quarta-feira, 21 de novembro de 2012

Islam’s Rise and the West’s DenialIslam’s Rise and the West’s Denial - William Kilpatrick


William Kilpatrick is an author and lecturer who taught for many years at Boston College and whose articles on Islam have appeared in numerous publications, including Investor's Business Daily, FrontPage Magazine, the National Catholic Register, and World magazine. He has written several books, including Psychological Seduction and Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong, and his most recent book, Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West, will be released next week from Ignatius Press. Kilpatrick recently spoke with Catholic World Report about Islam and its growing significance for the West.

CWR: You begin by noting that, yes, there is some common ground between Christianity and Islam, but the differences are far more important. What are the most important differences between the two religions? 

William Kilpatrick: Beneath the surface similarities lie important and largely irreconcilable differences. Islam rejects the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. In fact, associating partners with Allah—as Christians do—is considered the very worst sin. Chapter nine, verse 30 of the Koran says, “the Christians call Christ the son of Allah…Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the truth.” Moreover, the God of the Koran bears little resemblance to the God worshipped by Christians and Jews. Although he occasionally expresses solicitude for Muslim widows and orphans, he shows little in the way of mercy, compassion, or justice, and he appears to hate non-Muslims with a vengeance. The Koran is full of lurid descriptions of the fate that awaits unbelievers in hell. 

The two faiths also differ sharply in their vision of paradise. Heaven for Christians means union with God and the fellowship of the saints. For Muslims heaven means union with 72 “high-bosomed” and eternally youthful virgins. That’s for males, of course; the Koran is unclear about what sort of heaven women will enjoy. These differing views of paradise have very serious practical implications in the here and now. The Islamic version of paradise creates quite an incentive for young men to try to get there as quickly as possible. And, according to Islamic tradition, the only sure route is by “killing and being killed in the cause of Allah.” Take Mohamed Atta. Due to an airline mistake his luggage was left behind in Boston on the day of the 9/11 flight. When authorities later opened it they found a wedding suit, a bottle of cologne, and a letter expressing his anticipation of marriage to his 72 heavenly wives. As Richard Weaver wrote, “ideas have consequences.” 

CWR: The Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church mention Islam briefly and rather positively. Otherwise, there isn’t much in the way of official Church statements on Islam. Why is that? Is there a need for such?
Kilpatrick: Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, includes two short paragraphs sketching out several commonalities between Christians and Muslims. It must be remembered, however, that finding commonalities was precisely the task set forth in the initial paragraph of the declaration: “She considers above all in this declaration what men have in common….” In light of this and in view of its brevity, Nostra Aetate can hardly be considered to be the Church’s final word on Islam—although some Catholics have taken it to be just that. The statement about Muslims in the Catechism is even shorter—only 44 words—and merely echoes Nostra Aetate’s observation that both Christians and Muslims worship the One God. 

How do you account for this minimalist treatment? The probable answer is that at the time of the Vatican Council, militant Islam was fairly quiescent, and the Church fathers were far more concerned with the threat from atheistic communism. Now that Islam is once again set on subjugating the rest of the world, Catholics need to be given a fuller picture of Islam, if for no other reason than that their survival may depend on it. Catholics and other Christians have been lulled into complacency by the simplistic notion that Christians and Muslims share much in common. For example, when a Catholic reads that Muslims worship the same God and revere the same Jesus he does, he might easily jump to the conclusion that Islam is really a religion of peace and that terrorists are “misunderstanders” of their Islamic faith. That is a very naïve view to hold in these very dangerous times. 

CWR: “This book,” you write in the introduction, “is intended, in part, as a wake-up call.” What is the Western world missing? And, more specifically, what are Catholics missing when it comes to rightly gauging and studying Islam today?
Kilpatrick: One thing that the West doesn’t grasp is that Islam is a political religion with political ambitions. Omar Ahmad, the co-founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations, has said that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith but to be dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” Numerous Islamic authorities have expressed similar sentiments. The supposedly moderate Imam Feisal Rauf, the initiator of the Ground Zero mosque project, wrote an article for the Huffington Post containing the observation, “What Muslims want is a judiciary (in the US) that ensures that the laws are not in conflict with the Qur`an and the Hadith.” What he means is that US law must be brought in line with Islamic sharia law. Since very many provisions of sharia law are considered criminal under US law, that would mean the overthrow of much of our legal code. 

Many Catholics also fail to realize the political nature of Islam and imagine that a mosque, like a church, is simply a place of worship. But a mosque is more than that. Political and community issues are dealt with in a mosque, and calls to jihad are frequently issued in mosques. For example, many of the “Arab Spring” demonstrations were set in motion from mosques following the Friday sermons. Moreover, there are many instances of mosques being used for mentoring terrorists or for storing arms and explosives. According to a popular Muslim poem: 

The mosques are our barracks,
the domes our helmets
the minarets our bayonets
And the faithful our soldiers 

Many Muslims think of Islam not only as a religion but also as an army—an army with a mission of subjugation. That’s why the penalty for apostasy is death. Just as a deserter from an army in time of war may be punished with the death penalty, so also a deserter from the army of Islam. 

The political nature of Islam ought to give pause to Catholics who think they can dialogue with Muslims in the same way they dialogue with Baptists or Jews. A recently concluded series of Catholic-Muslim dialogues sponsored by the USCCB highlights the problem. It turns out that the bishops’ dialogue partners are all members of Muslim activist groups with links to the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the counterparts, Sayyid Syeed, is a prominent figure in the Islamic Society of North America—a group that was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive terrorist funding scheme. One wonders if the bishops fully understand who they are dealing with. 

CWR: How has Islam, worldwide, changed since the mid-20th century? 

