…I’d like to focus here on the fact that the Church’s “position” on Islam remains a stumbling block for countless Catholics. In other words, a great many Catholics refuse to come to grips with the violent, misogynist side of Islam because they believe that the Church has spoken, and has spoken to the effect that Islam is a spiritual kin. Therefore, they reason, the matter is closed.
Consider an online debate that appeared this summer in Catholic Answers Forum about Cardinal Dolan’s visit to a mosque in New York. The debate centered around the Cardinal’s statement “You love God, we love God, and he is the same God”—a statement, in short, which seemed to echo the Catholic Catechism. The most interesting aspect of the month-long thread was that those who argued that Allah is the same God that Christians worship relied almost exclusively on arguments from authority. Here is a sample:
- “It is dogma that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God.”
- “He [Cardinal Dolan] has the grace of Teaching Authority. Unless you are a bishop, you do not.”
- “You are discrediting Vatican II.”
- “One either accepts Her teaching authority, or one does not.”
- “This is not up for grabs.”
After plowing through dozens of similar propositions, along with numerous citations of the relevant passage in the Catechism, it was difficult for me to avoid the conclusion that forum participants were relying on the argument from authority because it was the only argument they had.