Locating Islam on the Map of the West

Sometimes Crux, though, registered a provocative take on Christianity in the West. In a piece on the Vatican’s diplomacy with Iran, Crux observed that Roman Catholicism is to the Christian world what Shia is to Islam:

Iranian writer Vali Nasr, author of the 2006 book “The Shia Revival,” argues that the divide between Sunni and Shia bears comparison to that between Protestants and Catholics, with Shia being the branch closer to Catholicism.

Among those points of contact are:

A strong emphasis on clerical authority

An approach to the Quran accenting both scripture and tradition

A deep mystical streak

Devotion to a holy family (in the case of Shiites, the blood relatives of Mohammad) and to saints (the Twelve Imams)

A theology of sacrifice and atonement through the death of Hussain, grandson of Mohammad and the first imam of Shia Islam

Belief in free will (as opposed to the Sunni doctrine of pre-destination)

Holy days, pilgrimages, and healing shrines

Intercessory prayer

Strongly emotional forms of popular devotion, especially the festival of Ashoura commemorating Hussain’s death

If only ISIS could find its inner Pope Francis:

Pope Francis apologized for Catholic mistreatment of other Christian traditions Monday, and called on Catholics to forgive followers of those traditions for any offenses of “today and in the past,” as a step toward deeper unity.

“As Bishop of Rome and Shepherd of the Catholic Church, I plead for mercy and forgiveness for non-evangelical behaviors by Catholics against Christians of other churches,” Francis said, referring to conduct not in keeping with the Gospel of Christ.

“We cannot undo what was done in the past, but we don’t want to allow the weight of past sins to pollute our relationships,” he said. “The mercy of God will renew our relations.”