Another piece on how large Islam is looming in the choice for the next Pope, from Amir Taheri in Arab News, with thanks to Skeetstreet. Amir is like the little girl with the curl, and right here he is indeed quite horrid:
One issue that is dominating the debate about the succession is the attitude that the next pope, leader of the world's estimated one billion Catholics, should adopt toward Islam.
For centuries the Catholic Church either tried to ignore Islam or clung to medieval prejudices borne out of misunderstanding or ignorance....
Gee, what could have caused all that misunderstanding and ignorance? Could it have had anything to do with those jihad conquests of the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Sicily, Spain, and more?
John Paul II insisted on developing a third position. This was based on the idea of a grand alliance between the Catholic Church and Islam to oppose both the Communist bloc led by the USSR and the growing secularization of life in the world. He regarded Islam and Catholicism as objective allies because while the former fought against the Red Army in Afghanistan, the latter took on the Soviet "evil empire" in Central and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe, the heartland of Catholicism, the pope saw Islam as an ally on such issues as homosexual "marriages", abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, and the status of women.
John Paul II pursued his quest for alliance with Islam in 1986 by becoming the first pope to visit a Muslim country. During that visit to Morocco he had this to say: "We believe in the same God, the one and the only God, who created the world and brought its creatures to perfection."
In 2001 John Paul II visited Damascus and became the first pope to pray in a mosque. He also issued a formal apology for what he termed the misdeeds of Christendom toward Islam, including the Crusades and colonialism.
That strategy was not an easy sell to many Catholics. Islam and Christianity are the only two major religions that wish to convert the whole of mankind. For them to set their 1400 year-old competition for converts aside in the name of fighting the common enemies of secularism and atheism is not an easy option....
Particularly -- and Taheri does not mention this -- when the "common cause" was only being made from one side, as was all the initiative for "dialogue."
Ratzinger regards a formal dialogue with Islam as a handicap for the Catholic Church because it would assume a measure of equality between the two faiths, signaling to people, especially in Europe, that they can shop around for religion. Ratzinger's strategy enjoys much support in the College of Cardinals. But it also has critics.
Cardinal Angel Scola, the archbishop of Venice and another contender for John Paul II's succession, regards Ratzinger's strategy as "defensive" and based on the West's traditional fears about Islam. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the archbishop of Westminster, goes further and described dialogue with Islam as "an urgent need".
"We must find interlocutors in all Muslim countries," he says. "Christianity and Islam have a shared responsibility in defending world peace."
Both Scola and O'Connor believe that John Paul II's public opposition to the war in Iraq helped prevent a "clash of civilizations"....
We're glad that these good Cardinals believe that the "clash of civilizations" was prevented by the Pope, but I'm afraid we beg to differ.