The Vatican confronts Islam
There are some 40 million Christians living in countries dominated by Islam. They have dwindling rights, face daily persecution (even death), and suffer economic decline. The Vatican has observed that they are simply second-class citizens, discriminated against in education, employment, and the courts. As a result, millions are fleeing their ancestral lands, and the number of Christians in Muslim countries is in free-fall. For the first time since the Early Church, neither Nazareth nor Bethlehem have Christian majorities.
There is no reciprocity between the two traditions. While Muslims can build mosques, proselytise, and worship freely in the Western world, such rights are not granted to Christians in the Islamic world, and consequently Islam is winning in the West. Pope Benedict XVI has articulated the crucial difference between the Judeo-Christian tradition and that of Islam: For Jews and Christians, ‘God has worked through His creatures. And so, it is not just the word of God, it's the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He's used His human creatures, and inspired them to speak His word to the world.’ Jews and Christians can therefore take what is good in their cultures and traditions, and the teachings of the Torah, Prophets, and the New Testament can be adapted and applied to new situations. The Qur’an, however, is something that ‘dropped out of Heaven, which cannot be adapted or applied.’ This immutability is the problem, because ‘Islam is stuck…with a text that cannot be adapted.’ It is a 7th-century religion with a 7th-century mentality, and we may be waiting centuries for adaptation and accommodation... We all remember what upheavals the Church had to endure before it reached reformation, and engaged with enlightenment.