Kilpatrick: It’s changed for the worse. The Muslim world was far more moderate in the mid-20th century than it is now. That’s in large part because secular strongmen in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and elsewhere acted as a restraining force on the more extreme manifestations of Islam. But as these rulers were swept aside, often with the help of the West, traditional Islam was able to assert itself, and traditional Islam is, in many senses, more oppressive and dictatorial than the dictators it replaced. Egypt, Iraq, and Iran, for example, were far more Westernized and secularized than they are now. Young women didn’t wear hijabs or ankle-length chadors, and as Ali Allawi—a former Iraqi cabinet minister—writes, “Muslims were more likely to identify themselves by their national, ethnic, or ideological affinities than by their religion.” Allawi observes of Iraq in the 1950s: “It appeared to be only a matter of time before Islam would lose whatever hold it still had on the Muslim world.” The recent revival of traditional, militant Islam is, in many respects, a reaction to that loss of faith. The new breed of Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood preachers are intent on recalling Muslims to the full practice of their faith—including the “forgotten obligation” of jihad. 

CWR: Why is it that so many secularists attack and mock Christianity but treat Islam with a strangely milquetoast sort of respect? How much of this is rooted in a flawed multiculturalism?
Kilpatrick: The attacks on Christianity are not rooted in a flaw in multiculturalism, but rather in the nature of multiculturalism. The multicultural creed is based on the fiction that all cultures, religions, and traditions are roughly equal. But there is no equivalence between the achievements of Western Christian civilization and Islamic civilization. In order to equalize them it’s necessary to pull down Christianity and the West while applying affirmative action whitewash to Islam. This, of course, leads to any number of bizarre double standards. For example, Mayor Tom Menino of Boston stated that the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain was not welcome in Boston because its president does not approve of gay marriage, while the same Mayor Menino has been very welcoming to Islamic groups that, in addition to wanting to abolish gay marriage, also want to abolish gays. Mayor Menino gave a speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a very large mosque built by the Islamic Society of Boston. Not only that, he donated a $1.8 million parcel of municipal land to the project. One of the seven trustees of the Islamic Society of Boston is the world-renowned Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who believes that gays should either be burned to death or thrown from a high place. So, in Boston, what’s sauce for the goose is not necessarily sauce for the chicken fillet. 

A more ominous development is that there now exists a tacit alliance between radical secularists and radical Islam. The most obvious example of this is the alliance between Islamic Iran and leftist Venezuela, but there are many other examples. Leftist professors regularly work with members of the Muslim Student Association (a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot) toward furthering Islamic goals. The campaign against the supposed hate crime of Islamophobia has been largely engineered by the left. And the leftist Justice Department has done its best to undercut the ability of law enforcement to investigate terrorist activities. Muslims, for their part, quickly learned to employ the methods pioneered by secular militants. Muslim activists groups portrayed themselves as civil rights groups and labeled any resistance to their agenda as hateful, bigoted, racist, and Islamophobic. At the same time, these Muslim groups can rely on the secular media to portray them in the best possible light. 

CWR: Many parts of Europe appear to be succumbing, in one way or another, to Islamization. What about the United States?
Kilpatrick: The US is on the same river as Europe, but not as close to the falls. It appears, however, that it’s trying hard to catch up. During the last three administrations, Muslim activists have worked hard to gain positions of influence in the government, and with great success. Muslim activist groups convinced the Department of Homeland Security to delete words like “jihad,” “Islamist,” and “terrorist” from their lexicon. In compliance with Muslim demands the Justice Department ordered the military to delete from its training manuals any suggestion that there is a connection between Islam and violence. And the State Department played a major role in enabling the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power in North Africa. Moreover, the State Department has been working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for more than a year toward the goal of establishing anti-blasphemy laws or something akin to them. If the effort succeeds, criticism of Islam will then be a crime—as it already in many European countries. Meanwhile, a steady flow of Saudi money helps to ensure that college students learn only an Islam-friendly version of history and current events. 

At first glance it would appear that Islamization is unlikely here because the Muslim population is small and, unlike Europe, America is a churchgoing nation with a healthy birthrate. But there is still reason for alarm. Although Christianity is in much better shape in America than in Europe, there has been a significant decline in the number of those who self-identify as Christians and a significant increase in the number of atheists, agnostics, and those who identify with no religion. Moreover, if American Christians haven’t been able to resist the growth of anti-religious secularism, how likely is it that they will be able to resist the efforts of dedicated and well-funded cultural jihadists? 

In addition, America’s healthy birthrate is not as healthy as it first appears, because 41 percent of those births now occur out of wedlock. Fifty-five percent of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock, as are 72 percent of black children. As they grow older, children born into unstable families are more likely to see the structured life of Islam as a solution rather than as a problem. 

Islamization is not simply a numbers game. For an analogy, consider that homosexuals make up only 2 to 3 percent of the population, but have nevertheless exerted an outsize influence on public policy and school curriculums. Of course, they have been able to do this with the help of liberal elites in media, academia, the courts, and the entertainment industry. But remember that Islamic activists have the backing of the very same people. 

Islamization won’t happen tomorrow in America, but there is a distinct possibility that our children will grow up in an America dominated by Islam. It’s not necessary to be a majority or anywhere near a majority in order to dominate. Throughout history Islamic warriors have managed to subdue populations much larger than their own. If America is eventually subjugated, however, it won’t be the result of armed jihad, but of cultural jihad—the steady incremental advance of sharia law through agitation, propaganda, lawfare, political activism, and infiltration of key governmental and educational institutions. Many Muslim leaders have made it plain that they plan to subjugate America under Islam. We should take them seriously. 

