Friday, February 24, 2006

Tough Talk from Stato and Rino

Speaking of our friends in San Damaso, they've been coming out strong on the cartoon question.... Much stronger than the Pope....

Whether they're doing this with the blessing of the Apartment remains to be seen.
Vatican prelates have been concerned by recent killings of two Catholic priests in Turkey and Nigeria. Turkish media linked the death there to the cartoons row. At least 146 Christians and Muslims have died in five days of religious riots in Nigeria.

"If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome.

"We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts," Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the daily Corriere della Sera.

Reciprocity -- allowing Christian minorities the same rights as Muslims generally have in Western countries, such as building houses of worship or practicing religion freely -- is at the heart of Vatican diplomacy toward Muslim states.

Vatican diplomats argue that limits on Christians in some Islamic countries are far harsher than restrictions in the West that Muslims decry, such as France's ban on headscarves in state schools....

Pope Benedict signaled his concern on Monday when he told the new Moroccan ambassador to the Vatican that peace can only be assured by "respect for the religious convictions and practices of others, in a reciprocal way in all societies."

He mentioned no countries by name. Morocco is tolerant of other religions, but like all Muslim countries frowns on conversion from Islam to another faith.

Iraqi Christians say they were well treated under Saddam Hussein's secular policies, but believers have been killed, churches burned and women forced to wear Muslim garb since Islamic groups gained sway after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003....

"Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves," Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's supreme court [the Apostolic Signatura], thundered in the daily La Stampa. Jesus told his followers to "turn the other cheek" when struck.

"The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century, mostly for oil, and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights," he said.

Bishop Rino Fisichella, head of one of the Roman universities that train young priests from around the world, told Corriere della Sera the Vatican should speak out more.

"Let's drop this diplomatic silence," said the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. "We should put pressure on international organizations to make the societies and states in majority Muslim countries face up to their responsibilities."
So is this a case of "Boss sends the underlings out to voice the message he can't say" or "Underlings speak out, pressuring Boss to do so"?

We will see.... Remember, after all, that the Pope is going to Turkey in November.