Friday, April 18, 2008

L'Islam vu par Mgr Freppel

... et l'Europe devint chrétienne. Mais il était dit que chaque victoire de la croix serait suivie d'un nouveau combat, et que l'antique serpent écrasé par l'étendard du salut relèverait la tête après chaque défaite. Un homme donc - car ici-bas, en tête du mal comme en tête du bien, il n'y a toujours qu'un homme - un homme, dis-je, essaya d'arrêter la croix dans sa marche triomphale. A cet effet, il prit quelques lambeaux de la Bible, arracha quelques feuillets de l'Évangile et, y mêlant ses rêveries, il en fit le Coran. Puis, comme symbole de l'opposition à la croix, il adopta le croissant et, enfin, à la place du glaive spirituel de la parole, il mit le glaive matériel qui frappe et qui égorge. Voilà son œuvre : le Coran, avec le croissant pour signe et le cimeterre pour garde ... Jamais peut-être la croix n'avait rencontré d'adversaire plus formidable. Qu'était-ce, en effet, que le mahométisme en face de la croix ? C'était la glorification de la volupté, le déchaînement de toutes les passions brutales, l'empire de la chair substitué au règne de l'esprit, les convoitises sensuelles transportées jusque dans le monde futur. Et cependant, malgré l'appât qu'offrait à des instincts grossiers cette religion toute pétrie de sang et de boue, en dépit de la complicité qu’elle rencontrait dans les bas-fonds de la nature humaine, l'étendard du sensualisme a reculé devant le drapeau du sacrifice ; et tandis que le croissant apparaît comme le symbole de la décrépitude et de l'abrutissement, la croix est restée, pour les nations rangées autour d'elle, le signe de la grandeur, de la force et de la vie.

Voir: Points de vue sur l'Islam
(Mgr Freppel, Sermons inédits, A. Roger et F. Chernoviz, édit., 1896, tome 1, p. 372-373)

Voir aussi: Mgr Freppel - (Christ Roi)

Iraq: Christians Say Targeting By Extremists Amounts To Genocide

By RFE/RL analyst Kathleen Ridolfo

Iraq's Christian community has been targeted by terrorists and sectarian militias (epa)
Iraq's Christian community says it is being targeted at an unprecedented level by insurgents, in what some claim amounts to a campaign of genocide carried out under the noses of Iraq and U.S. forces.

Christians fleeing IraqAt least 10 churches have been bombed this year, two leading clergymen have been killed, and scores of worshippers targeted for practicing their religion. Though they make up only 3 percent of the population, Christians comprise nearly half the refugees fleeing Iraq, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Figures on the prewar size of the Christian community vary, with estimates ranging between 800,000 and 1.2 million. Today, estimates on the remaining number of Christians in Iraq put the community at between 500,000 and 700,000.

Unlike other groups in Iraq, Christians do not have militias or tribes to protect them. In their absence, they have relied on coalition and Iraqi forces for protection, and say they have been let down. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to increase protection for the Christian community following the March killing of Mosul Archbishop Bulus Faraj Rahhu, but it does not appear that he has followed through on his pledge.

The first major attack against the Christian community in Iraq came in August 2004 when five Baghdad churches were bombed over a 30-minute period. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) appeared to be responsible for the bombings, and for the majority of attacks that have since targeted the Christian community. The first bombings came in response to an influx of foreign Christian missionary groups following the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. Christians said the proselytizing of foreign missionaries to Muslims was seen as an arm of the U.S. occupation, and the indigenous Christian community was made to pay for the foreigners' actions.

ISI's main goal is to establish an Islamic state on the ground in Iraq that adheres to strict Islamic law. Christians who have fled Iraq report being pressured by Muslim insurgents, both Sunni and Shi'ite, to convert to Islam or leave Iraq. As ISI grew in strength, it increased its campaign against Christians, hanging posters in Baghdad's Christian neighborhoods demanding Christian women veil their faces. Locals reported in June 2007 that nearly 200 Christian families had fled Baghdad's Al-Durah neighborhood with just the clothes on their backs.

