The highest-profile convert to Roman Catholicism in recent memory, Magdi Cristiano Allam, has left the Catholic Church.
Allam, who was baptized in the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI on Easter day 2008, explained that what “more than any other factor drove me away from the Church” was the “legitimization of Islam as the true religion of Allah as the one true God, Muhammad as a true prophet, the Koran as a sacred text, and of mosques as places of worship.”
Allam declared that contrary to all that, he was “convinced” that Islam was an “inherently violent ideology,” and that he was “even more convinced that Europe will eventually submit to Islam.”
Perhaps if the Church he joined in 2008 had been more resolute in standing for the defense of Judeo-Christian values and civilization, he would not have such a dark vision of the future. But there’s the rub: the determination to seek accommodation with Islam at all costs, even as Muslims persecute Christians with increasing ferocity all over the globe, is near-universal in the Catholic Church.
Everywhere Catholic prelates, even at the highest levels, pursue a “dialogue” with Muslim leaders, whose responses to that dialogue always solely involve not genuine discussion of matters of concern, but thinly veiled criticism of Christianity and calls to accept Islam. Those prelates are almost universally punctilious about avoiding ever saying anything remotely critical or challenging to their aggressive, expansionist partner in this “dialogue,” although that partner is convinced of his own superiority and of the inevitability of the removal of all obstacles to his will.
And as if to illustrate the reasonableness of Allam’s frustration, Matthew Schmitz of First Things, one of the leading Catholic publications in the United States, took the opportunity of his apostasy not to engage in any introspection about the Church’s resolutely irenic clinging to the 1960s-era model of “dialogue” even as it is confronted around the world with an increasingly violent and supremacist Islam, but to excoriate Allam, a former Muslim, for his misunderstanding of Islam: “In retrospect, Allam’s disappointment seems inevitable. If we mistake Islam for a mere ideology of violence, we risk mistaking Christianity as merely an ideology that allows us to oppose that violence. Yet Christ did not come to this earth or found his church to oppose Islam but to propose the gospel. Not to eclipse the moon, but to reveal the Son.”
Magdi Allam knows far better than Matthew Schmitz, who has previously written an apologia for Islamic law, glossing over its elements that mandate the subjugation of women, the oppression of non-Muslims, and its denial of the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience, that Islam is not “a mere ideology of violence.” But whatever else it is, it is also clearly exactly that: an ideology of violence (cf. Qur’an 2:190-193; 4:89; 8:39; 8:60; 9:5; 9:29; 47:4, etc.). Schmitz thinks that Allam’s recognition of that fact, and frustration with the Catholic Church’s general failure to grasp its implications, disqualifies him as an analyst of the Islamic jihad threat: “Benedict’s pontificate has come to an end; in time Islam will, too. Neither event should affect whether or not one affirms Christian truth or chooses to be in communion with the bishop of Rome. That Allam so grievously fails to understand this aspect of Christian truth ought to warn us against the judgment of Islam he shares with many other anti-Islam advocates.”
I don’t know Magdi Allam personally and don’t know anything beyond his published statements about why he has left the Catholic Church. I am not going to leave the Catholic Church over its failure to defend those powerless Christians who are facing ever more violent persecution from Muslims worldwide, as I am aware that the Church is made up entirely of imperfect, sinful people. I also know, with all due respect to those to whom respect is due, that the charism of infallibility is nowhere taught as inhering in bishops’ or even popes’ prudential judgments about how to deal with the threat of jihad and Islamic supremacism.
I share Magdi Allam’s frustration over that failure of the Church to address that persecution in any meaningful way. I share his outrage over statements like that of Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, who barred me from speaking at a Catholic conference over concerns that “Mr. Spencer’s talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” Why would a talk about “extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally” undercut dialogue with Muslims who profess to reject those atrocities and the interpretation of Islam that underlies and justifies them? If they reject the jihadists’ understanding of Islam, why wouldn’t they welcome and applaud an honest discussion of that understanding of Islam, which presumably they oppose as much as I do?
And that is the problem with all this spurious “dialogue.” Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb explained: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah [the society of unbelievers] is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the people on the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.” That’s what “interfaith dialogue” is for Islamic supremacists: a vehicle for proselytizing.
Magdi Allam is right, and righteous, to be appalled at Catholic leaders’ failure to understand that, and – despite all their rhetoric about identifying with the downtrodden -- to “speak truth to power” and “give voice to the voiceless” in any sense beyond rhetoric. I am sorry that he has left the Church, and hope that the bland complacency and excusing of Islam-inspired atrocities of Catholics like Matthew Schmitz will soon give way to a recognition that what Magdi Allam sees so clearly is indeed a real and immense threat, and that his prophetic voice must be heeded, before all is lost – which could be quite a bit sooner than anyone thinks.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Not Peace But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam, is now available.