By Walid Shoebat
The historic talks between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis in Cuba, which were the first meeting since Christianity split into western and eastern branches in 1054. The two discussed a number of issues, including persecution of Christians in the Middle East. (1)
Many ask whether the two will unite since the Western and Eastern Christian churches split over persistent theological disputes in 1054—and formally separated in 1438. The Eastern faction later became known as Orthodox Church — which now has 15 separate and equal congregations, Russian Orthodox being the largest.
So what do we make of this meeting? Will the two unite? There are more issues to discern than the theological differences between the two and one needs to be balanced when we examine some other issues. As much as I disagree with Pope Francis on many issues, I also disagree with Patriarch Kirill when he says:
“I cannot get rid of the idea that the “Arabic Spring” and the emergence of Muslim radical military forces, who commit public executions, are aimed at demonizing Islam in the eyes of the world community”.
“It is not possible to imagine a more terrible ‘service’ to Islam that what they [IS militants] are providing. The images that the whole world sees on television — they destroy any positive image of Islam,” Kirill said, according to the TASS news agency.
This would sound no different than of what the Muslim apologist would say. And even when it comes to Muslim immigration into the West, Kirill stated: “Unlike the West, which is already nervous about the arrival of refugees, Moscow alone has taken in more Muslims than the whole of Europe has done by now. And nobody in the world is aware of it. And there is no hysteria, no police, no gas, no physical clashes,” the patriarch said at a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Likewise is Pope Francis who is trying to build stronger ties with this very Islamic heresy said:
Turning to mutual respect in inter-religious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values
While one should respect the other person who is not Christian, this is by far different from respecting the “teachings” of the Muslim.
I don’t see anywhere in the Scriptures, nor in the teachings of the Church Fathers, respect toward false religions.
What many Christians (both Catholic and non-Catholic) need to understand, is that respect toward Islamic teachings is not a part of the original tenets of the Church in regards to Islam. In 1376 the Catholic scholar Niocalu Eymeric, wrote that anyone who believed in Muhammad was a heretic:
“Whoever invokes the aid of Mohammed, even if he does nothing else, falls into manifest heresy. So does anyone who in his honor constructs an altar to him. In similar cases the same thing may be said of invoking any demon, building him an altar, sacrificing to him, etc.” (2)
Pope Calixtus III, in the 15th Century, said:
Further, I vow to deliver the Christians languishing in slavery, to exalt the true Faith, and to extirpate the diabolical sect of the reprobate and faithless Mahomet of the East. For there the light of faith is almost completely extinguished. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember thee. If I make not Jerusalem the beginning of my joy, God and His holy Gospel help me. Amen. (3)
Pope Francis used the name of Saint Francis of Assisi as his pontifical title, well, lets look at how Francis himself saw Islam. During St. Louis’ Crusade, the nation’s sultan, Al-Malik al-Kamil, (4) payed his troops to decapitate Christians. When the Crusaders were trying to take the city of Damietta in Egypt, jihadist warriors would enter their camps at night to behead them as they slept. The lord of Courtenay’s sentry was butchered and his body found laying on a table without a head. (5) The Muslims, after beheading so many Christians, hung the heads around the walls of Cairo. When the Egyptian emirs wished to make a truce with the Crusaders, king Louis told them that he would not make any terms of peace unless they first took down all of the hanging heads of the Christians, and give back all of the Christian boys whom they kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam; the demand was fulfilled. (6)
It was to this ruthless sultan that a short, scruffy and zealous Italian named Francis of Assisi confronted. Some of the Crusaders thought him mad, while many looked upon him with admiration. He came to al-Kamil with the intention of converting him to Christianity and thus ending the war. He walked toward the sultan with his companion Illuminato, singing, “Though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” Illuminato’s mind was unsettled, and to comfort him Francis cried out joyously, “Courage, brother! …Put your trust in Him who sends us forth like sheep in the midst of wolves.”
