Ezell, PhD permalink
    June 30, 2010

    Father, I really can’t allow this to go unchallenged. Do you really think that historically political Islam was more intolerant than an established political Christianity which burned those whom it identified as heretics, launched the Crusades and suppressed freedom of thought and expression? In the modern context you can’t divorce an examination of the rise of a militant and intolerant politicised Islam from geo-political developments following from the First World War, the Balfour Declaration and British mandate in Palestine, and the Cold War dynamics played out both in respect to Israel and Afghanistan with their respective post-Cold War aftermaths in terms of conflict and policy. This doesn’t mean that the response within the Islamic world hasn’t been dysfuntional and sometimes deplorable, but the West created the situation in which this reaction has developed. It will be extremely difficult now to correct the effects of the mistaken and unjust policies of the West, but without the abandonment of imperalist, hegemonic and neo-colonial policies and a full-on attempt to advance the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people, there can be nothing but further conflict at both cultural and international levels.

  2. Stephen permalink
    June 30, 2010

    This is a very brave and insightful post, Father! I applaud your views on both the extremist forms of Islam, and the nutty brands of Christian Fundamentalism that we see attracting Americans by the millions!

    I wonder if you are familiar with the writings of Bruce Bawer? He wrote a book entitled STEALING JESUS back in the late 90′s, and that volume treated the topic of how Fundamentalists “Christians”have virtually hijacked Christ for their anti_Gay agenda. In his most recent work SURRENDER, he deals with the dangers posed by the Islamist movement, and the appeasement by the West often under the guise of working for peace, and/or religious tolerance.

    I’m not sure I agree with all of Bawer’s conclusions, but its high-time we had this discussion, and I think its great that you are doing your part along those lines, Father!

  3. Russell Fuhrman permalink
    June 30, 2010

    And yet our beloved Episcopal Church pathetically withers away with many parishes under dire economic stress as our congregations age and die while the remaining younger and middle aged try to ignore the never ending political controversies generating spiritual exhaustion over divisive issues wondering how much longer they can tolerate the perpetual infighting while witnessing the robustness and vibrancy of the fundamentalist/evangelical Christian churches springing up wherever they turn.

  4. Tom permalink
    July 1, 2010

    I fully agree that Islam is the greatest threat to Christendom. The Church is facing a real danger that grows from the Middle East. It is surely and really correct to say that Father, it is not racist or out of sync to comment on it. We need to face this danger and do everything to stop it, they (the Muslims), see it as their goal to be the dominant religion in the world. To be perfectly honest we have done it to ourselves. Contraceptives, abortion, and animals have replaced the family unit. Muslims have a sacred mission to populate the world and spread the Muslim faith to every corner. The Holy See should have seen this coming back in the early eighties but at the time there were plenty of Catholics in the Church. Many Christians have renounced the faith and embraced Islam. To leave Jesus and the Church He founded to belong to some religion that is contradictory to everything He preached and lived astound me. I feel truly sorry for those that left and for those who think that Christianity and Islam can go hand in hand. They are fools. Yes, the Church has erred over the years and has committed some terrible sins, but people err not the Church. The Church is pure and without sin, we are not. Christianity is a religion of love, understanding, mercy, and forgiveness. Point out where that is in the Islamic faith, tell me where Jesus and His message of love and mercy from the Father is present. It is not! I hope that people truly understand and contemplate what is facing our way of life, that is to say the faith of the Apostles handed down to us by Christ. Father, Son and Holy Spirit guide and bless our Church, enrich our faith, and lead us towards You and towards salvation. Amen.

  5. Patrick Cook permalink
    July 1, 2010

    I agree, with some caveats, with Jeff. It should also be noted that the Ecumenical Patriarch continues to be harassed by the government of the Turkish Republic, a government that, whilst admittedly currently run by a moderately Islamist party, is still very much laicist. The rise of political Islam seems to me to have been aided by various ironies of history: Kemalism’s attacks on Sufism, the rather astonishing rise of Theocracy in Iran (a country that had previously been noted for its religious, if not its political, liberalism), and the rise of the Wahhabist house of Saud to dominance in the Arab world.

  6. July 5, 2010

    I read the post title and was expecting news of some liturgical refinement, only to be disappointed.

  7. July 7, 2010

    I thought the same thing, Subdeacon Michael…

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