The current issue of the Jesuits’ international monthly Popoli features a blistering attack on Magdi Cristiano Allam and the circumstances of his conversion. The author is the prominent Italian Jesuit Fr. Paolo dall’Oglio, of the Deir Mar Musa monastery in Syria, who warns that Muslims will view efforts on behalf of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience as a “Trojan Horse” whose aim is to cause Islam to disintegrate. Fr. dall’Oglio won the “Euro-Mediterranean Award for Dialogue,” and explains his view of Islam and the West here . The piece has not appeared in translation, and it seems worthwhile to make some excerpts available to English-speaking readers.

The editors of Popoli explain, “The baptism of the noted journalist Magdi Allam administered by Benedict XVI during the Easter Vigil has aroused many comments, including in the Catholic world. In consequence, we publish some considerations of Father Paolo Dall’Oglio . . . a regular contributor to Popoli . The article seems interesting above all for the particular point of view that it expresses, from someone who has carried out years of apostolic activity in the Muslim world, and in position to understand the sensibilities and to intuit the possible repurcussions and ways in which the event might be exploited.”

Below are excerpts from Fr. dall’Oglio’s article, translated with as much fidelity to the writer’s Italian style as I can manage:

Title: Eclipse of the Sun

We hope that we are dealing with an eclipse of the sun. Monsignor Fisichella, who “personally followed the spiritual path of acceptance of the Christian faith” of the deputy editor of Corriere della Sera, Magdi Cristiano Allam, through to his baptism by the Pope on the Easter Vigil, characterized this as a “special event” (evento riservato). But it was not a suburban parish priest who baptized him, but the successor of St. Peter.

The mind turns naturally to Oriana Fallaci, the notorious Islamophobe and great writer who died recently. She was a friend of the Monsignor as well as of the deputy editor, and an important representative of Italian “Islamo-pessimism” in the defense and reconstruction of Judeo-Christian identity in Western civilization. In her view the most dangerous enemy of this civilization is Islam, much more than materialism, secularism and the liberal mentality . . . .In the mirror of Fallaci’s thinking, Muslims feel frustrated in their spiritual aspirations and stuck in an anachronistic caricature, which causes them to drift towards terrorism . . .

The moon of urgent concern for freedom of conscience and religion has blocked the sun of charitable discretion, of respect for Muslim feelings, and of the renunciation of proselytism (and we have already had the incident about praying for the conversion of the Jews in the re-approved Latin liturgy for Good Friday). It has overshadowed the Copernican Revolution of the Second Vatican Council which also went in favor of Islam, and the renewal of official dialogue between the Holy See and important Muslim organizations. It discouraged numerous efforts to construct harmony and friendship, in the quarters of European cities as well as in the countries, for secular and peaceful Islamic-Christian coexistence. It neutralized attempts to defuse inter-religious violence and to show how far the Church is from the neocolonialist logic of the Western hegemonic powers (strapoteri), and how a great majority of Muslims are opposed to the logic of hostile confrontation . . . .

Before the world, and on the occasion of his baptism, Magdi Allam has declared his intent to affirm “the authentic religion of truth, of life and of freedom” against the “the root of evil is inherent in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictive.” In this fashion he confirmed the Muslim impression, intentionally or not, that there is a an objective strategic convergence of Christian neo-proselytism and the blasphemous actions against the holiest realities of Islam promoted by the northern European media. In other words it is difficult to escape the impression that the sacred banner of freedom of conscience is being used by the West to introduce a Trojan Horse into Islam with the aim of causing it to disintegrate.

Mr. Allam and his catechists should remember that Christian history frequently has registered inconceivable cruelty in the repression of apostasy and heresy. Even recently, to save “Western civilization,” horrible crimes have been committed against the integrity of individuals and against freedom of conscience by regimes who define themselves as defenders of the Church.