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Cardinal Pell: Read the Koran - Stakes are Too High to Misunderstand Islam

Mon May 8, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST

By Steve Jalsevac

NAPLES, FL. May 8, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life, pro-family leaders at the United Nations and elsewhere have often found Muslims to be allies in their struggles to defend life and family. However, at the same time there has been anxiety about the rapid growth of extremely violent Islamic radicalism which has no regard whatever for the lives of even innocent women and children or for any freedom of religion. Cardinal George Pell of Sydney Australia, who says, “September 11 was a wake-up call” for him “personally,” bluntly addressed this issue in a talk to a Legatus Summit in Naples, Florida this past February.

After Sept. 11 Pell decided to dust off and read a copy of the Koran he possessed for many years. He now encourages others to also “read this sacred text of the Muslims, because the challenge of Islam will be with us for the remainder of our lives – at least.”

The main question addressed in the Cardinal’s talk was, “Can Islam and the Western democracies live together peacefully?” He indicated that “Views on this question range from näive optimism to bleakest pessimism,” but that with a far better understanding of Islam and current developments by Christians and world leaders a peaceful co-existence might be achieved.

Pell notes that the optimists “point to the roots Islam has in common with Judaism and Christianity and the worship the three great monotheistic religions offer to the one true God. There is also the common commitment that Muslims and Christians have to the family and to the defence of life, and the record of co-operation in recent decades between Muslim countries, the Holy See, and countries such as the United States in defending life and the family at the international level, particularly at the United Nations.”

However, Pell continues, “On the pessimistic side of the equation, concern begins with the Koran itself. In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages”.

The senior Catholic Cardinal warns that the claims of Muslim tolerance of religious minorities are “largely mythical.” He emphasizes history has clearly shown that, “Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited.” However, Pell adds that the human factor of many Muslims being uncomfortable with the violence and harsh intolerance of traditional Islamic practices provides hope for positive change as has occurred in more moderate Muslim nations.

The secularists in the West, indicates Pell, are the mostly poorly equipped to comprehend and respond to today’s explosion of Islamic violence and power. That is because the issue is predominantly one of religion which the secularists do not understand. Pell says, “one example of the secular incomprehension of religion is the blithe encouragement of large scale Islamic migration into Western nations, particularly in Europe.”

Pell emphasizes that the issue is one of religion and can ultimately only be satisfactorily addressed by religion, rather than politics or material power. The vacuum created by the collapse of religious faith in the West has made it especially vulnerable to conquest by a large, strongly committed religious movement.

“Radicalism,” says Pell, “whether of religious or non-religious inspiration, has always had a way of filling emptiness” and if we are going to help moderate forces within Islam the personal consequences of religious faith need to be taken more seriously. Secularism, and the emptiness and despair that it spawns, is “no match for Islam,” warns the Cardinal.

The “disastrous fall in fertility rates,” adds Pell, is “The most telling sign that Western democracy suffers a crisis of confidence”. He provides startling statistics indicating how Islam is easily taking over the West simply by having more children and the West is dying from its suicidal abortion and contraceptive practices.

Pell warns that the issues must be discussed and that participants in “useful dialogue” must “grapple with the truth and in this issue of Islam and the West the stakes are too high for fundamental misunderstandings.”

See the Complete talk:
  Islam and Western Democracies
http://www.sydney.catholic.org.au/Archbishop/Addresses/200627_681.shtml


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