By Hugh McNichol
March 26, 208 - There was news last week about Vatican discussions with Saudi Arabia for the building of a Catholic Church in that country. Within the last twenty-four hours there are several news stories stating the Saudi Arabia will not agree to this until the Catholic Church acknowledges the Prophet Mohammed.
The Saudi government needs to acknowledge and affirm the essential human right to worship freely throughout the world regardless of religious affiliation. The real issue that needs to be considered is the freedom of all people to publicly practice their faiths, regardless of what religion dominates the political landscape.
The Islamic community in the Middle East should not require the Catholic Church’s public acceptance of the Prophet Mohammed as part of its negotiations towards establishing a Catholic presence in Saudi Arabia. In the same manner, Catholics should not require any Saudi proclamation that favors Christianity either.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no country that requires a public proclamation of any specific religion before the right to assemble and worship is permitted. There are, of course, areas that have religious persecution in the world; Islamic countries often prohibit public displays of Christianity. However, a public proclamation regarding the superiority of Islam over Christianity is something that undermines the entire concept of religious freedom and tolerance.
Catholicism does not need to make any public proclamation regarding the existence of the Islamic faith. Consistently the Church has proclaimed that the Islamic faith is not considered as a legitimate path towards salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ and Christian baptism are the only vehicles that ultimately bring about salvation. The mere fact that the Church proclaims Islam and other faiths in error of proper and correct religious convictions is proof enough of the Church’s acceptance of the existence of Islam and other non-Christian religions.
Since its inception, Islam has maintained a consistent campaign of theological terrorism, waged against non-Islamic believers. Not only have Islamic countries imposed Islamic rule over all faiths, they have made any faith outside of Islam a punitive crime against society. The blood of thousands of faithful Christians indeed acknowledges the presence of Mohammed’s religious convictions. The Catholic Church continues to suffer persecution by the same alleged religious group. One only needs to recall the Chaldean Archbishop’s death in Iraq earlier this month to be reminded of this fact.
The religions of the West have made considerable efforts to maintain an open and evolving relationship with the followers of Islam. What the followers of Islam need to realize and acknowledge is the firm conviction on the part of the Catholic Church that outside of the Church there is no salvation. While we can diplomatically and politically hope for a nurturing of relationships between our faiths, ultimately we seek their total religious conversion to Christ.
In a period that constantly suggests political correctness and attempts to refrain from any type of offense against other faiths, Catholicism honestly put is in the business of converting everyone to the precepts of our faith.
Why does Islam fear freedom and the free exercise of religion? Could it be they know that if given such freedom, many Muslims would convert? If not, why are they afraid of competing in arena of religious faith.
The Catholic Church does not fear such competition. It welcomes it. The Church recognizes and accepts that all people have the freedom to choose to worship in whatever manner they choose. However, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Episcopalian, Jew, Protestant, or a member of any other faith, our ultimate goal is to have them embrace the faith - - but of their own free will - - not a coerced conversion at the edge of a sword .
From a Catholic/Christian perspective it is just good business to seek new followers, and we welcome all converts of Islam and any other religion.
Our religious evangelization as Catholics includes a peaceful message of Gospel
love, which is not determined by stipulations that acknowledge the superiority of one religion over another. We simply ask for total conversion to the message of Jesus Christ. If indeed this conversion is not acceptable to sensitive Islamic believers, then please continue on your path of religious convictions. We openly proclaim you indeed have the right to be wrong about God and the proper understanding of faith. However, we will not intimidate, or otherwise manipulate you into religious submission.
We believe in God’s unfolding plan for all peoples and faiths. We pray that the message of Jesus Christ will ultimately manifest itself among the peoples of the Islamic world, and our peaceful message will prevail over the violent message of Islamic political and social domination. In the meanwhile, as faithful believers in the same ultimate God, Islam should recognize the intrinsic human rights of religious freedom and expression for all faiths, not just the secular sponsored faith of Mohammed.
Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author that writes freelance works on topics that involve Catholicism. He writes a daily column, verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com