Catholic Culture Overview
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Church bombing in Egypt kills 21; imam condemns Pope's remarks

January 03, 2011

Coptic Orthodox Christians clashed with police in Alexandria following a January 1 church bombing that left 21 dead. Egyptian religious and civil authorities decried the violence.

Pope Benedict XVI condemned the bombing as a “vile and murderous gesture” that “offends God and all humankind.” He encouraged Christians to resist the urge to violence in response, while calling upon political leaders to protect Christians from such violence. Although he condemned the bombing, Egypt’s leading Muslim leader blasted Pope Benedict for calling for the protection of Christians. “I disagree with the Pope's view, and I ask why did the Pope not call for the protection of Muslims when they were subjected to killings in Iraq?” said Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, who accused the Pontiff of “unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs.”

The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, said that the Islamic leader's statement seemed to reflect a "misunderstanding of communications." The Pope opposes all religious violence, Father Lombardi said, and would not restrict his condemnation to attacks on Christians. However, the Vatican spokesman pointed out, "in this case we are talking about targeted violence against a Christian minority. But this in no way means minimizing or justifying violence against the faithful of other religions."


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  • Posted by: R. Spanier (Catholic Canadian) - Jan. 04, 2011 1:16 AM ET USA

    "why did the Pope not call for the protection of Muslims when they were subjected to killings in Iraq?" He did! "Last year (2003), the pope dispatched senior cardinals to both U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in an 11th-hour effort to avoid the conflict… The Vatican had argued that Iraq should be disarmed but wanted a diplomatic solution to the Iraqi crisis under the auspices of the United Nations."

  • Posted by: imanxufan9901 - Jan. 03, 2011 10:42 PM ET USA

    I'm so tired of hearing that islam is a peaceful religion.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jan. 03, 2011 7:45 PM ET USA

    I'm getting tired of these crackpot imams getting worked up over anything the Holy Father says. Islam has done nothing for the poor and ignorant Muslims of the Middle East or any country they reside in. They have no problem spilling Christian blood and expect us to believe they are a religion of "peace".

  • Posted by: Obregon - Jan. 03, 2011 5:19 PM ET USA

    The imam should be ashamed of himself. He is not misinterpreting what the Holy Father said. He knows well the Holy Father did not call for violence and that he made it clear at Regensburg that violence is not the way religion solves its problems. The Holy Father has nothing to apologize for. The same can't be said about Ahmed al-Tayeb. Shame on him!

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Jan. 03, 2011 12:38 PM ET USA

    Philippians 1:29

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Jan. 03, 2011 10:09 AM ET USA

    Muslims deserve to be prayed for since their dignity comes from being made in God's image and likeness but their infernal and evil religion and the actions stemming from it deserve nothing but condemnation, most especially from the Supreme Pontiff. If Benedict XVI were Innocent III he would call upon Christians to go forth and fight for other Christians caught in the cruel crosshares of Mohammed. I hope he doesn't apologize.