He's doing far more than simply "considering" the plight of Christians in the Middle East. He's calling his flock to racism. Alerting them to the quiet infiltration of Muslims in our most holy society is exactly how Hitler got the Germans all lathered up about the Jews. And to do this on Christmas, no less.
The logic of your claim is mistaken.First, you fail to note that Islam is not a race, but a religion.Second, the Jews were not killing Germans; Muslims are killing Christians across the globe.I will seek to report these stories on this blog in the future.If you read the Bishop's entire homily, you will see your claim is false.On another note, I don't typically publish Anonymous comments (most of them are spam). In the future, please choose a moniker.
I actually expected to come away seeing Paprocki as innocent here, and that he was simply talking about the vulnerable position of Christians in post-Saddam Iraq, and he did in places say things like "Islamic extremists," but unfortunately he keeps referring back to a truly bizarre and frequently inaccurate view of history.There was no 300-year war between Islam and Christianity represented by the Ottoman conquests. At the beginning, the Ottomans were barely Muslim. About half of their followers were made up of bands of Anatolian Christians, and among their major enemies were the other Anatolian Muslim statelets. Their Balkan conquests were usually undertaken as mercenary allies of Christian Balkan powers. Although Islam did form part of their ideology, it really only became a lasting core when they conquered the Arab world in the early 1500's, in a direct parallel to Portuguese and Spanish objectives at the same time.As Daren notes, Islam is a religion, not a race. What sort of profiling is this bishop proposing that would catch, say, a Chechen?I'm also dubious about claims as to what "most terrorists" are, since the definition of terrorism is so fluid. I would consider as terrorists the anti-tax activist who flew his plane into a building, the guy who shot up the immigration absorbtion center near where I lived in New York, and the militia cell broken up here in Cumberland County over the summer, but right wing opinion leaders have chosen to disagree.I heartily endorse the idea of using a Christmas Eve mass to remember suffering, and the plight of Iraqi Christians coupled with a condemnation of the ISI's declaration that all Christians are legitimate targets of violence, to which the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential Islamist organization in the world, responded by saying, "The Muslim Brotherhood is stressing to all, and primarily Muslims, that the protection of holy places of all monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims." In Egypt, thousands of Muslims also put their own lives at risk by acting as human shields at Christmas services. Such events may problematize the bishop's concept of a "centuries-long onslaught ofMuslims against Christians," but they surely deserve mention.
Father, Hitler did indeed claim that Jews (as a group) were doing awful things to "good Germans." He targeted them as a group -- he did, in the words of your other correspondent, "lather up" the public to resent the very existence of the Jews AS A GROUP, rather than differentiating among individuals AS INDIVIDUALS. The Bishop's Christmas homily suggests that Muslims -- as a GROUP -- deserve to be targeted for extra scrutiny. The vast, vast majority of people who call themselves Muslims are not terrorists, Father, and you know it; so does the Bishop. Why, then, should we encourage parishioners to view Muslims as dangerous people? Keep in mind that some so-called Christians set off bombs in front of abortion clinics or shoot doctors who perform abortions. Those are extremists, people who are neither truly "pro-life" nor "Christian." The same is true in Islam. Devout Muslims--the people who actually practice what the Koran teaches--are not the ones committing acts of terrorism. They do not deserve to be derided as dangers to their fellow Americans--certainly not in a Christmas homily--any more than Christians deserved to be labeled as terrorists simply because some abortion terrorists (e.g., Eric Robert Rudolph) self-identified as Christians, and believed (in a deluded way) that they were doing Christ's work. You are now working closely with the bishop, and I understand if you will not want to post this comment. I can accept that, if that's your decision (plus, it IS your blog). Still, whenever I see stereotyping thrown out there on the web, especially in the church's name, it's in my Christian duty to call it out for what it is.Peace to you, Father, and to every Christian, every Jew, every true Muslim, and all the rest of God's children. (Yes, Muslims love God, and God loves them, regardless of how strongly the bishop believes they should be profiled. I just hope he doesn't think my colleague's son and daughter, who are Muslim and of middle-eastern descent, deserve to be discriminated against in other respects. I've also thought of the Catholic church as a bastion against prejudice, not a group of people that promotes it. Perhaps I'm hoping for too much on that front.)
Father, please disregard the previous comment I sent you. No need to post it. I have instead crafted my own post (on my blog, The Mighty Ambivalent Catholic) about the bishop's effort at stirring up resentment against Muslims.
