Reactions to the Israeli-Palestinian prayer in the Vatican Gardens

Source: FSSPX News

The June issue of Pagine Ebraiche, the monthly magazine of the Italian community in Italy, reports the words of the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, sharing his perplexity with regard to the prayer for peace organized by the Pope on Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014, with the Israeli Shimon Peres (on the right in the picture) and the Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas (on the left in the picture).  “Since this was a religious meeting,” he says, “the reason for the presence of a clearly lay [secular] figure such as Shimon Peres escapes me.”  “He does not seem to me to be a regular at places of prayer,” he adds.  In his view, the manner of this prayer is “curious and even dangerous”.  “As for the results, time will tell,” he continues.  In an interview granted the preceding month to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, he had expressed the opinion that “from the theological perspective”, Jews and Catholics “have nothing to discuss”, while at the same time saying that despite everything he was in favor of “good-neighbor relations”.

But what caused quite a stir in Catholic circles was the discovery on the evening of June 8 that the prayer pronounced in Arabic by the Muslim participant at that meeting did not correspond entirely to the one that appeared in the official booklet.  Added orally to the printed prayer were the last words of the second Surah, entitled “The Cow” (verses 284-286):  “You are our Master, grant us victory over the infidels.”

The word “infidels” or “faithless lot” can be interpreted in two ways.  The first is to see in it only non-believers who have no religious faith at all.  The second, more certain reading is the one given by the Qur’an itself, which broaches the debate in Surah 109, entitled “The Faithless” (el-kafiroun):  “In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very Merciful.  1. Say:  ‘O Faithless ones!  2. I do not worship what you worship.  3. Nor do you worship what I worship. 4. Nor will I worship what you have worshiped.  5. Nor will you worship what I worship.  6. To you your religion, and to me my religion.”  We see clearly here that the “kafiroun” are those who do not worship as the Muslims do.  Therefore all non-Muslims are “kafiroun”, including Jews and Christians.  Thus this Muslim surreptitiously added to the meeting requested by Pope Francis a prayer to obtain “victory over others who do not worship as I do....”

In France, the June 23 issue of the newspaper La Croix tried to minimize the facts, by giving the floor to Malek Chebel, an anthropologist of religions and an Algerian philosopher:  “I see no reason to bring up this meaningless debate.”  And it cited Fr. Rafiq Khoury, a priest on the formation team of the patriarchal seminary of Beit Jala in the West Bank of the Jordan:  “The Muslims have the custom of reciting this prayer on all sorts of occasions, from childhood on, in the same way that we recite the Our Father (sic)....  There is nothing hostile to Christians about it (sic).  It is hurtful and troublesome that people should keep repeating negative things about the Muslims (sic).”

On May 27, La Croix provided its readers with the explanation for this prayer for peace, given by Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Saint Egidio Community.  “This initiative of Pope Francis is unprecedented for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is not new:  it is rooted in the great prophetic gesture of John Paul II in 1986 when he called together the world religions to Assisi to pray for peace....  All our work, in the Saint Egidio Community, for more than 25 years, has been to spread this spirit of Assisi.”  —This is how, for more than 25 years, they have been going from ecumenism (and interreligious dialogue) to silent apostasy.  See the document From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy, sent by Bishop Bernard Fellay to all the cardinals in 2004, ten years ago, which to this day has not received a response.

(Sources:  Apic/Clair et net/La Croix – DICI no. 298 dated July 4, 2014)