Pope Benedict XVI’s installation mass included two indications of a radical change in the Vatican’s strategy toward Islam and Islamist terrorism. In his greeting the new pope welcomed fellow Catholics, other Christians and Jews – but not Muslims.
Later, two selected people delivered intercessory prayers for oppressed Christians. One of the prayers was in Arabic.
What did these gestures mean? The era of de-facto appeasement under Pope John Paul II is over. The era of subtle, discreet, yet firm
confrontation has begun.
Muslims have noticed the shift and Benedict’s warmth toward Jews, as IslamOnline.net commented in its April 24 report on the installation: “Some observers fear that Jewish lobbies might blackmail the new pope for his wartime membership – which he confirms was enforced – in Nazi Germany’s Hitler Youth.”
John Paul II cultivated a relationship with Islam not only as part of his ecumenical agenda. He viewed Islam as an ally against communism and secular materialism, particularly abortion. In 1994, the Vatican forged a coalition with the radical regimes of Iran, Libya and Sudan to oppose any proposals advocating abortion at a United Nations conference on world population.
Moreover, the brutal Nazi occupation of Poland traumatized John Paul to the point where he deeply feared a similar clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam.
But John Paul’s successor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who led the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has other ideas, as Amir Taheri wrote on April 16 in Arab News:
“Ratzinger believes that John Paul II’s strategy of alliance with Islam has put the Vatican not on the side of the Muslim peoples, but on the side of despotic regimes that dominate the Muslim world. Ratzinger sees relations between Islam and Catholicism as one of competition over the truth.
“Ratzinger suggests an alternative strategy under which the Catholic Church would focus on the consolidation of its position in its traditional strongholds in Europe and the American continent. In that context, Ratzinger has publicly opposed the admission of Turkey into the European Union.”…
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