The other main perpetrator of violence against Christians in recent years has been the Shi'ite militia led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Imam Al-Mahdi Army. The Al-Mahdi Army waged a brutal campaign against the Christian community in Baghdad and Al-Basrah beginning in 2004, driving people from their homes, bombing Christian-owned liquor stores and hair salons, and imposing jizya, an Islamic protection tax on those wishing to stay in their homes. In May 2007, the militia ordered Christian women in Baghdad to veil or face grave consequences.

Dozens of churches across the country have since been bombed, and hundreds of Christians killed. Moreover, campaigns of kidnapping for ransom targeting Christians became a main tool of intimidation by insurgents. Those who have not fled Iraq entirely are internally displaced, with the majority living inside the northern Kurdistan region. Observers say those who remain in the south may be forced to worship underground if they are to survive. In Al-Basrah, which had a vibrant Christian community before the war, some say the community has fled altogether.

The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported in May 2007 that families in Al-Durah were told their property now belonged to ISI. One resident of Al-Durah told AINA in a March 2007 e-mail: "This has been going on for the past week, and it started even before Easter. We talked to many people within the American Embassy and Iraqi government, but it seems nobody really cares, because they have done nothing, or sometimes I wonder if they care at all. Neither the Iraqi nor the U.S. Army have any activity there, and they have delivered Durah to insurgents; and above all the U.S. Army went and put a camp in the Chaldean church [the Pontifical Babil College for Philosophy and Theology] to raise the hate among those Muslims toward Christians, as they are seeing them as allies for Americans, and that worsens things more."

As RFE/RL reported last year, Saudi gunmen holed up in Al-Durah demanded that each Christian pay 50,000 dinars ($40) in jizya to the mujahedin as the price for maintaining their religion, while ISI demanded Christians pay 250,000 dinars (about $200, the average monthly salary) to stay in their homes. Those who fled Al-Durah had to pay "exit" fees of $200 per person or $400 per car.

Europe May Offer Temporary Asylum

French and German officials have taken up the case of Christian refugees in recent weeks, saying they will push for their countries to give preference to Christians over other refugees fleeing Iraq, citing the bond of common faith.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed last month that France will give refuge to nearly 500 Iraqi Chaldean Christians. The Chaldean church is aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and recognizes the authority of the pope. Kouchner said on March 19 that he hoped the Iraqis would be in France within weeks. Mar Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told "Le Figaro" that visas for Christians were not a solution, the French daily reported on April 14. "What is needed is to work for peace in Iraq, rather than providing places for Christians so that they can go begging in Europe," Delly said.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble pledged last week that his country may take up to 30,000 Christian refugees from Iraq. Schaeuble reportedly justified the focus on Christian refugees by saying Europe should accept those who were culturally closest to it. Schaeuble is offering temporary asylum, saying that those given shelter should return home once ethnic and sectarian tensions die down.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the advocacy group One Free World International has called on the government to make special provisions for taking in Christian refugees. Canada will reportedly admit some 2,000 Iraqi refugees this year, but has no specific provision in its quota for Christians. Nor does the United States, which says it will admit 12,000 Iraqi refugees by September 30. As of March 31, 2,627 Iraqis have arrived in the United States, according to State Department figures.

This week, members of the U.S. House of Representatives inaugurated the House Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East. Iraqi religious minorities were on hand for the event, saying they would work to raise awareness in Congress to the violence and social displacement of minorities from once-integrated Iraqi cities.

It is debatable whether giving special preference to any group is a prudent policy. While there is no doubt that steps should be taken to preserve Iraq's Christian community, whose presence in Iraq predates the appearance of Islam, visas to far-flung countries may not be the best way to do it. Indeed, the decision by some countries to give preference to Iraqi Christians may backfire, and those Christians who remain in Iraq could become even more vulnerable to attack by insurgents than before.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2008 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 11, 2008

St Clare, the Eucharist and the Fleeing of the Muslims

"Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you" Jesus

Years ago a sweet lady from my church offered me a very large and beautiful statue of St Clare of Assisi after I named my daughter Clare. I gladly accepted not knowing much about St Clare at the time except that she had bravely driven vicious soldiers from her convent while carrying Jesus in the Eucharist. It wasn't until I recently read Frank M. Rega's book St Francis and the Conversion of the Muslims that I realized that the Saracen soldiers that St Clare drove off-- were actually Muslims.

