Dr. Giuseppe Samir Eid, born in Egypt to parents of Syro-Lebanese origin, has worked for multinational companies also operating in Islamic countries; co-founder of CADR, Ambrosian Centre for Documentation for Religions and author of numerous publications on the realities of Arab immigration in Italy and our parishioner, has submitted to Don Walter some details on the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis “Evangelii gaudium” to which our parish priest gladly replied. We thank Dr. Eid for his challenge.
Dr. Giuseppe Eid writes:
Muslims “worship with us a single, merciful God” (n. 252) – I would take this phrase with caution because we have two quite different conceptions of divine uniqueness It is true that Muslims worship a single, merciful God but this phrase suggests that the two conceptions of God are equal. Instead in Christianity God is Trinity in its essence, plurality united by love. It is a little more than just clemency and mercy. The Muslim one characterizes God as inaccessible. The Christian vision of Trinitarian uniqueness emphasizes that God is Love that is communicated: Father-Son-Spirit, or Amante-Amato-Amore, as Saint Augustine suggested.
Then, what does the mercy of the Islamic God mean? That He does mercy to those He wants and does not do it to those He does not want. “God makes those who He wants enter into His mercy”. (Koran 48:25). These expressions are found almost literally in the Old Testament (Exodus 33:19). But one never goes so far as to say that “God is Love” (1 John 4:16), as Saint John expresses it.
Mercy in the case of Islam is that of the rich man who bends over the poor man and grants him something. But the Christian God is the one who descends towards the poor to raise them to their level. He does not show his wealth to be respected (or feared) by the poor: he gives himself to make the poor live. These differences should not discourage people of good will from sharing precious resources to build the global culture of Peace and Fraternity.
Don Walter replies:
- What you claim is true, but the correctness of the statement that Muslims “worship with us a single, merciful God” is compensated by the fact that, for correctness of reading, one does not stop or one should not stop at the statement of no. 252 of the “Evangelii gaudium”, but should read it in its entirety, highlighting the intention that it is the rediscovery of a joyful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the contemporary world.
- Taking into account, for example, that in the previous number, 251, it is stated that “in this dialogue, always affable and cordial, the essential link between dialogue and proclamation, which leads the Church to maintain and intensify relations with non-Christians, must never be overlooked. A conciliatory syncretism would ultimately be a totalitarianism of those who claim to reconcile regardless of the values that transcend them and of which they are not masters. True openness implies remaining firm in one’s deepest convictions, with a clear and joyful identity, but open to ‘understanding those of the other’ and ‘knowing that dialogue can enrich everyone’. We do not need a diplomatic openness, which says yes to everything to avoid problems, because it would be a way of deceiving the other and denying him the good that one has received as a gift to be shared generously. Evangelization and interreligious dialogue, far from opposing each other, support and nourish each other”.
- Finally, the quotation that you then make of No. 252 neglects a second part of the sentence that completes the elements in common between Islam and Christianity: “…one God, merciful, who will judge men on the final day” (Lumen gentium 16). which means that this approach to dialogue with Islam, which “in this age acquires considerable importance…” is not proper to and above all to the “Evangelii gaudium” of Pope Francis, but comes from further afield, from a document of Vatican II to which Pope Francis can only comply.
Free web translation from the original in Italian
The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.