John Allen’s Word From Rome:

The Pope on Islam:

Popes only rarely lead by decree. Far more often, their example is decisive, pointing a new direction by what they do and say.

Such has been the case under Benedict XVI on Islam. There’s been no Vatican edict, but everyone recognizes something has changed. It’s not that Benedict created a more hawkish climate on Islam; those currents were always present, and gathered steam in the post-9/11 period. It’s rather that Benedict has unleashed them.

Allen interviewed Cardinal Pell, who has of late had some very direct points to make about Islam:

He excerpts in in Word, but the full interview is here:

You said, “Considered on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion.” What did you mean?

I’d be thinking about the general historical and political record of Islam. Now you might say that for a lot of our history, we weren’t particularly tolerant either. To that objection, I’d say, ‘Show me where they’re tolerant.’

But you seem to want to say that Christian intolerance is a distortion of Christianity, but Muslim intolerance is not a distortion of Islam.

The million dollar question is whether they are distortions of Islam. I’m not sure. It’s difficult to find periods of tolerance in Islam. I’m not saying they’re not there, but a good deal of what is asserted is mythical.

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