Friday, June 16, 2006

Magister: Orthodoxy and Islam ...

In this week's newsletter Sandro Magister looks at recent locutions of Pope Benedict that seem to look forward to his trip to Turkey later this year, where he will encounter not only Eastern Orthodoxy (particulary in the person of the Patriarch of Constantinople) but also, and far more overwhelmingly Islam. Magister gives the full text of Benedict's catechesis at the General Audience this week, on St. Andrew, the prother of St. Peter (and the patron of the Church of Constantinople). Magister also notes these remarks, relayed to the press by a recent visitor at the Apostolic Palace, the president of the German region of North-Rhine Westphalia, on the education of Muslims in Europe.
Jürgen Rüttgers said that Benedict XVI “holds that it is very important for Muslim children to have the opportunity to attend in our schools an hour of instruction, in German, in the Muslim religion, with teachers who have been trained in Germany and under school supervision.”

And not only that: “The Holy Father vigorously called attention back to the necessity for every society to live on the basis of values. These are the same values found in the German constitution, which are founded on the Jewish-Christian West and the Enlightenment.” A positive integration of the new Muslim generations “presupposes the recognition of the rules of the federal Republic.”
It is well known that pope Ratzinger sees in this instruction a decisive vehicle for the integration of Muslims into Western society. He said so in no uncertain terms on August 20, 2006, while meeting with German representatives of Islam in Cologne:
Interesting that a prominent Italian Muslim, and now member of parliament, has similar thoughts
By coincidence, in recent days in Italy an authoritative Muslim thinker of Algerian origin recently elected to the Italian parliament, professor Khaled Fouad Allam, advanced a proposal that has much in common with the hopes of Benedict XVI.

In a June 14 interview with the daily “il Foglio,” Allam said:

“We must think of a future cycle of education for Italian and European Muslim students that has their faith at heart. And not an exported faith, but one that has been reformulated, because living in Rome or Venice is not the same thing as living in their countries of origin. I am thinking of an Islamic faith that has internalized the principles of humanism and the modern West: the theology that intellectuals like Abdennour Bidar have been reflecting on for years in Turkey, a country that looks toward Europe. One can imagine the creation of a three-year cycle of studies in Italy and Europe, and a two-year cycle of specialization in one of the Muslim countries that adhere to the initiative.”
So much for the excoriation one sees on much of the right (Catholic or otherwise) at anything that would treat Europe's Muslims in a positive way. Yes there are huge issues -- not the least of which is the way (non-Muslim) Europeans are simply not reproducing -- when talking about Muslims and integration into Europe. And yes, multicultural appeasement is nuts. However, I see lots of excoriation, lots of anger and not much in the way of concrete suggestions. Here's one. Let's hope it is tried.

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