Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Common Enemy

 Zenith of French Glory cartoon by Gillray
I agree with Giles Fraser, at least in this little piece where he writes about the French idea of laïcité.
Linked arm politicians marking through Paris streets in solidarity with..., with what? worries me. Yes, I can understand solidarity with the victims of terrorism, with those killed but is this really what David Cameron et al were expressing? Probably, they were thinking more of media reaction to their absence, and solidarity with public outrage, or perhaps the wound was too raw to think too clearly.

I am sure that Muslims who like the Pope might think that gratuitous insults provoke some reaction, certainly not killing or violence, but some reaction, but then what reaction can there be from those who are marginalised and on the peripheries? They are after all powerless, whilst the state and even cartoonists in comparison are all-powerful. It might be easy for a French Muslim to conflate the state's policy of laïcité and Charlie Hebdo's cartoons into one.

What I like about Fraser's article is his understanding that the French revolutionary ideas, and the Enlightenment are actually at war with religion. The new exodus of Jews from France is caused in part by Muslim attacks on Jews, in part by a growing intolerance of religion within French society but also as a direct result of laws that are restrictive or intolerant towards religious expression. Fraser gives examples of 'pork or nothing' school lunches, of restrictions on religious dress but in France as in other parts of Europe there are also moves to ban halal and kosher slaughter of animals and to prohibit infant circumcision, if one adds to that an active hostility in education to any sense of religion, and active promotion of values which contradict essential religious values, the promotion of a gay agenda, attacks on the family, a reinvention of morality, one can understand not just Islamic and Jewish dis-ease with an increasingly secular world, and a world that is evangelically antagonistic to religion.

Benedict XVI's Regensburg address, where he speaks of religion without reason has been justly cited by many Catholics commenting on the Paris killings but this forms a diptych with his address to the Bundestag, which is perhaps of even more importance, here he addresses what happens when the state becomes the sole arbiter of right and wrong.

Pope Francis said, "In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a “grandmother”, no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions".

Most Muslims, most religious people, would agree with him. Europe is sick but not just Europe, the same accusations can be made against Western society in general. The great ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity, so attractive in their infancy have in their old age been transformed into the early sexualisation of children, the commercialisation of sexuality, the destruction of the family, pornography, drug and alcohol addiction, the estrangement of the elderly, of the young, youth unemployment, benefit dependancy, in fact a whole host of sicknesses and a a spiral of hopelessness. 

Catholics can understand something of Islamic alienation from a society that has declared war on its fundamental values. I was waiting for a bus recently at the bus stop a few yards down the street a couple of women were kissing, a Muslim mother with two small children saw what was happening and covered her children's faces with her coat, a few seconds later o0ne of my parishioners and her child walked past, they still at, she saw them and saw me and stood with her back to them holding her child's head so he couldn't see. Though there are serious difficulties (see the video at he end) Catholics and Muslims share a common enemy: secularism.


Pelerin said...

How sad to see those child brides in the video linked and shocking to know that the husbands are complaining that they cannot bring them here. Haven't they heard of the saying 'When in Rome do as the Romans do?'

Whilst I am all for respecting the differing faiths of others (and as Fr Ray has pointed out we do have some things in common with our Moslem brothers) it would surely be wrong to allow child brides into Britain.

Jacobi said...


There was nothing wrong with a show of solidarity in the face of murder and intimidation. It was for as many reasons as there were people. If it had not taken place, then Islam, a heresy that allows the option of murder and suppression to its followers, would have triumphed.

If we must have enemies, then laicite is preferable to Islam.

We Catholics can counter laicite in several ways. The vote. In practise, during the last sixty years laicite has rather not dominated in France but post-Vat II Catholicism has collapsed and lost the battle. Much the same is true in this country.

Europe is a “Grandmother”. The population is ageing. Reproduction is falling. The dwindling Catholic parishes in this country, and Belgium (which I know) and no doubt in France have their quota of stressed pre-menopausal women trying to get in their child or two - just as in the rest of Secular Society, because the Post -Vat II Church and its priests (I’m sure you are one of the few exceptions) has abandoned the struggle and retreated in to silence on birth control and compromised with Secularism.

No, I think we Christians, and incidentally Secularists, must all focus on the real enemy in the next fifty years in Europe and Syria and Iraq and Africa, and that is the growing power of Islam.

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

You say: "Catholics and Muslims share a common enemy: secularism."

As the statement stands it is contingent on what is understood as 'secularism'. The Catholic Encyclopaedia treats of the term here:

If your statement means to imply something along the line of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", then I believe that that is demonstrably false both from a historical and theological perspective.