Bishop Paprocki raises a legitimate issue of the danger posed to Iraqi Christians by the ISI in particular, but completely botches the execution by linking it to some perceive...d “centuries-long onslaught ofMuslims against Christians.” On his specific example, the Ottomans weren’t terribly Muslim when they started out, and around half of their followers probably consisted of Christian bands in Anatolia. Their conquests in the Balkans mainly took place as mercenary allies of Christian states, so there’s certainly no “300-year struggle between the Christian forces of the Central European kingdoms and the Muslim armies of the Ottoman Empire.” Islam was always part of Ottoman official ideology, but only became front and center with their conquest of the historically Muslim Arab world in the early 1500’s. Incidentally, if we indict Islamic states for spreading through the Middle East by conquest, should we also do the same for the spread of Catholicism through Latin America?On the racial profiling point, as Daren notes, Islam is a religion, not a race, so how do you profile for it? How would you pick out a Chechen, for example? I’m also dubious about assertions about what most terrorists are, since people often can’t agree on what a terrorist is to begin with. I’d argue that the recent successful terrorist attacks on American soil have been the guy who shot up the immigrant absorption center near where I lived in New York and the anti-tax activist who flew his plane into a building in Texas.Bishop Paprocki goes out of his way to point out that salafi jihadist views of proper Islam, including regarding non-Muslims, are not accepted by the Muslim majority, but despite this he persists in a worldview that seems to assume they are. It is perhaps for this reason that he omits mention of the reaction to the ISI’s targeting of Christians by the Muslim Brotherhood, easily the world’s most influential Islamist organization, which said, “The Muslim Brotherhood is stressing to all, and primarily Muslims, that the protection of holy places of all monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims.” Let us also mention that in Egypt a week ago, thousands of Muslims put their lives at risk to act as human shields at Christmas services.I think this homily meant well, but was marred by the bishop not having much of a grasp on his subject matter.
Bishop Paprocki goes out of his way to point out that salafi jihadist views of proper Islam, including regarding non-Muslims, are not accepted by the Muslim majority, but despite this he persists in a worldview that seems to assume they are. It is perhaps for this reason that he omits mention of the reaction to the ISI’s targeting of Christians by the Muslim Brotherhood, easily the world’s most influential Islamist organization, which said, “The Muslim Brotherhood is stressing to all, and primarily Muslims, that the protection of holy places of all monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims.” Let us also mention that in Egypt a week ago, thousands of Muslims put their lives at risk to act as human shields at Christmas services.I think this homily meant well, but was marred by the bishop not having much of a grasp on his subject matter.
Since originally composing the above comment yesterday, I've figured out the core of my distress. Bishop Paprocki does not seem to be a kneejerk crazy Islamophobe like Pamela Geller, but the totality of this homily, where the fact that the references to non-radical Muslims are implied can to a casual listener easily missed or dismissed alongside the bishop's evocation of an alien and evil Islam looming as a centuries-long threat against Christianity. This matters because the homily is likely to have two practical effects. One is that listeners will be aware of suffering Christians in the world, which is the main point. The second, however, will not be aid for those Christians, but rather to affect negatively the way his parishioners perceive and interact with Muslims in the community. I have no idea how much the bishop is around non-Christians, but given my own life, this is something to which I am definitely sensitive.
What is often forgotten is the fact of history that Islam spread through violence; it did not enter peaceably into the Holy Land.Christians died at the hands of Muslims (who were neither radicals nor extremists) for centuries in the east before the Christians in the west came to their defense.It should also be remembered that at the same time many Muslims in Egypt risked their lives to defend Christians, other Muslims in Egypt took the lives of Christians.In looking at the violent history of Islam - even within itself - I have found Ephraim Karsh's _Islamic Imperialism_ a helpful read (http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300106039).
Your reading of history is selective. Almost all premodern cultures believed that if your religion was true, and hence that you truly understood God's order for the world, that you should be in charge. That served to legitimize the early Muslim conquests, as well as Christian conquests of Latin America. You cannot emphasize one but not the other.I admit I have never read Ephraim Karsh, but know his reputation for selectively reading the evidence, and have in fact verified that myself with some of his fellow travelers, such as Bat Ye'or.Because Islam arrived later than Christianity, you can say that all Muslim conquests west of Mesopotamia came at the expense of Christians, though conversion was a very slow process and most Christians welcome the fact they were no longer persecuted by those who sought to impose the Chalcedonian creed by force. Where I work in the Gulf, we can see quite clearly through archaeology that the 8th century was an age of growth in church building.
I just read the pages of Karsh's epilogue found on Amazon, and their particularly sloppy. He starts by praising Ataturk, then says no one followed Ataturk's path, citing Reza Khan. Reza Khan, however, deliberately modeled himself on Ataturk. Ataturk suppressed the clergy and made Turkey a militantly secular state, which discredited the idea of "republics" with religious people elsewhere, and so Reza Khan abandoned his plans to adopt a republican constitution.From the "Christian persecution" perspective, secularist Turkey is actually probably one of the rougher places to be a Christian, as the fate of the Orthodox church in the country shows.Really bad stuff on Arab nationalism I can't unpack in the space of a comment. "Allahu Akbar" is not a "battle cry," but a common declaration of faith found in the call to prayer and most ritual prayers. It can be used as a battle cry, but that's not the primary usage.He also conflates people wanting to spread Islam in a missionary sense with imperial conquest, which is bizarre and would put every missionary religion in the world in a bad light.
