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Gülen a secret cardinal of the Catholic Church? [UPDATED]

[ by Charles Cameron — a case of Catholic taqiyya? srsly? you jest! ]

This tweet about Fethullah Gülen is just too rich in ironies to relegate to the comment section of my earlier posts, Turkey — keeping an eye out for Gülen and its follow-up, Turkey Tweeted, continued:

H/t Bryan Alexander.

I may write this one up for LapidoMedia, in which case I’ll report back here…



Apparently LapidoMedia won’t be covering this, since they already have two pieces from me for this week & next.

Here’s the gist:

The suggestion has recently been made in at least two Turkish media that the Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, now resident in the US, is a secret Catholic, not a Muslim, and that when he met Pope John Paul II in 1988, the latter made him a cardinal “in pectore”.

The Turkish Minute article Indictment claims Gülen secretly made cardinal by John Paul II reports the claim as having been made in a court case, and explains:

The indictment said “in pectore” is a term meaning “in the heart” and that it refers “a person who keeps his religious beliefs secret in their country.”

Shia, under the doctrine of taqiyya, have the right to say that they are Sunni if questioned in a sectarian life-and-death situation, and the Turkish indictment apparently conflated this idea with the authentic Catholic poractice of a Pope making a cardinal “in pectore” — where the secret of the appointment is kept, not because the cardinal keeps his religion a secret, let alone that he claims to be a Muslim cleric while in fact being a high-ranking Catholic — but because the news that the person had been raised to the College of Cardinals might draw unwanted attention to him as a public figure in an area where this might have dire consequences.

So the two ideas have their similarities — but are in fact different.

Add in the fact of the amazing image of Gülen wearing a bishop’s miter and the pallium — an item worn only by major archbishops and the Pope — and you have quite a multitude of ironies in play.

4 Responses to “Gülen a secret cardinal of the Catholic Church? [UPDATED]”

  1. larrydunbar Says:

    Can’t you be Muslim and still a Catholic?

    I mean, many Muslims believe that the first Christian was a Muslim and many Christians believe the first Christian was a Jew.

    It’s not a perfect double quote.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    There was this example, Larry:
    Former Episcopalian Priest Lives as Both a Christian and a Muslim
    but she was defrocked by the Episcopalians, who are a lot more open to innovation (women priests, eg) than the Catholic authorities.

  3. TMLutas Says:

    Appointments in pectore are announced as such along with the diocese the non-public appointment is made to. John Paul II announced four such cardinals, three of which were later identified. The fourth’s identity was never revealed and the appointment expired at the Pope’s death.


  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    TM, thanks.
    I have wondered about Hans Urs von Balthasar, who, as I understand it, died the day before he was to have been made a cardinal — he was clearly not a cardinal in pectore in the danonical sense, but perhaps one might say in a poetic mode?

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