Mixed Signals

This article was written by Connor Attard.

The Archbishop of Malta has been the centre of much controversy as of late. He recently announced his willingness to teach Islam to Muslim students attending church schools. Several commentators have pointed out the irreconcilable differences between the two so-called Abrahamic faiths, warning him that Islam explicitly denies many of Christianity’s central tenets, including the Incarnation, the Trinity, and Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection. Scicluna remained unfazed, leaving faithful Catholics completely bewildered as to why a high-ranking cleric would sponsor one of the most dangerous and persistent heresies known to Christendom. How much do you have to hate a person to teach them something you know to be false? Scicluna didn’t say, completely sidestepping the issue of truth and falsehood in his defence.

“O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity” : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.” (Qur’an 4:171)

And yet, Scicluna hasn’t always been this submissive. Just over a week ago, the Archbishop took part in a Q&A session at the G.F. Abela Junior College. One question stood out from all the rest, when a student asked him whether the Church would do anything to stem the rising tide of Islam in Europe. Scicluna’s answer was surprisingly reasonable for the most part, calling Islam “a challenge” and expressing concern over Europe’s dangerously low fertility rates and disregard for the Catholic faith. He also said that we needn’t fear the presence of Islam if we take our religion seriously. All this is true, at least to some extent, so why did his cautious stance evaporate just a few days later? How can he exhort Catholics to take their religion seriously on one hand, but inculcate a sense of religious indifferentism at church schools on the other?

“And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” (Qur’an 4:157)

Scicluna did, however, repeat the very common but naive notion that Islam can somehow “develop its laws”. This is highly improbable, because many of those laws are deeply ingrained in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. If the Qur’an is wrong, then Allah is wrong by extension, since the Qur’an claims to be eternal and unchanging. What’s more is that Islam, or at least Sunni Islam, lacks the central doctrinal authority required to implement such a reformation on any meaningful scale.

What’s Mons. Scicluna playing it? Is he kowtowing to intimidation and political pressure, or is he foolishly trying to extend the olive branch to Malta’s Muslim community, hoping that this act of goodwill will be reciprocated one day? Only time will tell.  

Video from the Maltese Conservative Facebook Page

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