CWR: What do you think of the current approach taken by our government toward Islam in the Middle East?
Kilpatrick: Our policies have enabled the creation of a Middle East that is far more radical than it once was. The media likes to refer to terrorists as “misunderstanders” of Islam, but it is our government that misunderstands Islam. In failing to understand Islam we have cooperated in the ascendancy of the most extreme types of Islamists. As a result, much of the Muslim Middle East is falling into the hands of our enemies. One of the immediate results has been intensified persecution of Christians. As bad as they were, the previous secular rulers at least provided some protection to Christians. Now, Christians are increasingly subject to intimidation, confiscation of property, forced conversions, rape, mob attacks, and murder. 

Another result of our misguided policies is that Israel is now surrounded by people who seek its annihilation. Hatred of Jews is deeply rooted in the Koran and in Islamic tradition. In helping to bring to power those Muslims who adhere most closely to the Koran, we have put Israel in a precarious position. The new, Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Egypt has already signaled its intention to break its peace treaty with Israel. All of this was entirely predictable for anyone with a basic knowledge of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

CWR: What must Christians do to address and cope with the problems presented by the spread of Islam?
The first thing Christians need to do is inform themselves about Islam. Christians, like secularists, tend to view Islam through a multicultural lens and assume that Islam is like other religions. But it is not. Islam is not a religion of peace, but a religion of conquest that aims to subjugate non-Muslims. This isn’t just a theory. Look at every nation where Muslims rule and you will find that non-Muslims are assigned an inferior status. In studying Islam, Christians will also find that the Jesus of the Koran is nothing at all like the Jesus of the Gospels. In fact, he seems to have been introduced into the Koran for the sole purpose of contradicting the Christian belief in Jesus as the son of God. The Church also has an obligation to more fully inform Catholics about Islam. The treatment of the subject in Nostra Aetate and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are brief and inadequate. Catholics need to know a great deal more about Islam and have to move beyond the simplistic assumption that because God and Jesus and Mary are in the Koran, everything must be okay. 

As I said earlier, Christians must realize that Islam is a political religion, and they need to be aware that religious overtures on the part of Muslims are often nothing other than political maneuvering. For example, Christians should avoid being pulled into Islam’s anti-blasphemy/anti-defamation campaign, because the ultimate goal of this campaign is to criminalize criticism of Islam. And, by the way, simply to assert the divinity of Christ is a blasphemy of the highest order according to the Koran. 

Likewise, Christians should be careful about aligning themselves with Islamic activist groups on religious freedom issues. When Muslim leaders talk about freedom of religion, they mean freedom to practice sharia—a legal, social, political, and theological system that is inimical both to Christianity and the First Amendment. Muslim spokesmen are quite willing to affirm their belief in religious freedom because according to Islamic tradition there is only one religion—Islam. Under Islamic law, all other religions are considered abrogated. In Muslim countries, religious freedom for non-Muslims is either non-existent or greatly restricted. Christians who are tempted to partner with Muslims in the cause of religious freedom need to recall Christ’s words about “sheep in the midst of wolves.”

The Church Opposes Science: The Myth of Catholic Irrationality - by Christopher Kaczor

"Christopher Kaczor is one of our finest young Catholic philosophers. In The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church, he shows that he is also one of our finest defenders of the Catholic faith. Essential reading for the new evangelization." - Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Many people believe that faith and reason, or religion and science, are locked in an irreconcilable war of attrition against one another. One must choose to be a person of learning, science, and reason, or choose to embrace religion, dogma, and faith alone. On this view, the Church opposes science, and if one embraces science, then one ought to reject the Church. 
The scientific method looks to evidence to settle questions, so perhaps it would be fair to look at evidence to answer the question whether the Catholic Church is opposed to science and reason. If the Catholic Church were opposed to science, we would expect to find no or very few Catholic scientists, no sponsorship of scientific research by Catholic institutions, and an explicit distrust of reason in general and scientific reasoning in particular taught in official Catholic teaching. In fact, we find none of these things.

Historically, Catholics are numbered among the most important scientists of all time, including René Descartes, who discovered analytic geometry and the laws of refraction; Blaise Pascal, inventor of the adding machine, hydraulic press, and the mathematical theory of probabilities; Augustinian priest Gregor Mendel, who founded modern genetics; Louis Pasteur, founder of microbiology and creator of the first vaccine for rabies and anthrax; and cleric Nicolaus Copernicus, who first developed scientifically the view that the earth rotated around the sun. Jesuit priests in particular have a long history of scientific achievement; they
contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter's surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn's rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon affected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics — all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents. [1]
The scientist credited with proposing in the 1930s what came to be known as the "Big Bang theory" of the origin of the universe was Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist and Roman Catholic priest. Alexander Fleming, the inventor of penicillin, shared his faith. More recently, Catholics constitute a good number of Nobel Laureates in Physics, Medicine, and Physiology, including Erwin Schrödinger, John Eccles, and Alexis Carrel. How can the achievements of so many Catholics in science be reconciled with the idea that the Catholic Church opposes scientific knowledge and progress? 
One might try to explain such distinguished Catholic scientists as rare individuals who dared to rebel against the institutional Church, which opposes science. However, the Catholic Church as an institution funds, sponsors, and supports scientific research in the Pontifical Academy of Science and in the departments of science found in every Catholic university across the world, including those governed by Roman Catholic bishops, such as The Catholic University of America. This financial and institutional support of science by the Church began at the very birth of science in seventeenth-century Europe and continues today. Even Church buildings themselves were not only used for religious purposes but designed in part to foster scientific knowledge. As Thomas Woods notes:
Cathedrals in Bologna, Florence, Paris, and Rome were designed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to function as world-class solar observatories. Nowhere in the world were there more precise instruments for the study of the sun. Each such cathedral contained holes through which sunlight could enter and time lines (or meridian lines) on the floor. It was by observing the path traced out by the sunlight on these lines that researchers could obtain accurate measurements of time and predict equinoxes. [2]
In the words of J. L. Heilbron of the University of California, Berkeley, the "Roman Catholic Church gave more financial aid and social support to the study of astronomy over six centuries, from the recovery of ancient learning during the late Middle Ages into the Enlightenment, than any other, and probably, all other institutions." [3] This financial and social support extended also to other branches of scientific inquiry. 
Such support is not only consistent with official Catholic teaching but is enthusiastically endorsed. On the Church's view, science and faith are complementary to each other and mutually beneficial. In 1988, Pope John Paul II addressed a letter to the Director of the Vatican Astronomical Observatory, noting, "Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish." [4] As Nobel Laureate Joseph Murray notes, "Is the Church inimical to science? Growing up as a Catholic and a scientist — I don't see it. One truth is revealed truth, the other is scientific truth. If you really believe that creation is good, there can be no harm in studying science. The more we learn about creation — the way it emerged — it just adds to the glory of God. Personally, I've never seen a conflict." [5] In order to understand the complementarity of faith and science, indeed faith and reason more broadly, it is important to consider their relationship in greater depth.

