VATICAN CITY – Although Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday, April 20, that he wanted dialogue with other faiths and cultures, some voiced their concern about the new pope’s political opinions and his stand on Islam.
The new pope – Germany’s Joseph Ratzinger – has a couple of political views that were set to draw controversy and were immediately highlighted by world media, following his election late Tuesday.
The most recent of these causes has been Turkey’s attempts to become a member of the European Union. He says allowing the predominantly Muslim nation into Europe’s club would be “an enormous mistake.”
Europe is a “cultural continent, not a geographic one,” he said in 2004, and Turkey has “always represented another continent… in permanent contrast with Europe,” according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Wednesday….
As a cardinal, the new pope inserted himself last year into the political debate over allowing Turkey into the European Union, the [New York Times] said, quoting him as saying that “adding Turkey would dilute the culture of what he considers a Christian continent”.
He also said that Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation of 70 million people, should align itself instead with other Muslim nations.
The paper added that it would be extremely disturbing if the pope became an unnecessary wedge in the process of reconciling the Islamic world with the non-Islamic West.
“It would also be out of keeping with the heritage of John Paul II – who, for all his doctrinal conservatism, was a man known for his outreach to people of other faiths.”
The same concern was present in Turkish newspapers, which expressed concern that the new Pope’s past opposition to Ankara joining the European Union on the grounds that it is a Muslim nation could raise fresh obstacles to its membership.
Turkish papers also quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying Wednesday he hoped the new pope would soften his stiff opposition to the Muslim nation’s bid to join the European Union.
“He has voiced such views as his personal opinion in the past, but his rhetoric may change from now on,” Erdogan said….
“I hope the new Pope will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and try to bring peace in the world,” said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a Pakistani Islamic scholar and politician…
But, a report on FrontPageMagazine.com Wednesday wrote that while “the late Pope kissed the (Noble) Qur’an and pursued a consistent line of conciliation toward the Islamic world. the new Pope Benedict XVI, while no less charitable, has been a bit more forthcoming about the reality of how Islam challenges the Catholic Church, Christianity, and even the post-Christian West.”
It was nice of them to make reference to my FrontPage piece. I hope I was correct in my assessment.