CATHOLIC BISHOPS meeting for a global synod in the Vatican today were shown an alarmist YouTube video on the spread of Islam in the West, participants at the closed-door meeting said.
Some of the bishops expressed “perplexity” and questioned some of the figures in the controversial video, which calls for greater evangelical efforts by Christians to prevent Islam from becoming the world’s leading religion.
The anonymous seven-minute video, entitled ‘Muslim demographics’ – which says France would become majority Muslim within the next four decades – was posted on the Internet four years ago and has received more than 13 million views.
The video has some factual discrepancies, however: it indicates the entire island of Ireland as being part of the United Kingdom, and describes the European Union as having 31 members. It also attributes statements to the German government which that country denies.
The video itself has been analysed by rumour debunking website Snopes.com and declared to be ‘mostly false’.
Pope Benedict XVI did not attend the meeting – part of a three-week synod to discuss ways to promote a “new evangelisation”. The video was proposed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
One bishop present said the Catholic Church should avoid “the trap of behaving like fundamentalist Islam”, another said it was “inappropriate” while a third said the video ran the risk of provoking a “war of religions”.
Many prelates from Africa and the Middle East have spoken at the synod about the difficulties of preaching the Gospel in majority Muslim countries and said the situation with Muslims who want to convert was particularly sensitive.
Additional reporting by Gavan Reilly