The Islamic community in the Middle East should not require the Catholic Church’s public acceptance of the Prophet Mohammed as part of its negotiations towards establishing a Catholic presence in Saudi Arabia. In the same manner, Catholics should not require any Saudi proclamation that favors Christianity either. The Saudi government needs to acknowledge and affirm the essential human right to worship freely throughout the world regardless of religious affiliation. The real issue that needs to be considered is the freedom of all faiths to publically practice their faiths, regardless of what religion dominates the political landscape.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no country that requires a public proclamation of any specific religion before the right to assemble and worship is permitted. There are of course areas that have religious persecution in the world; Islamic countries often prohibit public displays of Christianity. However, a public proclamation regarding the superiority of Islam over Christianity is something that undermines the entire concept of religious freedom and tolerance.

Catholicism does not need to make any public proclamation regarding the existence of the Islamic faith. Consistently the Church has proclaimed that the Islamic faith is not considered as a legitimate path towards salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ and Christian baptism are the only vehicles that ultimately bring about salvation. The mere fact that the Church proclaims Islam and other faiths in error of proper and correct religious convictions is proof enough to accept the existence of Islam and other non-Christian religions.

For centuries the Catholic Church has lived a life of religious persecution under the rule of Mohammed and that, itself is proof of the Islamic faith. Since its inception, Islam has maintained a consistent campaign of theological terrorism, waged against non-Islamic believers. Not only have Islamic countries imposed Islamic rule over all faiths, they have made any faith outside of Islam a punitive crime against society. The blood of thousands of faithful Christians indeed acknowledges the presence of Mohammed’s religious convictions and the Catholic Church continues to suffer persecution by the same alleged religious group. The religions of the West have made considerable efforts to maintain an open and evolving relationship with the followers of Islam. What the followers of Islam need to realize and acknowledge is the firm conviction on the part of the Catholic Church that outside of the Church there is no salvation. While we can diplomatically and politically hope for a nurturing of relationships between our faiths, ultimately we seek their total religious conversion to Christ.

In a period that constantly suggests political correctness and attempts to refrain from any type of offense against other faiths, Catholicism honestly put is in the business of converting everyone to the precepts of our faith. If indeed as brothers and sisters of the world, we can freely worship in our own manner that is fine. However, we really want everyone from Muslims, to Buddhists, Episcopalians, Jews, and everyone else to ultimately see our point of view. From a Catholic/Christian perspective it is just good business to seek new followers, and we welcome all converts of Islam and any other religion.

Our religious evangelization as Catholics includes a peaceful message of Gospel love, which is not determined by stipulations that acknowledge the superiority of one religion over another. We simply ask for total conversion to the message of Jesus Christ. If indeed this conversion is not acceptable to sensitive Islamic believers, then please continue on your path of religious convictions. We openly proclaim you indeed have the right to be wrong about God and the proper understanding of faith. However, we will not intimidate, or otherwise manipulate you into religious submission.

We believe in God’s unfolding plan for all peoples and faiths. We pray that the message of Jesus Christ will ultimately manifest itself among the peoples of the Islamic world, and our peaceful message will prevail over the violent message of Islamic political and social domination. In the meanwhile, as faithful believers in the same ultimate God, Islam should recognize the intrinsic human rights of religious freedom and expression for all faiths, not just the secular sponsored faith of Mohammed.

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholic author that writes on Catholic issues and topics. He writes daily at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com

Comments are welcome at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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