Islam is a false religion whose every root and branch have spring from the real 'Enemy', whereas Catholicism obviously traces its existence to the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

If Islam and Catholicism share a common enemy it is purely by chance.

"An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit." Matthew 7:18

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't mean that but I do mean that secularists will use controls Islam against us, often us first.
However there is much common ground, simply because secularists lump all religions together. Therefore there is a necessity to defend religious liberty for both Christianity and Islam.
The problem is Islam sees Christianity as the enemy and Western decadence as the fruit of Christianity.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Surely secularism comes in two different guises. There is the secularism which is a cover for militant atheism as in the secularism espoused by the French revolution on the one hand. On the other there is the idea of the secular state which favours no particular religion but provides tolerance and protection for different religions so long as they do not offend certain basic laws which I understand is the idea of the USA constitution.

Francis said...

"Islam sees Christianity as the enemy and Western decadence as the fruit of Christianity.” Absolutely, Muslims apply the “evil fruits” test to Christianity and see a group of Western democracies collapsing in godlessness, decadence and moral degeneracy with rampant secularism, empty churches and toothless clerics (present company excepted). Muslims like to see Christianity and the West as one of a piece, partly because it is confirmation of their own supersessionist worldview – only practising Christians understand that there is a struggle for the soul of the West which pits secularism against its Christian roots.

Jen The Blue said...

I think Catholics in general and the Pope in particular, should read the Qur'an and Hadith and some mainstream Sunni and Shi'ite works.

Then they would realise that Islam treats ALL other Faiths and atheists with utter contempt "The vilest of created creatures".

Nicolas Bellord said...

Having read some very interesting comments by Dennis Martin on Father Z's blog I perhaps need to say that it WAS the idea of the US constitution to protect religions but it has not quite worked out like that.

B flat said...

Mankind lives in the reality which is an implementation of political ideas. The practical implementation of the American political idea, has so radically changed in the last 20 years, and continues to do so, that its long-term stability is seriously questionable.
The political outlook of Islam is totally opposed to peaceful coexistence for people of other religions, except in subservient bondage (dhimmitude) deprived of any rights beyond the whim of those in power.
There can be no logical toleration of an intolerant ideology. This was the late Prof. Flew's explanation of the "enlightened" Great Britain continuing to outlaw Roman Catholicism throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, although Roman Catholics were numerically and economically small and weak on this island.
It was the persecutions of Republican France which finally opened the floodgates of British sympathy to the underdog French clergy, and many English monastics, returning from their religious exile, fleeing the Terror.
This is a three-cornered fight, in which Christianity has allowed itself to doze (like the foolish virgins) while both secularism and Islam, under cover of equality and toleration, have each and separately strengthened themselves in preparation for a total take-over of the field. When either one wins, there will be no more toleration, and equality only in the misery they impose. We have no current secure examples to the contrary, but China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan seem to be an insufficient warning to us.
Dream on, promoters of dialogue.
If you want to live in peace, be ready for war.

Jen The Blue said...

That is exactly so B flat.

I am not in any way suggesting all Muslims are evil nasty people, of course they are not. They are God's creation the same as the rest of us.

The problem is the religion and philosophy that they follow.

Politicians can pretend that "all religions are good and therefore Islam must be good too. So therefore those who blow people up cannot be following Islam".

But it simply not so. Many Muslims will never wish to hurt spite of their religion rather than because of it.

We need to wake up to this fact, Islam is a supremacist and violent religion at its core.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

OK, maybe read you can the Koran and Hadith and some other mainstream Islamic works. But only after finishing reading the Bible.

Jacobi said...

@ B flat

“Dream on, promoters of dialogue”

I agree. The penny is at last beginning to drop! But as a Catholic, I am very angry that the Church has given so much ground, conceeded so much, been so lacking in perception and priority, over the last sixty years. It has been an utter shambolic mess.

Trouble is that while realisation is dawning in the now frightened secular world, I am still not sure the present authorities in the Church have grasped and understood the danger yet.

In the meantime our fellow Christian, and other we must not forget, in Syria, Iraq Pakistan, Eqypt and the African interface between Islam and Christianity, just suffer on, as we have learned on the news this morning!

Gillineau said...

@ Jacobi

'But as a Catholic, I am very angry that the Church has given so much ground, conceeded so much, been so lacking in perception and priority, over the last sixty years. It has been an utter shambolic mess.'

This is the (or at least a significant) root of the problem: too many otherwise decent Catholics view 'the Church' as something beyond themselves, and seemingly demand that it acts in lieu of acting themselves. Rather than acting like Christians, after Christ, we too often hear people bemoaning the Church's lack of action. This is ultramontainism, crediting the Church (ie. the papacy) with more power than it actually has, spiritually and physically.

