Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Pope Names Bertone and Lajolo

It's official--Cardinal Bertone is going to be the new Secretary of State for the Vatican. To learn all about him, check out this earlier post, which has tons of links and information about the good Cardinal.

It was also announced today that the Pope has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, the President of the Vatican City State. Taking his place will be Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.

Lajolo has been a strong advocate of reciprocity in Mulsim-Christian relations. In other words, if Muslims expect to have certain rights in European coutries, Christians must be granted the same rights in Muslim ones. Sandro Magister explained his stance earlier this month:
An address exemplary of this tendency [i.e., reciprocity] is found in the one Lajolo delivered last May 17 at the session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, dedicated to Islam.

In it, Lajolo gave center stage to religious liberty, demanding reciprocity in comprehensive respect for this freedom: in the Muslim-majority countries as well as those with a Christian majority.

And he emphasized that this liberty must be respected and defended in particular on behalf of those who, having been born Muslim and then moved to the West, convert to the Christian faith at the risk of “severe pressures, not excluding death threats, from their families or even from the secret services or officials of the embassies of their countries of origin.”

Zenit recently covered the speech he gave, in which he made the following recommendations:

-- Faced with Islam the Church is called to live its own identity to the full, without backing down and by taking clear and courageous positions to affirm Christian identity. Radical Islamists, the prelate warned, take advantage of every sign they interpret as weakness.

-- We should also be open to dialogue, whether with individual nations or within the United Nations or other organizations.

-- An underlying problem in dealing with Islamic nations is the lack of separation between religion and the state. Part of the dialogue with Islamic religious and political authorities should be aimed at helping to develop a separation between these two spheres.

-- A particularly sensitive point is that of respect for minorities and for human rights, especially religious rights. The Holy See will continue to speak out at international meetings for the human rights of migrants. For its part the international community should ensure that humanitarian organizations do not unduly pressure recipients of aid to change religion.

-- The Holy See will continue to declare its firm opposition to all attempts to exploit religion by using it to justify terrorism and violence.

-- The protection of Christians in Islamic countries is particularly difficult in the area ranging from Turkey to the Middle East. Solutions must be found for the many Christians who flee their country of residence in search of safety.

-- Muslims who live in predominantly Christian countries should be integrated into the nation.

-- The Catholic media can play an important role in educating Christians, including those living in Islamic countries.

-- The Roman Curia together with bishops' conferences and local churches need to work closely together in these matters, including looking at the way to spread the Gospel in the Islamic world. This is our duty and our right, concluded Archbishop Lajolo.

Here's the whole text of that speech.

In addition, here's an interview he did with John Allen in 2004. The interview was noteworthy because in it Lajolo seemed to acknowledge some validity to the "Bush-doctrine" of preemptive action taken against nation states that support terrorism--though he insisted any such act should be carried out with U.N. approval. Here's a story on that.

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