PIME Missionary on Islam and Its Aversion to the West

«De-Christianized Europe Is Easy Prey for Peaceful Muslim Invasion»

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ROME, JUNE 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The growth over the last 50 years of an Islam with an «intense aversion» to the West constitutes a key challenge for peace, says a well-known missionary.

Father Piero Gheddo, Italian missionary of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), with a half-century of priesthood and missionary experience, has been the director of some of the most influential missionary publications, such as Asia News and Mondo e Missione.

Addressing in Il Timone the situation of missionaries in countries where Islam is more radical, Father Gheddo says that 40 or 50 years ago, this profound feeling of aversion did not exist, according to what he has learned from missionaries in 20 Muslim countries.

Although the causes are many and complex, «the struggle between the rich and the poor is not at the root, but rather the fact that Muslim peoples live in an age that seems sacred to them, as Europe was from the years 1300 to 1400,» he explains.

«The modern world — television, consumerism, feminism, etc. — disturbs faith and the Muslim communities. Muslims regard us as atheist and immoral peoples; we conquer them with technology, they conquer with faith,» he says.

In this context, «hatred and terrorism are the reaction when feeling impotent before the modern world that has come from the West, which marginalizes religion in the life of these peoples,» the priest adds.

The missionary firmly supports the need for dialogue in this situation, but adds: «We speak of dialogue, of education in love, in understanding, and in respect for the other.» However, «in different Muslim countries, including ‘moderate’ ones, schoolbooks, newspapers and television are violently anti-Western, and there are attacks against Christians and Christianity.»

«This isn’t dialogue, but incitement to hatred,» Father Gheddo says. «For example, Bangladesh is a very poor country and depends on the financing of Western countries and U.N. organizations funded by the West.

«In spite of this, in Bangladesh, until Sept. 11, 2001, there were hundreds of ‘madrasas’ [Koranic schools] funded by oil countries, where there were talks against the West, and six centers of formation of guerrillas of Islam. The best youths were sent to the Taliban of Afghanistan, ultimately to fight in the Palestinian intifada.»

«In Christian countries, Muslims are free,» something that doesn’t usually happen in Muslim countries, the missionary notes. He mentions cases in Indonesia — «where there is one of the most moderate and dialoguing forms of Islam and yet chapels and homes of Christians are burned, who are also discriminated against in public life.» Discrimination is also found in Malaysia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, Egypt and the Arab Emirates, the priest says.

«In Indonesia there are ‘pesantren,’ namely, schools for the formation of leaders of Islam, who take children from elementary school up to university. They depend on the Ministry of Religion, not on that of Education,» he continues.

Father Gheddo says that there are many of these centers. They have iron discipline, integral Islamic education, and form «the fanatics of Islam who work in the service of the Ministry of Religion: They teach Islam in schools — including the elementary — and record marriages and pilgrimages to Mecca.»

«Is it admissible that a country of ‘moderate Islam,'» financed by the West, should prepare its religious leaders in this spirit? he asks.

Given this situation, «our direction as Christians is clear and the Pope appeals for it forcefully: dialogue, fraternal meeting, acceptance, solidarity, consistency in life, and proclamation of Christ in the most appropriate way possible.»

«Especially charity toward the poorest; it is the best testimony of the Christian spirit,» Father Gheddo says. But «we must return to Jesus Christ if, as Europeans, we want to have a precise identity and religious-moral strength.»

«A de-Christianized Europe is easy prey for a peaceful Muslim invasion; they have the strength of faith; we have a civilization devoid of content,» he laments.

«If Christianity is taken from us, Europeans, what will we have left?» the missionary asks. «Why do intellectuals and journalists, prepared to debate on any topic, ignore this tragedy of Europe?

«Our ‘Christian’ peoples must realize that, as we are today, we are destined to disappear! It is inevitable: Where a void is created, there is always someone ready to fill it.»

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