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Italian Prelates Speak Up for Pope
Show of Solidarity After Flap Over Mention of Islam
ROME, SEPT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of controversy over Benedict XVI’s mention of Islam in a university lecture, Italy’s bishops expressed support for the Pope and deplored the campaign of criticisms against him.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar of Rome, voiced that support Monday during the opening session of the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops’ conference.
The cardinal vicar warmly greeted the Holy Father, recalling that on his recent apostolic visit to Bavaria the German Pope witnessed “with extraordinary depth of reflection and with persuasive gentleness, faith in that God in whom man, his reason and freedom find their higher and authentic fulfillment.”
Cardinal Ruini, president of the bishops’ conference, continued: “In the splendid lesson at the University of Regensburg not only was he able to propose but to argue the truth, validity and timeliness of Christianity across a great theological fresco, at once historical and philosophical, capable of having the essential nexus emerge between human reason and faith in God who is ‘Logos,’ showing that this nexus is not confined to the past but opens great perspectives today to our desire to know and live a full and free life.”
The cardinal underlined that this lesson, together with the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” and Benedict XVI’s address to the Roman Curia last Dec. 22, offer “the essential coordinates of the Pope’s message which must be meditated and assimilated in depth, now in the context of the national ecclesial congress that awaits us in Verona.”
In regard to intolerant reactions to Benedict XVI’s address in Regensburg, Cardinal Ruini said that there was “surprise and distress” that “some affirmations made in it were mistaken to the point of being interpreted as an offense against the Islamic religion and of leading to intimidating acts and indescribable threats – perhaps even to providing the pretext for the abominable killing of Sister Leonella Sgobarti in Mogadishu.”
The Pope, in fact, was proposing the fostering of “a true dialogue of cultures and religions, a dialogue of which we are in such urgent need,” as stated in the papal address itself, and as the Vatican secretary of state specified in a statement last Saturday.
“Insofar as the Italian bishops are concerned,” Cardinal Ruini, 75, said, “we express to the Pope our total closeness and solidarity and intensify our prayer for him, for the Church, for our religious liberty, for dialogue and friendship among religions and peoples.”
He added: “We deplore instead those interpretations, which are not lacking also in our country, which attribute to the Holy Father responsibilities which he absolutely does not have or errors he has not committed and which tend to attack his person and his ministry.”