Hugh Hewitt posted a recent interview with Fr. Joseph Fessio on Europe, Islam and the future of the West, and a rather grim prediction at that:
There are, I think there are 98 Islamic countries in the world, and 97 of them do not have religious freedom. . . . And that’s what’s going to happen to Europe. Once there’s an Islamic majority, it is going to not…it’s going to eliminate religious freedom. However…and therefore, Western civilization as we know it. However, in the United States, we also are not having children. There’s abortion. There’s contraception. There’s the ideal of a one or two child family. But where is our immigration coming from? From Ecuador, from Mexico, from Cuba, from Guatemala. And these people are Christians. And so, I believe without being…you know, having hubris as an American, I believe that Christians in the United States are the ones who will be able to save not just Christianity, but Western civilization, if we maintain our fidelity to the scriptures, our fidelity to Christ, our fidelity to family life, and our fidelity to fertility and fruitfulness in marriage. So I believe we are in a world historical century, which is going to depend upon the strength of Christianity in these United States.
Fr. Fessio had attended a summer gathering at Castel Gandolfo with the Holy Father, in which two scholars of Islam — one of which being Fr. Christian Troll SJ — presented their studies of this topic:
. . . the thesis that was proposed by this scholar was that Islam can enter into the modern world if the Koran is reinterpreted by taking the specific legislation, and going back to the principles, and then adapting it to our times, especially with the dignity that we ascribe to women, which has come through Christianity, of course. And immediately, the Holy Father, in his beautiful calm but clear way, said well, there’s a fundamental problem with that, because he said in the Islamic tradition, God has given His word to Mohammed, but it’s an eternal word. It’s not Mohammed’s word. It’s there for eternity the way it is. There’s no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it, whereas in Christianity, and Judaism, the dynamism’s completely different
Fr. Fessio concludes that Islam is inherently incapable of adapting to the times (“Islam is stuck. It’s stuck with a text that cannot be adapted, or even be interpreted properly”) and will ultimately overtake Europe, but — in an suprising expression of hope — American Christian families apparently stand a fighting chance:
[H]ome schools are the monasteries of the new dark ages. That is . . . I think that is where families are having children. They’re passing on the faith to their children. They’re giving them wisdom and the knowledge of our culture. And we have an advantage here, because the homosexuals, and the pro-abortionists, and the pro-contraception people, are not having children by definition.
. Referenced in the article is Mark Steyn’s column “It’s the Demography, Stupid” (Wall Street Journal Jan. 4, 2006), also worth reading, which begins with the rather blunt prediction: “Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.”
- Daniel Pipes and Christian W. Troll, SJ disagree with Fr. Fessio, disputing his accounting of events and the claim that “there’s no possibility of adapting it or interpreting [Islam].” (Further discussion at Amy Welborn’s.
- Islam and Democracy, a Secret Meeting at Castelgandolfo, by Sandro Magister. Chiesa January 23, 2006. The synopsis of a weekend of study on Islam with the pope and his former theology students. With two conflicting versions of how Benedict XVI views the Muslim religion.”
- Fr. Joseph Fessio clarifies remarks about Benedict XVI, the Koran, and Islam Ignatius Insight In a January 21st letter to the editor of The Washington Times, Fr. Fessio addressed the controvery and made some clarifications . . .
- Castelgandolfo Revisited: The Jesuits Come to the Pope’s Defense, by Sandro Magister. Chiesa January 26, 2006.