The Synod of Bishops for the Middle East is meant to address the decline of Christians in the Muslim world. The reason for the decline is obvious. It is the willingness to discuss that reason which is at issue.
Christians in the Middle East are a minority in a Muslim region. Even the more moderate Muslim countries, such as Egypt, marginalize Christians and routinely deprive them of basic civil rights. Egypt is an American ally and nearly 10 percent of the country is Christian, yet that 10 percent live as second-class citizens, discriminated against and constantly subject to violence.
Meanwhile growing Muslim migration into Europe raises questions about the future of Christianity even in the West. If Christians are denied basic civil rights even in moderate Muslim countries, what will their fate be if France and Germany go the way of Byzantium? The fact that Christians do not generally enjoy equal rights in the Muslim world, suggests that they would also not enjoy such rights in Eurabia. The root of the problem lies in Sharia, Islamic law, which treats non-Muslims and women as second-class citizens.
Protecting Christians in the Muslim world requires working to replace laws based on Islamic jurisprudence, with laws based on objective secular standards that treat all religions equally. But this is likely to prove impossible. The governments of countries like Egypt are already under pressure by Islamists, who gain popular support by accusing them of being puppets of the West and disloyal to Islam. Applying pressure to the governments themselves cannot significantly shift the balance. Especially since the reign of those like Mubarak is endangered by the rise of the Islamists determined to overthrow the government and replace it with an Islamic state.
The real problem underlying it all is Islam. The question is what can be done about it.
Perhaps a first necessary step would be triage. The Catholic Church should consider the impact of importing the conditions already prevalent in the Muslim world into Europe, and take a firm stand against Muslim immigration in the name of Christian civil rights. This is not mere talk as some European countries are already projected to have a Muslim majority within a generation. If Muslim immigration countries, then the fate of Christians in Europe, will likely be that of Christians in the Middle East.
Such an action would empower marginalized European parties battling against the erosion of Europe's traditional character. It would also provide the Catholic Church with some leverage that it could employ with the Muslim world, demonstrating that it is capable of affecting the conditions of Muslims in the West, just as they are capable of affecting the conditions of Christians in the East.
But so far the Vatican has made no move in this direction. The Synod acknowledges that the problem exists, but its clergy are often part of the problem. The addresses still focus heavily on Israel, despite the fact that Israel is a tiny strip of land in the region. Turkey's steep Christian decline, going "from 20 percent Christian in the early 20th century to 0.2 percent now", could not even be remotely traced to anything involving Israel, as the two countries have been allies until recently. Instead it comes down to the Turkish persecution of Christians. An issue that has to be addressed, particularly in the era of Erdogan and his radical Islamist AKP party.
Michel Sabbah, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, will be arriving to promote which calls for a boycott of Israel in support of creating a Muslim Palestinian state. This will not serve the cause of Christian civil rights, as the Palestinian Authority has overseen a dramatic decline in the Christian presence, notably in Bethlehem. It would put Christians under Muslim authority, which would undermine one of the few places in the Middle East where indigenous Christians are not being repressed. Kairos Palestine does not promote Christian civil rights, it promotes Arab Nationalism.
The very fact that Kairos Palestine demands "an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital", telegraphs that this is a document driven by a Muslim agenda, not a Christian one. Al Quds is the Islamic name for Jerusalem, not the Christian one. The Biblical Latin name for Jerusalem was Hierosolyma, the Biblical Greek name for it was Hierousalēm. The Pre-Islamic Arabic name for it was Ūršalaym. When a supposed Christian document replaces the traditional name for Jerusalem, with the Islamic Al Quds, it demonstrates that its worldview is Islamic, not Christian.
persecution of Christians by Hamas.
And the collaboration continues. In Lebanon, Michel Aoun, who returned from exile to side with Hezbollah terrorists, claimed that Islamic extremism had nothing to do with the dwindling presence of Christians in the Middle East. Instead he blamed everything from economics to WW1 to Israel. Aoun demanded that the Catholic Church, "halt attempts to demonize Islam, the religion of more than one billion... And to call for examining the essence and religious text of Islam only, away from the acts of terrorist groups which Muslims consider themselves victims of just like the rest of the world."
This last is particularly laughable, as Aoun betrayed Lebanese Christians by signing a deal with Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist organization backed by Iran. Hezbollah's goal is to create an Islamic state. In Hezbollah's 1985 message to Christians, it stated, "We call upon you to embrace Islam so that you can be happy in this world and the next. If you refuse to adhere to Islam, maintain your ties with the Muslims and don't take part in any activity against them." Which is a roundabout way of saying, "Submit or we'll destroy you."
Nor is Aoun misled about what he's doing. In a 2002 interview, he described Hezbollah as a terrorist group under Syrian control and said that Christians had been turned into second-class citizens. A few years later, he cut a deal with that same organization, and now promotes the Islamist agenda. If Aoun helps Hezbollah take over, the Christian presence in Lebanon will be destroyed.
In the fact of those like Sabbah or Aoun, there are Middle Eastern Christian clergy who continue to fight for civil rights. But they have to walk a fine line, because what they can say is governed by the laws of the Muslim world. Speaking out can have legal consequences for them and deadly consequences for their followers. The statements they do make are careful and couched in ambiguous terminology. A necessity in a region where Muslim outrage quickly translates into church burnings and murders. And this gives Islamist apologists like Aoun and Sabbah a free hand to tell the one-sided Islamist tale.
The Synod so far includes the usual calls for dialogue with Muslims and Jews, the usual comments about the importance of the Peace Process, which would only accelerate the decline of Christians in the Middle East, and limited mentions of the dangers of Islamism. But if the Catholic Church hopes to preserve Christianity in the Middle East, it will have to take a far more active role than that. For the moment its policies are aimed at trying to preserve Christians as a minority in a Muslim Middle East. That is understandable, for the reasons laid out above, but also unsustainable.
The Catholic Church has demonstrated before that it has the power to impact politics in the West. In the United States alone, it has had its impact in the debate on amnesty for illegal aliens and nationalized health care. It may be time for it to begin telling the real story of Christians in the Middle East, and countering the Islamist narrative that Sharia promotes tolerance. And to take a strong position against Muslim migration to Europe, until the Muslim demonstrates a willingness to grant full legal equality to Christians under their rule.
Standing up for oppressed Christians around the world, would be a meaningful and moral act, that could actually make a difference and prevent the fall of Europe. It would not be without its risks. Such a move would alienate American and European liberals and increase attacks on Christians in the short term. However it is the only step that has any chance of checking both the Islamization of Europe and the DeChristianization of the Middle East.