Roman Catholic Church in Lebanon complains about people evangelizing Muslims

Thank God for the Catholic Church! Without their bringing this horrible reality to light Muslims might be converting to Christianity, which, as we all know, would be terrible.

In Lebanon, the Roman Catholic diocese and Muslim groups have accused the evangelical Christians of trying to convert Muslims. One bishop said Bonnie Penner Witherall, the missionary killed by a gunman [in 2002], combined preaching about Christianity with the distribution of toys and food to Muslim children.

From HERE.


Drew said…
I see that this article is from 2002. Was there any backlash against Rome over this? Was any formal or informal apology made? Just curious as to the history of this issue since then. Thanks as always for keeping those of us who care about the issue informed.
*beats head against desk* No wonder there are so few Catholic missionaries, lay or otherwise, in the Muslim world. As a Catholic internet evangelist to Muslims, I find this attitude extremely frustrating, especially since it is anti-biblical. Jesus told us to go out and convert all nations. That includes Muslim nations.
I would like to see that assertions sourced to an actual statement. I dont believe it.
I think this is just another case of irresponsible reporting by that website. Protestant missionary dies, and it must be the Catholic churches fault that his evangelism was found out. Over 30 Catholic missionaries died last year alone. Not mention the hundreds of Chaldean Catholic martyrs in Iraq an archbishop among them at the hands of islam. The same story can be told for India, Phillipines, Sri Lanka and Nigeria, etc, etc.

Much like the Orthodox Church in Turkey, you cant publicly make statements threatening Islam without your words bringing murder upon your flock. Look what happened with the Pope's regensburg speech. These things must be handled subtely and with a cool mind. I very much doubt the veracity of this claim about the RCC church in lebanon.
Drew said…
All the New York Times article said was that the Roman Catholic diocese in Lebanon accused (non-Roman Catholic) missionaries of proselytizing Muslims. That's not much of a reach, frankly. Non-Protestant Christians frequently find themselves the targets of proselytism alongside Muslim in Muslim majority countries. When the Jehovah's Witnesses got a little aggressive in their "missionary efforts" to the Copts, the Copts successfully petitioned Cairo to have the Jehovah's Witnesses expelled from Egypt. I also found this article from 2008, describing a similar situation between the native Christians and Western missionaries in Jordan:

I'm not trying to jump on Protestant missionaries here (being a Protestant myself), and I'm not saying that all of them or even most of them are guilty of this sort of thing, but the Lebanese, Egyptians, and Jordanians aren't just making this stuff up out of thin air. If Western evangelicals are careful in their methods, they risk retaliation falling on the heads of the native Christians, and that surely can't be a good thing, no matter how you slice it (no pun intended).
Drew said…
Oops..."If Western evangelicals are careful in their methods" should be "If Western evangelicals aren't careful in their methods..."

Abu Daoud said…
Drew: careful in their methods? Like Jesus and Paul were careful in their methods?

Perhaps you mean careful like the bp in N Africa who won't baptize Muslims.
Drew said…
Abu Daoud,

You misunderstand. We're on the same page with this one. I was only referring to the practice of Christians proselytizing other Christians (which doesn't happen only in Muslim-majority happens in places like Russia as well). I was not referring to genuine missionary efforts by Christians among non-Christians. But Roman Catholics shouldn't be raising a fuss if non-Roman Catholics are converting to Christianity, which I think was your original point. The only thing I was trying to add to it is that the only "legitimate" reason they would have for making a fuss is if Roman Catholics are being "converted" by non-Roman Catholic Christians. I am not saying this is what happened in Lebanon, per the article you cited. But it has happened elsewhere. But as to the overall tenor of your post, I agree with you wholeheartedly.
JohnG. said…
Hello Abu and others,

I just wanted to quoted Khalil Samir Khalil ; the quotations deal with this post and the previous one.
- "A conversion to Christianity is something desirable, a choice which is worthy and full of value. Unfortunately, I come across clergy figures and even some bishops who fear thinking of such a thing, counting it out as a possibility, in the name of a false religious respect. It is as if priests and bishops did not understand that Christianity is the fullness of every religion's path. But it is only respect for a person and love for his struggle to live his faith in the modern world that urges me to announce the Gospel to him." (Asianews 09/16/2005 : Islam and Christianity: encounter/confrontation, but also conversion )

- "For my part, I have experienced tragedy. Years ago I was in Morocco. A 35 year old Moroccan teacher of Arab tongue came to visit me, to speak with me about the Gospel and Christ. No more than half an hour had passed when I told him of my stupor before his knowledge of Christian themes. He replied that he had been seeking baptism for over 14 years. Initially I thought that he had mistaken expression. Hours later I met with the bishop and a small community of priests and I told them of my encounter and I told them that this Muslim had been asking to be baptised for over 14 years and that the priests had refused him. One of the priests stood up and reprimanded me: “It is right to refuse him baptism. We don’t want to make any martyrs” [2]. After having revealed his reasons for caution, the priest berated me on how I had not understood the Second Vatican council according to which everyone can be saved, even within their own religion etc…..

I replied that the priest had no right to refuse baptism. If the Muslim seeks baptism, he can be warned of the risks he is running, he can be put on his guard, but he cannot be refused because he has been called by the Holy Spirit and he is free, the choice is his.

On leaving, the bishop thanked me for having clarified the matter.

