The statements made by Pope Benedict XVI of Vatican have caused hue and cry throughout the world especially that they came at a time when killings and bloody wars in the name of combating terrorism are rife. Instead of calling for clam and halt of bloodshed worldwide, the pontiff’s statements were seen as working in favor of policies adopted by President Bush in his heated quest of what he calls combating terrorism. Against the background of the Pope’s statements, Ikhwanweb polled Egyptian Christian leaderships on their positions toward these statements and how far they could impact East- West interfaith dialogue. Coptic Thinker Dr. Rafeek Habib told Ikhwanweb that these statements could trigger suspects that the Vatican has become an ally of the US Neocons in their so called war on terrorism, with the aim to impose a blockade on the Arab and Muslim countries. Habib warned that these statements are racial ones and could eventually lead to religious wars, warning that the recent events in Lebanon and the Danish caricatures coupled with what is happening in Iraq and Palestine show that the Nation is under an all out campaign targeting its faith and civilization. Habib called on the Pope to stop such statements, explaining that they run counter to the Vatican’s principles endorsed by the Holy See in the sixties of last century which stress peaceful coexistence and interfaith dialogue.” Does the Pope seek to change the attitude of the Catholic Church to start an era of religious wars” , he wondered, warning that the Pope’s failure to apologize will leave the arena open for speculations, and will be seen as a green light given by the Pope to religious wars. On the future of the Islamic -Christian dialogue, Habib said as Israel is behind the death of the peace process, so is the Pope to the Islamic Christian dialogue, explaining that the dialogue didn’t change the Western racist mindset, which makes the dialogue a waste of time.
Another Coptic figure, Mr. Amin Eskandar said in his exclusive statement to Ikhwanweb that he received the Pope’s statements with shock and disbelief. He added that the pontiff has a distorted image of Islam, seeing his statements as a mirror image of the vision embraced by Bush and his Neocons in the US Administration, who, in the name of combating the so called Islamist Fascism, attack and drain the resources of Iraq. He accused the pontiff of turning a blind eye to the Israeli crimes in Palestine, recalling the rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the Jews which went as far as to clear the Jews of the Christ’s blood.
“I see in the pontiff’s statements a double standard way of thinking and an attempt to politicize religion, casting doubts on the role played by the Catholic Church, as if it works in favor of the imperialist schemes in the region” he said. Iskandar warned that such statements could trigger a sectarian sedition between Muslims and Christians, but he said it will fail as is the case with the recent failed attempts to foment sedition between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims. However, he appealed to the Arab and Muslim people to maintain self restraint and not to slide down into campaigns of sedition, calling on the Catholic Church to release an explanatory memo of the Pope’s statements as well as a swift apology.
Coptic leadership and MP Dr. Nabil Louka also lashed out at Benedict XVI, saying that his statements are provocative and irresponsible ones and do not reflect the general trend of the Catholic sect in particular and the Christians in general, who felt discontented with the pontiff’s statements; he also called the Pope to apologize for his statements and think over before he gives any statement to the media.
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