The only way to address the disorder in the Church is to be ordered ourselves, disloyalty by being loyal, selective by being submissive, lazy by being sacrificial. For lay-people this means giving till it hurts, eschewing contemporary culture in favour of one concerned with cult and cultivation and from these, culture (to cite Dorothy Day). Try and have lots of babies, don't pursue capitalistic goals, give lots of money to the physically and spiritually poor (either through work or charity), treat the earth with care, like the amazing gift it is, celebrate feasts with real joy, pray hard and follow God's calling. When we do this, then 'the Church' will be doing this. As difficult as I find him, Francis is evidently trying to personify this idea.

As good old Mahatma said: 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' And stop blaming our lovely Church.

Anonymous said...

The problem with a theoretically-neutral state vis-a-vis religion is that it has led to states generally having adoped an ever more vicious evil ideology that is positivist, relativist, utilitarian, devoid of the true rule of law (based on objective natural law knowable by reason) and therefore, necessarily oppressive, tyrannical and persecuting of those who do not conform to the objective evils it imposes on persons in contravention of objective truth and human rights.

Anonymous said...

"Child brides" are objectively wrong. Justice and truth, objectively knowable by reason and unchangeable according to time or place, means that a child is necessarily incapable of entering into marriage, which is a natural institution established between an adult man and an adult woman. (Adult meaning, minimally, capable in all ways of entering into and carrying out the marriage contract.)

Anonymous said...

I also have a hard time believing that this will end in anything other than a violent confrontation involving Muslims, secular authorities, and Christians.
The question is whether the secular authorities will protect the Christians or stand by while they're being persecuted.
I see the 2005 Paris riot as the dress rehearsal. Immigration has since continued unabated as has French demographics. The French keep getting older and those from Muslim counties, whether first or second generation, make up an increasing percentage of the youth. Add to that their preference for living in the big cities and what happened in 2005 could be repeated but on a much larger scale (in the 15-45 age range, immigrant youth from Muslim countries have been estimated as high as 40% in Paris).
Also add that economic conditions in France are worse now than then. It's hard to be optimistic about dialogue.

Supertradmum said...

Father, in France and in Malta, Muslims kiss on the street, in airports and in restaurants.

And, my friends in the army say that they drink alcohol, smoke, and many, many are homosexuals. In fact, one army friend of mine was offered boys in Afghanistan by Muslims.There is a huge myth of the morality of Muslims.

The child bride thing is ok as Mohammed did this. There is one brave priest working with Muslims to try and convert them to Christianity by asking this simple question--Do you want to act like Mohammed?

You might want to read this by a person you know...

George said...

Prior to 9/11, hearing about this common culture war against the secularists was quite regular. Since 9/11, no one talks about it much.

And you're right on another account, Father. Muslims (most especially those living outside Europe and America) see the West as one entity. We are Christendom, in their minds. Now to us this is laughable. Most Westerners want nothing to do whatsoever with any concept like Christendom. But that notwithstanding - we are all seen as collective Christendom.

Dymphna said...

The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

Mary Kay said...

Well said, B flat.

George said...

From Nostra Aetate:

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.

George said...

Our one major cultural issue that we as Catholics have which can be a bridge to the Muslims is our view on contraception. The strictest Sunni and Shia theologians have not found their way to the Catholic truth yet. This has the potential to be a profound bridge to Muslims as they come to understand more holistically the Culture of Death. Some Traditionalist Catholics that I know have already made great strides, specifically in Iran among the Shia regarding this subject.

.... and of course Pope Francis throws us all under bus with his recent "breeding like rabbits" comment. I've never felt so offended by a Catholic priest or bishop, and then this from the pope himself. It's a dark time.

Peter said...

Father, The first article you link to tells of a French town that will not offer an alternative when pork is on the menu at school: Jews and muslims are not given an option. This is in the name of laicité. You may enjoy the page on the town website of their Patrimone which is their church, its reredos and a defunct tramway. Truly the laicité has done wonders for this town.

John Fisher said...

You ignore Islam has no place in Europe at all because of what it is. As religion is lumped together Islam feeds anti religion. Islam is the common enemy of secularists and Christians alike.
Islam marginalises itself because it is alien.
It should be marginalised. Some Moslems will drop Islam. Some will be very lukewarm. Others will become more militant. Better there is no Islamic immigration at all. For the sake of those Christians and other groups who have fled to the West. For the sake of all.

Supertradmum said...

