Watch Evening News weeknights at 6:30 p.m. ET.
WESTMINSTER, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - Britain's leading prelate is being slammed for "appearing to deny Christ" after celebrating "Ramadan at Home" while telling Catholics it would cause "scandal" to reopen churches at present.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), joined in the Iftar ritual breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset on Wednesday, for the fourth year in a row.
Because of the Wuhan virus pandemic, Nichols, who hosted a Ramadan Iftar meal at Archbishop's House in 2017, was forced to partake in the Islamic ritual meal at home while joining Muslim, Protestant and Jewish leaders in an online celebration.
"For a prelate of the Catholic Church to participate in the ritual of a religion that is so fundamentally anti-Christian and that deceives billions of souls about the divinity of Christ, runs the risk of appearing to deny Christ," Catholic journalist and popular British author Nick Donnelly told Church Militant.
Deacon Donnelly said it was "right for Christians to defend the human rights of Muslims and protest their imprisonment in Chinese concentration camps."
Christians did this "irrespective of the fact that Islam explicitly attacks the Most Holy Trinity and the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ; that it denies that He is the Son of God and insists that He didn't die during the Crucifixion nor rise from the dead."
"However, this active expression of our love of our neighbors is quite different from participating in a Ramadan ritual. By participating in a Ramadan ritual, Cdl. Nichols gives the impression that these fundamental doctrines of Christianity are not as important as fashionable political correctness," Donnelly emphasized.
An independent consultant on persecution of Christians, Dr. Martin Parsons explained to Church Militant that "Ramadan is a time when many Christian minorities in Islamic countries come under huge pressure."
"Many will be will be deeply dismayed that senior church leaders in the comfort of the U.K. chose to broadcast themselves celebrating an Islamic religious festival in their own homes. This will simply add to the pressure on persecuted Christians," Parsons, former aid worker in Afghanistan and principal of an English Language Institute in Pakistan, lamented.
"The entire incident epitomizes the malady of the Western world," Islamic scholar Robert Spencer told Church Militant. "The broadcasting of the Islamic call to prayer, World Hijab Day, and #RamadanAtHome all stem from the same impulse: The intelligentsia has adopted the idea that Muslims are a special class that warrants consideration above and beyond that given to other citizens. As that is the status of Muslims under Sharia (Islamic law), the implications are ominous."
"What these Christian leaders who participated in #RamadanAtHome will ultimately find is that their Muslim partners in this multicultural endeavor have no intention of reciprocating their generosity and hospitality," Spencer observed.
"Whether or not those Muslims participate in the endeavor, the Islamic imperative is to subjugate Christians under the hegemony of Islamic law. These Christians are already halfway there," the author of bestseller The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS warned.
A day after celebrating Ramadan, Cdl. Nichols provoked further outrage among Catholics by claiming that churches were closed "because of the restrictions established by the government," even though the CBCEW previously admitted to pre-empting state restrictions and persuading the government to close the churches.
Writing to Catholics who had written to the CBCEW insisting that the churches be reopened, Nichols said that keeping churches closed was "a serious moral imperative."
"To act contrary to this guideline would be to endanger life and to act in a way that gave scandal," he stated.
Last week, Church Militant reported that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was encouraging Christians to join in the Ramadan meal.
In a Ramadan greeting to "Muslim brothers and sisters," the Vatican dicastery called upon Christians and Muslims to "protect together" mosques and churches and misquoted the prophet Isaiah 56:7 affirming that "a place of worship of any religion therefore is 'a house of prayer.'"
"For us, your Christian friends, it is a propitious time to further strengthen our relationships with you, by greeting you, meeting you on this occasion and, where possible, by sharing in an Iftar with you," the statement read.
Both Catholics and Jews were outraged by the Vatican's abuse of the Old Testament, with leading Israeli academic Yoram Hazony tweeting: "The view attributed to Isaiah in this statement is simply mistaken. Isaiah says nothing of the sort."
"The citation from Isaiah is being used to say almost exactly the opposite of what Isaiah says," Professor Hazony, an orthodox Jew, added.
In 2009, Nichols sparked fury after he joined in a ritual lighting of the Hindu lamp in the presence of Hindu idols at the Neasden Hindu temple in London and allowing a Hindu priest to "anoint" him on the forehead with the Hindu "tilak" — the vermillion mark understood by many Hindus to be the "third eye" of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
The cardinal, who allowed a Hindu priest to tie a Hindu ritual sacred thread on his wrist (meant to invoke the blessings of the Hindu deities), refrained from mentioning Jesus in his address and told 2,000 Hindus present that "the Catholic Church has made dialogue with other faiths a priority."
Protestant leaders like Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, and Sarah Mullally, bishop of London, also participated in #RamadanAtHome along with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Muslim mayor of London Sadiq Khan.