Pope hesitates to call London bombings 'anti-Christian'

An early draft of Pope Benedict XVI's telegram of condolence for the London bombings referred to the terrorist strikes as "anti-Christian", but the final version stopped at condemning them as "anti-human".

The National Catholic Reporter reported on the significance of the revision, which averted the scenario that would have had the Pope subscribing to the "clash of civilisations" version of events, thereby provoking hostility from the Muslim world.

The Reporter's John Allen says that that draft was prepared by the Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and not by the pope.

"In the telegram as it was released by the Vatican Press Office mid-afternoon Thursday, after the pope had reviewed it, Benedict instead defined the bombings as "barbaric acts against humanity."

"The phrase 'anti-Christian' seemed to evoke images of a 'clash of civilisations' between Islamic radicals and the Christian West, perhaps signaling a stronger line on Islam from the Vatican. It would have made Benedict the first, and only, Western leader to signal a specifically religious dimension to the attacks that left more than 50 people dead and hundreds more wounded."

Allen says that confusion over the wording of the telegram produced a "Vatican mini-drama" on Thursday and Friday.

Pope's condolence telegram causes flap (National Catholic Reporter 9/7/05)

Pope calls London bombings 'barbaric acts against humanity' (CathNews 8/7/05)

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11 Jul 2005