The Muslim soldiers seized the saint and Illuminato and beat them. As the Saint received the blows he cried out with the best of his ability to the sultan, “Soldan! Soldan!” They were then chained and brought before the sultan. St. Francis implored al-Kamil to turn to Christ, an act punished by death under Sharia, asking him to “consent to become converted to Christ together with your people.”
St. Francis too was committing a capital offense; for just five months after this meeting five Franciscan friars were put to death in Morocco for proselytizing. St. Francis asked the sultan to bring a sheikh and light up a furnace; whoever survived the flames had the true God. It was a test reminiscent to what occurred to the three Jews in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace.
“Let a great furnace be lit,” proclaimed the Saint, “Your priests and I will enter it; and you shall judge by what you see which of our two religions is the holiest and truest.”
The sheikh fled, and the sultan replied: “I greatly fear that my priest will refuse to accompany you into the furnace”. “Since that is the way things are,” replied Francis, “I will enter the fire alone. If I perish, you must lay it to my sins. But if God’s power protects me, do you promise to acknowledge Christ as the true God and Savior?” The sultan affirmed that no matter the result he would never leave Islam. But he greatly admired the friar’s courage and offered him gifts before his leaving.
“Take them at least to give to the poor!” urged Saint Francis. As he left, with grief in his heart, seeing that his aspiration was not accomplished, the sultan begged him with these words: “Remember me in your prayers, and may God, by your intercession, reveal to me which belief is more pleasing to Him.” (5)
So, as we can see, respect towards Islamic teachings is not Catholic or Orthodox, it is not Biblical, and it is really a heresy unto itself.
The Catholic Church may not be declaring war on Islam, but Islam is sure declaring war on the Catholic Church. Catholics throughout Pakistan and the rest of Asia are being oppressed and persecuted by Muslims.
But the solution for these errors made by both Pope Francis and Kirill will be corrected in the future as the persecution by Islam will intensify when the Antichrist arises. It will only be then that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will revive its crusading spirit and make a fierce stance toward Islam.
However, Kirill does not take the same stance when it comes to the homosexual agenda. In August 2013 he declared same sex marriage to be a sign of the impending Apocalypse and urged people to do more to combat the rise of gay rights.
“This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction”, the Christian Post quoted him as saying.
“We face enormous temptations when countries start approving sin and codifying it into law in order to justify it,” he added.
An exclusive interview to RT’s Ed Schultz Patriarch Kirill stressed the importance of his meeting with Pope Francis in Cuba, which he said came “at the right time.”
“I strongly believe that we should work together in order to save our society from de-Christianization – because, facing increasing atheistic pressure, which has become quite aggressive in some countries, Christians are being squeezed out of public life. In a sense, we may say that Christians feel uncomfortable in many developed countries today. Christians are under pressure,” Kirill told RT broadcaster.
“Despite their differences, the Russian Orthodox church sees its closest ally in Catholicism now,” said Sergei Filatov, a religion expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
On many major theological issues Catholics and Russian Orthodox Christians remain closely aligned.
Again, the solution for these errors made by both Pope Francis and Kirill will be corrected in the future as the persecution by Islam will intensify when the Antichrist arises. It will only be then that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will revive its crusading spirit and make a fierce stance toward Islam.
(1) Gathering for the first time in nearly 1,000 years to jointly address the record levelsof modern-day persecution of Christians, the leaders of Roman Catholicism and Russian Eastern Orthodoxy wrote:
In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.
We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.
We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).
(2) Nicolau Eymeric, The Directorium inquisitorum, in Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peters, Witchcraft in Europe, part 4, p. 126
(3) Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. iii, ch. xiii, pp. 569-571
(4) Name is learned from Englebert, St. Francis of Assisi, ch. xiii, p. 176
(5) John of Joinville, The Life of Saint Louis, 177; Gui, a household knight of the Viscount of Melun [late in 1249], to Master B. de Chartres, in Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, in Peter Jackson’s Seventh Crusade, ch. 5, document 59, p. 87
(6) John of Joinville, Life of Saint Louis, 469, 518
(7) Englebert, St. Francis of Assisi, ch. xiii, pp. 176-178; Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. iii, ch. v, p. 197