- VATICAN-ISLAM: After the appearance of the false prophet Mohammed, after the devastation by Islam of all Christian countries of the Orient, and also of those of the east, the south and the west of the Mediterranean, after the crusades to free the Holy Land from Islam, after resurgence of international terrorism following the pan-Arabism of Nasser and of the general boosting of Islam, after the speech of the pope of September 2006 in Regensburg evoking the close connection between Islam and violence (with the well known retractions of the Vatican after that), after the visit of Benedict XVI in the Blue Mosque of Istanbul in November 2006 (while praying there not “with” but “at the same time as” the Moslems, God alone understands that slim difference), a new episode has sprung up, stretching over the whole last week. It was processed in 4 phases until now, and this is probably not finished.

1) March 22nd: during the Vigil of Easter at St Peter Basilica in Rome, the pope baptizes, confirms and gives Holy Communion to 6 converts, including a man called Mr Magdi ALLAM, 56 years old, Moslem, Egyptian by birth, Italian writer and journalist, currently vice-director of the Italian daily `Corriere della Sera'. He took the name ‘Christian’ as Christian name. ALLAM got known in Italy by his vehement anti-Islamic writings, declaring that Islam is in its root ‘physiologically violent and historically conflictual'. He had published in particular in 2003 an article which reproduced the sermon of June 6th, 2003 in the Big Mosque of Rome which was pronounced by the Egyptian Imam Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa glorifying terrorism by suicide and pushing hatred against the Occident (upon this article, this Imam was recalled to Egypt by the Egyptian government). Since this date, ALLAM is under police protection, having received several fatwas and other death threats. In summer 2007 two hundred professors of various universities, including the catholic university of Milan, accused him in a public letter to be `intolerant'. Even the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the time, Mgr. Michael L. Fitzgerald, criticized: “This kind of activity runs the risk of compromising dialogue”… But the pope, against everyone, took the risk to baptize this man, and that in a solemn and public way, during the night of Easter 2008. He really needed courage to do this! It’s true that the name of this convert had been held secret until 1 hour before the beginning of the Easter Vigil in the Basilica Saint Peter.

2) March 23rd: the following day, ALLAN explained himself in a letter to his editing director, in the CORRIERE DELLA SERA. He says that after long years of reflection, he has by this baptism “definitively broken with the past”. His soul, he says, “has been freed from the darkness of the preaching in which hatred and intolerance toward those who are `different', uncritically condemned as the ‘enemy’, prevail over love and respect for one’s ‘neighbour’ who is always and in any case a ‘person’”. In the same way he declared in this letter: “My mind has been liberated from the obscurantism of an ideology which legitimates deception and dissimulation, the violent death, that induces murder and suicide, blind submission and tyranny; permitting me to adhere to the authentic religion of Truth, Life, and Freedom”. As to possible future persecutions by the Islamists, because of his public conversion of the day before, he declared: “I will face my fate with my head held high, with my back straight and with the interior firmness of those who have the certainty of their faith”. And he continued: “His Holiness has launched a clear and revolutionary message to a Church which, until now, was been excessively prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from `proselytizing' in Muslim majority countries, and remaining silent of converts in Christian countries. Out of fear! The fear of being unable to protect converts in the face of their condemnation for apostasy, and the fear of retaliation against Christians living in Muslim countries. And so, now,  Benedict XVI, with his testimony, is telling us that we must overcome fear and have no qualms in affirming the truth of Jesus with Muslims as well.”

3) March 24th: The Muslim reaction to this baptism came down like a lightning. Already Osama Bin Laden had published by Internet, 3 days before this baptism (how did he know ?), a message in which he showed `the pope of the Vatican' playing a `significant role' in the `new crusade against Islam'.  And after the baptism, not only obscure Imams, but the Libyan theologian Aref Ali NAYED, director of the Centre of Islamic Strategic Studies of Amman in Jordan, spokesperson of the 138 signatories of the famous letter to the pope of October 2007 accepting the dialogue between the Vatican and Islam, who formulated the most severe criticism. NAYED naturally took for target not only the new convert, but especially Benedict XVI himself. NAYED says that the pope wanted to reaffirm, by this baptism, his `sadly famous' speech of Regensburg. NAYED writes that the fundamental message of the last article of ALLAM (of the day before) is precisely the thought of the Byzantine Emperor which the pope had quoted in his speech at Regensburg. He denounces as `totalitarian' and `quasi-Manichean' the symbolism of the darkness and the light developed by the pope in his sermon during the Easter Vigil. The pope would assign the darkness to `the other', and the light to himself. He also criticizes that the idea of `peace' of the pope, according to his sermon, is reduced to the fact of bringing `the other' into the fold of the Church by baptism. “Such a totalitarian language of Rome is extremely counter-productive”, explains NAYED bitterly. Lastly, if the Vatican did not take its distances, commands NAYED, the baptism conferred by the pope will irrevocably mean that it subscribes to the remarks of ALLAM and supports his `hateful language' against Islam. This baptism would have been `provocative by its spectacular setting', which would have made of this intimate and personal conversion a `tool of triumph for the Church in order to mark points'.

4) March 27th: After these events, as one could expect, the prelates of the Vatican, frightened, hastened to formulate excuses towards the Islamists, by the very mouth of Father Federico Lombardi S.J., director of Radio Vatican and currently spokesperson of the Vatican. He explains that, “when the Church accommodates a new believer, she does not embrace at all his various ideas and positions, in particular in the political or social areas”.  As to the new convert ALLAM, he would have “the right to express his own ideas which remain personal ideas, of which it is clear that they do not become in any way the official expression of the pope or of the Holy See”. In particular, the relation between the faith and the reason, religion and violence would remain the object of reflections and debates, being subject to `variable positions', since “they refer to problems which cannot be solved once for all”. In particular Fr. Lombardi stands up against the reproach of NAYED that the Catholic schools, in Islamic countries, would make proselytism. In these Catholic schools, the large majority of the students “were not and are not Christians and peacefully thus remained”… Lastly, the pope would have taken “the risk of this baptism” in order to affirm “the religious liberty which comes from the human dignity “. Quintessence of Lombardi: it’s absoljutely necessary that the dialogue between Vatican and Islam continues… - As conclusion, let’s say that each conversion is a marvellous fact, a new resurrection in Christ, a Church which starts again, each time from zero, with a convert who, with the freshness of spring, announces loudly and strongly the light of Christ. - (ru; cf Chiesa March 30)



- O.A.M.D.G. -