Monday, September 18, 2006

Media Release from Sydney

By + Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney
18 September 2006

It is a sign of hope that no organised violence has flared here in Australia, following Pope Benedict’s recent comments.

No one compared the Pope to Hitler or Mussolini (as in Turkey) or called for his murder as Sheik Malin did in Somalia. No group like the League of Jihadists in Iraq promised “that the soldiers of Mohammed will come sooner or later to shake your throne and the foundations of your state”.

However the violent reactions in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict’s main fears. 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.

The responses of Sheik al-Hilali, Australia’s mufti, in particular, and even Dr. Ameer Ali of the Prime Minister’s Muslim Reference Group were unfortunately typical and unhelpful. It is always some one else’s fault and issues touching on the nature of Islam are ignored.

Sheik al-Hilali often responds to criticism by questioning the intelligence and competence of the questioner or critic. So too with the Pope, whose speech he claimed was not what was expected of a holy person and indeed “the Church needs to re-examine its thoughts about someone who doesn’t have the qualities or good grasp of Christian character or knowledge”.

Dr. Ameer Ali’s published reply was more surprising as it 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. He won’t be calling any crusade.

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 Quran. 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.

Friends of Islam in Australia have genuine questions, which need to be addressed, not regularly avoided. We are grateful for those moderate Moslems who have spoken publicly. But as Andrew Robb, Parliamentary Secretary on Multicultural Affairs, told Muslim clerics last weekend evil acts done falsely in the name of Islam around the world “need to be addressed, not swept under the carpet.


MVH said...

Man, you guys "down-under" are truly blessed to have a shepherd like Cardinal Pell. We here in LA are stuck with HizEminence, who resides at the Raj Mahal or the Taj Mahony, take your pick, and makes his glorified warehouse availiable to the Rainbow sa-shay-ers.

aaron said...

I'm in Adelaide, but yes, Pell is great. Could learn a little more about liturgy but I s'pose I can't ask for everything.

I'm lucky enough to be having lunch with him next Saturday with the rest of the ACSA Executive during our meeting in Sydney. Always fun.

Indolent's dad said...

Ahhh! That's the way! Gratuitous name dropping - again! This boy has no shame!

I was aying as much the other day when I was talking to George and Laura over lunch.....