Even in the West, they run a great risk. A clandestine existence is the norm for most of them. They must conceal themselves from their community of origin, and they do not always find the support they were expecting from the Catholic Church. There is a widespread tendency within the Church not to encourage conversion from Islam to Christianity – ostensibly for reasons of “dialogue,” but in reality out of fear of the reactions.
But on a number of occasions, appeals for help have come from converts from Islam who, after their baptism, have felt that they were abandoned. In an interview with Italian television two years ago, then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: “I know, and this pains me deeply. It is the drama of our Christian consciousness, which is unsure of itself. Naturally, we must respect the Islamic states and their religion, but we must also ask for freedom of conscience for those who wish to become Christian, and we must assist these persons courageously, if we really are sure that they have found the right answer. We must not leave them alone. Everything possible must be done so that they can experience, in liberty and peace, what they have found within the Christian religion.”
To lift the veil on the lives of these new converts, a book has been released in recent days: “I cristiani venuti dall’islam [From Islam to Christianity].” The authors are Giorgio Paolucci, the managing editor of “Avvenire,” the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, and Camille Eid, from Lebanon, a specialist in the Arab and Islamic world, who has recently written – among other things – a survey of the Christians in Iran, which was published by the Venice patriarchate’s magazine “Oasis” and reprinted last November 11 by www.chiesa.
The book recounts – for the first time – numerous stories about Muslims living in Italy who have encountered Christianity in a great variety of ways and, after converting, have received baptism.
In an appendix, the two authors also provide an overview of Muslim countries, giving the degree of danger – up to the death sentence – that awaits anyone who changes from Islam to another faith.
But, in an extensive preface, the book also examines how the question is discussed within Islam.