Why has there been this “five-year lull”? Because “Al-Azhar froze talks with the Vatican in 2011 to protest comments by then-Pope Benedict XVI.” What did Benedict say? Andrea Gagliarducci of the Catholic News Agency explains that after a jihad terrorist murdered 23 Christians in a church in Alexandria 2011, Benedict decried “terrorism” and the “strategy of violence” against Christians, and called for the Christians of the Middle East to be protected.
Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb, whom Pope Francis welcomed to the Vatican in May, was furious. He railed at Benedict for his “interference” in Egypt’s affairs and warned of a “negative political reaction” to the Pope’s remarks. In a statement, Al-Azhar denounced the Pope’s “repeated negative references to Islam and his claims that Muslims persecute those living among them in the Middle East.”
Benedict stood his ground, and that was that. But in September 2013, al-Azhar announced that Pope Francis had sent a personal message to al-Tayeb. In it, according to al-Azhar, Francis declared his respect for Islam and his desire to achieve “mutual understanding between the world’s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice.” At the same time, Al Tayyeb met with the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, Mgr. Jean-Paul Gobel, and told him in no uncertain terms that speaking about Islam in a negative manner was a “red line” that must not be crossed.
So Pope Benedict condemned a jihad attack, one that al-Azhar also condemned, and yet al-Azhar suspended dialogue because of the Pope’s condemnation. Then Pope Francis wrote to the Grand Imam of al-Azhar affirming his respect for Islam, and the Grand Imam warned him that criticizing Islam was a “red line” that he must not cross. That strongly suggests that the “dialogue” that Pope Francis has now reestablished will not be allowed to discuss the Muslim persecution of Christians that is escalating worldwide, especially since an incidence of that persecution led to the suspension of dialogue in the first place.
What’s more, the Pope’s dialogue partner, al-Tayeb, has shown himself over the years to be anything but a preacher of peace, cooperation and mercy: he has justified anti-Semitism on Qur’anic grounds; and called for the Islamic State murderers of the Jordanian pilot to be crucified or have their hands and feet amputated on opposite sides (as per the penalty in Qur’an 5:33 for those who make war against Allah and his messenger or spread “mischief” in the land. Al-Azhar was also revealed to be offering free copies of a book that called for the slaughter of Christians and other Infidels.
This “dialogue” has not saved a single church from being burned or a single Christian from being massacred. And it never will. Instead, it is being used by the Catholic hierarchy as a club to silence those who speak out about the true cause and magnitude of contemporary Muslim persecution of Christians.
This Pope, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are betraying the Church, Judeo-Christian civilization, and the free world. If I am a “bad Catholic” for saying that, then it is morally preferable to being a “good” one.
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
“Vatican-Muslim Dialogue to Restart in April, Vatican Says,” Associated Press, October 21, 2016:
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican and the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, Al-Azhar, are expected to formally reopen talks next year after a five-year lull….
The Vatican announcement Friday comes after Pope Francis and the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, met at the Vatican in May and embraced. It marked a turning point after Al-Azhar froze talks with the Vatican in 2011 to protest comments by then-Pope Benedict XVI.
Benedict had demanded greater protection for Christians in Egypt after a New Year’s bombing on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria killed 21 people.