Pope's aide warns of 'threat by Islam'
Last Updated: 2:02am BST 27/07/2007
The Pope's private secretary has given warning of the Islamisation of Europe and stressed the need for the continent's Christian roots not to be ignored, in comments released yesterday.
“Attempts to Islamise the West cannot be denied,” Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in an advance copy of the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published today.
“The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness,” the magazine quoted him as saying.
He also defended a speech that the Pope gave last year that linked Islam and violence, saying it had been an attempt by the pontiff to “act against a certain naivety”.
In the speech during a visit to Germany in September, the Pope appeared to endorse a view, contested by most Muslims, that Islam's followers spread their religion in its early days by violence.
The Pope quoted Manuel II Paleologus, the 14th-century Byzantine emperor, who said: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
Muslims around the world protested against the speech. Churches were set ablaze in the West Bank and a hard-line Iranian cleric said that the Pope was united with President George W Bush to “repeat the Crusades”.
When an Italian nun was shot in a Somali hospital where she worked, the Vatican expressed concern that the attack was a reaction to the Pope's remarks.
Recently, Joachim Meisner, the influential archbishop of Cologne, said in a radio interview that the “immigration of Muslims has created a breach in our German, European culture”.
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