Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop has hit out at Muslims protesting over comments by the Pope, saying their reaction shows the link in Islam between religion and violence. Cardinal George Pell has also labelled the response of some Australian Muslim leaders to the issue as “unhelpful”.
The Pope has since said he is “deeply sorry” for the outrage sparked by his remarks and stressed they do not reflect his personal opinion. But Cardinal Pell today backed Pope Benedict, saying the violent reaction to his comments on Islam and violence illustrated his fears.
“The violent reactions in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict’s main fears,” Cardinal Pell said in a statement. “They showed the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence. Our major priority must be to maintain peace and harmony within the Australian community, but no lasting achievements can be grounded in fantasies and evasions.”
He said the responses of Australia’s mufti, Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali, and of Dr Ameer Ali, of the prime minister’s Muslim reference group, were “unfortunately typical and unhelpful”. “It is always someone else’s fault and issues touching on the nature of Islam are ignored.”
Pell himself, or course, is rather more hardline on this question than his boss. He is the author of an article that depicted Islam as an inherently violent faith, drawing on rabidly Islamophobic writers such as Daniel Pipes, Andrew Bostom and William Dalrymple.