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Critics seek to undermine Pope's influence, Cardinal Ruini suspects September 18, 2006

Cardinal Camillo Ruini has announced that he thinks the international outrage surrounding Pope Benedict's speech in Regensburg is being fed-- especially in Italy-- by people who seek to damage the Pope's authority.

"We deplore the misinterpretations-- which are not lacking in our own country," the cardinal said at a September 18 meeting of the leadership of the Italian bishops' conference. He promised that the Italian bishops would stand firm with the Pontiff, in the face of attacks that reflect a serious misreading of the Pope's actual text.

Cardinal Ruini said that he was "surprised" that many people interpreted the Pope's speech as an attack on the Islamic faith, since in fact the Pope was speaking out against a form of rationalism that rejects all religious faith. He said that this deformed rationalism has clashed with religious cultures, including those formed by Islam, and thus heightened world tensions. The Pope's speech, he said, was a necessary step toward the "understanding and reciprocal collaboration" needed to defuse those tensions.

In his September 18 talk, Cardinal Ruini also paid homage to the noted Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who died September 15 after a long battle with cancer. Fallaci, who was a fierce critic of Islamic fundamentalists during the last months of her life, "always gave a great witness of courage, of moral force, of talent, of literary quality, and finally of love for all Italy," the cardinal said. Fallaci, a professed atheist, was nevertheless an admirer of Pope Benedict XVI, and quietly met with the Pontiff at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo in August 2005.

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