US pushed pope to welcome Islam

2010-12-23 22:27

Madrid - The United States initially saw Pope Benedict XVI as a "eurocentric" pontiff who was "unlikely to cut a prominent figure on the world stage", according to WikiLeaks documents published on Thursday.

The confidential US diplomatic cables obtained by the whistleblower website were quoted by the Spanish daily El Pais.

German-born Benedict XVI would face a "steep learning curve" on international issues, US diplomats wrote after the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005.

Some of the cables focus on a 2006 academic lecture given by the pope, who quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor saying that the Muslim prophet Mohammed had brought "only evil and inhuman things". The quote sparked furious criticism in the Muslim world.

"It taxes the imagination" to suppose that such a reference by the pope "would pass unnoticed", a US diplomat wrote.

Didn't foresee consequences of statement

According to his assessment, the pope made the reference on purpose, but without foreseeing the consequences, which were followed by apologies by the Vatican.

The pope's "approach toward Islam and toward inter-religious dialogue is cooler than that of his predecessor" John Paul II, the diplomat observed.

The controversy was followed by the pope's trip to Turkey, during which he toned down the uneasiness he had expressed about Turkey's eventual European Union membership while he was still a cardinal.

The Vatican's official stance now is that it is not opposed to the membership as long as Turkey meets EU conditions including religious freedom for its Christians.

The Vatican agreed with Washington that the possibility of Turkey - a US ally - joining the EU had the potential to promote greater rights for religious minorities in the country, US diplomats wrote.

Unofficially, however, top Vatican officials told diplomats they were sceptical about Turkey's commitment to religious freedom.

"The Holy See does not believe theological agreements with Islam are possible, but is convinced that better mutual knowledge will allay suspicions and facilitate peaceful co-existence," US diplomats wrote in 2009.

  • gulenfraud - 2010-12-26 06:20

    For Christs sake, Turkey needs to be tolerable of Christians (Gavours) the first indigenous people of the Republic of Turkey. It was a Turkish national who shot the former Pope John Paul II. And there have been Christian Priests killed in Turkey as well as Christian missionaries. And you are asking the Pope to "welcome" Islam when they have had an assault against Christianity for centuries? how about the St. Hagia Sofia Church in Istanbul that was converted to a Mosque (now it is a Museum with NO mention of the people who built it) Then a final insult of changing the name of Constaniople a Christian capitol to Istanbul. US and President Obama has no right to encourage the EU to welcome Turkey or any other country in the EU, it is none of his business. Someone should tell Obama to welcome Mexico into the USA.

      Zee - 2010-12-28 14:03

      And what a bout the Crusades? Come on man, you're bringing up issues from thousands of years ago, all the major religions have done some sort of conquesting. Ps. Christians the first indigenous people in Turkey? Christianity has only been around for 2000 years! Anatolia, as Turkey used to be called, has existed for much longer (see the Akkadian Empire). Your point is moot!

      Ozymandios - 2011-01-01 08:10

      @ Zee. How long has the Muslim ideology been around for? Longer than Christianity? Not likely.

  • pages:
  • 1