A sign hung in Albert Einstein's office at Princeton University that read: "Not everything that can be counted counts; not everything that counts can be counted." Faith cannot be quantified and counted, like forces in physics or elements in chemistry, but that does not mean that faith is insignificant. Faith helps us to answer some of the most important questions facing mankind. As important as scientific discoveries can be, such discoveries do not touch on all of the inevitable questions facing us: What should I do? Whom should I love? What can I hope for? To answer questions such as these, science alone is not enough because science alone cannot answer questions that fall outside its empirical method. Rather, we need faith and reason operating together to answer such questions and to build a truly human community.

One reason that people view faith and science as in opposition is that they often view faith and reason more generally as in opposition. Our culture often pits faith against reason, as if the more faith-filled you are, the less reasonable you are. Faith and reason in the minds of so many people are polar opposites, never to be combined, and never to be reconciled. In this way, our culture often offers us false alternatives: live either by faith or by reason. To be religious is to reject reason; to be reasonable is to reject religion. But like other false alternatives, e.g., "Did you stop beating your wife this week, or last week?" such thinking artificially limits our freedom. Rather than choosing between faith and reason, the Church invites us to harmonize our faith and our reason because both are vitally important to human well-being.

Developing a long tradition of Catholic reflection on the compatibility of faith and reason, Pope Benedict XVI seeks to unite what has so often become divided, by championing the full breadth of reason (including but not limited to scientific reasoning) combined with an adult faith. Rather than pitting faith against reason, the pope is calling for a reasonable faith and a faithful reason. From a Catholic perspective, the truths of faith and the truths of reason (including science) cannot in principle ever be opposed, because God is the ultimate Author of the book of Grace (revelation) as well as the book of Nature (philosophy and science). One ought not, therefore, choose between faith on the one hand and reason on the other, but rather one should seek to bring both faith and reason into a more fruitful collaboration.

In a Catholic view, since faith and reason are compatible, science — one particular kind of reasoning — and the Catholic religion are also compatible. Nevertheless, it is a commonly held view that one must choose between science and faith. Why is this? There are several core issues that drive this misunderstanding. First, Genesis claims that God created the world in seven days, but science indicates that the universe, including the earth, developed over billions of years. Secondly, Genesis talks about the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, being created by God, as well as all the animals being created by God. Science indicates that all life — including human life — evolved over millions of years. Third, Bible stories are rife with miracles, but science has shown that miracles are impossible. Fourth, and most famously, the Catholic Church condemned Galileo. Finally, the Church's opposition to stem cell research is seen as anti-science. Each of these objections is commonly used to justify the claim that the Church opposes science.

First, let's consider the claim that in Genesis God created the world in seven days but science indicates that the universe, including the earth, developed over billions of years. In the Catholic tradition, the creation accounts in Genesis have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways. Both literal and figurative readings of Genesis are theologically acceptable for Catholics. Some theologians, such as Saint Ambrose, understood the Genesis account of creation in a literal way. But for the most part, Catholic theologians, including Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Blessed John Henry Newman, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, have interpreted Genesis as teaching the truth about creation in a nonliteral, nonscientific way. [6] Pope John Paul II puts the point as follows:
The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. [7]
Dr. Scott Hahn has pointed out that we might misunderstand the point of the seven days spoken about in Genesis, if we do not understand that the ancient Hebrew word for seven is the same word used for "making a covenant". So, when it is said that God created the world in seven days, the text is communicating to its original readers that God has created the world in a covenantal relationship with the Divine. [8] Indeed, it was this idea — that the world is an orderly creation from an intelligent God — that led to the beginnings of science. For if the world is not intelligible and orderly, there would be no point in trying to understand its laws of operation, the laws of nature which scientific investigation seeks to discover. 
Secondly, the incompatibility of Genesis and the evolution of species causes some people to think that religious belief is incompatible with science. If the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were created by God, as well as all the animals, then all life — including human life — did not evolve over millions of years. If all life evolved over millions of years, then there could not be a first man, Adam, a first woman, Eve, or a creation of animals directly by God. As noted, the Catholic Church does not generally require that individual Scripture verses be interpreted in one sense rather than another. Individual believers and theologians may come to different understandings of a particular passage but remain Catholics in good standing. So, one could believe with Saint Ambrose that Genesis provides a play-by-play account of exactly how God did things over seven 24-hour days. Or, one could believe with Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Blessed John Henry Newman, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI that Genesis is not properly interpreted in this literalistic way. If one interprets Genesis in the ways suggested by the nonliteral view, then there is no contradiction in believing both in Genesis and in evolution as a way for accounting for the physical development of man provided one believes in a first man and first woman, from whom mankind descended and inherited original sin (see Humani Generis, no. 27). [9] Of course, the Catholic Church does not require that Catholics believe in evolution or any other view taught by any given scientist. However, if one believes in evolution, then one can also — as did Pope John Paul II — remain a faithful Catholic. [10] 

