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Pope's baptism of Muslim not a hostile act - Vatican
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict's baptism of an Italian Muslim over Easter weekend was not a hostile act against Islam, the Vatican's newspaper wrote on Tuesday after the public conversion prompted criticism in the Muslim world.
Pope Benedict XVI baptises journalist Magdi Allam (R) as he celebrates a Easter Vigil mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the
In a surprise move, the pope baptised Egyptian-born Magdi Allam, a well-known journalist and outspoken critic of radical Islamism, at an Easter Vigil service in St Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening that was broadcast around the globe.
Muslim commentators said Allam's hostile writings and his headline-grabbing baptism strained relations between Muslims and the Catholic Church and cast shadows over a recently agreed dialogue between Catholicism and Islam.
"There is no hostile intention toward such an important religion as Islam," editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian wrote on Tuesday. "For many decades now, the Catholic Church has shown its willingness to engage and dialogue with the Muslim world, despite thousands of difficulties and obstacles."
But critics of the baptism questioned why the pope chose to highlight the conversion of Allam, known in
Writing in Sunday's edition of the
"DIFFICULTIES AND OBSTACLES"
Catholic-Muslim relations nosedived in 2006 after Benedict delivered a lecture in
Muslims around the world protested and the pope, who said he did not agree with the Byzantine emperor he had quoted, sought to make amends by visiting the famous Blue Mosque in
Earlier in March, the
L'Osservatore Romano said the
Aref Ali Nayed, a key figure in a group of over 200 Muslim scholars that launched the dialogue with the
"The whole spectacle... provokes genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the pope's advisers on Islam," Nayed, who is director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in
(Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan in
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It is not wrong to convert anyone including a Muslim but conversion is not the issue here.
The real issue here is the motive - why the highly publicized manner.