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Chris Joliat said in October 26th, 2011 at 12:35 am

Thank you, Stuart, for your thought-provoking essay. Like so much in our post-Vatican II Church, it is indeed a show, one in which there is much more form than substance. You mentioned a number of examples and I’d like to add one more to that sorry list: the world youth days so unfortunately made popular by Pope John Paul II. These shows are designed to make people feel good rather than help them to be good. 

One of the problems with the Assisi meetings has always been that of one hand clapping: you can’t have a dialogue if you’re the only participant. Sure, the Non-Catholics will come to the party, but the Catholics will be the only ones seeking to dialogue, to understand and be understood.  As you say, the Catholic Church acting  as one among equals. 

Unfortunately, it is worse than that. One of the guests at the show,  considers themselves not equal to the host, but superior. And, if history is any guide, they will be sure to upstage the host. 

In 1999, the (now retired) archbishop of Izmir, Turkey, Giuseppe Germano Bernardini, called on the pope to convene a special Vatican meeting to find a common strategy toward Muslims living in Christian countries.  This exhortation was the direct consequence of problems he had seen at other Christian-Muslim “dialogues”. As Archbishop Bernardini wrote in his letter to Pope John Paul II, “During an official meeting on Islamic-Christian dialogue, an authoritative Muslim person, speaking to the Christians participating, at one point said very calmly and assuredly: ‘Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you; thanks to our religious laws we will dominate you.'”

Abp. Bernardini continued, “During another Islamic-Christian meeting, always organized by Christians, a Christian participant publicly asked the Muslims present why they did not organize at least once a meeting of this kind. The Muslim authority present answered the following words: ‘Why should we? You have nothing to teach us and we have nothing to learn.'”

On the contrary, the Catholic hosts — the Pope and numerous Cardinals and Bishops — have much they should teach, but they won’t. The only lesson will be to reaffirm to the Muslim attendees that Catholics don’t take the tenets of our faith as seriously as they do theirs. As Archbishop Bernardini said at the closing of his letter, “do not allow the Muslim to ever use a Catholic Church for their cult, because this would be, in their eyes, the certain proof of our apostasy.”

Chris Joliat,
Waterbury, CT

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