A third problem that gives rise to difficulties for some people is that miracles are found in the Bible, but science is incompatible with belief in miracles. By miracle, I mean a supernatural intervention by God into the normal course of events. Is belief in miracles incompatible with science? To answer this question, it is important to distinguish science or the scientific method from what is called philosophical naturalism. The scientific method looks for natural causes to explain things that have happened. Philosophical naturalism, a philosophical theory, not a scientifically justified view, holds that there are only natural causes and no supernatural (divine) causes. Scientists can conduct their scientific investigations with or without a belief in philosophical naturalism. If God the Creator exists, then naturalism is false because a Creator God is a supernatural cause. If there is a Creator with power over the entire universe, then miracles are possible, for God could intervene in his creation. Indeed, science could only prove that miracles cannot happen, if it proved that there is no God. But science has not and cannot prove such a claim, since the realm of science is limited to the empirically verifiable, and God — at least as understood by most believers — is not a material being but a spiritual being.
Fourth, and most famously, many people believe that the Catholic Church is antagonistic to science because of the condemnation of Galileo Galilei. This notorious and complicated conflict — the subject of many scholarly books — is partially based on scientific disputes but also has much to do with the conflicts of personality, politics, and theology of the time. Galileo's view that the earth rotated around the sun was not the central issue. Heliocentrism was held by many people of the time, including Jesuit priests in good standing. More central to the Galileo controversy was whether Galileo broke agreements he had made about in what manner to teach his views. Through his polemical writings, Galileo alienated one-time friends and gave rivals an opportunity to undermine him. His work Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was widely understood to mock the pope, a onetime friend and sponsor. Galileo did not limit himself to scientific claims on the basis of a view at the time lacking conclusive proof, but also insisted on challenging the dominant interpretations of Scripture at the time, which held that the sun rotated around the earth. [11] Thus, both influential theologians as well as scientists turned against Galileo. If Galileo had presented his views with greater modesty about his claims, it is likely that there would have been no condemnation.

Nevertheless, it is true that ecclesial authorities wrongly condemned Galileo's heliocentricism, which was in 1633 not yet scientifically demonstrated. Galileo's view was condemned because of an overly literal interpretation of a certain passage in Scripture. This erroneous condemnation could have been avoided if the theologians involved had remembered the methods of biblical interpretation propounded by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, who recognized that Scripture often speaks the truth about creation in a nonliteral, nonscientific way. Pope John Paul II wrote:
Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture. [12]
Indeed, even today people still speak, as does Scripture, about "the sun rising", even though strictly speaking it is not the sun that rises but the earth that turns, causing it to appear that the sun rises. 
In any case, Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the ecclesial judicial authorities in the trial of Galileo were wrong. These errors of a disciplinary and judicial nature were not a formal part of Catholic teaching. Then, as now, Church officials can and do make errors — unfortunately sometimes serious errors — in terms of discipline and order within the Church community. Church infallibility only applies to official teachings of faith and morals, not to assigning the best bishop to a particular place, nor to making wise decisions about political matters, nor to determining who can and ought to teach certain topics. The condemnation of Galileo was an erroneous decision in a matter of judicial order in the Christian community, but it does not have to do with official teaching of faith and morals.

One final controversy is the alleged opposition to science seen by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins writes, "He [Pope Benedict] is an enemy of science, obstructing vital stem cell research, on grounds not of morality but of pre-scientific superstition." [13] In other words, the Church opposes science because she opposes embryonic stem cell research that involves destroying human embryos. Stem cell research is viewed as a promising means of fighting disease and promoting human well-being, but the Church, in Dawkins' view, stands in the way of this progress.

It is important to begin responding to Dawkins' accusation with the common ground shared by all people of good will. Indeed, everyone agrees, including Dawkins, that we should not kill innocent people, even if killing them might benefit other people or bring about an advance in scientific knowledge. The Tuskegee experiment in which African-American males were research subjects without their consent and to their detriment is universally condemned. Similarly, the research done by Dr. Josef Mengele on various human patients, or rather victims, in Auschwitz cannot be justified regardless of the scientific progress that was an alleged goal of the experiments. It is a basic principle of ethics that persons should not be harmed without their consent in scientific research in order potentially to benefit other people. 

It is this principle, together with modern science, that has led the Catholic Church to oppose embryo research that kills human embryos. If human embryos have basic human rights as do other human persons, then embryonic research that involves killing human embryos is wrong. It was actually science overcoming "pre-scientific superstition" that brought the Catholic Church to the defense of human life from conception. In ancient times, Aristotle taught that the human person arose only 40 to 90 days after the union of the man and the woman in sexual intercourse. Aristotle thought, and this view was a common one until the nineteenth century, that the menses of the woman was "worked on" by the fluid ejaculated by the man to form a human being, some 40 days after the sexual union in the case of a male and 90 days in the case of a female.

Contemporary biology has shown that this understanding of how human reproduction takes place is radically mistaken. Sperm and egg are the gametes of sexual reproduction, not the menses and the entire ejaculated fluid. There is not a different time period for the formation of male and female children, nor does the seminal fluid continue to work for weeks and weeks to inform the menses. Rather, egg and sperm unite so as to create a new, individual, living, whole human person which passes through various stages — zygotic, fetal, infant, toddler, adolescent, adult — of human development.

Is there any reason to think that the human embryo is alive? To live is to have self-generated activities. The activities of proportionate growth and increase of specialization of cells contributing to the good of the whole organism indicate that the embryo is a living being. Further, it is clear that the embryo can die, but only living things can die, so the embryo must be living.

