Now, Religion in the News—a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from the BBC News, February 8, 2003, with the headline, “Muslims Flock to Mary,” Dateline—Bangladesh: Thousands of people in the Bangladeshi port city of Chittagong are flocking to a Roman Catholic Church, where tears are reported to have been seen on a statue of the Virgin Mary. Many of those visiting the church are Muslims, eager to see what some locals believe is the sign of the Virgin’s dismay over the recent outbreak of violence in the country and elsewhere in the world.
“Roman Catholic believers say it is the first time in Bangladesh that tears have been seen on a statue of the Virgin Mary. In a country which is overwhelmingly Muslim—90 percent—it is unusual for a symbol of the Christian faith (read “Catholic”) to attract much interest. But so many people are gathering outside the Chittagong church that police have been deployed to insure law and order is maintained.
“Roman Catholics in Chittagong say that most people are queuing up to see the statue because they are inquisitive. Around 90 percent of Bangladesh’s 130 million population is Muslim. In Chittagong, the second largest city in the country, there are only around 8,000 Christians in a city of over 4 million people.”
Tom: Dave, maybe it might come as a surprise to some of our listeners—and I think I’ve mentioned this before—but there are more verses in the Qur’an about Mary—a whole chapter dedicated to her—than in the Bible.
Tom: So, if they’re surprised that Muslims are attracted to Mary, they ought not to be.
Dave: Yeah, you remember when Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote a book in 1945, I think it was, he had a whole chapter on how Muslims would be converted through Mary—through “Our Lady of Fatima”—Fatima being Muhammad’s favorite daughter, and it was named that in Portugal—Fatima, Portugal—when the Muslims were in control there. Having, of course, in self-defense, somehow gotten all the way up to Spain and Portugal, because they only fight in self-defense. (This is what we are told today.) And Muhammad said, “Thou, O Fatima, art the chief of all women in heaven after our Lady the Virgin.” And Fulton Sheen predicted that Muslims would be converted to Islam [Catholicism?] through Mary.
Tom: Even in Roman Catholicism, Dave, we find apparitions of Mary, looking at, allegedly what these apparitions have said and claimed, there’s a breakdown of all religions—I know in Medjugorje, supposedly, there was an apparition of Mary, and her statements were that there’s no differences between the Orthodox, between the Muslim, between the Catholic, or Christian.
Dave: Yeah, apparitions daily there, I think they’re still continuing, if I’m not mistaken.
Tom: Now there’s still some controversy within the Catholic Church with regard to recognizing that, but certainly not among the Franciscans. They go for it.
Dave: Yeah. Our Lady of Fatima, of course, is recognized by the Church, and the pope has been there many times, and, supposedly, she saved his life during the assassination attempt. Bangladesh was, as I recall, East Pakistan. There was East and West Pakistan, and they’d had a little civil war—they’d rebelled against West Pakistan, or vice-versa, I sometimes get mixed up between East and West, Tom, as you know, I have a tough time finding my way wherever I’m going—and became Bangladesh. That was just one of many quarrels among Muslims—killing one another! But this is “peaceful religion,” so they do it peacefully, of course. But that happened all down through history.
Well, about the tears on the statue, it’d be interesting to check that out. However, you know, we’ve written some books about occultism, and I wouldn’t doubt that Satan, who could put boils on Job, could also put tears on a statue of the Virgin Mary and even make it seem authentic.
The problem is that Mary is being honored above Jesus, and as a former Roman Catholic, you would verify that there must be at least a thousand times as many prayers to Mary as to Jesus and God combined.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Dave, growing up Roman Catholic, we were never instructed in exactly how to go about honoring Mary. There were never any corrections, although the Catholic Church officially teaches there are three forms of worship: One is Latria, which is the worship of God; the other is Dulia, which is honor and respect to the saints, and then Mary, right in between there, is Hyperdulia. Dave, I never knew that. And I was never corrected, even as a layperson, Prefect of Sodality, in honoring Mary—normally that would go to a young priest in a parish, but I went to a private Catholic school—and again, you search the world over, you look at all the honors and homage and worship, actually, that’s paid to Mary, and there’s never any correction that I’ve ever seen.
Dave: Tom, can you still remember the Rosary—after all these years?
Tom: Of course!
Dave: How does it close? Give us the closing statement there. It’s a prayer to Mary, is it not?
You had the prayer—while you’re thinking of it—you had the Holy Father’s Prayer for the Marian Year some years ago. It was a prayer to Mary. He committed the entire world to Mary. Not just asking Mary to pray for us but literally praying to Mary, and asking Mary to do things which she would have to be God in order to do. So she is put in the place of God, and she has more honor than Jesus. Can you remember that?
Dave: Well, that’s good!
Tom:Listen, I learned to say it so fast that I could probably put it together in one sentence: HailMaryfullofgracetheLordiswiththee, and so on! But I do remember the last part. If what you’re referring to is “Hail, Holy Queen”…
Tom:I believe that’s what we said. Here, I’ve got something that lays it out, because [laughing] I don’t want to tell you that I remember it—some of it I do, I remember some of the phrases—It goes: “Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.”
Dave: Let me interrupt. She’s the Mother of mercy? Mercy was around long before Mary came along. She’s our life? Our sweetness? No, Christ is our life! Okay, sorry, Tom…
Tom: “To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
Dave: Oh, you’ve got so many problems! Worthy of the promises of Christ? No, it’s by grace. How can you be worthy of grace? So, you do ask her to pray for you also, but “to thee” do we lift up our cries in this valley of tears. And we’re asking Mary to do what only God could do. Oh, Tom, it’s terrible. It’s horrible. But anyway, what does it have to do with Bangladesh and a weeping Virgin Mary statue? It’s a mixture all over the world, and it is not biblical, and it leads so many people astray, it’s tragic!