Pope professes "respect for Islam"? Not!

  • “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Jihadists enraged that the Pope is visiting the Mideast without apologizing

ap_pope_jordan_arrival_08may09_eng_210King Abdullah II of Jordan and Queen Rania receive Pope Benedict on his arrival in Amman, 08 May 2009

And without condemning Israel and buying into the Palestinian propaganda about how Israel’s action against Hamas, which boasted of using civilians as human shields, was somehow comparable to the Holocaust.

Let’s hope he stands firm. “Islamists say Pope’s Mideast visit provocative,” by Suleiman al-Khalidi for Reuters, May 7 (thanks to JW):

3 articles!

AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordanian Islamist leaders on Thursday condemned Pope Benedict’s visit to the Middle East, saying it was provocative because he has not apologized for offending comments implying Islam was violent and irrational.They said the pope, who arrives in Jordan on Friday on the first leg of a tour including Israel and the Palestinian territories, still owed them an apology for hinting Islam was violent and irrational in a 2006 speech in Regensburg.

Jordan’s Roman Catholic Church urged Islamists on Wednesday to welcome the pope despite their earlier criticism of his visit. A senior Amman official acknowledged some discontent but said the government would warmly welcome Benedict.

“The present Vatican pope is the one who issued severe insults to Islam and did not offer any apology to the Muslims,” Zaki Bani Rusheid, head of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest mainstream Islamist party, told Reuters.

“Ignoring Muslim sentiments will only block the healing of wounds his statements caused,” said another Islamist figure, Jamil Abu Baker.

For many Arabs in the region, the pope’s stated mission of peace and reconciliation is futile without a sufficient gesture to Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation.

This was even more pressing in Jordan, a country where a large portion of its 5.6 million are of Palestinian origin, they or their parents having been expelled or fled to Jordan in the fighting that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.

“It’s the same pope who apologized to the Jews about the Holocaust and now comes to the region but says nothing about the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe),” Bani Rusheid added. Arabs call Israel’s creation the “Nakba” (catastrophe)….

Jordanian Islamists also condemned a visit to Jerusalem’s memorial to Holocaust victims, demanding a comparable gesture to “victimized Palestinians” to prove he was even-handed.

“We ask if the Vatican pope will visit Gaza to explore how humanity is being violated,” Jamil Abu Bakr said.

The outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir Party issued a statement urging Jordanian authorities to withdraw their invitation.

“All Muslims should raise their voices high to say that any one who insults our Prophet is not welcome on this land in any way,” said the radical party, which seeks to unite Muslims into a pan-Islamic state but says its means are peaceful.

 

Pope professes “respect for Islam”?

That’s the title of this report; in fact, the Pope said he had a “deep respect for the Muslim community.” Major difference. Respecting the right of any one person to adhere to any religion (or not), that is, freedom of choice, is one thing; respecting that which they choose to adhere to is something entirely different. “Respect for the Muslim community” coming from a Pope is logical; “respect for Islam” — a creed that contradicts his own — is not. More on this story. “Pope stresses respect for Islam, religious freedom,” from AFP, via JW:

AMMAN (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI stressed his deep respect for Islam on Friday in Jordan, on his first trip as pontiff to an Arab state, and also stressed that religious freedom is a fundamental human right. 

Responding to a welcome address from King Abdullah II, the pope said his visit “gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam.”

“Religious freedom is, of course, a fundamental human right, and it is my fervent hope and prayer that respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of every man and woman will come to be increasingly affirmed and defended, not only throughout the Middle East, but in every part of the world,” he said.

“I come to Jordan as a pilgrim, to venerate holy places that have played such an important part in some of the key events of Biblical history.”

 

Pope’s Mideast pilgrimage presents wide array of challenges
 

By Charles Lewis, National Post

When Pope Benedict lands in Jordan on Friday, he will begin a tour of lands revered by those who worship Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad.

And each religion, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, will present the Pope with major challenges as he begins his pilgrimage of peace.

Muslims are already protesting his visit, saying he has failed to apologize for insulting Islam; Palestinian Christians are hoping he will champion their cause against Israel; and Jews are looking for a symbol of reconciliation.

The Pope – described as having a “tin ear” by showing a tendency to leave storms in his wake by remarks well-intentioned but often badly timed – will have to carry out a remarkable balancing act.

“Thus when Pope Benedict XVI visits Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories … the world may be excused for holding its breath,” wrote long-time Vatican correspondent John Allen in The New York Times. “In his four years on the job, this Pope has not always demonstrated a deft symbolic touch. If he simply manages to get back to Rome without starting a war, some might declare this trip a success.”

So what are Pope Benedict’s challenges?

JEWISH RELATIONS

Two issues affecting Jewish relations will follow the Pope on his trip to Israel; unwittingly welcoming back into the Church a bishop who later turned out to be a Holocaust denying, vicious anti-Semite, and the continuing thorn of the beatification of Pope Pius XXII, whom many Jews consider a collaborator with Nazi Germany.

The Vatican has already said he will not visit the museum at Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem because of a display critical of Pope Pius.

However, his trip will carry great significance because he will likely be the last pope to have been part of the Second World War generation and the last pope to know first-hand the seminal event in modern Jewish history, the Holocaust.