Is the living embryo also human? Since the embryo arises from a human mother and a human father, what species could it be other than human? Coming as it does from a human mother and a human father, made of human genetic tissues organized as a living being, and progressing along the trajectory of human development, the newly conceived human embryo is biologically and genetically one of us. This new living, growing being is a member of the species homo sapiens, a member of the human family. This human being is genetically new, that is, distinct from both mother and father. The embryo is not a part of the mother (as is obvious when the embryo is in a petri dish and not in utero), but rather is made from part of the mother (her ovum) and part of the father (his sperm). This new person is an individual whose genetic makeup and very existence is not the same as the mother's or father's or anyone else's. There is nothing "pre-scientific" about the Church's view that the human embryo is a human being; indeed, this view is confirmed by the findings of science which overturned the long-accepted prescientific views of Aristotle on reproduction. 

Now, should very young human persons, including human embryos, be protected by law and welcomed in life? This is a moral question, not a scientific question. Science attempts to discover what is the case; ethics attempts to discover what should be the case in terms of human choices. Should the human embryo be protected as are human persons at later stages of development? I have explored this question at great length in a book called The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice. Looking at every single pro-choice objection of which I was aware, I found that there is no rational justification for not according every human — including those in the embryonic stage of development — equal basic rights, including the right not to be intentionally killed in the hopes of benefiting other people's health. By contrast, defenders of abortion and lethal embryonic stem cell research hold that it is permissible to kill some human beings in order to benefit others. However, neither view is "scientific". Science qua science cannot settle the question of which human beings should be accorded human rights and welcomed into the human community.

Dawkins is also mistaken that the Church obstructs vital stem cell research. The Church opposes research — stem cell or otherwise — that involves the intentional killing of human embryos. Stem cell research that does not involve killing embryos is not only permitted by the Church but even funded by the Church, which has held at least two international conferences on stem cell research and has also funded research on adult stem cells undertaken at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. This research, using stem cells from adults or umbilical cords, has actually been developed into treatments that have already saved human lives. To date, despite billions of dollars, embryonic stem cell research has not led to one cure or a single effective treatment. The Church does not oppose stem cell research as such, but only opposes any kind of research that involves killing humans.

At this point, we are in a position to come to a prima facie judgment about the question of whether the Church opposes science. On the one hand, we have the many Catholic scientists of distinction, from the beginning of the use of the scientific method until now, who argue that there is no conflict between their faith and their pursuit of science. We have the institutional Church sponsoring scientific endeavors of all kinds, at Catholic universities around the world, in the construction of cathedrals, and at the Vatican itself. We also have the explicit Catholic teaching that faith and reason are not opposed but rather complementary, and that scientific reasoning and faith are mutually enriching. On the other hand, we have the trial and condemnation of Galileo. The Galileo case appears, against the larger background of Catholic teaching and practice, as an unfortunate aberration from the norm. However, both Galileo himself — who remained a faithful Catholic all his life — and those involved in his trial, such as Saint Robert Bellarmine, agreed that there can never be a true conflict between science and faith. Apparent but not real conflicts can arise through a mistaken interpretation of faith (as was made by those who condemned Galileo), a misunderstanding of science (e.g., that science requires denying miracles), or both. It is therefore a myth — albeit a persistent myth — that the Church opposes science.


  1. Jonathan Wright, The Jesuits: Missions, Myths, and Histories (London: HarperCollins, 2004), p. 189; quoted in Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2005), p. 100.
  2. Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, p. 112.
  3. J. L. Heilbron, Annual Invitation Lecture to the Scientific Instrument Society, Royal Institution, London, December 6, I995; quoted in ibid., p. 113.
  4. Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to the Reverend George V Coyne, S.J, Director of the Vatican Observatory, June 1, I988.
  5. As quoted by Gabriel Meyer, "Pontifical Science Academy Banks on Stellar Cast", National Catholic Register, December 1-7, 1996, as cited here.
  6. On Pope Benedict's view on this topic (at least the views he expressed prior to his election as pope), see Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, In the Beginning... : A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, trans. Boniface Ramsey (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, I995).
  7. Pope John Paul II, to the Pontifical Academy of Science, "Cosmology and Fundamental Physics", October 3, 1981.
  8. Scott Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God's Covenant Love in Scripture (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Charis Books, 1998), pp. 140-44.
  9. Pope John Paul II, "Truth Cannot Contradict Truth", Address of Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (October 22, 1996).
  10. Ibid.
  11. As noted by Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, pp.71-72.
  12. Pope John Paul II, "Fidei Depositum", L'Osservatore Romano, no. 44 (1264), November 4, 1992, as cited by Daniel N. Robinson, Gladys M. Sweeney, Richard Gill, Human Nature in Its Wholeness: A Roman Catholic Perspective (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2006), p. 169.
  13. Richard Dawkins, "Ratzinger Is an Enemy of Humanity", September 22, 2010, (accessed December 8, 2010).

terça-feira, 20 de novembro de 2012

Só pode Amar quem Odiar - Nuno Serras Pereira

Nos dias que correm é difícil encontrar um cristão que tenha uma noção adequado de Quem é Deus no Seu Amor. E o que mais assombra é que a insistência na Misericórdia Infinita do Senhor seja o motivo ou o meio pelo qual se vem a ter essa ideia distorcida do Amor Trinitário. No entanto, se considerarmos que o anúncio da Misericórdia habitualmente não é acompanhado da proclamação de outras verdades Reveladas tais como a Justiça, e a Ira Divina, a exigência de conversão, com a consequente emenda de vida, a necessidade da penitência, da perseverança, da fidelidade até ao fim, repararemos que não há razão alguma para ficarmos assarapantados. Além disso, calar o que é o Amor, a Sua Santidade, ou seja, a incompatibilidade absoluta com o mal e o pecado; silenciar as Suas exigências, o Seu zelo pela nossa perfeição e salvação eterna é atraiçoar esse mesmo Amor. O Amor se o é o realmente tem, por isso mesmo, uma enfuriação contra todo o desamor, um verdadeiro ódio ou detestação daquilo que a Ele se opõe, estorvando os Seus desígnios de Redenção de cada pessoa humana. Daí que o Antigo Testamento (AT) afirme o ódio de Deus ao mal, narre as Suas tremebundas invectivas, O mostre rugindo fúrias contra o pecado. 

Estas passagens que infundem pavor levaram alguns, entre os quais se destaca Marcião, a separar o Antigo do Novo Testamento (NT), como se naquele não estivesse latente, aquilo que neste se torna patente; chegando ao excesso herético de afirmarem a existência de dois deuses, sendo que o do AT era mau e o do NT, pelo contrário, bom. Contra esta interpretação distorcida se levantaram os Evangelistas e a demais Igreja nascente. Há um só Deus, infinitamente benigno, que Se Revela tanto na Antiga como na Nova Aliança, que Se fez homem, nascido da Virgem Maria, pelo poder do Espírito Santo, foi crucificado, ressuscitou, ascendeu ao Céu e de novo há-de vira a julgar os vivos e os mortos. Jesus Cristo, nosso Redentor e Juiz, é a Chave de leitura, o critério definitivo e irrenunciável de interpretação da Sagrada Escritura, pois n’ Ele o Pai disse-nos tudo, Ele é a plenitude da Revelação.

Jesus Cristo “que passou fazendo o bem e exorcizando todos os que eram oprimidos pelo diabo”, Revelou-Se-nos como O poderoso guerreiro, O militante infatigável, O pelejador constante contra satanás e contra o pecado, em que ele nos tinha escravizados, para nos Libertar para a verdadeira Liberdade, que é a Comunhão de Vida e Amor com Ele. E, deste modo nos mostrou, contrariamente ao que hoje se presume, que não é possível fazer o bem sem combater denodadamente o mal e o pecado.

Que o amor a Deus, o único amor do qual todo o outro amor brota, e se corrompido nele se purifica, implique necessariamente um horror e abominação do pecado é ensinamento expresso deste Senhor infinitamente benevolente e benfazejo quando, por exemplo, proclama: Ninguém pode servir a dois senhores: ou há-de odiar a um e amar o outro, ou há-de apegar-se a um e desprezar o outro. Não podeis servir a Deus e ao dinheiro (Cf. Mt 6, 24; Lc 16, 13). Também nos adverte que se não nos convertermos pereceremos imprevistamente de modo semelhante aos galileus chacinados por Pilatos ou os jerosolimitanos esmagados pela derrocada da torre de Siloé (Lc 13, 2-5).  Será, possivelmente, da meditação desta passagem que terá surgido a oração que os nossos antepassados rezaram durante séculos implorando a Deus que os livrasse de uma morte súbita e imprevista. Esta súplica insistente e confiante brotava de uma consideração do peso da eternidade à luz da qual era vista esta vida. Para estes cristão o problema não era tanto a morte biológica, mas o Juízo de Deus, no qual se joga o destino eterno. De facto, o Mesmo Juiz que diz a uns “ … vinde benditos de Meu Pai, tomai posse do Reino que vos está preparado desde a criação do mundo … ” (Mt 25, 34) é o Mesmo que impera a outros “Retirai-vos de Mim, malditos! Ide para o fogo eterno destinado a satanás e aos seus anjos.” (Lc 25, 41). A Igreja, Cristo em nós, continuado e Presente na História de todos os tempos, durante séculos e séculos, apresentou o rosto de Jesus Cristo, Deus humanado, na Sua completude de Juiz Justo e Misericordioso. Era habitual, por exemplo, no púlpito, na pregação, no sermão, não só exaltar a Majestade Gloriosa de Deus, enaltecer as Suas obras, recordar os Seus prodígios em nosso favor, persuadir-nos do Seu Amor mas também trovejar cóleras contra o pecado, bramir iracundamente contra o derrancamento dos costumes, tendo como intento mover as almas ao arrependimento, em vista de uma confissão feita bem, que pudesse restabelecer a comunhão de vida e de amor com o Senhor, e com o próximo (além disso, ao desmascarem os ardis do Maligno e as manhas da natureza humana, possibilitavam o reconhecimento da culpa própria, e com ela a consciência de serem livres, e não meras vítimas inermes determinadas pelas circunstâncias). Deste modo, os penitentes aproximavam-se confundidos e temerosos, com grande atrição, dos sacerdotes para receberem a absolvição de seus pecados mortais, sendo-lhes assim perdoadas as penas eternas, devidas aos mesmos. Porém, no confessionário quem os acolhia não era já o rosto severo e rigoroso do Apocalipse, mas sim a face jubilosa, jucunda, transbordante de misericórdia, do Pai do filho pródigo. Este encontro conseguia frequentemente mover o penitente à contrição perfeita, isto é, a um arrependimento não já nascido do santo temor de Deus mas sim do santo amor. 

Será recto e justo dispensar o modo como Deus nos falou na Sagrada Escritura, na Tradição da Igreja, enfim nos Seus Santos, ou seja, naqueles que Ele fez participantes da Sua Santidade? 

Haverá ainda muitos cristãos que saibam que o pecado existe? E conheça a gravidade do mesmo? Que acredite no Inferno? Que saiba o que é o bem e o que é o mal? Que os saiba distinguir? Que não os troque?

Será ainda possível designar o mal e o pecado pelos seus nomes sem que as pessoas se sintam agredidas, em vez de agradecidas pela verdade/amor que lhes é comunicado? 

Seja como for, a verdade permanece: é impossível amar sem odiar. E não se pode praticar o bem sem combater o mal. 

