Yet another papal paradox: The Pope who was expected to create such a stir among Catholics after his election has instead found his greatest controversies centering on his relations with Islam. First he met–in secret, until the word leaked out–with the late Italian author and avowed atheist and fierce critic of Islam, Oriana Fallaci. A year later, in September 2006, he delivered his famous Regensburg speech that led to violence by Muslims and a serious rift between the Vatican and the Islamic world.
Now, Benedict himself has baptized an Egyptian-born Muslim–and also a fierce critic of Islam–Magdi Allam. Allam has lived in Italy for years, and is a well-known journalist for an Italian daily. When Benedict baptized Allam at the Easter vigil, it created waves in the Islamic world, and understandably. Allam has said, e.g., that “the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.”
Look, if Benedict wants to make a point, that’s fine. But now comes news of the Vatican trying to back away from Allam and his remarks, much as they tried to do after Regensburg. It wouldn’t take a prophet to predict such an outcome. So how did it happen?