Clare was a beautiful Italian noblewoman who founded an order of nuns called the "Poor Clares." She was converted upon hearing St. Francis of Assisi preach. Thereafter, she developed a great desire to live a poor humble life for Jesus. She ran away from home, and in a little chapel outside Assisi, gave herself to God. St. Francis cut off her hair and gave her a rough brown habit to wear tied with a plain cord around her waist.

In the year 1240, St Clare saved her sisters and her convent from plundering hordes of Saracen mercenaries through the miracle of the Eucharist. As the Saracens were placing ladders against the walls of the convent she placed a monstrance containing the Eucharist in the sight of the men while she lay prostrate before Jesus and prayed. Here is an account of the incident from The History of Saint Clare, Virgin, written by Tommaso da Celano:

“By imperial order, regiments of Saracen soldiers and bowmen were stationed there (the convent of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy), massed like bees, ready to devastate the encampments and seize the cities. Once, during an enemy attack against Assisi, city beloved of the Lord, and while the army was approaching the gates, the fierce Saracens invaded San Damiano, entered the confines of the monastery and even the very cloister of the virgins. The women swooned in terror, their voices trembling with fear as they cried to their Mother, Saint Clare.

“Saint Clare, with a fearless heart, commanded them to lead her, sick as she was, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory case in which the Body of the Saint of saints was kept with great devotion. And prostrating herself before the Lord, she spoke tearfully to her Christ: ‘Behold, my Lord, is it possible You want to deliver into the hands of pagans Your defenseless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for You? I pray You, Lord, protect these Your handmaids whom I cannot now save by myself.’ Suddenly a voice like that of a child resounded in her ears from the tabernacle: ‘I will always protect you!’ ‘My Lord,’ she added, ‘if it is Your wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Your love.’ Christ replied, ‘It will have to undergo trials, but it will be defended by My protection.’ Then the virgin, raising a face bathed in tears, comforted the sisters: ‘I assure you, daughters, that you will suffer no evil; only have faith in Christ.’

Upon seeing the courage of the sisters, the Saracens took flight and fled back over the walls they had scaled, unnerved by the strength of she who prayed. And Clare immediately admonished those who heard the voice I spoke of above, telling them severely: ‘Take care not to tell anyone about that voice while I am still alive, dearest daughters.’”

According to Wikepedia "the term [Saracens] spread into Western Europe through the Byzantines and Crusaders. In the early centuries of the Roman Empire, the Saracens were a nomadic Moor tribe from the Sinai Peninsula...
After the rise of Islam, and especially at the time of the Crusades, its usage was extended to refer to all Muslims, including non-Arab Muslims, particularly those in Sicily and southern Italy. In Christian writing, [saracens came] to mean "those empty of Sarah" or "not from Sarah," as Arabs were, in Biblical genealogies, descended from Hagar and also called the Hagarenes."

St Clare, pray for conversion of the world to Christ and His Church--and for Christians to realize the immense gift Jesus gave us in the Eucharist. It is precisely because the world has lost its faith in Jesus and the Eucharist that we now face the suicidal depopulation of the West and the ensuing invasion of Islam. Only through the eating of the flesh of the Son of God will we carry Jesus life within us and bravely command every evil to flee our midst.

From Real Clear Religion: 10/04/08 08:24

Friday, April 4, 2008

St. Francis of Assisi: Not a Birkenstock-Clad Hippie But a Converter of Muslims

An Interview with Frank Rega, author of St. Francis and the Conversion of the Muslims

By Michael Baggot, Thursday April 3, 2008

The relationship between Muslims and Christians received added attention this past Easter when Pope Benedict XVI publicly baptized Magdi Allam, the most prominent Muslim journalist in Italy. Allam knew that publicly renouncing his Islamic faith would bring attempts on his life from angered Muslims, but expressed conviction that his newfound faith would sustain him through any difficulties.

