Like a drop of oil on a paper, the effects of the singular act of His Holiness John Paul II
regarding the most fundamental book of Islam, the Koran or Qu'ran
soaks and dulls the consciences of so many. The recent terrorist attacks, added to the atrocities that have continued in Indonesia, the Sudan and other areas of conflict only contribute to the woes that were encouraged by the Pope's 'approval of Islam' by his kissing the Koran two years ago. That sadly famous act took place May 14, 1999 it only became public knowledge on June 1. Drawing the facts from The Catholic News Service and CWN June 3rd issue
, I wrote about this event and some of its consequences. Here I would like to share this analysis with you in view of the controversy and concerns surrounding Islamism.
The first one to reveal the news two years ago was the Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, Raphael I Bidawid, who has the title of Patriarch of the Chaldeans of Babylon, a beautiful title that evokes rich historical memories of the Old Testament. A Patriarch would never make a statement like this without the knowledge and approval of the appropriate organs of the Holy See. This is obvious to anyone who is familiar with the analysis of ecclesiastic proceedings. That is to say, the news was channeled down from the Pope himself.
Responding to press questions about the trip of John Paul II to Iraq for the Millennium festivities [which were cancelled and held in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican in 2000 before his trip to the Holy Land], Catholic Patriarch Raphael I said this:
"It is known that Pope John Paul II has often voiced a desire to make a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Abraham, the Common Father of Jews, Christians and Muslims. For the Pope, Abraham is a figure who helps the unity of believers to overcome divisions. On May 14th I was received by the Pope, together with a delegation composed of the Shiite Imam of Khadum mosque and the Sunni president of the council of administration of Iraqi Islamic Bank. There was also a representative of the Iraqi ministry of religion. I renewed our invitation to the Pope, because his visit would be for us a grace from heaven. It would confirm the faith of Christians and prove the Pope's love for the whole of humanity in a mainly Muslin country.
"At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Koran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect. The photo of that gesture has been shown repeatedly on Iraqi television, and it demonstrates that the Pope is not only aware of the suffering of Iraqi people, he has also great respect for Islam"
There are many aspects of this important event that could be commented upon. I will choose only a few, in order to give principal emphasis to the last point.
Unfortunately, the history of the last Popes is replete with symbolic acts made with the clear intent of favoring progressivism. On the topic of kisses, I recall that during the trip of Paul VI to the Holy Land, he made several symbolic acts, one of which took place during his meeting with Athenagoras in the Garden of Olives. There, in the very place where Judas, with a kiss, delivered the Lamb of God to those who would crucify Him, Paul VI kissed Athenagoras, the schismatic Greek patriarch of Constantinople. What this kiss really signifies is enveloped in the realm of mystery. Another kiss that I remember was that of Paul VI during a Vatican audience. He stepped down from his place of preeminence and knelt down to kiss the feet of the schismatic metropolite Meliton, the representative of the patriarch of Moscow. Supposedly this act expressed his will to "collaborate" in an ecumenical union. In my view, it was a voluntary act of humiliation that dishonored the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority before an enemy of the Catholic name. In those times, this attitude shocked even the more liberal. Perhaps for this reason, the act was kept relatively quiet.
In his long pontificate, John Paul II has also been prodigal in making symbolic acts like this. Two examples: He visited a Protestant temple in Rome in 1983, only a few days after the new Code of Canon Law began to be applied - which did away with the excommunication of those who committed communicatio in sacris (participating with heretics in the same religious ceremony) - a fact dense in meaning. The visit that he made to the synagogue in Rome and the religious ceremony in which he participated are also examples that come to the mind of the faithful. There, in an attitude of great respect, the Pope listened to psalms and canticles that proclaimed the "primacy" of the synagogue over the Holy Church. If I am not wrong, on that occasion, he and Rabbi Toaf embraced and kissed three times.
The list of such symbolic acts is lamentably long. Perhaps the day is not far off when some one will publish it, analyzing each one in detail.
Today I am focusing my commentary on this act - the kiss of the Koran - only in the religious-political ambit.
The Patriarch of the Chaldeans tells us that one of the intentions of John Paul II in kissing the Muslim book was to show his esteem for the Muslims of Iraq. We know that the Muslim nations do not have, like us, the separation of Church and State. For them, the two realities are founded in a single whole. They have what is usually called the sacral State. The civil laws exist to serve the religious ideals. For this reason, to manifest his veneration for the Koran, the Pope in reality rubber-stamped two things: the Muslim population supremacy in Iraq and the politics of Saddam Hussein. In the first instance, he put Catholics who live in Iraq in a very difficult situation, because this indicated that they should live without any hope of converting the followers of Mohammed and one day transforming Iraq into a Catholic State. It is a hard sentence for one who has the true faith and objectively appraises the weight of public opinion over the individual. It is almost an invitation for Catholics to leave Iraq and move to another country. Or, for those who cannot do this, an indirect invitation to change religions... In the second instance, he again adopted an attitude of favoring the socialist regime of Hussein in opposition to the West who justly maintains a military-economic embargo against Iraq.
However, a new and more dramatic fruit of the kiss of the Koran fell in the month of September 1999, after the elections in East Timor to determine its independence from Indonesia. After the elections, in which 71 % of the people chose independence, the troops of the Indonesian army accompanied by an intense action of the militias began a cruel massacre of the Timorese reaction. One of the reasons for this massacre was the fact that East Timor is Catholic. It has long suffered a religious persecution since Indonesia is the most numerous Muslim State in the world. Therefore, the kiss of the Koran by John Paul II endorsed the religious convictions of the Indonesian State and its will to subjugate Catholic Timor. The paradox appears: a Pope who kissed the Muslim book, fortified the State that persecuted Catholics and, in this way, favored the bloodbath on the island.
Undoubtedly, the Holy See tried to intervene to diminish the tragedy that assailed East Timor. The Vatican Information Service reported some facts in this sense. However, those diplomatic gestures were of little avail when, at base, the kiss of the Koran confirmed Muslim convictions everywhere and, therefore, also in Indonesia, the Balkans, Palestine, the Sudan, and many other 'hot spots' throughout the globe - all spawned by the fuel of anti-Catholic hatred that spans back to the 7th century. In the 600's you had the prophet Mohammed followed by the Arabic invasion of the Middle East and North Africa and, later, by the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Today we have the terrorism of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda - which have wreaked so much havoc and destruction. Couldn't we ask if the kiss of the Koran indirectly stimulated them in their intent to begin a jihad (holy war) against the West?
Atila Sinke Guimaraes
Atila Sinke Guimaraes' On The BattleLine on 9/11/01