Pope Benedict xvi’s private secretary has reopened the Roman Catholic conflict with Islam, even specifically endorsing the pope’s controversial remarks in Regensburg last year.
“Attempts to Islamise the west cannot be denied,” Monsignor Georg Gawnswein warned.
“The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness.”
He said the pope’s Regensburg comments were meant to combat “a certain naivete.”
The pope’s original comments, which sparked a furor in the Muslim world, included a quotation from the 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel ii Paleolgus: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The response from the Muslim world—militants threatening the pope’s life, churches being burned, a nun being murdered—intensified tension between Islam and the Vatican.The secretary’s comments highlight the still-growing gulf between the two religions.
Explaining why the pope would counter the naivety of Islam, the secretary added, “It has to be noted that there is no (monolithic) Islam, nor does it have a (single) commanding and obligatory voice (of authority) for all Muslims.
The term Islam embraces many various, often feuding denominations ranging all the way to extremists who take up guns and justify their actions by the Koran.”
Gawnswein’s rhetoric was certainly not intended to draw Islam and Catholicism closer together.Confrontational language is becoming more common in the Islam-Catholic dialogue.
Recently, Joachim Meisner, the archbishop of Cologne, said the constuction of a new mosque in Germany, which includes a dome and two 177-foot minarets, would make him “feel unwell” and that the “immigration of Muslims has created a breach in our German, European culture.”
Commenting on the secretary’s comments, the president of the National Secular Society took the opportunity to fan the flames of discontent, saying, “Surely this is the way that holy wars start? Even the Vatican isn’t able to turn the clock back, and though many people are alarmed at the changing nature of Europe, it cannot be returned to being the Christian theocracy that the pope so desperately wants. Catholicism and Islam have got to live together and the only way they can do that successfully is under secularism.”
But combating secularism has been a main premise of Benedict’s papacy.
He intends to stamp secularism out, not embrace it.
There is perhaps no force Benedict can use more effectively than the tension between Islam and Christianity.
Nothing will unite Europe faster than seeing Islam waging a war against Catholics.
For more information on the Catholic clash with Islam and the pope’s plans to spread Catholicism through Europe, read “Benedict’s Evangelical Blitzkrieg.”
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