"You asked me whether I fear for my life, in the awareness that conversion to Christianity will certainly procure for me yet another and much more grave death sentence for apostasy. You are perfectly right. I know what I am headed for but I face my destiny with my head held high, standing upright and with the interior solidity of one who has the certainty of his faith." Allam stated.
"And I will be more so after the courageous and historical gesture of the Pope, who, as soon as he knew of my desire, immediately agreed to personally impart the Christian sacraments of initiation to me. His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims."

Pope Benedict XVI's action in St. Peter's on Easter Vigil shows that the Catholic Church's increased emphasis over the last decades on dialogue and mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims does not exclude efforts to bring Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ.

In December, Catholic author Frank M. Rega released Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims; With Concise Biography of the Saint, a book that has received much praise for its biographical portrait of the renowned saint and its highly pertinent focus on St. Francis's relationship with Muslims of the time.

"If you're tired of portraits of St. Francis as little more than a Birkenstock-clad hippie, a Peace Corps social worker, or an effeminate tofu-eating Green Party activist, read this book," wrote Dr. Philip Blosser on his blog.

During the Fifth Crusade to Egypt, St. Francis of Assisi walked into a Muslim camp in order to preach Christianity and convert the sultan. Rega's new book recounts St. Francis's bold encounter with the sultan and other important events from the life of the man from Assisi some claim more closely imitated Jesus Christ than any other saint in history.

In line with its reporting on major cultural issues, LifeSiteNews interviewed Frank M. Rega about his new book and his perspective about the lessons St. Francis has for the world and Catholic-Muslim relations.

LifeSiteNews: Could you summarize the history of the Fifth Crusade?

Frank Rega: Michael, thank you and LifeSiteNews for inviting me to talk about my book on St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims. Your first question is very appropriate since it is important to set the stage for this historic encounter.

The Fifth Crusade was first called for by Pope Innocent III in 1215 at the Lateran Council. Innocent personally knew Francis and had approved his Rule in 1209 when Francis and his first followers went to Rome to seek Papal acceptance for his new Order. The crusade got underway in 1217 under Pope Honorius III. It lasted for four years, and was lost by the crusaders.

The goal was to first take Egypt before attempting to reach the Holy Land. In 1219 Francis was present in Egypt at the city of Damietta on the Nile, with some of his friars. That port city was eventually captured by the crusaders and held for over a year. But it was returned to the Muslims in 1221 after a crusader march on Cairo failed miserably, and the Christians gave up the crusade.

It was during a period of truce during the battle over Damietta in September 1219 that Francis preached to the Muslims, crossing over to the Muslim camp with Brother Illuminato, who was probably the interpreter.

LifeSiteNews: Why did St. Francis of Assisi support the Fifth Crusade?

Frank Rega: Francis understood that the Fifth Crusade was part of an ongoing just war in response to Muslim invasions of Christian lands, which included many attacks against Italian city-states all along the peninsula over the course of centuries. For example, in the year 846, Rome itself was sacked by 11,000 Muslims, who desecrated the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Further, the crusade was called for by the Holy Father, and it is well-known that Francis had perfect loyalty to the Catholic Church, and showed devout respect for priests and all the hierarchy. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he felt the crusade was justified on spiritual grounds. As mentioned in the book, Francis told the Sultan "It is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship."

LifeSiteNews: What did St. Francis say and do when he entered the Muslim camp?

St. Farancis and the SultanFrank Rega: It is important here to recognize the bravery of Francis. He preached to armed Muslims who a few days before had won a major skirmish at Damietta, killing about five thousand Christians. The Sultan, al-Malik al-Kamil was also the general of the Muslim army, and ruler of Egypt, Syria and Palestine. Francis first obtained permission from the Papal Legate to cross over the lines during a period of temporary truce. When he reached Muslim territory he and Brother Illuminato were taken prisoner, beaten and put in chains by the sentries.

Here we have an image of St. Francis that is utterly opposed to the statues of a docile friar surrounded by birds and other animals - St. Francis beaten and in chains! He was fully prepared for martyrdom. Upon meeting the saint, al-Malik asked him if he was a messenger from the crusaders. Francis replied that he was indeed a messenger, but a messenger from God. He then proceeded to give witness to his love for Jesus, and said that he wished to save the souls of the Sultan and his men.

