Breaking News Stories
These are news stories breaking after the publishing of this Word
– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
8: The Vatican demonstrating intolerance for the Muslims in Europe. Possibility
of the Pope speaking negatively toward the Muslim faith, its beliefs and the
Qur’an. He could conceivably call for a new "crusade" against Islam.
The Vatican (Slowly) Awakens to Jihad
By Joseph D'Hippolito
Nearly two years after conducting a vigorous international campaign
against military intervention in Iraq, the Vatican reversed itself.
The Telegraph, Britain’s leading conservative newspaper, reported Oct.
10 that Vatican officials now support a multinational military presence
led by NATO to restore order and protect Iraq’s nascent democracy.
The article's headline is telling: "Vatican buries the hatchet with
Blair and Bush over Iraq." Before the Anglo-American invasion, Pope John
Paul II passionately opposed President George W. Bush and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, who favored military force to make Saddam Hussein
comply with the United Nations' demand for disarmament.
But as an anonymous Vatican advistor told the Telegraph, "there is a
feeling that there really is no going back."
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s secretary of state, described the
reversal more colorfully.
"The child has been born," Sodano told the Italian daily La Stampa on
Sept. 22. "It may be illegitimate but it’s here, and it must be reared
Four days later, an editorial in the newspaper of the Italian bishops’
conference, Avvenire, written by Vittorio Parsi, a professor at the
Catholic University of Milan and the newspaper’s foreign policy expert,
bluntly outlined Vatican policy:
What (the terrorists) want is, in fact, not "Iraq for the Iraqis," but
"Iraq for the assassins." Thus all of Iraq will become a colossal common
area for fundamentalist terrorism, for the brigands of Ba'ath, and for
the most extremist Shiite mullahs. The international community and the
West, which objectively holds within this community the greatest share
of power, culture, and responsibility, have the duty of blocking the
realization of this plan. The Atlantic Alliance, with its attitudes and
counterbalances, is the multilateral institution that can assume the
onus of protecting the right of the Iraqis to express their political
will by voting.
Rome’s stance goes beyond a resigned acceptance of uncomfortable facts
or the determination to influence the issue. It reflects a gradual yet
increased awareness – and fear – of jihadism’s growing influence.
Only three weeks prior to Parsi’s editorial, Vatican and Italian
Catholic newspapers embarrassed themselves in their reaction to the
massacre of children in Beslan. Neither Avvenire nor L’Osservatore
Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, described the terrorists as
Muslim. Instead, L’Osservatore Romano began its account of the atrocity
on Sept. 5 this way:
"The blitz of the Russian special forces left over three hundred dead,
marking a tragic end to yesterday's seizure by a terrorist brigade of
more than a thousand persons, most of them children, in a school in the
north Ossetia town of Beslan."
That same day, Avvenire published four editorials on Beslan. One by
Cardinal Dionigi Tettemanzi of Milan proposed more dialogue between
Christians and Muslims. Two blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin; one
by columnist Maurizio Blondet was especially vitriolic:
"Labeling nationalist combatants as Islamic terrorists has been a
convenient justification for the most inhuman form of repression: one
does not negotiate with terrorists or criminals. One uproots them."
Blondet included President Bush and Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon
in his vitriol:
(W)hy is it politically incorrect to raise the same objections about the
"born-again Christian" from Texas and the obese general of Tel Aviv?
None of the three – if one considers well – is exempt from suspicions of
having exploited collective fear for his electoral advantage, or of
using the necessary restrictions of liberty brought by the ‘war on
terror’ to silence his critics and adversaries.
Blondet also edits an extremist Catholic magazine called Effedieffe, in
which he has accused Jews of controlling the White House and wrote that
"Israel uses other human beings like flesh to be gnawed upon, because
that's what its religion teaches: non-Jews ‘have no place in the world
Sandro Magister, who has covered the Vatican for more than 25 years,
diplomatically challenged Avvenire’s audacity in the Italian magazine
"It is striking that on the day following the slaughter in Beslan – an
authentic September 11 of the Christian children – the newspaper of the
Church of Rome and of Italy should have entrusted its principal
political commentary to an analyst of such an orientation."
Front Page Magazine previously explored Rome’s response to jihadist
terror in "The Vatican’s Pro-Saddam Tilt" and "Abu Ghraib Worse Than
9/11?" Governing much of that response has been an attitude of
"There is a Realpolitik motivation behind this understatement from
Vatican authorities and their newspaper," Magister wrote. "Silence on
the Islamic origin of the terrorist offensive is the price paid to
protect Christians from more serious threats, and in particular, the
Christians who live in Muslim countries."
