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HECHINGEN, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic priest omitted the name of Jesus while praying from a mosque rooftop with the local Muslim imam during Friday Islamic prayers in the German town of Hechingen.
Father Michael Knaus, pastor of St. Luzius parish, joined Imam Ahmed Gezer on the canopy of the Süleymaniye mosque on May 8, praying, "Lord, I came here as a brother of all people who were created in your image."
Knaus recited a portion from St. Francis of Assisi's hymn: "Make me an instrument of your peace, so that where there is hatred, I would love; so that where one is offended, I would forgive; so that where there is conflict, I would reconcile."
Imam Gezer chanted the adhan — the triumphalist Islamic call to prayer proclaiming the finality of Muhammad and the supremacy of Islam over Christianity: "Allah is greater. I testify that there is no God but Allah. I testify that Muhammad is Allah's prophet. Come to prayer. Come to security/salvation. Allah is greater. There is no God but Allah."
"I am simply concerned with the peaceful coexistence of denominations and religions," Fr. Knaus insisted, defending his decision to join the mosque prayer on the basis of Pope Francis' call for a pan-religious day of prayer for deliverance from the pandemic.
But Muslim convert to Christianity Sam Solomon told Church Militant he was profoundly disturbed by such developments in the wake of Pope Francis' Abu Dhabi declaration and call by the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for a pan-religious day of prayer.
"As a Christian from a Muslim background, I represent a growing community of converts from Islam to Christianity," Solomon said. "In reference to the pope's efforts to establish a 'human fraternity' with the Muslim world, my main concern is the overlooking of two major issues — the status of Muslim converts to Christianity in the Islamic world and the lack of any theological agreement between Islam and Christianity."
"Converts in Muslim countries are under intense persecution by the authorities, rejection by their own families and discrimination at every level. It would help greatly if the pope — and other church authorities for that matter — take up the plight of the converts and not hide their persecution under the rug in the name of 'human fraternity,'" the Shariah expert and jurist stressed.
"If normative Islamic doctrine were all about 'peaceful coexistence of denominations and religions,' there wouldn't be a problem; but instead, it teaches supremacy, subversion and conquest of unbelievers," noted Islamic commentator Christine Douglass-Williams.
Knaus, like so many others, has chosen to turn a blind eye to this normative Islamic doctrine, which views Christianity as inferior, calls for warfare against Christians and lives out these doctrines today in ongoing jihad warfare against Christians in Africa and the Middle East. His 'historic gesture' at the mosque was in line with many gestures the pope, who has made it his priority to see the Catholic Church partner with Islam in efforts toward achieving 'world peace.'
Tuba Sekerci, the mosque's commissioner, repeated in German the prayer for peace from the previous week: "O Allah, protect everyone in Hechingen, in Baden-Württemberg, in Germany and all over the world from this pandemic as we are currently experiencing it."
At the end of the prayer at which 50 Muslims were present, Adnan Bürkev, chairman of the Hechingen Muslim community, praised Fr. Knaus: "That was great. It has to be that way. We have to stick together in Hechingen. We all pray to God. Finished."
However, Solomon in his book Not the Same God: Is the Qur'an Allah the LORD God of the Bible? categorically states "that notwithstanding many apparent similarities, the Allah of Islam as expressed in the doctrine of Islamic monotheism (i.e., Tawheed) is the diametric opposite of the Triune LORD God of the Bible — opposite in nature, character, knowability, description and attributes."
"The Qur'an, although seemingly innocent — its main objective was and is to undo the message and mission of Christ," Solomon observed. "The Qur'an denies any form of divine nature associated with Issa (Jesus) and attacks a version of the 'Trinity' as a form of polytheism and 'shirk' (associating partners with Allah), which is the ultimate blasphemy in Islam."
"Yet some of the most outspoken 'Christian' theologians/scholars would without hesitation, declare that, 'Muslims and Christians believe in the same God,' based on 'sufficient similarities,'" he lamented.
On May 1, local Christians and members of Germany's populist Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) Party assembled in Gammertinger Strasse to protest Mayor Philipp Hahn's decision to permit the Süleymaniye mosque to publicly broadcast Muslim prayers over a loudspeaker for the first time in the town's history.
Some Catholics displayed a crucifix while others protestors paraded German flags at the demonstration.
Knaus said his decision to pray with the imam was in part motivated by the protest. In his online sermon for St. Luzius Church, the Catholic priest criticized the protests against the Muslim Friday prayer. "It hurt me," said Knaus, "to see that Muslims should be prevented from praying. I find it shameful."
Local Protestant pastors Herbert Würth, Horst Jung Bauer and Frank Steiner, who were also invited to participate in the mosque prayers, declined to take part.
Locals pointed out that the priest led the prayer dressed in a suit and tie without his cassock or clerical collar. He also took off the earring he normally wears on his left ear while preaching or celebrating Mass.
A number of Christians protested on the local newspaper's website.
"The churches in Germany are NGOs [non-governmental organizations] serving one-world socialism," one lamented.
"Despite the lousy attendance at the church, they spend weeks fretting about distance rules. And then they pray in the mosque!" another commented.