Cardinal Turkson and the Muslim Demographics video

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Holy See, got himself in hot water recently for showing the following video  “Muslim Demographics” to the 262 bishops from around the world attending the Synod on New Evangelization.  I would like to come to the Cardinal’s defence, even if I have reservations about the video he showed.

Vatican spokesmen have distanced the Vatican from this video which does not source its many statistical assertions and has been deemed by many to be Islamophobic or using scare tactics against Muslim immigration.

Turkson has since apologized, according to this Catholic News Agency story:

“This was never meant to call Christians to arms. I sincerely apologize. I never meant to do this,” Cardinal Turkson told yesterday afternoon’s free discussion period of the synod on the New evangelization, according to Father Thomas Rosica.



“I didn’t hear anybody defend the film” yesterday, Fr. Rosica said. “There were questions, and most of the concern was the facts were not right. And if you’re going to present something like this, we need a fuller picture.”

Asked if Cardinal Turkson explained why he gave the video presentation, he said no.

“He didn’t explain why he showed the film. But he did offer a serious apology for upsetting people. I think he realizes that it upset people. He didn’t say, ‘I meant to do this to stir up a discussion,’ but in fact it stirred up a discussion, and it was a lively discussion.”

The Oct. 15 afternoon free discussion period, attended by 19 bishops, featured discussions which were “not heated but animated,” Fr. Rosica said.

But the session did end “on a very positive note,” he added.


In his capacity as the CEO of the Toronto-based Salt and Light Television, Fr. Rosica said that back when the video first appeared on YouTube, he “had people send it to us who wanted to show it on TV. I said, ‘No, I don’t want the network shut down.’ Such unfounded nonsense.”

As someone who has followed this issue for a long time and is a Mark Steyn fan, I am familiar with Steyn’s demographic arguments about the suicide of the West in his bestselling book America Alone, and I think they present a sobering picture.  Here’s an op ed by Steyn in the Wall St. Journal that captures the essence of his argument:

Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it’s not what this thing’s about.
Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It’s not the HIV that kills you, it’s the pneumonia you get when your body’s too weak to fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they lose–as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If this were like World War I with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there’s an excellent chance they can drag
things out until Western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default.

That’s what the war’s about : our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder”–as can be seen throughout much of “the Western world” right
now. The progressive agenda–lavish social welfare, abortion,
secularism, multiculturalism–is collectively the real suicide bomb.
Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn’t involve knowing anything about other cultures–the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It’s fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but
an advanced Western society.

I personally would not quote from this particular video because I would want to know the source of the statistics.  I would quote Mark Steyn, however, because he has been shown to be reliable in his sourcing.  The point Steyn made in that book is not the rising Muslim demographics per se, but our civilizational suicide.  Is anyone contending the birth rates this video cites regarding those of the French, Italian, Greek peoples etc are false?   Those are the stats to be worried about.  That is the point I believe Cardinal Turkson must have been trying to make.

Interestingly, Steyn faced “hate speech” complaints about excerpts of his book that ran in Maclean’s Magazine, Canada’s news weekly equivalent to Time Magazine, so Fr. Rosica’s concerns about having his TV station shut down are not unfounded.

So, what do we do?   We can debunk the statistics in the Muslim Demographics video and ignore the overall message of population decline and the real problems Europe is facing through Muslim immigration, even if the stats are overblown, meant to scare people and grossly offensive to politically-correct sensibilities.  Or we can use this video as a jumping off point to explore some perhaps unpleasant truths that the mainstream media has studiously avoided showing us.

Bruce Bawer, a gay American writer and culture critic living in Oslo writes in City Journal:

According to Foreign Affairs, Muslims in Western Europe numbered between 15 and 20 million in 2005. One source estimates that Britain’s Muslim population rose from about 82,000 in 1961 to 553,000 in 1981 to 2 million in 2000—a demographic change roughly representative of Western Europe as a whole during that period. According to the London Times, the number of Muslims in the U.K. climbed by half a million between 2004 and 2008 alone—a rate of growth ten times that of the rest of that country’s population.

