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Muslim Convert to Catholic Faith Founds Pro-Life Political Party in Europe
Deacon Keith Fournier
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - At the Easter Vigil in Rome in 2008 Magdi Allam, the popular Italian journalist and former Muslim, received the Sacraments of Christian Initiation through the priestly ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. He also took a new name,"Cristiano".
Speaking of his encounter with Jesus Christ and entry into the Catholic Church, Magdi Allam wrote: "I converted to the Catholic Christian religion, renouncing my previous Islamic faith. Thus, I finally saw the light, by divine grace. On my first Easter as a Christian I not only discovered Jesus, I discovered for the first time the face of the true and only God, who is the God of faith and reason."
Magdi Allam chooses to be very public about this encounter with the true and only God.He does this knowing full well that he is placing his life at risk. He has received numerous death threats since his Baptism into Christ. His Christian courage in the face of such opposition should challenge all of us who bear the name Christian. He honored Pope Benedict XVI for inspiring this bold witness when after his reception into Christ and His Church he wrote of : “...the courageous and historical gesture of the Pope, who, as soon has he knew of my desire, immediately agreed to personally impart the Christian sacraments of initiation to me.
"His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries - Out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries. Well, today Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims.
“For my part, I say that it is time to put an end to the abuse and the violence of Muslims who do not respect the freedom of religious choice. In Italy there are thousands of converts to Islam who live their new faith in peace. But there are also thousands of Muslim converts to Christianity who are forced to hide their faith out of fear of being assassinated by Islamic extremists who lurk among us.
“By one of those “fortuitous events” that evoke the discreet hand of the Lord, the first article that I wrote for the Corriere on Sept. 3, 2003 was entitled “The new Catacombs of Islamic Converts.” It was an investigation of recent Muslim converts to Christianity in Italy who decry their profound spiritual and human solitude in the face of absconding state institutions that do not protect them and the silence of the Church itself. Well, I hope that the Pope’s historical gesture and my testimony will lead to the conviction that the moment has come to leave the darkness of the catacombs and to publicly declare their desire to be fully themselves.
“If in Italy, in our home, the cradle of Catholicism, we are not prepared to guarantee complete religious freedom to everyone, how can we ever be credible when we denounce the violation of this freedom elsewhere in the world? I pray to God that on this special Easter he give the gift of the resurrection of the spirit to all the faithful in Christ who have until now been subjugated by fear.”
Now, this former Muslim who bears the new name of “Christian” has formed a new Political Party to help Europe. This Party will put forth an entire slate of candidates in the European Union elections next year. The Party is called “Protagonists for Christian Europe”. It is explicitly and unapologetically committed to promoting and defending Europe’s Christian values and the Western culture which was informed by and built upon them. Magdi Allam openly declares that these values are the path to true and authentic freedom for all men and women. He also asserts that they are under a fierce assault by the forces of secularism and moral relativism.
This new Political Party is open to all men and women, of any faith or no particular faith, who recognize these values as the building blocks for a truly just society. The new Party will work closely with the European People’s Party according to press reports.In March of 2006, leaders of the European People’s Party gathered in Rome. Pope Benedict XVI addressed them and included these comments:
“As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person…[S]he is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable." The context of the full remarks demonstrates that the Pope was referring to the church's Pro-Life stance.
He called on elected officials to defend human life "in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death" noting that the Church’s commitment to the dignity of every human life and her pro-life principles "are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith. [T]hey are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity."
Magdi Cristiano Allam openly credits the Pope with his own conversion and has obviously taken his challenge to heart. The Protagonists for Christian Europe was founded on November 30, 2008 by this courageous journalist along with 49 others of a like mind. Numbered among them were Europeans of several ethnicities, including Arabic and Chinese Europeans. Allam told reporters that the Party is secular and open to all men and women. However, it clearly defends the Judeo-Christian roots of Europe without any apology and proposes that the path to a future of true progress for Europe is through rediscovering and reaffirming those roots.
The Party has three slogans: "Truth and Freedom", "Faith and Reason" and "Values and Rules", which clearly comport with themes found within Catholic Social Teaching. The positions and platform of the new Party is built upon the recognition of fundamental human rights such as the right to life, an authentic vision of human freedom and in particular religious freedom, the primacy of true marriage and the family founded upon it, solidarity, subsidiarity and the stewardship of environmental resources and the goods of the earth. All of these are also found with that body of teaching.
Magdi Cristiano Allam and this new party serve as an example to many of us in Nations such as the United States of America who share these same convictions. His example calls us to bold initiatives to further the true common good by building a new culture of life and civilization of love. Perhaps it is time for a new Political Party here as well.
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