I taught Humanities, Comparitive Religions and Theology in several colleges and universities. I taught Islam and read the Koran all the way through carefully twice, plus studied the hadith, which is commentary on Islam.


One, it is not a revealed religion like Judaism of the OT and Christianity, but a man-made one with many things taken from the Torah and Bible.

Two, Allah is not God the Father He is never a Father and the people who follow him are not sons, but slaves.

Three Allah changes his mind and will. He is not absolute or integral like our God

Four, Christ is referred to as a man and not God, and he is referred to as not having really died on the cross

Five, Allah wants complete domination of the earth under him and violence is ok and necessary

Six, Islam is a materialistic religion, based on externals and not internal purification, with materialistic rewards in heaven. The idea of death to self or perfection of the soul does not exist as a goal as actions make one holy

Seven, women are not equal to men and therefore do not have to be treated as such

Eight, the Koran condemns Trinitarian belief.

There is much more. We cannot seriously make a comparison to God the Father and Allah.

Liam Ronan said...

That is a very useful and informative post, Supertradmum. Thank you.

Just wondering, unlike Catholics, do Muslims breed like rabbits? I imagine they don't otherwise Francis would have wagged his finger at his Islamic friends too.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Supertradmum: There are those who say that Muslims believe in the Koran as being the absolute word of God in a similar way that some Christians believe in the literal truth of the Bible - 'sola scriptura'. Going on from there are there not passages in the Koran that justify violence against non-believers particularly Jews and Christians? If this is correct then it seems that main-stream Islam is a toxic mixture.

Yet we constantly hear that Islam is a religion of peace and it is only extremist Muslims who adopt violence. Is this not delusional?

There was a very interesting program on Panorama some ten days ago where some Muslims warned that a non-violent puritanical version of Islam was gaining ground in the UK. They said that this version opened the door to extremist violence. They said Islam needed reforming.

In Mr Pickle's letter to the Muslims he asks them to show how Islam can be reconciled with British values. Is it correct to say that if such a reconciliation is to be found it is going to mean some fairly drastic re-interpretation and perhaps cutting of the Koran?

Jacobi said...

@ Supertradmum

I am impressed, seriously, with your knowledge now of Islam.

Expect to hear mre from you on this topic.

It is not going to go away!

B flat said...


Your reply to Jacobi is very good idealism, but only part of the picture.
The Church also has leaders who make decisions, who impose rules for the conduct of life (which includes common and shared prayer and worship)
and who teach with authority.
Your suggestion is admirable regarding the individual who lives in hermetic isolation or anarchy, but an inadequate answer for the world as it is.

An enlightening comparison might be made between the Church situation, and the political scene in the UK, especially England.

I suggest that the three main parties of present government and opposition, are vastly changed from those of the 1960's. These changes were the work not of the party faithful, still less the electorate, but of the political ruling elite. The result is widespread social dysfunction, increasing debt, and a disharmony which has many supporting UKIP out of desperation.

In Britain, large numbers have certainly stopped attending church or liturgical functions after these were radically changed. The bishops soft-pedalled Catholic moral teaching and the result is a calamitous fall in the birth rate and hierarchic support for homosexual cohabitation. Are Catholic schools in the UK Catholic?

I wonder how many of those who do not go to church on Sunday read this blog, say their prayers, keep the Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, or replace Friday abstinence with a work of charity, and take instruction from the Pope's sermons and interviews? Or have they simply fallen away and been left abandoned?

In Central and South America, the efforts of the hierarchy along similar lines to here, but strengthened by a particular political line, result in Catholics increasingly leaving to join charismatic sects.

Supertradmum said...

It is a lie to say that the current Islam is puritanical. All Islam is violent. One just has to read the Koran and the Hadith.

From day one, Islamists conquered and killed those who would not convert, or made the dhimnis into slaves, paying taxes just to live, like protection money.

It is also moral for a Muslim to lie to an infidel--an idea also in the Koran and commentaries.

So, they can go on Fox or CNN and say that they are the religion of peace which is nonsense.

Supertradmum said...

PS people talk about the great philosophers of Islam -- Averroes who was banished until right before his death for his rational ideas; and Avicenna, who had slaves until days before his death and is said to have repented of unjust gains and given back such just before he died.

Nicolas Bellord said...

@supertradmum: I think the two Muslims who talked about "puritanical Islam" were using it in a loose sense of an Islam which sticks strictly to the words of the Koran and a very strict interpretation of it. They said that although this was claimed to be a non-violent version of Islam it inevitably opened the door to violence. The program is well watching. If you have access to I-player it was shown by Panorama on BBC1 in the evening of Monday 12th January.

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