Islam a threat to Europe's identity: Pope's secretary

Pope Benedict's personal secretary, Msgr Georg Gaenswein, says that attempts to spread Islam in the West are undeniable and that the Catholic Church sees the "threat to Europe's identity" and is not afraid to say to say so.

The Economic Times reports that Msgr Gaenswein warned against the spread of Islam in the West in an interview with a German newspaper published on Friday.

"We cannot deny the attempts to spread Islam in the West. And we should not be too understanding and let this blind us to the threat to Europe's identity," he told the weekly magazine of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

"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.

Gaenswein described as "prophetic" the highly controversial speech the pope made at the University of Regensburg when he visited Germany last September in which he seemed to link Islam to violence.

"The speech was precisely meant to counter a kind of naivete. It is clear that there is not only one Islam and the pope does not know anybody who speaks with binding authority to all Muslims," he said.

"The concept groups many different schools ... some of whom use the Koran to justify reaching for a gun," he said.

In the speech at the University of Regensburg in his native Germany, Pope Benedict quoted a medieval Christian emperor who criticised some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman".

The lecture sparked days of sometimes violent protests in Muslim countries, prompting the pontiff to say that he was "deeply sorry" for any offence and to attribute Muslim anger to an "unfortunate misunderstanding".

But he stopped short of apologising for the remarks.

Europe faces Islamic threat (Economic Times, 29/7/07)
Pope's private secretary warns of Islamization of Europe (Jerusalem Post, 29/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Georg Gaenswein
Final Text Pope Benedict's Regensburg lecture Faith, Reason and the University, Memories and Reflections
Provisional Text, Lecture at the Meeting with Representatives of the Sciences, 12 September, 2006

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30 Jul 2007