By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Reuters
PARIS: The Easter baptism of an Italian Muslim by Pope Benedict was a provocative act that raises questions about the Vatican's approach to Islam, a leading participant in Christian-Muslim dialogue said on Monday..."The whole spectacle... provokes genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the pope's advisers on Islam," Nayed, who is director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, said in a statement.
There's something sinister behind those sunken eyes and wan smile. Yes, that's very disrespectful of me. But, like many people in the country, I'm a recovering Catholic. I had more than 12 years of very intense theology rammed down my throat - so much that my grandmother hoped I might beome a priest. Sorry grandmother, but the nuns of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Dominican Priests encouraged me not to be hypocritical. So I turned away from Catholicism alogether.
I've lived under Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John-Paul I, John-Paul II and now Benedict XVI. Three of them tried to bring the church to some semblance of relevancy, while the other three longed for the old days of the Dark Ages. The "progressive" period was way too short.
In the wake of the Easter baptism of a Muslim journalist who has excoriated militant Islamists, maybe we should question the motives of Benedict: Mike Tippit, in an editorial to Wake Up America probably said it best:
The Pope has kicked off the modern Crusades.That's right, you read it right. The Pope has given his blessings for it, the Holy Church is behind it.God wills it.
NEWSMAX (a conservative monthly magazine) has featured Benedict on its April issue cover under the title: "The Great Crusader"
The word "crusade" means many things to many people, but to the people with long memories, it means a time when Christians launched a full-scale attack against Muslims.
For the first decade, the Crusaders pursed a policy of terror against Muslims and Jews that included mass executions, the throwing of severed heads over besieged cities walls, exhibition and mutilation of naked cadavers, and even cannibalism, as was recorded after the Siege of Maarat. (Wikipedia)
These are the words of Pope Urban II which ignited the First Crusade:
"[...] this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. [...] God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven."
Or perhaps Benedict is more like Innoent III, who called for the fourth Crusade in order to enact the extermination of a Gnostic sect (who still considered itself Christian) as a result, setting off the first real genocide in Western civilization (100,000 dead)
Of course, if we want to be more to the point about Benedict XVI's character and motives we should keep in mind that he was the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Why should that matter to us? Because:
(CDF) (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei), previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, is the oldest of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. Among the most active of these major Curial departments, it oversees Catholic doctrine. The CDF is the modern name for what used to be the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
In other words, Benedict decided who was a heretic and (as theologian Hans Kung can tell you fro first-hand experience) who could teach what within the Catholic Church.
"Nobody Expects the Inquisition"
The Religious Right and its pundits are, of course, gleefull about the commotion the baptism has caused. Parsley, Robertson, Limbaugh, Coultergeist must be dancing in the streets with the notion that this overt action will hasten the Apacalypse. Hagee may even stop calling the Catholic Church "The Great Whore".
Here's what Michelle Malkin had to say:
"Allam’s conversion will set off the usual promptings of apostasy fatwas from the Religion of Perpetual Outrage."
"We will avenge our God!"
This is based on the human tendency to attach spiritual meaning to world events and the use of religious rhetoric to justify violence. In March 2003 American forces attacked Iraq triggering one of the bloodiest wars of the modern age. Both sides of the war ascribe to opposing religious dogma and the situation is reminiscent of the Crusades that took place between the 11th and 13th centuries. The year also saw the planet Mars make its closest approach to earth in 60,000 years. Mars has long been associated as the god of war. (Shane Crotty's Fotostream, posted on Flikr)