We have seen Pope Francis exemplify Christ’s extreme humility. Will he also imitate Christ and the Biblical prophets in challenging the powerful and rebuking the unjust?
It created an international sensation when the new Pope washed a Muslim woman’s feet during Maundy Thursday mass. Numerous Leftists and Islamic supremacists expressed their delight, including the dhimmi pseudo-academic Juan Cole, who is a Board member of a front group for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Clearly Cole thought that the Pope’s act somehow constituted some kind of rebuke to Catholics who are sounding the alarm about the global jihad and Islamic supremacism. He gleefully entitled a post at his Informed Comment site: “Dear Rightwing Catholic Islamophobes: Pope Francis just washed the feet of a Poor Muslim.” Hussam Ayloush of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations retweeted it as “Dear Rightwing Catholic Islamophobe (Robert Spencer): Pope Francis just washed the feet of a Muslim.” Greetings from inside Hussam Ayloush’s head, where apparently I occupy a large suite.
In his piece, Cole (who is abysmally ignorant of Catholicism) demonstrates yet again a common pitfall for hard-Left propagandists: they tend to believe their own propaganda. Cole is assuming here that those whom he defames as “Islamophobes” really do hate Muslims, and so are outraged that the Pope would show kindness and demonstrate humility before one. The idea that opposing jihad and Islamic supremacism constitutes “hate” is a well-worn Leftist cliche, but it has no substance. Why should it? Why should a desire to preserve and protect the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights of all people before the law involve any kind of hate?
Anyway, as for the foot-washing itself, the question is, what did the Pope mean by it? If he meant simply to imitate Christ's action of extreme humility at the Last Supper, and to demonstrate that no one is beyond the pale of God's mercy, no Christian could object to that.
Coming at a time when Muslim persecution of Christians is escalating worldwide, however, and when there already questions about the Catholic Church’s apparent determination to accommodate Islamic supremacism at all costs, and not speak up for the persecuted Christians, this foot-washing is being seen as an indication that the Church is surrendering and bowing down to its new Islamic overlords. Cole’s article expressing his joy at the Pope’s action is an indication of that. Pamela Geller wrote trenchantly about just how disastrous was the signal the Pope was sending: “While millions of Christians are being oppressed, persecuted and slaughtered under Islamic law ...... this is stomach-churning dhimmitude. This isn’t merely a lack of leadership; this is betrayal on an unimaginable level. Kill my people and I will wash and kiss your feet. For jihadists, this image could very well replace the burning twin towers as iconic of Islamic imperialism and conquest.”
Cole and Ayloush and their allies are so happy about the Pope’s gesture because it does seem to indicate a surrender to the forces of Islamic supremacism, and a determination not to resist or even confront them. If that really is what Pope Francis meant, then his action constitutes an error in judgment even greater than John Paul II’s kissing of the Qur’an. Whether that is what it really means will become clear one way or the other as events unfold.
Also, if the Pope really meant by washing this Muslim woman’s feet that Catholics should not defend themselves and their loved ones and their homelands against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, then his gesture is not only wrong, disastrous and lamentable, but in contradiction to centuries of Church teaching about the right and even the duty of defending oneself. It seems inconceivable that Pope Francis meant by this gesture unilaterally to change Church teaching on self-defense, or to proclaim that the Church must not resist jihadis and Islamic supremacists – but time will tell.
It is also worth noting that if the Pope had dared to touch and kiss a Muslim woman's feet in Saudi Arabia or Iran, he would have been immediately killed. His act of humility would not have been received in the spirit in which it was intended. It could have caused a firestorm of indignation in the Muslim world, a la Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensberg address, but of course Islamic supremacists are generally smarter than that, and do not interfere with someone who is doing them a favor (and Francis was, whether he intended to or not, as Cole’s piece demonstrates). Nor has Francis’s gesture of humility been reciprocated by any Muslim authority, and it will not be.
Cole is very happy here that the Pope has shown concern for the downtrodden; Cole doesn’t mention the downtrodden Christians in Islamic lands. Does the Pope care for them? It seems that he does; but rather than blaming a vague “fundamentalism,” which isn’t even a word that legitimately applies to Islam at all, will he speak up more clearly and forcefully about why they are suffering, and challenge their persecutors? Or does this foot-washing signify that he is abandoning them to their fate? We shall see. We shall soon see whether this Pope is a servant only, or a prophet as well.
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.