Islamic Moderates Put Hopes in Benedict XVI

Centrists in Need of Western Support

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TURIN, Italy, MAY 6, 2005 ( Benedict XVI’s view that religion can be used to defend human rights gives hope to Islamic conservatives, according to the director of the Center of Studies on New Religions.

In a book that takes into account the initial reactions of the Muslim world to the election of Benedict XVI, Massimo Introvigne reports that “centrist and conservative” Islamics are looking to Benedict XVI “to find interlocutors in the West that will give them the necessary support to prevail over fundamentalism.”

“The New World War: Clash of Civilizations or Muslim Civil War?” will be presented by Introvigne May 10 at a conference organized jointly by the Italian think tank (CESNUR, according to its Italian initials), and the Catholic Alliance Movement.

The topic of the conference will be: “Catholics, Islam, and Terrorism in the New Pontificate.”

In a message sent to ZENIT, CESNUR explains that the opposition to the appointment of the new Pontiff in the Muslim world comes from those who promote a nationalist, secular vision of Islam, as well as from fundamentalists, meaning those who take recourse to violence as a means to express their grievances.

The positions of exponents of a “centrist and conservative” Islam, who are “often called ‘moderate’ by the media, although those involved do not like this term,” actually “share with Benedict XVI the diagnosis according to which the international crisis is above all a moral crisis,” adds the director of CESNUR.

According to this view, the therapy for the crisis “does not consist in the repudiation of religion, but in a firm interpretation of rejection of violence and openness to human rights,” explains the expert.

“These centrist positions are significant in Islam,” explains the report, “they are promoted by large Turkish and Indonesian movements,” which draws broad, popular support, and even including the royal families of Jordan and Morocco.

These movements consider themselves to be possible interlocutors with the West, and in particular with the new Pope, despite the fact that in the past many Western countries have marginalized them, preferring to support “secular dictatorial regimes, or even those containing elements of fundamentalism.”

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