Sunday, March 30, 2008

Muslim Scholar Denounces Vatican Baptism as Deliberate and Provocative

UPDATE: see below

Deliberate? Apparently so. Provocative? Not if you know anything about Benedict XVI.

It was big news just a week ago when Benedict XVI baptized a prominent convert from Islam during Easter. There has been some fallout though, as predicted.

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A Muslim scholar who participated in recent Vatican talks to improve Catholic-Muslim relations criticized Pope Benedict XVI's Easter baptism of a prominent convert from Islam as a "provocative" act.

Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born TV and newspaper commentator who has denounced Islam as inherently violently, was baptized by the pope in a vigil service Saturday night in St. Peter's Basilica.

Aref Ali Nayed, director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan, criticized what he called "the Vatican's deliberate and provocative act of baptizing Allam on such a special occasion and in such a spectacular way."

I thought it was very telling indeed that the Vatican newspaper admitted to the Pope’s desire to make an important statement about religious freedom, something which I had immediately pointed out.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano denied that the baptism had been played up, saying it was kept secret until just before the ceremony. It described the baptism as a papal "gesture" to stress "in a gentle and clear way, religious freedom."

Not so gentle perhaps, but unequivocally clear.

UPDATE: Cautious Vatican response to Muslim critics on conversion

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