Pope Seeks to Avoid Clash of Civilizations, Says Sant'Egidio Founder

Andrea Riccardi Analyzes Papal Approach to Iraqi Crisis

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, MARCH 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II’s «global diplomacy» in the Iraqi crisis is motivated in part by an attempt to avoid any kind of clash of civilizations, says the founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio.

Andrea Riccardi, whose Catholic movement arose in Rome in 1968, said that «it is clear that the Vatican has the Christians of Iraq and the Muslim world in mind, who might remain as hostages of a Muslim reaction against the West. However, this is not the only reason for so much effort.»

«As at the time of the Gulf War, the Pope does not want the confrontation to become a war between the West and Islam,» Riccardi explained an article published in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.

«Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pope expressed strong and clear sympathy to the United States, although not in an anti-Muslim vein,» Riccardi added.

«Shortly after,» he observed, «John Paul II appealed to Catholics to fast on the same day that Ramadan ended, the holy month of penance for Muslims. The message was clear: Christians are not struggling against Islam, which cannot be reduced to the concept of extremism.»

The Sant’Egidio founder continued: «At the beginning of 2002, the Pope convoked religious leaders from all over the world to meet in Assisi to pray for peace. A clear message was given by this also: Religions neither desire nor justify war.»

«The Pope does not identify with a national interest, and tends to give a reading of events characterized by its general interest,» Riccardi added. «In this connection, his diplomacy is universal: This can be seen in the motivations and also in the nationality of his emissaries.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation