Monday, September 18, 2006

Sydney's Archbishop calls protests for what they are

SYDNEY'S Catholic Archbishop has hit out at Muslims protesting over comments by the Pope, saying their reaction shows the link in Islam between religion and violence.
Cardinal George Pell has also labelled the response of some Australian Muslim leaders to the issue as "unhelpful".
A wave of protest has erupted among Muslims across the globe after comments by Pope Benedict XVI, in which he quoted an obscure medieval text that criticised some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman".
The Pope has since said he is "deeply sorry" for the outrage sparked by his remarks and stressed they do not reflect his personal opinion.
But Cardinal Pell today backed Pope Benedict, saying the violent reaction to his comments on Islam and violence illustrated his fears.
"The violent reactions in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict's main fears," Cardinal Pell said in a statement.
"They showed the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence."
"Our major priority must be to maintain peace and harmony within the Australian community, but no lasting achievements can be grounded in fantasies and evasions."
Dr Pell said it was a "sign of hope" that no organised violence had flared in Australia following Pope Benedict's comments.
But he said the responses of Australia's mufti, Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali, and of Dr Ameer Ali, of the prime minister's Muslim reference group, were "unfortunately typical and unhelpful."
"It is always someone else's fault and issues touching on the nature of Islam are ignored."
"Sheik Alhilali often responds to criticism by questioning the intelligence and competence of the questioner or critic," Dr Pell said.
Later, on ABC radio, he added of Sheik Alhilali: "I'm tempted to say almost never does he address the criticism of Islam but diverts the question away from it and I think resorts to evasions."
Dr Ali said yesterday Muslims in Australia were disappointed by the Pope's comments.
"We expect the Pope to follow (in) the footsteps of his predecessor who had been a great builder among communities for the last so many years and not a pope of the crusades," Dr Ali said.
Dr Pell said Dr Ali had called on Pope Benedict to be more like Pope John Paul II than Pope Urban II, who called the First Crusade.
"In fact the Pope's long speech was more about the weaknesses of the Western world, its irreligion and disdain for religion and he explicitly rejected linking religion and violence," Dr Pell said.
"He won't be calling any crusade."
Dr Pell sought to draw a distinction between Westerners and Muslims.
"Today Westerners often link genuine religious expression with peace and tolerance. "
"Today most Muslims identify genuine religion with submission (Islam) to the commands of the Koran."
"They are proud of the spectacular military expansion across continents, especially in the decades after the Prophet's death. This is seen as a sign of God's blessing."
Dr Pell said while he was grateful for the contributions of moderate Muslims, "evil acts done falsely in the name of Islam around the world need to be addressed, not swept under the carpet".
Dr Pell has repeatedly said Islam is more warlike than Christianity.
In June this year he told the National Catholic Reporter in the US: "It's difficult to find periods of tolerance in Islam."

For once a religious leader has finally come out and called Muslim protests and reactions for what they really are. Kudos Dr Pell!! His words express the thoughts and feelings of many around the world towards Islamic hypersensitive reaction to any criticism. They proclaim themselves to be the Religion of Peace but act like the Religion of Outrage. Constructive arguments and discussion between Muslims and the rest of the world are needed to bring peace and harmony if we are to live on the planet together. And a realistic look by Muslims at their Koran and Hadiths is needed as well.

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