The very next day I travelled to Marrakesh and meeting with the small community of friars and nuns who live there, I described the episode to them and my conclusions, those being that you cannot refuse a person baptism, even if he is Muslim. All of them greeted my words with applause, cries of joy and shouts! And they revealed that for years they had been forbidden to draw close to Muslims and that the priests have continued to refuse baptism to those who desire it. Their “prudence” is explained in their fear that out of revenge the Muslims have Christian schools closed down, thus throwing the organisation of mission into crises.

On another occasion, after having concluded Holy Friday ceremonies, I was about to close the Church door, when three young Muslims between 20-25 years of age asked me if they could enter to visit the church. Their curiosity urged them on to ask me many questions regarding the building, the covered cross and Christianity. At a certain point the parish priest arrived and immediately chased the young men away, saying: “We have no right to speak to them of the Christian faith”. All of this points to a very grave fact, because beyond highlighting the censorship in Muslim countries of the Christian mission, it also shows how Christians censor themselves, which is what Magdi Allam spoke about in his letter.

I therefore think that the pope’s gesture means this: the Churches mission is universal, even towards Muslims and it must be explicit."
(Asianews 03/27/2008 : Magdi Christian Allam, a contested conversion )
Abu Daoud said…
Thank you John. This is very good material. The question is this: who will be victorious? A declining and temerous presence in the Muslim world? Or the Bavarian bishop in Rome?
Jeff said…
Remember that the Catholic Church is fighting a huge fight against influences tending toward its dissolution and apostasy. There was a great loss of faith and confusion about what was an acceptable updating, what was really "Vatican Two" and what was and abandonment of Catholicism.

We are beginning to come out of that very difficult period, but it has affected ALL our missions on all levels.

Should we convert Orthodox? Maybe not. How about Protestants? Are they simply our brothers in faith? Or do we have a duty to try to draw them to the fullness of faith?

How about Jews? Do they have a parallel relationship with God? Or should we "proselytize" them? If we do, how does that affect our shared relationship that we have built in order to change forever the ideas that led to their persecution by Christians throughout the ages?

Meanwhile in schools of theology, seminarians are taught that all the doctrines of Christianity are up for reexamination by heterodox scholars....

There are other things at work too, but part of the reason that the Moroccan bishop and the Lebanese diocese can make such errors of judgment and approach is this maelstrom of confusion that descended on Catholicism in the wake of the Council.

We are coming out of it...things are FAR better than they were even ten years ago. But there is still much confusion and to work it all out is taking time.

Fortunately, the mangy old body of the Catholic Church is vivified by the Holy Spirit. And He draws all things to the Body of the Son.
Jeff said…
I am reminded of the story of Father David Maria Jaeger.

Father Jaeger is a top Vatican negotiator and is deeply involved with negotiations with Israel. He is himself an Israeli and a convert from Judaism.

I remember reading his story. When he was convinced of the truth of Catholicism, he approached the Church for baptism.

It was refused to him.

So he went to the Anglicans and got baptized. Then he went back to the Catholic Church and said, "Now you CAN'T refuse me!"

We didn't, Deo gratias...
JohnG. said…
Hello Abu,

pehraps this could change. I pray a lot for that. Here is an exerpt of the Guidelines for Mideast Synod ( you can find the entire gidlines here : ) :

"2. Apostolicity and Missionary Vocation

12. Our Churches are apostolic in origin and our countries have been the cradle of Christianity. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, said on 9 June 2007 that they are the living guardians of our Christian origin.[1] These lands have been blessed by the presence of Christ himself and the first generations of Christians. It would be a loss for the Universal Church, were Christianity to disappear or be diminished precisely in the place where it was born. Consequently, we bear a grave responsibility not only to maintain the Christian faith in these holy lands but, still more, to maintain the spirit of the Gospel among Christian peoples and their relations with non-Christians, as well as to keep alive the memory of these Christian beginnings.

13. In being apostolic, our Churches have the special mission to bring the Gospel to the whole world. Throughout history, this apostolic fervour has accounted for several of our Churches in Nubia and Ethiopia, in the Arabian Peninsula, in Persia, and in India and as far as away as China. Today, in some cases, there are signs that this evangelical ardour has grown cold and the flame of the Spirit dampened.

14. Our history and culture puts us in close contact with hundreds of millions of people, culturally as well as spiritually. Our responsibility is to share with them the Gospel message of love, which we have received. At a time when entire peoples have lost their way and are looking for a glimmer of hope, we can give them the hope which is in us, because of the outpouring of the Spirit in our hearts (cf. Rm 5:5)."

There are also numerous other things in this guidelines , such as these questions asked by the document : "1. Do you read Scripture individually, in your family or in living communities?

2. Does this reading inspire the choices you make in family, professional and civic life?"

JohnG. said…
The final post (sorry for these "logorrheic" posts) : If you or someone here comes in France there will be a gathering organized by "Aid to The Church in Nedd" with very good speakers (such as Samir Khalil Samir, Mohamed Bilek [Converted muslim, founder of "notre Dame de Kabylie"], Cyril Tisserand [ Lay missionary in the heart of french Cities, where many muslims stand]Remi Brague [who studied the history of the middle age cultures : christian, jewish and muslim], Bishp Aillet [ whose speech will be "Islam : challenge for mission], Msgr Sleiman [who will speak about dhimmy],...)
The title will be : " Living with islam".
One can see details here :
Abu Daoud said…
Thanks John G. If anyone can get figures on conversions in France from Islam to Catholicism I would VERY MUCH appreciate it. I haven't found anything recent on the topic.

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