October 28, 2016
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE 2015 SYNOD?
The following is very important as a means of helping us understand where the “new” Church is headed, especially in respect to other religions. Let me share this with you before I relate it to Islam and Islamophobia, our present concern. The material is a synopsis of the following CRUX article by Nirmala Carvalho, a CRUX contributor: “Hindus, Muslims and Christians ponder Pope’s eco-teaching, October 19, 2016, at https://cruxnow.com./global-church/2016/10/19/. The synopsis itself is very simple and contains quotations from this source that cover the main point of our concern.
“A remarkable seminar in Mumbai [formerly Bombay], India on October 17, 2016, brought together Hindu, Muslim and Christian scholars and clergy, all under the aegis of an event cosponsored by an Indian cultural center and the Argentine government, to ponder Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical Laudato Siˊ.
“Pope Francis tends to see his core social causes, such as environmental protection, also as promising pathways for dialogue with other Christians, followers of other faiths, and the world at large, on the theory that coming together in defense of shared values will build friendships.
“That is a beguiling vision, and judging by an unusual seminar that took place in Mumbai, India, this week, it actually may have some legs.
“On Monday [October 17, 2016], an event titled ‘The Teachings of Pope Francis on Ecology and the Care for Nature with its Parallels in Hinduism’ was staged, jointly sponsored by K. J. Somaiya Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham, a Mumbai center devoted to fostering Hindu and Indian values, and Argentina’s Consulate General in the city.
“During the opening ceremony, the center’s director, Doctor Kala Acharya, laid out what she sees as the main points of contact between Hinduism and Christianity when it comes to ecology … Bishop John Rodrigues of Bombay [Mumbai] pointed out this was the first time a pontiff had devoted an entire encyclical to the theme of environmentalism and creation, and stressed that Pope Francis, in continuity with previous popes, has called the world to an ‘ecological conversion.’ … Speaking on behalf of the pontiff’s native country [Argentina], Acting Consul General Alejandro Zothner Meyer stressed the importance of interreligious dialogue in today’s world, and said his government attaches particular importance to the cause …
“Mohammad Sanaullah from Aligarh Muslim University gave an Islamic perspective on ecology, suggesting that Islam provides an outlook both theological and ethical, on a plethora of ecological issues such as biodiversity, eco-equilibrium, sustainable development, etc. ‘The Earth and everything in it belongs not to humans but to God, the One,’ he said. Man/woman only acts as the trustee, and has a certain responsibility for the earth.’
“Mariano Iturbe, an adjunct professor in philosophy at the center, spoke about the Christian view of ecology as expressed in Laudato Siˊ. ‘Integral ecology leads us to take care of everything related to the environment and to the needs of human beings,’ he said, articulating the pope’s view …
“Meyer stated that ‘our Constitution (1853) includes a clause that defends religious freedom. We consider that a natural derivation from this principle is to promote the interreligious dialogue at a national level and at the international level. Argentina is a secular country, although we have a majority who are Catholic. We have a very important percentage of other Christian denominations, the largest Muslim community in South America and the Jewish community is one of the largest in the world.’ …
“’We consider interreligious dialogue as a very important way to solve some of the main problems of humanity,’ Meyer said … ‘Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, first as Auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, contributed personally to interreligious dialogue with many Protestants, Jewish and Muslim leaders of Argentina. As Pope Francis, he continues with this trend. This encyclical letter, Laudato Siˊ, that he presented to all men and women of good will, is a call to all of us, to take care of “our common house,” our planet, before it is too late. We want to put a seed of peace, awareness, dialogue between three of the main religions of the world [Christianity, Islam, and Judaism].’”
Please realize how historically momentous the above is: this is the first time a papal encyclical was used as a meeting focus for an interreligious group that also included secular interests (government and people of two countries). Three major world religions and two important countries (Argentina and India) took part. What a beautiful sight for our present world!
Here we rejoice because we see the Church impacting on the world and preaching the Gospel in this way, a way St. Francis would approve because in this approach the Gospel is “preached” sometimes in ways that are “without words” (as St. Francis has said). Moreover, we see here the “new” Church in action and this is a beautiful sight!
Pope Francis is quite happy with these kinds of events. Please do note for our purposes here that Muslims are actively present, bringing their faith insights and implications to the conference/seminar. There is absolutely no hint here of Islamophobia – in fact, the whole tone is pro-Islam (as it is pro-Christian and pro-Jewish and pro-Hindu). The Muslims were welcomed and made their good contributions.
I continue my “preaching” against Islamophobia as totally unChristian/unCatholic because it is so evidently anti-Catholic and anti-Gospel in terms of our Faith. What really disturbs me (and at times disheartens me) is that Islamophobia seems to be growing in our world instead of diminishing. I find it very disheartening to see in my own country, Canada, the physical attacks on mosques in Western Canada going on right now as I write this; I also find it disheartening that in my/our world a great country like the United States (which I admire) has so many Donald Trump followers who have picked up the anti-Islamic attitude of their leader. I and you are called to fight this Islamophobia as Catholics working to establish Pope Francis’ “new” Church in the Spirit. This is why I am consistently working hard on these pages to fight this unCatholic disease!
Please pray for the eradication of Islamophia from our countries and our world! Thank you!
Risen Lord Jesus, please purify us, your followers and disciples, from every tinge of Islamophobia, the moral disease of hating and disliking our Muslim sisters and brothers. Amen.
Father Fred Scinto, C.R.,
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
(519-885-4370 or toll free 1-877-242-7935)