Churches to be Opened in Saudi Arabia: Catholic Church and House of Saud in Talks

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By Maryam Iraj

President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, has been in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, from 13 April to 20 April, 2018. He stayed there until April 20 to reciprocate the visit made to the Vatican on September 20, 2017, by the secretary general of the Muslim World League, Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa.

Cardinal Tauran was greeted by Prince Muhammad bin Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz, vice-governor of Riyadh.

The two parties signed a deal on Saturday, 14 April 2018, inclusive of the establishment of a permanent action committee to execute the articles stipulated in the pact:

Here is a brief of the things that Cardinal Tauran dictated to the House of Saud in Riyadh, printed in “L’Osservatore Romano” of April 17.

ON THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS

“What is threatening all of us is not the clash of civilizations, but rather the clash of forms of ignorance and radicalism. What is threatening coexistence is first of all ignorance; therefore, to meet together, speak, build something together, are an invitation to encounter the other, and also means discovering ourselves.”

ON OPENING THE HOLY PLACES TO ALL

The cardinal evoked how the Christian sacred places, “in the Holy Land, in Rome or elsewhere, together with the numerous shrines in many parts of the world,” are “always open to you, our Muslim brothers and sisters, to believers of other religions, and also to every person of good will who does not profess a religion.” Besides, he added, “in many countries the mosques are also open to visitors,” and this, he said, “is the kind of spiritual hospitality that helps us to promote mutual understanding and friendship, contrasting prejudice.”

With this statement, House of Saud is directed by the western powers to open the Khana-e-Kaba and Masid-e-Nabavi to all; be they Christians, Jews, Zoroastrian or belonging to any other faith.

ON THE TRUE MEANING OF MARTYRDOM

“Religion is the dearest thing a person has. This is why some, when they are called to choose between keeping the faith and remaining alive, prefer to accept paying a high price: they are the martyrs of all religions and of every time.”

Shahadat is redefined by the Cardinal Tauran for the intelligent House of Saud—a house which spreads nothing but ignorance and hatred among the Muslim world with its divide-and-rule policies.

ON FUNDAMENTALISM

“In all religions there are forms of radicalism. Fundamentalists and extremists may be zealous person, but, unfortunately, they have deviated from a solid and wise understanding of religion. Moreover, they consider those who do not share their vision as unbelievers who must convert or be eliminated, so as to maintain purity. They are misled persons who can easily go on to violence in the name of religion, including terrorism. They become convinced, through brainwashing, that they are serving God. The truth is that they are only hurting themselves, ruining the image of their religion and their coreligionists. This is why they need our prayer and our help.”

ON EQUAL TREATMENT AMONG ALL THE RELIGIONS

After expounding that “religion can be proposed, never imposed, and then accepted or rejected,” Cardinal Tauran identified as one of the fields in which Christians and Muslims must be in agreement, seeing that “in the past there has been a great deal of competition between the two communities,” that “of common rules for the construction of places of worship.” In fact, all the religions must be treated in the same way, without discrimination, because their followers, together with the citizens who do not profess any religion, must be treated equally,” he remarked in referring to the always relevant theme of “full citizenship” for all. In part because “if we do not eliminate the double standards of our behavior as believers, religious institutions and organizations, we will foster Islamophobia and Christianophobia.”

ON THE CONDEMNATION OF VIOLENCE & EXTREMISM BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS

“Spiritual leaders have a duty: to keep the religions from being at the service of an ideology, and to be able to recognize that some of our coreligionists, like the terrorists, are not behaving correctly. Terrorism is a constant threat, and because of this we must be clear and never justify it. The forms of terrorism want to demonstrate the impossibility of coexistence. We believe the exact opposite. We must avoid aggression and denigration.”

ON INTERFAITH HARMONY

“All authentic inter-religious dialogue begins with the proclamation of one’s own faith. We do not say that all religions are equal, but that all believers, those who seek God and all persons of good will devoid of religious affiliation, have equal dignity. Everyone must be left free to embrace the religion that he wishes.” After this came the concluding appeal to join forces “so that God, who created us, may not be a motive of division, but rather of unity.”

(English translation from Latin was done Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)

Cardinal Tauran praised the efforts of the Muslim World League in leading the initiatives to strengthen relationships and build bridges between the two religions. It also involved the formation of a coordinating committee to convene every year for preparatory meetings. The commission includes two members from each side. The panel stressed the need for dialogue in a world, which has become more multi-ethnic, religious and multicultural.

It affirmed the need to establish fruitful relations of respect and peace, and the important role by the council in promoting constructive relations with believers in other religions as well as the outstanding position by MWL in the field of interfaith dialogue.

I shall not wonder if all the above-mentioned stipulations dictated by the Catholic Church are followed in letter and spirit. Lately, House of Saud, legalized gambling. Read the following for more details.

Saudi Government Endorses Card Game with “Cash Prizes” at National Level. Is it Gambling by Any Chance?

Cardinal Tauran, in the historical address, given at the headquarters of the Muslim World League, during his meeting with the Sheikh Al-Issa, is unprecedent in the history of relations between Christianity and Islam. His address not only emphasized the Muslim-Christian unity but also showed the way to execute this plan.

Saudi Arabia, the homeland of Wahhabism and holding one of the most fundamental currents of Islam has become very “dynamic and modern” in terms of its foreign and security policies for three reasons: the Arab uprisings of 2010 and 2011, the policies of the Obama administration and the collapse of oil prices.

Saudi Arabia has intruded maliciously in two conflicts, Syrian and Yemeni, which began as “domestic power struggles”, and sworn in to stand by USA, Britain, France, Israel and other western powers to support the atrocities both logistically and ideologically.

In the developing phase of the Syrian conflict, the Sunni Saudi regime intervened seemingly out of concern for the majority Sunni population being slaughtered by the Alawite. But the mala fide intent with which they pursued this mission was fatally flawed and destined to fail and caused more destruction.  A massive intervention in coalition with USA exploiting the worst of the Islamist scum allied with al Qaeda and ISIS was a terrible miscalculation on part of those who want to fight terrorism. But House of Saud never stopped and moved on with its destructive intervention of Yemen. Yemeni civil conflict was worsened by vast overkill, massacre of thousands of civilians, mass-starvation of children–all of this once again, we- the Muslim Ummah, owe to the House of Saud.

According to LA Times, proposed military sales of $110-billion to the kingdom by USA, are used to destroy Yemen.

All these destructive efforts are part of a larger plan to shore up a regional alliance against a resurgent Iran. Those who think and have an eye on the Muslim world affairs know that the Ummah has been betrayed by the House of Saud.

I find it extremely ironic as a Muslim that in a country where hundreds of people are beheaded on minor offences, and majority of them are Shiites, is claiming to enjoy and prompt interfaith harmony!

One out of the many examples, on January 2, 2016, the House of Saud ordered the beheading of 47 prisoners convicted of offences such as protests and disobedience to the police.  Among these 47 prisoners was the prominent Shia religious leader, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and the rest were those protesters who took to streets against the atrocities of House of Saud.

The chaos and bloodshed House of Saud caused in the Muslim world along with the extremism which it aided and promoted across the globe does not even qualify to talk about these big ideas of interfaith dialogue, tolerance, and condemnation of extremism.

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