“I don’t think Israelis are going to hold his growing up in Nazi Germany against him,” said David Gibson, author of The Rule of Benedict. “But certainly it’s extremely poignant that you have a German pope who was briefly in the army and saw the Holocaust first-hand. He saw the foundational event of the state of Israel first-hand. You couldn’t imagine a more cathartic set up: a German pope coming to the Holy Land is packed with potential drama.”

“It certainly is a moment where the healing gets dialed up a bit,” said Christopher Bellitto, a professor of Church history at Kean University in New Jersey.

“The fact that he’s a German pope dials up the importance and meaning of the reconciliation all the more.”

CHRISTIAN RELATIONS

In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict paid enormous homage to the Jewish roots of Christianity and to Jesus’ own Jewish background.

Therefore the symbolism of this visit, said Jacques Monet, a Jesuit priest in Toronto, should send a strong signal to the Christian world, especially during a time of rising anti-Semitism.

“If this trip has a message, it is for Christians to become increasingly conscious of our Jewish roots,” Fr. Monet said. “It should send a message that anti-Semitism is a contradiction for a Christian. You can’t believe in Christ and not appreciate the Jewish faith.”

Rabbi David Novak, also a professor at the University of Toronto, said that John Paul II was deeply concerned with Catholic-Jewish relations but since then many have wondered if Pope Benedict had the same level of concern.

“Going to Israel indicates that he does,” Rabbi Novak said. “I think that’s a positive statement.”

But he also said this was a two-way street, and there was an important lesson that Jews should derive from the Pope’s trip.

“Jews should recognize that clearly our closest neighbours theologically and historically are Christians, and especially Catholics. And important for Jews to know that we’re not the only one worshipping the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

There is also the matter of the Palestinian Christians, who less than 100 years ago made up 20% of the population and today make up about 1%, who are furious at the Israeli government. “He has to be a champion for the remaining Christians there,” Mr. Gibson said. “And just by standing up for Christians in the Holy Land he could be seen in opposition to Jerusalem.”

MUSLIM RELATIONS

Jordanian Islamist leaders have already condemned the Pope’s visit, saying it was provocative because he had not apologized for comments implying Islam was violent and irrational in a 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany.

“The present Vatican Pope is the one who issued severe insults to Islam and did not offer any apology to the Muslims,” Zaki Bani Rusheid, head of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood – the country’s largest mainstream Islamist party – told Reuters.

“Ignoring Muslim sentiments will only block the healing of wounds his statements caused,” said another Islamist figure, Jamil Abu Baker.

For many Arabs in the region, the Pope’s stated mission of peace and reconciliation is futile without a sufficient gesture to what they say is Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation.

This is even more pressing in Jordan, a country where a large portion of its 5.6 million are of Palestinian origin, they or their parents having been expelled or fled to Jordan in the fighting that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.

“It’s the same Pope who apologized to the Jews about the Holocaust and now comes to the region, but says nothing about the Palestinian Nakba [catastrophe],” Mr. Bani Rusheid added. Arabs call Israel’s creation the “Nakba.”

All ears will be on what he says when he visits the Al-Hussein bin Talal mosque in Amman tomorrow and addresses Muslim religious leaders and other dignitaries there. His only other visit to a mosque was in Istanbul only weeks after the Regensburg speech.

Jordanian Islamists also condemned a visit to Jerusalem’s memorial to Holocaust victims, demanding a comparable gesture to “victimized Palestinians” to prove he was even-handed.

BALANCING ACT

It is actually very difficult to predict how any pope’s visit will go given it is such a rare historical event. In the past 2,000 years there have been exactly three popes in the Holy Land: Peter the Apostle, the first pope; then Paul VI spent 11 hours in Israel in 1964; and in 2000, John Paul II made the first substantive papal visit in history.

One of the most famous photos of John Paul’s papacy was of him praying at the Wailing Wall, placing a note in the holy site asking God for forgiveness for crimes and sins visited by Christians on Jews, Prof. Bellitto said. And he predicted there would be another memorable shot from this visit

“I would hope that we shouldn’t be looking for a faux pas,” Fr. Monet said. “We should be trying to understand what he’s doing there. It is a pilgrimage. A pope should go to the Holy Land because it is the Holy Land. This should become a normal thing for popes to do. If Pope Benedict wasn’t going it would be a much larger statement.”

Earlier this year, when he announced his trip, the Pope said he would pray for “the precious gift of unity and peace in the Middle East and for all of humanity.”

But on Thursday, when he visits the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, he may see for himself the close clash of religions. Right next to the church, where the angel Gabriel is said to have told Mary she would carry God’s son, a banner condemns those who insult the Prophet Muhammad.

“Each day, each gesture, each encounter and each visit will have a political connotation,” said Fuad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

National Post, with files from Reuters

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One thought on “Pope professes "respect for Islam"? Not!”

  1. Pope professes “respect for Islam”? Not!
    by sheikyermami on May 9, 2009

    I hope not! He is balancing all contact, only.
    He got into trouble from ‘them’ once before, when he was newly pope, when he merely recounted barbaric Muslim history and he had to apologise.

    “Opinion – Tme for Catholic-Jewish reconciliation
    Published: January 19, 2010
    http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=18838
    Let’s hope more gang up against ‘them’?”

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