The President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Angelo Bagnasco criticized those Catholics who were disconcerted and in many cases indignant at the invitation made to Muslims to pray in Italian churches on Sunday 31st July: “Really, I don’t understand the reason – he said – there doesn’t seem to me to be any real reason.” In his view, the adhesion of thousands of Muslims to pray at the altar would be “an expression of condemnation and absolute disassociation on the part of those – Muslims, but not only – who are unaccepting of any form of violence.”
In reality, as Monsignor Antonio Livi noted on La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana site, the Muslim participation at the liturgical ceremonies in Italy and France, was a senseless as well as a sacrilegious act. Sacrilegious since Catholic churches, in contrast to mosques, are not centres for conferences or propaganda, but sacred places, where due worship and adoration to Jesus Christ, truly present “in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” in the Eucharist, is rendered. If a meeting to condemn violence was deemed necessary, this political act could have taken place in any other place, but not in the House of God, Who, for the Pope and Italian Bishops can only be the one true God in Three Persons, and Who, in the course of the centuries has been intensely fought, manu militari, by Islam.
In Rome, in the Basilica of Santa Maria Trastevere, where three imams of the Capital City were seated in the front pew, two of them, Ben Mohamed Mohamed and Sami Salem, spoke from the pulpit citing the Koran several times, but turned their backs on the Gospel during the Homily, murmuring a Muslim prayer while the Catholics recited the Credo. In Bari Cathedral, the so-called Imam, Sharif Lorenzini, recited in Arabic the first Sura of the Koran which condemns the unbelief of Christians, with these words: “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom you have bestowed favour, not of those who have evoked your anger or of those who have gone astray.”
What took place is also a senseless act, precisely for the reason that there are no grounds at all for Muslims to be invited to pray and give sermons in a Catholic Church. The initiative by the Italian and French gives the impression that Islam, as such, is devoid of any responsibility in the strategy of terror; as if it isn’t in the name of the Koran that fanatic but coherent Muslims are massacring Christians all over the world. To deny, as Pope Francis does, that what is in progress is not a religious war, is like denying that the Red Brigade terrorists in the 1970s were conducting a political war against the Italian State.
The motive of the ISIS terrorists is both religious and ideological and draws pretexts from a number of verses from the Koran. In the name of the Koran, tens of thousands of Catholics are being persecuted in the world, from the Middle East, to Nigeria, to Indonesia. And while the new edition of Dabiq, the Caliphate’s official periodical is inviting its soldiers to destroy the Cross and kill Christians, the Italian Episcopal Conference is releasing the Mohamedan religion of all responsibility, attributing the massacres in recent months to a few extremists. The exact opposite is true: it was only a minority of Muslims (23,000 in over 2 million Muslims registered officially) adhering to the mad initiative promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference. How can you fault the majority which returned the invitation to sender, accusing those who accepted it of hypocrisy?
Why should Muslims who profess a faith not only different but antithetical to the Catholic faith go and pray and preach in a Catholic church or invite Catholics to preach and pray in their mosques?
In every way, what took place on July 31st is a grave offence against both faith and reason.