STEVE: The difference is that Hitler's claim was false. It also cannot be forgotten that Mohammad does advocate the killing of the infidel; Christ never does.BRIAN: I forgot to answer your question: No, we should blame Catholicism for the conquest of Latin America. Missionaries accompanied the conquistadors but did not lead them. The blame is to be placed with the political who, in Christianity (http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2009/0904fea2.asp), are quite distinct from the religous leaders; the same cannot really be said of Islam.
In Islam, the political elites have almost always been totally separate from the religious classes, though they pledged to support those religious classes and implement Islamic law. In fact, both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam come out of the rejection of the claims of the caliphs to have religious as well as temporal authority, with the Sunnis looking to the religious scholar and Shi'ites to the prophet's descendants through Ali and Fatima.
They certainly were not separate under Muhammad.
That is true, but he was a prophet. Muslims, incidentally, see that as a strength. They belief because of the arc of his life and the many roles he had, the Qur'an is able to provide guidance for statesmanship and national conduct (when to declare war, for example) that Christianity does only indirectly or by implication.
Father, I can respect the bishop's desire (and your own desire) to draw attention to the unjust sufferings of--the killings of--Christians. We should all decry the targeting of people who are minorities (whether due to their faith or ethnicity) in their part of the world. What Bishop Paprocki has done, however, is play to commonly held prejudices. Of course he should condemn terrorist acts. To intentionally or carelessly generate resentment (potentially even hatred) against a huge, diverse group, however, is sinful. Fr. Charles Coughlin did it with his anti-semitic radio sermons in the 1930s. What Coughlin did was wrong. What Bishop Paprocki did was also wrong. It was wrong not because he was saying that some so-called Muslims have done bad things to their fellow human beings (just as some so-called Christians have done bad things and used their religion as an excuse). The bishop's comments were wrong (yes, sinful even) because he condemned people as a group, rather than differentiating among individuals. Christ calls us not to treat people as mere cogs in a monolithic, dehumanized group. Christ reminds us that we are each the son or daughter of a loving God. Bishop Paprocki has essentially given people permission to view Muslims as a faceless, monolithic "other," a dangerous other. In the city of Springfield, the bishop used his Christmas eve homily to do exactly the opposite of what Lincoln tried to do when he called us to listen to "the better angels of our nature." The bishop tried to play to the worst instincts in human beings--to brand other humans as merely members of a group, a group we need to unite against.You defend the bishop, Father, by stating that Hitler's broad claims against the Jews as were false (which they certainly were). You imply, however, that the bishop's very broad claims against Muslims must be true. I'm saddened to see you accept that common prejudice. What's even sadder, however, is that Bishop Paprocki's rhetoric will probably result in him being promoted to archbishop within the next five to ten years, and those who adhere to his thinking likely will stand a good chance of being appointed bishop (someplace) somewhere down the road.I'd like to believe there is no careerism, no ambition, in the bishop's decision to use a prominent homily (his first Christmas homily in his own diocese) to be seen as a strident force in the church. Unfortunately, I fear the bishop is running for some post in the church. I would hope that each priest who works in this diocese would adhere each day (and in each homily) to Christ's call to love every person created by God (which includes non-Christians) rather than choosing a route that he believes may lead to a more successful career path. That choice, ultimately, rests with the individual.
Steve, the Bishop is not generating resentment or hatred against an entire group, as the text of his homily does show. He acknowledges quite clearly that "not all Muslims are terrorists."Your presumption to judge the Bishop's - and even my - motives without speaking directly with him is unjustified and is quite out of line.
I know Daren Zehnle, and what he does, he does because he believes it is right. That was why I got more into this discussion last night than was really healthy for me, because I believed he could be persuaded fairly easily. I do not know Bishop Paprocki, but any promotion is more likely to come through his work with the bishops' council. A sermon like the above may actually hurt him, given Pope Benedict XVI's support for inter-religions dialogue, including the inauguration of the Muslim-Christian Forum. I don't know what's happened to that, but after a quick search for information on Light of the World, it seems he is wise and astute, noting that Islam is a diverse religion "lived in many different ways."That phrase gets to the heart of the matter, as my own biggest spiritual realization in recent years has been the importance of communities as living interpretations of doctrine and scripture. What Muhammad did or what the Qur'an actually says does not matter as much as what people make of what they have before them. The understanding of Islam does not belong to an Israeli security studies expert like Efraim Karsh, but to Muslims, and Bishop Paprocki should not have referred parishioners to a book by a military historian, but to the Islamic Society of Greater Springfield as a means of increasing their understanding of the faith.Yes, part of that understanding would involve diversity, and recognizing that people will come to different conclusions around the basic core as they do in most religions. My own unshakable convictions on this matter are grounded in my personal experience of Muslims from my QU days to the present, and even if I am at times personally dubious of the historicity of some interpretations, I respect that my intellectual assent as a non-Muslim is completely irrelevant to their lived faith.OK, this is my last word on the matter. I've said my piece.