Joseph Ratzinger’s silent crusade March 23, 2008Posted by dorigo in news, politics, religion.
Headlines around the world today announced the conversion to catholic creed of ex-muslim Magdi Allam, vice-director of the italian newspaper “Il Corriere della Sera”. Magdi lives in Italy under continuous watch and armed escort due to the several fatwas (death sentences) issued against him by religious leaders because of his articles, where he often expressed a deep criticism of islamic fundamentalism and of the violent nature of islam.
I believe his conversion to christianity -which is, in Magdi’s own words, “the arrival point of a gradual and deep interior meditation”- is indeed interesting and remarkable in a 56-years-old, cultured individual. I however think the real news is the fact that his conversion was so widely publicized, and the fact that the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist were given to Magdi in the spotlights of Easter’s vigil yesterday by none less than Pope Benedict XVI.
Ratzinger’s explicit act is a sort of challenge to islam. Because the catholic church has always tried to handle the conversion of muslims to christianity discreetly, in the knowledge of the risks involved and the wish to avoid a direct confrontation with islamic leaders. In his letter to Il Corriere Magdi explains:
“His Holiness launched an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that so far has been even too cautious in the conversion of muslims, abstaining from proselitism in countries with an islamic majority and being silent on the reality of conversions in christian countries. For fear. The fear of being unable to protect the converts from their death penalty for apostasy and for fear of retaliation against christians living in islamic countries.”
I wonder whether this kind of putting out fire with gasoline is the right thing to do, in a world increasingly polarized by a clash between catholic and islamic countries. News of clerics stabbed to death in countries with a strong islamic presence, in the meantime, do not make it to the front page any more. If we agree that the West is to speak to the moderate ear of islamic countries in an attempt at damping conflicts, rather than sending bombers and army divisions to the Middle East, we cannot cheer to the choice of Ratzinger. Pope Wojtila would have avoided the provocation.