Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Allah to be glorified in Westminster Cathedral

Update 20/06/07: see report on the protest from Hermeneutic of Contintuity, and a review of the Church's law on concerts in churches.

Upadate 19/06/07: Fr Finnigan outlines protest plans.

Update 15/06/07: Protests planned
. The premier performance of Taverner's Holy Names will be on Tuesday 19th June, 7.30 in the evening, and protests are planned by Catholics whose complaints to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor have been ignored. Telegraph report here. Unlike the Telegraph news report, which refers to 'the Muslim deity Allah', the Catholic commentator Christopher Howse argues that 'Allah' is simply the Arabic word for 'God', but he also reveals the philosophical thinking behind Taverner's work, which is itself contrary to Catholic teaching:

"Sir John Tavener has, in recent years, taken up the ideas of René Guéon and Frithjof Schuon. Both thinkers argued that there is a perennial philosophy behind the major religions in the esoteric understanding of their teachings. Guéon, as far as I understand it, made esoteric traditions more compatible with the truthfulness of Christian doctrine.

But such esoteric universalism can be deeply suspect to many Muslims, not to mention quite a few Christians."

(See his article here.) For Catholics this is the heresy of 'Indifferentism', condemned notably in Gregory XVI's encyclical Mirari Vos.

Update 09/06/07: Correspondance in the Catholic Herald:
As well as a letter deploring the proposal from Mrs Daphne MacLeod (Chairman of Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice), there is an interesting letter from Dr Joseph Seferta: (in part):

'The name "Allah" may be roughly equivalent to our name for "God" and most of the attributes (eg "the Powerful", "the Compassionate", etc.) may be harmless. There are some, however, such as "al Mudill ("the Debaseer") "al-Khafid" ("the Humiliator") and "al-Muntaqim" ("the Avenger") that do not quite resonate with our Christian view of God.

More disturbingly, these names are not simply recited while fingering the beads, but are also used in Islamic prayer and worship.

Moreover, the important name "al-Ahad" ("the One") reflects a Koranic monotheism that is vehermently anti-Christian and anti-Trinitarian. We read, for example, in the Koran (112:1 & 3): "Say: He is Allah, the One... He begeteth not nor was begotten." my view singing the 99 names of Allah in a Catholic cathedral is not only pointless but also marks a dangerous precedent."

Joseph Seferta, a Chaldean originally from Iraq, is a retired teacher of religion and a member of the Commission for Inter-faith Dialogue of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

See also a post on Damian Thompson's blog on The Telegraph website (Thompson is the Editor in Chief of the Catholic Herald and a columnist for The Telegraph).

For the record 24/05/07:
Private Eye reports that Westminter's Catholic Cathedral will be the venue for a new choral work, which sets to music the 99 names of Allah in the Koran. The piece is by John Taverner, and was commissioned by the Prince of Wales. Private Eye comments that what seems intended to be a gesture of good will towards the Muslim community has apparently not involved any Muslims in its organisation. For more commentary see the Hermeneutic of Continuity.

Any comments on the appropriateness of this can be directed to the Cathedral Administrator, Mgr Mark Langham, either here or through his blog.


Anonymous said...

I can't put it better than the contributor to Fr Finigan's blog who wrote:

"Why are titles from the book of "a religion invented by an impostor and framed for beasts rather than humans" (St Alphonsus) being employed in the House of God? Islam is the most successful denial of the Trinity and Christ's divinity in the history of the world, and we set its names for God to music and proclaim them in our cathedral?"

Let us pray for the Cardinal and the Cathedral staff. Let us also consecrate the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, saying:

MOST SWEET JESUS, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy most Sacred Heart.

Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to Thy Father's house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.

Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.

Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: "Praise be to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever." Amen.

Anonymous said...

Scandalous and sacrilegious are the first two words which spring to mind.

Anonymous said...

There is a letter in this week's Private Eye by an ex-Catholic, casually accusing the Catholic Church of genocide and hypocrisy en route to defending its 'search for religious union' through initiatives such as this.

FatherTF said...

Correction - Tuesday 19th June.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Fr Finnigan, correction made! Apologies to all.

FatherTF said...

I have posted on my blog an outline for the prayer vigil. This is not meant to pre-empt anyone else but so that we can have a clear message to give out. I hope that it is acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Fr Finnigan, and thank you very much!

On the side of the angels said...

One ultimately feels compelled to ask:
'What will they do next ? What new ways will they find to deny all that we stand for ?'

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen