Skip to comments.Pope risks new rift w/ Islam as he baptises (Arab) journalist facing death threats (Photos)
Posted on 03/24/2008 10:14:18 AM PDT by yankeedame
Last updated at 12:19pm on 24th March 2008
The Pope is risking a new rift with Islam after baptising an outspoken newspaper editor who renounced his Muslim faith after condemning it as a "religion of hate".
Magdi Allam, a top editor for the Corriere della Sera newspaper, said he believed he will face greater demands for his assassination after he committed the sin of "apostasty", the renunciation of his faith.
But the death threats he has already received for his harsh words about Islam only made him more determined to leave the "intolerant" religion.
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The Pope baptises Magdi Allam at the Easter Service
Allam wrote that it was "time to put an end to the violence of Muslims who do not respect the freedom of religious choice."
His conversion freed him "from the shadows of a preaching where hate and intolerance toward he who is different, toward he who is condemned as an 'enemy,"' he said.
And he praised the pontiff - himself under fire from militant Islam - for defending civilization.
Allam predicted his surprise baptism by the pope during the Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Saturday night would spark an "even graver condemnation to death for apostasy," or renunciation of religious faith.
Hamas singled him out for death after he criticized Palestinian suicide bombings, and Italy provides him with a security escort.
But under a widespread interpretation of Islamic legal doctrine, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death - though killings are rare.
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The outspoken Allam is facing death threats over his conversion
Allam's baptism highlighted tensions that have at times characterized the theologian-pope's relationship with the Muslim world.
Allam, 55, was born a Muslim in Egypt, but was educated by Catholics and says he has never been a practising Muslim.
In a front-page letter in Corriere yesterday, he described how Benedict helped in his decision to break with Islam, a process which included support from a Vatican cardinal and several prelates close to the Vatican.
"Undoubtedly the most extraordinary and significant encounter in the decision to convert was that with Pope Benedict XVI," Allam said. He said he admired the pope for his skill in laying out the relationship "between faith and reason as the basis of authentic religion and human civilization."
The pope himself has come under verbal attack from Islamic militants. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in a new audio message posted last week, accused Benedict of playing a role in what he called a "new Crusade" against Islam. The Vatican has described the accusation as baseless.
The Vatican is still trying to repair relations with the Muslim world after Benedict in a 2006 speech about faith and reason cited a medieval text that described some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly the command to spread the faith "by the sword."
The pope later expressed regret that his remarks angered Muslims and stressed that the text didn't reflect his own opinion.
Benedict made no specific mention of Allam's conversion, but at his Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, the pope hailed conversions to Christianity as a "miracle."
By baptizing him, in a ceremony televised to millions of people worldwide, Benedict was making "an historic and courageous gesture" to a Church "which up to now had been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, refraining from proselytizing in countries with Muslim majorities, and being silent about the reality of converts (from Islam) in Christian countries."
He contended that the Church was afraid it couldn't protect the new converts from possible retaliation by Muslims and also worried about Christians living in Islamic countries.
In November, Benedict raised concerns about restrictions on worship by non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, when he held the first ever meeting between a pontiff and a reigning Saudi King. In his meeting with King Abdullah he lauded the contribution of Christians in Saudi Arabia, where Christians are barred from opening churches.
The Union of Islamic Communities in Italy - which Allam has frequently criticized as having links to Hamas - was quoted as describing the baptism as a personal choice.
An Italian Muslim leader, Yahya Pallavicini, who has been involved with Vatican-Muslim dialogue, expressed surprise.
"As a European Muslim, there was no reason to deny his religion of origin in order to love better or more the Christ figure or Christianity," Pallavicini told Italy's SKY TG24.
The conversion became political fodder ahead of Italy's elections next month. Rejoicing over the conversion was Roberto Calderoli, a leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party that is an ally of Silvio Berlusconi, the conservative bloc's candidate for the premiership.
The Vatican cardinal in charge of inter-religious dialogue appeared to dismiss any flap over Allam's conversion.
"To whoever knocks, the door of the Church is always open," Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran was quoted by the Apcom news agency as saying. "Freedom of conscience is a fundamental right."
“The Pope is risking a new rift with Islam after baptising an outspoken newspaper editor who renounced his Muslim faith after condemning it as a “religion of hate”.”
You just have to laugh at how quickly the Muslims validate the claim.
God Bless you Pope Benedict.
The Islamic Jihadists hate this. They cannot allow for even the chance of this on any wide-spread basis. it is a dam waiting to overflow.
God bless this man and the Pope for their actions in the face of such hate.
It is high time we stopped worrying about the Islamofascists "sensitivities".
In the end, there is only one thing you need to know about Islamofascists...How to defeat and destroy them.
When you think of it, this is VERY interesting. Pope Benedict did not have to baptize Magdi Allam himself. It could have been done quietly.
The Vatican has to be careful of offending Muslims, because millions of Christians are hostage to their anger in Muslim countries around the world. That is one reason why popes have not been more outspoken about the evils of Islam—because of all those innocent Christian hostages. It’s a very difficult situation. It’s one thing to accept martyrdom yourself, but it’s another to risk martyring others.
I can only conclude that Pope Benedict decided that this was the best choice. He certainly did not do it with any unawareness of the possible consequences, because he is a very smart guy and is deeply concerned about the problem of how to deal with Islam, and whether it is possible to talk rationally with them at all.
The islamderthals and their religion of perpetual outrage was massively pwned this weekend.
As a Catholic, I say the very same thing.
great story - thanks for posting!
God Bless this courageous gentleman.
In the same sentence the mediots mention the death threats, then put "intolerant" in quotes.
Editor wanted, inquire within.
The word is "apostasy", knucklehead.
Good for the Pope! God bless Benedict XVI. Muslims are converting to Christianity in the tens of thousands across the Muslim world, according to a recent article by Joel C. Rosenberg. The Cross of Christ will always triumph over darkness.
The Pope knows this too. I commend him for his brave act which will no doubt cause a firestorm. Let the mullahs try and kill their way out of this one.
Apostasty is the word uses to describe cannibals who go vegan - according to ancient cannibal writings, such an apostate vegan’s flesh is particularly tasty.
Curious how the article assumes it is only one side’s responsibility to “bridge the gap” — which leaves one with the impression the journalist believes islam has no obligation in that regard. (I do not believe it is possible, given the inherent violence in islam, as this convert — in a much better position to know — confirms.)