Prosecutor: Mr. Reilly, the Catholic bishops have called for an end to anti-Islamic bigotry and distortions of Islamic theology and teaching. Can you evaluate the claim of "distortion?"
Reilly: LIke most Americans, the bishops know almost nothing about Islam. Therefore, they don’t understand the context in which their Muslim interlocutors are speaking. As a result, they engage in mirror imaging, i.e., understanding the Muslims as the good bishops understand themselves....What might these distortions be? Apparently, that we should view with repugnance the “repeated falsehoods” that Islam is inherently violent, that Muslims seek to supplant the U.S. Constitution with sharia law, and that Muslim immigration threatens “the cultural identity of the American people.”
Prosecutor: Are those in fact distortions of Muslim theology?
Prosecutor: In your view is Islam a religion of peace, as U.S. bishops so often assert?
Prosecutor: Do you think defeating Christianity is the goal of Islam?
Reilly: Somewhat around the time of Bishop McElroy’s speech, in a Friday sermon in Edmonton, Alberta, Imam Shaban Sherif Mady declared, “Look forward to it, because the Prophet Muhammad said that Rome would be conquered! It will be conquered. Constantinople was conquered. Rome is the Vatican, the very heart of the Christian state.”
Now who is misunderstanding Islam here, the imam or the bishop?
Prosecutor: What do you think is the impact of the bishops "dialogue?"
Reilly: [It] helps legitimate the Muslim Brotherhood clones and sidelines the real voices of Muslim reform. Also, because they [the bishops] usually get the substance wrong, these “dialogues” end up spreading misunderstandings rather than overcoming them.Since Muslims couldn’t care less what Catholics say about Islam, the only ones who get confused by these “dialogues” are Catholics themselves. I suggest, as a motto for the USCCB’s new national dialogue, the saying of Benedict XVI that “truth makes consensus possible,” and, concomitantly, nonsense makes it impossible.
Prosecutor: Thank you, Mr. Reilly, no further questions at this time.
N.B. Robert Reilly has several books on Islam, The Prospects and Perils of Catholic-Muslim Dialogue and The Closing of the Muslim Mind.