LifeSiteNews: How did the sultan and his followers react to St. Francis's words and deeds?

Frank Rega: Initially the Sultan was taken aback by Francis' boldness. After all, the Muslims had just defeated the Christians in a pitched battle, and now one of them dares to state that the Muslims must convert to Christianity. However, the love flowing from Francis began to move the Sultan, and according to one contemporary writer, "that cruel beast became sweetness himself." However, the advisers to al-Malik, the imams, were not so impressed, and demanded that Francis and Illuminato should be beheaded in accordance with Islamic law.

Francis and his companion remained in the Muslim camp for many days, and parted on excellent terms with the Sultan. There is a story in the early Franciscan literature, described in my book, that al-Malik converted to the True Faith on his deathbed.

LifeSiteNews: Is a crusade against Islam needed today? If so, how should it be conducted?

Frank Rega: A traditional crusade by definition cannot be conducted today because it was a movement within Christendom to defend and counter-attack Muslim invasions of Christian lands. It was sponsored by the Church and relied on the support of Christian rulers and Kings. Without the backing of a strong Christendom, which no longer exists, a crusade as such would be impossible.

Furthermore, today an armed religious war would not be fruitful since the real battle is a "cold war" so to speak. It is a war of persuasion, conversion, and diplomatic dialog, since the Muslims have already launched their peaceful "invasion" of what was once Christian Europe. Of course I am only addressing the religious aspects here, and not the war on terrorism, which is in the secular domain.

LifeSiteNews: Do you think that Christian-Muslim dialogues have helped relations between the two groups or have they simply obscured the Christian mandate to go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature?

Frank Rega: There is no doubt that ecumenism since Vatican II has diluted and weakened the efforts at evangelization. On the other hand, diplomatic dialog is quite necessary; for example, in negotiating to have the Saudi's allow Catholic worship and churches in their nation. But the pendulum is swinging towards the more traditional view of converting unbelievers rather than only dialoging for the sake of mutual understanding. One indication of the paradigm shift is the very public reception of Magdi Christiano Allam into the Church by the Holy Father himself.

Also, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document last December reminding Catholics that ecumenical efforts should not cause us to neglect the gospel mandate to seek the conversion of others to Christ. This must be accomplished without coercion, but rather by a dialog of conversion. This is what Francis did in his conversations with the Sultan.

The problem arises with a certain philosophy of ecumenism that seeks some type of indefinite mutual coexistence of differing religions, or worse yet, that would strive for a for "pan-religion" by the merging of religious traditions. This approach is a denial that the Catholic Religion is the one true faith founded by Jesus Christ.

LifeSiteNews: What can St. Francis teach Christians of today about relating to Muslims?

St Francis and SultanFrank Rega: First, I think it is important to realize that St. Francis did not openly attack the Muslim religion or Mohammed. He was not armed with a copy of the Koran in one hand and the Catholic Catechism in the other. In fact there is no indication that he ever instructed his friars who undertook such a mission to study the Koran or the tenets of Islam. His goal was to carry to the unbelievers the very presence of Christ, and the essence of God's love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation.

This brings up a second point, the necessity to be strong in the basics of our Faith. One cannot relate as a Catholic to another religion while being hesitant, for example, about the truth of Christ's Resurrection from the dead on Easter.

Finally, Francis shows us that we must keep it simple. Simplicity was one of the hallmarks of his personality and of his approach to Christianity. Spiritual strength flows from the simple understanding and belief that Jesus is God, that he founded a Church to transmit the grace of salvation in His Name, and that Church is the Roman Catholic Church.

See previous coverage:

Message of the Pope's Baptism of Prominent Muslim: Be Not Afraid to Acknowledge Christianity as The Truth:

The Implications of Fundamental Islamic Expansion in North America

Jesus and Muhammad's Words, Actions, Teachings Contrasted

Abandonment of Judeo/Christian Heritage Has Left West Vulnerable to Fundamental Islam

Multiculturism a Factor Turning Moderate Muslims Radical?

Visit the site for Rega's latest book:

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