A prominent anti-Islam advocate’s hatred of Islam has now led him to abandon his Catholic faith:
Magdi Cristiano Allam, an Egyptian-born Muslim whom Pope Benedict publicly baptised at Easter five years ago in St Peter’s Basilica has announced that he is leaving the Church because it has taken too soft a stand against Islam.
“My conversion to Catholicism, which came at the hands of Benedict XVI during the Easter Vigil on 22 March 2008, I now consider finished in combination with the end of his pontificate,” Mr Allam wrote on Monday in the right-wing Milan daily, Il Giornale. . . .
“The thing that drove me away from the Church more than any other factor was religious relativism, in particular the legitimisation of Islam as a true religion,” he said. Mr Allam said Islam was “an intrinsically violent ideology” that had to be courageously opposed as “incompatible with our civilisation and fundamental human rights.”
The secular mind has been complacent, even blithe, in the face of Christianity’s decline in Europe and the simultaneous rise of an assertive Islam. Elites hesitate to acknowledge the ethical debt liberalism owes to Christianity, ropelining any attempt to mention God in the European Constitution and denying the Marian inspiration for the circle of stars in the European flag. The reason for this comical dissembling is that liberalism understands itself as an ideal without a genealogy, a species nowhere native and nowhere exotic. Such historical blindness has led to the increasingly unsupportable belief that integrating Turkish Muslims into the European project is no more fraught or difficult than integrating Dutch Protestants.
Yet critics like Allam who view Islam as a mere “ideology” centered on violence fall into their own, no less grievous, error. Like liberalism, Islam owes no small debt to Christianity. Slander of one can verge into slander of the other. As Robert Louis Wilken warned in Christianity Face to Face with Islam, “Given the experience of centuries, it is tempting for Christians to see Islam as the enemy. Often it has been the enemy. But if that remains our dominant paradigm for looking at the religion, we deny something of ourselves.”
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.
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 (Magdi has left his church but remains a Christian). 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.