A Pope Forbad Christians from taking Muslim Names

Because various penalties were imposed upon them, Christians at times were tempted to take Muslim names.

Pope Benedict XIV strictly forbad it.

Why? Because Christians would do so in order to get along and go along in Muslim society. But why did the name change help them “get along and go along”? Because by the name they could pretend they were Muslims. In short, they would believe Jesus with their heart but not confess Him with their lips.

This action showed, of course, that they loved earthly wealth and glory more than God. Hence, they had true faith, perhaps, but not charity. Ergo, they could not be saved. See Jn 12:41ff. See also James 3-4.

Pope Benedict, solicitous for their salvation, urgently rebukes them and lays heavy burdens on them. Why? Because he was a “Pharisee”? What nonsense to charge him of that. What solemn nonsense. Rather, he sought their salvation.

Moreover, he added, such “getting along” is a sin against the Muslims. Why? Because (a) it is hypocrisy. Therefore, the Muslims would punish it in justice. Also (b) it does not allow Muslims to see the face of Christ, sincere and truthful, courageous and charitable. Thus, they have less reason to convert to the One True Religion, the Catholic Religion.

Let us read his Quod Provinciale:

In Our letter mentioned above, We designated that abuse [i.e. calling oneself a Muslim name] as a cowardly concealment of the Christian profession, approaching infidelity. Since then, We have learned with great mental anguish that many people in that province continue to take Turkish or Mohammedan names despite the consideration of their eternal salvation. They do so not only in order to be immune and free from those taxes and burdens which have often been and continue to be imposed on the faithful of Christ, but also in order that neither they themselves nor their parents may be thought to have abandoned the Mohammedan sect, thereby avoiding the requisite penalties. For all this cannot take place without a pretense of the errors of Mohammed, even if the faith of Christ is adhered to in the heart, and this is at variance with Christian sincerity. It involves a lie in a most serious matter and includes a virtual denial of the Faith, most insulting to God and scandalous to their neighbors. It even gives the Turks themselves a suitable opportunity to rate all Christ’s faithful as hypocrites and deceivers, and accordingly to persecute them justly and deservedly.

2. Our sorrow and anguish is further increased by the fact that some of you yourselves, venerable brothers, and of you also, beloved sons, parish priests and missionaries, take no measures against so vile and hateful a pretense. In fact, some of you even connive at it; by being impressed by empty motives to find excuses for sins, you do not hesitate to allow those who take common Turkish or Mohammedan names and desire to be addressed by them, to partake of the Sacraments with no pang of conscience at all, to the public offense of the obedient faithful.

3. We who are entrusted with the care of all the churches and the supreme administration of the sacred Apostolate; in this capacity, We are obliged to lead all Christians back to the way of salvation and to present them to God pure and sincere, walking in the spirit and in truth without stain. We have heard Our Venerable Brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, who are general Inquisitors for evil heresy on this subject. In accordance with their advice, We first renew and confirm by Our Apostolic authority in this letter the praiseworthy canon of the council of your province of Albania, and We command that it be strictly observed. Also We extend the decrees of Our church by the same authority and uniformity to include your province; We equally strictly prohibit any of Christ’s faithful from daring to take Turkish or Mohammedan names in order to be considered Mohammedans, in any case, under any pretext, or in any conceivable circumstances.