Pope Benedict XVI held a meeting at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, a strident critic of Islam, Vatican sources confirmed. The 76-year-old writer, who describes herself as an atheist Christian and was sued in Italy for insulting the Muslim faith in one of her books, asked to meet the pope, a source said. The meeting on Saturday between Benedict XVI and the former war correspondent became public only after Fallaci’s associates let slip that the meeting took place.
Based in the United States where she is being treated for cancer, Fallaci once said in a newspaper interview that she was comforted by the writings of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became pope after the death of John Paul II. “Europe is no longer Europe, it is ‘Eurabia,’ a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense,” Fallaci told The Wall Street Journal on June 23. “Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty,” she said. “I feel less alone when I read Ratzinger’s books,” the journalist added.
But writing in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera three weeks later, she said integrating Muslims in Western society was a “nightmare” and criticised the pope’s call for dialogue with Muslim leaders after the July 7 London suicide bombings.