Anti-dhimmitude and clear-eyed realism at the Vatican. From Sandro Magister in Chiesa, with thanks to all who sent this in:
ROMA, April 10, 2006 — One of the four topics considered by Benedict XVI and the cardinals during their day “of reflection and prayer” at the last consistory, on March 23, was Islam.
Or, more precisely: “the position of the Catholic Church, and of the Holy See, in the face of Islam today.”
The discussion was held in private, but some of the cardinals afterward remarked that much more concern was shown than in the past over the challenge that Islam presents to Christianity and the West, and that there was general agreement with Benedict XVI”s energetic opposition to terrorism and the violation of religious liberty.
One month earlier, on February 20, pope Joseph Ratzinger received Morocco’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Ali Achour, and made a vigorous appeal for the rejection of violence and for full respect for religious liberty, “in a reciprocal manner in all societies.”
And on March 22, on the eve of the consistory, the pope, acting through his secretary of state Angelo Sodano, had sent to the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, an urgent request for the liberation of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan citizen condemned to death for converting to Christianity.
Rahman was in fact freed and transferred to Italy under protective custody. And he has Benedict XVI to thank for that.
But can this more energetic approach to the question of Islam also be found in the analysis the Church makes of the phenomenon?
The answer is yes. One outstanding proof of this is an essay that appeared in the most recent edition of “Studium,” an authoritative Italian bimonthly journal on Catholic culture founded in 1906, which is printed by the publishing house of the same name and directed by two scholars of great prestige: Vincenzo Cappelletti, a philosopher of science and director of the Institute of the Italian Encyclopedia, and Francesco Paolo Casavola, a jurist and former president of the constitutional court. The dedicated collaborators of “Studium” have included Giovanni Battista Montini, who became pope under the name of Paul VI.
The essay is entitled “The Islamic Question,” and occupies 30 pages of the journal. It is accompanied by extensive footnotes, and is featured prominently beginning with the cover, which depicts a minaret standing out among the skyscrapers of a Western city.
But the really interesting thing about the article is its authors, Roberto A.M. Bertacchini and Piersandro Vanzan, and in particular the latter of these. Vanzan is a Jesuit, a professor of pastoral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and above all he is part of the college of writers for “La CiviltÃ Cattolica,” the magazine of the Rome Jesuits that is printed with the inspection and authorization of the Vatican authorities.
Because of its explosive contents, it was unthinkable that the essay by Bertacchini and Vanzan would be published in a magazine strictly connected to the Holy See by statute, and representative of its official stance.
But the fact that the essay”s principal author is a Jesuit from “La CiviltÃ Cattolica,” and that it was published by an authoritative Catholic journal like “Studium,” are still important indications.
Those who have read “La rabbia e l”orgoglio [Rage and Pride]” and other writings on Islam by Oriana Fallaci — an author of worldwide fame who has lived in New York for many years — will find many points in common with hers in the essay by Bertacchini and Vanzan.
Oriana Fallaci is an extremely harsh critic of the religious and cultural factors that, in her view, feed into the Muslim world’s challenge against the West and Christianity, which she fiercely defends in spite of being a declared atheist.
She is a great admirer of Benedict XVI, who has read a number of her books and received her in a private audience last August 1 at Castel Gandolfo.
Read it all.