Americans think they know so much. But they don’t usually know what it is like in the rest of the world — the real world.
I am in Australia right now where Muslims are growing in numbers and clout. There are a lot of questions asked of me about Islam as I speak throughout this country. It is the same when I go to other countries as well. I have learned a lot myself while in the Middle East, Turkey, the Philippines and other countries around the world.
It would be instructive to listen to this Archbishop from a predominantly Muslim country — Syria, which I have visited myself several times. And remember that he is being careful what he says, due to the real world circumstances. If you are wise, you can read between the lines.
I have not spoken with Archbishop Nassar, though I have spoken with many other bishops, priests and lay Christians in predominantly Muslim countries. In public they speak carefully; in private they are often more forthcoming.
“Question: The other problem is that in the Islamic faith, if a young lady wants to marry a young Muslim fellow, she must convert?
Archbishop Nassar: Yes, this is a problem and if a Christian man wants to marry a Muslim girl he too has to convert. This is a very old law and we cannot change it. Nobody obliges this man to marry a Muslim girl, but when 95% of the girls are Muslim and 5% are Christians, there are more choices on the 95% side, so when he marries we too lose our people this way.
Question: What about the question of conversion? Do you have Muslims coming to the Maronite Catholic Churches interested in converting? How would you respond to this issue of conversion, because in Islam conversion is punishable by death?
Archbishop Nassar: That is fanaticism, but many Muslims come to our Church; they learn the catechism, they follow our meetings but they can’t be baptized. They can be Christian if they want in their hearts but they cannot show it.
Question: So they are secret … hidden Christians?
Archbishop Nassar: They cannot show it, but we do receive them with open hearts and some of them come to daily Mass, to the Bible studies and catechism. They come but they have to stay, outwardly, Muslim.
To read the whole instructive interview, click here.