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A soldier patrols at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
We must seriously look at how Muslims interpret the Koran, Archbishop L onard has said
Readers of this magazine will be familiar with the figure of the retired Archbishop Andr -Joseph L onard, who served the diocese of Malines-Brussels for five years until very recently. L onard inherited the charge from the controversial Cardinal Danneels, and though he only had five years in post, he made a considerable contribution in a diocese where the Church is in an advanced state of decay. This article here is worth reading, and tells us that L onard s term of office saw an astonishing jump in the number of seminarians, which is always a sign of the success or otherwise of a bishop s ministry. The Church Militant article draws upon an interview that Archbishop L onard recently gave to the French Catholic magazine Famille Chr tienne, which is only available in French, but is well worth reading if you can, for it reflects the wisdom and courage of this great Archbishop. Here is a little bit of it that I found of great interest, which deals with the question of terrorism. I reproduce the original French, and follow it with my schoolboy translation:
La France a t lourdement marqu e cette ann e par plusieurs attentats meurtriers. Face cette grande preuve, quelle doit tre l attitude des catholiques? H las, je pense que ce n est qu un d but et que ce que l on vient de vivre Paris laisse pr sager d autres preuves semblables. Pr parons-nous les vivre, sans oublier que ce que nous avons v cu ces derniers temps, les habitants d autres pays dans le monde le vivent quotidiennement.
Comment r agir face cette preuve ? En prenant des mesures de s curit bien s r, mais surtout en nous contraignant r fl chir en profondeur sur la mani re dont l glise et nos soci t s doivent engager le dialogue avec les musulmans. Et cela dans l int r t des deux parties. Nous allons devoir vivre un dialogue s rieux sur la mani re dont les musulmans interpr tent les versets du Coran les plus violents, sur la place qu ils accordent la libert de conscience et sur la possibilit de se marier avec des personnes d autres confessions. Si nous ne vivons pas un tel dialogue, nous risquons d aboutir un choc des civilisations, et l ce serait dramatique. Plusieurs pays ont d cid d intervenir en Irak et en Syrie contre Daech. C est le cas de la France et de la Belgique. Le pape a voqu l id e d une troisi me guerre mondiale en morceaux. L glise doit-elle soutenir cette intervention militaire ?
Une intervention militaire est toujours tr s complexe, ambigu , et provoque souvent plus de mal que de bien. Dans le cas de l Irak en 2003, jamais le pape Jean-Paul II n a approuv les attaques am ricaines, ni le blocus conomique. Sa position tait tr s claire. Il n y aura de b n diction accord e une entreprise militaire que s il s agit d une guerre juste, savoir prot ger des populations victimes d une agression injuste. In English:
France has been hit hard this year by several terrorist attacks. What should the attitude of Catholics be in the face of this trial?
Alas, I think this is just the beginning, and what happened in Paris is a sign of more attacks to come. We should get ready to face them, without forgetting what we have lived through recently, and what the inhabitants of other countries live through every day. How to react to these attacks? Obviously by taking security measures, but more importantly by reflecting on how the Church and society ought to approach dialogue with Muslims. And that is both in their interest and ours. We must have a serious dialogue on the way in which Muslims interpret the most violent verses of the Koran, on the place they give to liberty of conscience and freedom to marry people of other religions. If we do not have such dialogue, then we risk a clash of civilizations, which would be bad news. Several countries, including France and Belgium, have decided to intervene in Iraq against ISIS. The Pope has spoken of a piecemeal Third World War. Should the Church support military intervention? Military intervention is always complex and difficult, and often does more harm than good. In the case of Iraq back in 2003, John Paul II approved neither the American invasion nor the economic sanctions. His position was very clear. There will be no blessing given to any military enterprise unless it is a matter of a just war, designed to protects victimized civilians from unjust aggression.
These words, particularly the words about the need for dialogue on Koranic interpretation, are the best I have heard from any high ecclesiastic in recent years. To my mind, Archbishop L onard goes to the heart of the matter. He provides clarity and offers leadership in a very important matter. It is a pity that he is now in retirement, and it is incredible to me that he has not been made a cardinal.
- ^ controversial Cardinal Danneels, (blogs.spectator.co.uk)
- ^ This article here (www.churchmilitant.com)