But on Oct. 2, the Vatican magazine Civilita Cattolica denounced
jihadist terror in no uncertain terms in its lead editorial. Some
"There is a tragic conceptual connection beginning from New York on
September 11, 2001, and reaching Beslan, in North Ossetia, on September
1, 2004. It is the connection of terrorism of Islamic origin, which in
three years has sown death in many places all over the planet…
"In reality, Islamic terrorism has not changed the goals that it has
pursued since its origin until the work of Osama bin Laden: to fight the
Jews and the "crusaders" (the Christians, seen as inveterate enemies of
Islam); to fight against the Western world – and the United States...
"Terrorism has seen fit to demonstrate in this way that it will not stop
even at the most horrendously ferocious acts in order to reach its
objectives. This is all the more true as the question is one of striking
the enemies of Allah…"
Such criticism is significant not only for its intensity but also
because of its source. The Vatican’s secretary of state – and by
extension, the pope – personally approves all of Civilita Cattolica’s
Rome also appears more willing to advocate a more assertive military
presence against jihadist terror, within limits governed by
international law. In his La Stampa interview, Sodano hoped that the
United Nations would add a new principle to its charter: "the
possibility, even the duty of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in extreme
situations in which human rights are trampled upon within a country."
The "extreme situation" to which Sodano refers is the genocide in Sudan,
which that nation’s Islamist government encourages. Archbishop Silvano
Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N., reinforced
Sodano’s remarks in an address to the U.N.’s refugee committee in early
"International human rights and humanitarian law oblige governments to
provide for the security and well-being of all those under their
jurisdiction," said Tomasi, Rome’s former diplomatic representative to
Ethiopia and Eritrea. "If, however, a state fails to or cannot take this
responsibility … then the international community can and should assert
its concern, step in and take on this obligation."
Tomasi’s remarks directly reflect Pope John Paul II’s thinking. In his
message for the 2000 World Day of Peace, the pope said that "when a
civilian population risks being overcome by the attacks of an unjust
aggressor, and political efforts and non-violent defense prove to be of
no avail, it is legitimate and even obligatory to take concrete measure
to disarm the aggressor."
Ironically, those words also could justify the Anglo-American
intervention in Iraq, which the same pope vociferously opposed.
Tomasi’s remarks might also reflect the experience of Monsignor Cesare
Mazzolari, the bishop of Rumbek in southern Sudan. Mazzolari – who has
lived among Sudanese Muslims since 1981 and has witnessed such
atrocities as the crucifixion of an enslaved Christian child who prayed
and the forced conversion of Catholics to Islam – expressed his
politically incorrect opinions in May to the Milan newspaper Il Giornale.
When asked whether the God of Christians is the same as Allah, Mazzolari
replied, "No way! Where would the concept of the Trinity fit in? And
Christ is certainly not the greatest of their prophets."
The monsignor even warned against the long-term ramifications of massive
Muslim immigration to Europe:
"It will be the Muslims who convert us, not the other way around,"
Mazzolari said. "Wherever they settle down, sooner or later they end up
becoming a leading political force. The Italians are intent on welcoming
them in an easy-going manner. But soon they’ll realize that the Muslims
have taken advantage of their good-natured spirit, allowing ten times
more to arrive than what was originally permitted."
Mazzolari stated what many Vatican officials are afraid to admit: the
"clash of civilizations" is here.
"This is just the beginning," he said. "The Church has defeated
communism, but is just starting to understand its next challenge –
Islamism, which is much worse. The Holy Father has not been able to take
up this challenge due to his old age. But the next pope will find
himself having to face it."
Mazzolari is not alone. Magister wrote that when bishops from around the
world report personally to the pope, "many of those hailing from Muslim
countries think just like Mazzolari. And, when in audience with the
pope, some of these bishops even speak up about it."
Sodano, the Vatican’s second-most powerful cardinal, has been listening.
"The big problem of the future will be our relationship with the Islamic
world," he told the Italian daily La Repubblica on Oct. 15. "It is a
challenge that does not only concern the Church."
Vatican observers created a saying to explain the cautious nature of
Vatican diplomacy and the sluggish pace at which the church’s
bureaucratic hierarchy moves: Rome thinks in terms of centuries.
Given the horrifying nature of jihadist imperialism, perhaps Rome is
starting to realize that it doesn’t have centuries to act.