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Vatican spokesman, responding to Libyan violence, decries provocations against Islam

September 12, 2012

Responding to mob violence against US embassies in Libya and Egypt, which led to the deaths of four American diplomats, the director of the Vatican press office released a statement condemning “provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers.”

The statement by Father Federico Lombardi did not include a condemnation of the killings in Benghazi, Libya, or the burning of American flags in Cairo. Instead he focused on offenses against Islam. The Muslim mobs were reportedly outraged by reports of a film, produced by an obscure American, that criticized Islam.

With Pope Benedict XVI preparing to travel to the Middle East this weekend amid mounting tensions in the region, the papal spokesman stressed that the Pope would bring a “message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions.” The statement from Father Lombardi, in its entirety, read:

Profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions is an essential precondition for the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days, as we see the reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence.

The message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions, which the Holy Father is preparing to carry with him on his forthcoming trip to Lebanon, indicate the path that everyone should follow in order to construct shared and peaceful coexistence among religions and peoples.

From Libya, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, told Vatican Insider that Western countries should have the “courage” to ban “all blasphemous projects” and establish “a policy that is respectful of religion.”


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  • Posted by: impossible - Sep. 13, 2012 7:40 PM ET USA

    Good summary dagbat. We must all remember that the Church is a divine institution peopled by less than divine members and that the Church is not the amorphous "vatican," "vatican spokesman," "vatican official," etc. As for what Islam is we best look to their documents and to the words of ex-Muslims who tell it like it is.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 13, 2012 3:53 PM ET USA

    What naivety for the Vatican Press Office to think that these acts of violence were in response to a remote You Tube movie made months ago. Didn’t the Vatican Press Office think it strange that these events just happened to coincide with 9/11? The truth is that this event (and also the one in Egypt) were staged. The world is at war between Good and Evil and it is about time for the Vatican to accept this fact and start acting as Jesus would expect them to. Jesus never negotiated or compromised His teachings with unbelievers or political opponents. He died on the cross because of this, as did many other martyrs of the early Church right up to the present. It is outrageous that the Vatican Press Office would expect Catholics to now silence their Catholic beliefs so as to show respect for the sensibilities of other Muslim believers - who were killing and desecrating in the name of their religion. These are not true believers, they are radical extremists! Instead of appeasing Islamic radicalism the Vatican Press Office should be steadfastly upholding the Church's divine teachings against the wanton taking of human life and the denial of the freedom to follow one’s religious beliefs.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 13, 2012 7:37 AM ET USA

    Abject cowardice and stupidity! Coddling these sociopaths' "religious sensibilities" has NEVER been effective because their objective is the domination of all non-Muslim cultures. Doubt me? Read history books. Read the Koran. Get with it people! I am ashamed of "leadership" like this in my Church. The profoundly disturbing truths about Islam must and will continue to come to light.

  • Posted by: sarsok8679 - Sep. 13, 2012 1:21 AM ET USA

    Obama is better than Bush on foreign policy? Obama's weakness, ineptitude, and sympathy for his father's 3rd world mentality towards America, is why thugs took over Libya and Egypt. Not a peep out of him when Iran's youth took to the streets was there?

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2012 9:58 PM ET USA

    This is incredible! This is our one true Church - our well of Truth - telling us what these wild Christian hating/ American haters are doing is right? How can this be? I am barely recovering from the sexual abuse scandal hitting close to home and trying to defend my Church, and here comes someone in the Vatican saying this despicable behavior is right? This is straight out of the worst of the worst of the historical nightmare of the Church that brought on the Reformation!

  • Posted by: unum - Sep. 12, 2012 8:44 PM ET USA

    While this is not time to be discussing Obama or Romney, "Minnesota Mary" has raised a valid question about what we are responding to in the Middle East - democracy or theocracy. From the beginning, the Church and the U.S. government have discouraged a frank and open discussion about Muslim behavior in the public square, and the "peaceful Muslims" have been very silent as the radicals dominate the dialog. Why are the "peacefuls" silent? Is it fear or something else?

  • Posted by: Caritas - Sep. 12, 2012 8:16 PM ET USA

    I'm almost sure that soon someone at the Vatican will "correct" Fr. Lombardi's comments. I'm in favor of respecting all religions, but there's no justification for the murder of American Embassy personnel & the Vatican should make a statement condeming it.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Sep. 12, 2012 7:52 PM ET USA

    It appears that many here have forgotten that it was G.W. Bush who set about the "blossoming of democracy throughout the Middle East." Now that democracy is taking root, we don't like the results so much. The American people do not want another war in the Middle East, but if the Neocons keep pushing for one, we most certainly will get WW III. I detect the same craziness today that set off WW I which led to WW II. Obama is better on foreign policy in the Middle East than Romney, the Neocon.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2012 6:54 PM ET USA

    Does this Fr. Lombardi speak for the Pope? Where's the Pope that valiantly challenged Islamic bullying a couple of years ago? Have the Obama administration and the Islamists gotten to the Church? You can count the Obama Administration will take refuge in this weak and absurd statement that has no condemnation AT ALL for the KILLINGS! This is extremely troubling...and on top of the insult, this attempt at appeasement Will Not Work...never does with intolerant fanatics!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2012 6:48 PM ET USA

    This is utterly foolish. No comment is given by Fr. Lombardi about the murder of the innocent. This is the cowardly evasion of the moral outrage of the killing of the innocent. Lombardi is past his sell by date. The Vatican needs to clean house and get rid of moral cowards. Fire Lombardi or better yet, send him to work with the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Sep. 12, 2012 6:38 PM ET USA

    I suspect this priest might not be speaking on behalf of the Holy Father. No way would the Pope consider some alleged slander against Islam of greater significance than the senseless slaughter of innocent human beings. If the Pope did something like this, then I am in the wrong faith.

  • Posted by: sarsok8679 - Sep. 12, 2012 6:12 PM ET USA

    It appears to me that the Islamic Faith is one giant monolithic religion that hates the West. They have in the course of a few years killed hundreds of Christians and not one peep out of them expressing sorrow over these deaths. But, one guy makes a movie criticizing them and they go ballistic. Then we have a Vatican official who condemns the movie maker not the insensible Islamic violence. They will use any fabrication to bring on the Islamic Apocalypse.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Sep. 12, 2012 6:00 PM ET USA

    This is frankly an absurd statement which weak and groveling. A mob invades the territory of the US and murders people and Fr. Lombardi is worried about provocations to Islam??

  • Posted by: Skip - Sep. 12, 2012 5:56 PM ET USA

    What the heck? What is the matter with Fr. Lombardi? When will the Vatican press office learn? 1. Don't say something until you know the facts.....and 2. Enough with the political correctness regarding Islam! This was outright MURDER! Where is the outrage by the press office over that? Why is the US always demonized? Enough!

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 12, 2012 4:32 PM ET USA

    Sounds just like the Obama administration, doesn't it? What of the deaths to people who probably never knew of the movie? What of the other Faiths in the region, I guess it doesn't matter? Placating the extremists only serves to prompt more violence. The Vatican does a great disservice when it speaks out so forcefully about Islam but remains passive to the assaults against Christianity in the region.