Yet instead of encouraging these immigrants to integrate and become part of their new societies, Western Europe’s governments have allowed them to form self-segregating parallel societies run more or less according to sharia. Many of the residents of these patriarchal enclaves subsist on government benefits, speak the language of their adopted country poorly or not at all, despise pluralistic democracy, look forward to Europe’s incorporation into the House of Islam, and support—at least in spirit—terrorism against the West. A 2006 Sunday Telegraph poll, for example, showed that 40 percent of British Muslims wanted sharia in Britain, 14 percent approved of attacks on Danish embassies in retribution for the famous Mohammed cartoons, 13 percent supported violence against those who insulted Islam, and 20 percent sympathized with the July 2005 London bombers.


Again, the problem is not the immigrants, it is the fact that the West no longer has culture that is strong enough to invite newcomers to integrate into.   Bawer, who moved to Europe because as a gay man he could not bear the rise of the Christian Right in America, soon found out the growing fundamentalism of immigrant youths made it unsafe for gay men in the downtowns of Europe’s most progressive and tolerant cities such as Amsterdam.

However, the effects of globalization and the west’s nihilistic, anti-family, anti-child impulses are also affecting Muslim demographics in some countries.  As David P. Goldman, former editor of First Things and author of How Civilizations Die says in this interview at

Goldman: It’s true that the Muslim birthrate far exceeds the Western birthrate, but large parts of the Islamic world are catching up to the West’s demographic winter at startling speed. The Muslim world is passing from infancy to senility without going through adulthood. Muslim countries with a high literacy rate — Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia — have already fallen below replacement fertility. Islam is a religion of traditional society, where subsistence farmers have always had as many children as they could. The moment Muslims leave the traditional world — especially when girls get a high school education — their behavior changes radically. Most Iranians have six siblings, but will have one or two children.

Never has a national fertility rate dropped from 7 to 1.5 in a single generation.  Turks whose cradle-tongue is Turkish also have a fertility rate of only 1.5 — the same as Europe’s — while Kurds are having four to five children. That means the map of Turkey will be redrawn a generation from now. In Judea and Samaria, Arabs had eight children a generation ago. That’s fallen to three, the same as the Jewish fertility rate in Israel. As the modern world forces its way into traditional Muslim societies elsewhere, fertility continues to plunge. It tells us that Islam, as a religion, crashes and burns when it encounters the modern world. That’s not just a Muslim problem, I hasten to add. The same sudden collapse of fertility afflicted ethnocentric branches of Christianity, for example, Catholicism in Quebec.

Goldman is always interesting.

So, how do we bring about new evangelization of western countries that think they know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that have perhaps as one priest told me the other day, heard enough of the truth to be inoculated against it the way a vaccination gives you a dead dose of a virus so you have antibodies to the real thing when it presents itself?

The threat to the West is dire and nothing less than a full-blown revival of the West’s Christian roots evidenced in a resurging birth rate among Christian families can hope to turn the tide.   This is what I think Cardinal Turkson was trying to get his brother bishops to see.  Let’s not let his perhaps ham-fisted way of getting the message across blunt the overall message or allow us to go back to sleep when signs of civilizational collapse are all around us.


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3 Responses to Cardinal Turkson and the Muslim Demographics video

  1. Charles A. Coulombe says:

    The bottom line is that the problem is not them, it is us – it was true with the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, it is true across the West now.

  2. Pingback: Cardinal Turkson and the Muslim Demographics video | Catholic Canada

  3. Rev22:17 says:


    This is a fascinating, and very thought-provoking, article. Thank you!

    You asked: So, how do we bring about new evangelization of western countries that think they know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that have perhaps as one priest told me the other day, heard enough of the truth to be inoculated against it the way a vaccination gives you a dead dose of a virus so you have antibodies to the real thing when it presents itself?

    Over the past several decades, the Archdiocese of Boston has run many “come home to church” advertising campaigns, often connected with Christmas or Easter. The fundamental problem, however, is that anybody who did ” come home to church” found the very same dysfunctional church that drove them to leave in the first place. The “New Evangelization” must begin with clergy who have not heard the gospel — who, unfortunately, constitute the overwhelming majority of clergy of some dioceses — so that the clergy can bring the gospel into our parishes where the people will hear it, transforming the lives of the parishionners. It is the transformed lives of the parishionners that will draw back those who have left and will draw those who are unchurched over the course of time.

    But I think that this is precisely the vision that Pope Benedict XVI articulated when he announced the “New Evangelization” and the “Year of Faith.”


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