Church Militant asked me for comment about this meeting this morning, and I sent them this: “A genuine interfaith meeting at the “Birthplace of Abraham” would have included representatives of all three Abrahamic religions. But the Jewish representatives who were invited reportedly refused to attend. As the Qur’an is deeply antisemitic and calls Jews the worst enemies of Muslims (5:82), under the curse of Allah (9:30), and calls on Muslims to make war against and subjugate them (9:29), it is likely that the Jewish leaders did not believe they would be safe or respected there, which would have been a more realistic view of Islam than the one Francis has. In the same way, there was no mention of Isaac, because in Islamic tradition, Ishmael is the sacrificial son, and so the Pope was apparently all too willing to go along with the devaluation of the tradition shared by Jews and Christians in favor of the Islamic understanding. The readings were from Genesis and from the Qur’an’s Sura Ibrahim, that is, sura 14. It would have been more illuminating and instructive if Qur’an 60:4 had been read. At that point, Abraham tells his unbelieving family that there will be enmity and hatred between him and them forever unless they worship Allah, and he is presented as a model for imitation in doing this. And of course Jesus was not mentioned, for as always, “Muslim-Christian dialogue” means that Christians move closer to the Islamic position, not any genuine give-and-take or mutuality.
“Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion,” said the Pope. As I told Church Militant, the Pope clings to and repeats the popular fiction that Islamic jihad terrorism arises from a misunderstanding of Islam. Indeed, he can’t even go that far; instead, he says that terrorist acts are “betrayals of religion,” as if there were Christian terrorists in numbers comparable to Islamic terrorists worldwide. His ignoring of the Qur’an’s exhortations to violence against unbelievers doesn’t have the remotest chance of compelling jihadis to give up that violence. All it does is foster complacency and ignorance in Christians.
“For Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority, a show of solidarity from al-Sistani could help secure their place in Iraq after years of displacement — and, they hope, ease intimidation from Shiite militiamen against their community.”
Muslim-Christian dialogue has so far not prevented even one Christian from being persecuted. Maybe this time it will be different, eh?
Pope, top Iraq Shiite cleric hold historic, symbolic meeting,” by Nicole Winfield and Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Associated Press, March 6, 2021:
PLAINS OF UR, Iraq (AP) — Pope Francis and Iraq’s top Shiite cleric delivered a powerful message of peaceful coexistence Saturday, urging Muslims in the war-weary Arab nation to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority during an historic meeting in the holy city of Najaf.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said religious authorities have a role in protecting Iraq’s Christians, and that Christians should live in peace and enjoy the same rights as other Iraqis. The Vatican said Francis thanked al-Sistani for having “raised his voice in defense of the weakest and most persecuted” during some of the most violent times in Iraq’s recent history.
Al-Sistani, 90, is one of the most senior clerics in Shiite Islam and his rare but powerful political interventions have helped shape present-day Iraq. He is a deeply revered figure in Shiite-majority Iraq and his opinions on religious and other matters are sought by Shiites worldwide.
The historic meeting in al-Sistani’s humble home was months in the making, with every detail painstakingly discussed and negotiated between the ayatollah’s office and the Vatican.
Early Saturday, the 84-year-old pontiff, travelling in a bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz, pulled up along Najaf’s narrow and column-lined Rasool Street, which culminates at the golden-domed Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most revered sites in Shiite Islam. He then walked the few meters (yards) to al-Sistani’s modest home, which the cleric has rented for decades….
The official said al-Sistani, who normally remains seated for visitors, stood to greet Francis at the door of his room — a rare honor. Al-Sistani and Francis sat close to one another, without masks. Al-Sistani, who rarely appears in public — even on television — wore black robes and a black turban, in simple contrast to Francis’ all-white cassock….
The pope arrived later in the ancient city of Ur for an interfaith meeting in the traditional birthplace of Abraham, the biblical patriarch revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews.
“From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters,” Francis said. “Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion.”…
The Vatican said Iraqi Jews were invited to the event but did not attend, without providing further details. Iraq’s ancient Jewish community was decimated in the 20th century by violence and mass emigration fueled by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and only a handful remain….
The Vatican said the historic visit to al-Sistani was a chance for Francis to emphasize the need for collaboration and friendship between different religious communities.
In a statement issued by his office after the meeting, al-Sistani affirmed that Christians should “live like all Iraqis, in security and peace and with full constitutional rights.” He pointed out the “role that the religious authority plays in protecting them, and others who have also suffered injustice and harm in the events of past years.”
Al-Sistani wished Francis and the followers of the Catholic Church happiness, and thanked him for taking the trouble to visit him in Najaf, the statement said.
For Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority, a show of solidarity from al-Sistani could help secure their place in Iraq after years of displacement — and, they hope, ease intimidation from Shiite militiamen against their community….
Source & Image: Robert Spencer, https://www.jihadwatch.org/2021/03/pope-meets-ayatollah-sistani-in-iraq-repeats-the-usual-comforting-fictions-about-islam
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