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Is Magdi Allam still a Catholic?

March 25, 2013

Magdi Allam, “a prominent Muslim-born journalist baptized by Pope Benedict XVI” has now blogged about “leaving the [C]hurch because it is too ‘weak with Islam.’” Maybe it’s just me, but this modern proclivity to parade one’s spiritual angst in the blogosphere is wearing pretty thin. Besides, as Chesterton remarked, there are a thousand reasons to leave the Church and only one reason to stay: It’s true. So, Magdi cited two or three reasons to leave the Church, and not reasons especially high up on the “Top 1000 Reasons To Leave the Catholic Church” list at that. Whatever.

Still I don’t know why some folks are so quick to assume that (a) Allam was not ‘really’ a Catholic, or (b) he was not adequately catechized, or (c) Allam’s abandonment of the Faith must be an embarrassment to Abp. Fisichella who shepherded Allam into the Church. If my sins cannot be laid at the feet of my parents or pastors why should Allam’s be charged to Fisichella? God has no grandchildren.

In particular, because of the indelible character conferred by Baptism (c. 845, and I’m presuming Confirmation, as Allam was baptized as an adult, c. 866), Allam will, for all eternity, be marked as a baptized and confirmed Christian. Now, one’s canonical identity is not easily turned on or off and nothing in the reports I’ve seen so far suffice for, say, schism or even formal defection. All I glean so far is one man expressing contempt for his obligation to conduct himself in accord with the requirements of communion (c. 209). But that does not make one a non-Catholic, that just makes one a bad Catholic.

Ultimately, Allam’s sacramental seal will either be a source of greater joy to him in Heaven (as, hopefully, he will repent of his deed) or of greater suffering for him in Hell (if his act is sufficiently imputable to him, as only God would know), but either way, Allam is, on these facts, still Catholic and should be regarded as a Catholic whose need for prayers is just a little more obvious than is ours.

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