20. 11. 2012

segunda-feira, 19 de novembro de 2012

Archbishop Chaput: being a saint is the only thing that matters

.- At a conference on faith and evangelization, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told participants that sanctity is the single necessity in a person's life.

“The only thing that matters is to be a saint. That’s what we need to be. That’s what we need to become,” he said at the Nov. 16 Catholic Life Congress in Philadelphia.

Archbishop Chaput began his talk, titled “Renewing the Church and Her Mission in a 'Year of Faith,'” by discussing the nature of faith. He said the Nicene Creed, recited at every Sunday Mass, is the “framework and fundamental profession” of Catholic belief.

“The less we understand the words of the Creed and revere the meaning behind them, the farther away we drift from our Catholic identity – and the more confused we become about who we really are as Christians.”

The archbishop discussed the importance of personal integrity, and the role of Sunday Mass in forming our lives throughout the rest of the week.

“We need to give our hearts to what we hear and what we say in our public worship. Otherwise, little by little, we become dishonest.”

Faith, he told his listeners, “is confidence in things unseen based on the word of someone we know and love – in this case, God...only a living encounter and a living relationship with Jesus Christ make faith sustainable.”

Archbishop Chaput then reflected on the present state of the Catholic Church in America, painting a stark picture.

“More than 70 million Americans describe themselves as Catholics. But for all practical purposes, they’re no different from everybody else in their views, their appetites and their behaviors.”

This state, he said, was part of the “legacy” left by the baby boomer generation “to the Church in the United States.”

“In a sense, our political and economic power, our addictions to comfort, consumption and entertainment, have made us stupid.”

In response to that state of affairs, Archbishop Chaput urged every one to repentance and to conversion. In the face of a Catholic population indistinguishable from the general public, he proposed a sort of examination of conscience.

“So we need to ask ourselves: What do I want my life to mean? If I claim to be a Catholic, can I prove it with the patterns of my life? When do I pray? How often do I seek out the Sacrament of Penance?  What am I doing for the poor? How am I serving the needy? Do I really know Jesus Christ?”

“Who am I leading to the Church? How many young people have I asked to consider a vocation? How much time do I spend sharing about God with my spouse, my children and my friends? How well and how often do I listen for God’s will in my own life?”

From there, the archbishop reflected on what we need to become, and took Saint Thomas More as an example.

More was an English lawyer and statesman, and chancellor of England under Henry VIII. His Catholic faith made him oppose Henry's divorce and re-marriage, and separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church. His integrity led him to be martyred in 1535.

Archbishop Chaput gave his audience a “homework assignment” over Thanksgiving break. He asked that people watch – “with your family” –  the 1966 film on St. Thomas More called “A Man for All Seasons”

He said that “above all, More was a man of profound Catholic faith and practice. He lived what he claimed to believe. He had his priorities in right order. He was a husband and a father first.”

The archbishop then said that More is an example for all Catholics.

“We’re all called to martyrdom. That’s what the word martyr means: It’s the Greek word for “witness.”  We may or may not ever suffer personally for our love of Jesus Christ. But we’re all called to be witnesses.”

Archbishop Chaput concluded his talk by emphasizing that becoming a saint, like St. Thomas More, is the one thing necessary in everyone's life.

domingo, 18 de novembro de 2012

« Dans les débats importants de société, la voix de l’Église doit se faire entendre sans relâche et avec détermination » - Benoît XVI

Anita Bourdin

ROME, dimanche 18 novembre 2012 (Zenit.org) – « Dans les débats importants de société, la voix de l’Église doit se faire entendre sans relâche et avec détermination », déclare Benoît XVI.

Le pape a en effet reçu hier, samedi 17 novembre, au Vatican, le deuxième groupe d’évêques de France en visite ad limina et appartenant aux provinces ecclésiastiques du Nord et de l’Est du pays (cf. « Docuemnts » pour le texte intégral et pour l’allocution du cardinal André Vingt-Trois).

« Plus l’Eglise est consciente de son être et de sa mission, plus elle capable d’aimer ce monde, sans céder à la tentation du découragement ou du repli », a déclaré Benoît XVI avant d’ajouter : « Dans les débats importants de société, la voix de l’Église doit se faire entendre sans relâche et avec détermination. »

Pour le pape, cela s’accorde avec le respect de la tradition de la laïcité à la française : « Vous apportez dans ces débats une parole indispensable de vérité, qui libère et ouvre les cœurs à l’espérance. Cette parole, j’en suis convaincu, est attendue. »

Le pape a encouragé cette réflexion et cette prise de position de l’Eglise en disant : « L’Église, trouve dans sa mission divine l’assurance et le courage de prêcher, à temps et à contretemps, la grandeur du dessein divin sur l’humanité, la responsabilité de l’homme, sa dignité et sa liberté, – et malgré la blessure du péché – sa capacité à discerner en conscience ce qui est vrai et ce qui est bon, et sa disponibilité à la grâce divine. »

Il a dit partager la préoccupation des évêques de France pour la transmission de la foi dans la société sécularisée : « Il y a également l’énorme défi à vivre dans une société qui ne partage pas toujours les enseignements du Christ, et qui parfois cherche à ridiculiser ou à marginaliser l’Église en désirant la confiner dans l’unique sphère privée. »

Le pape a aussi encouragé les chrétiens « engagés dans la vie publique », soulignant leur « responsabilité particulière. »

Faisant allusion au projet de loi sur le mariage « pour tous », le jour des grandes manifestations contre ce projet, le pape a ajouté : « Les politiques auront à cœur d’être attentifs aux projets de lois civiles pouvant porter atteinte à la protection du mariage entre l’homme et la femme, à la sauvegarde de la vie de la conception jusqu’à la mort, et à la juste orientation de la bioéthique en fidélité aux documents du Magistère de l’Eglise. »