Pope pursues medieval Islamophobic fantasy

Madeleine Bunting argues that the Pope is a dangerous bigot suffering from “a deep arrogance rooted in a blinkered Catholic triumphalism”. She writes:

“By an uncanny coincidence the legendary Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci died last week…. the Pope had already run into controversy in Italy by inviting the rabid Islamophobe to a private audience just months ago. This is the journalist who published a bestseller in 2001 which amounted to a diatribe of invective against Islam. This is the woman who was only too happy to fling out comments such as ‘Muslims breed like rats’ and ‘the increasing presence of Muslims in Italy and Europe is directly proportional to our loss of freedom’. At the time of her papal audience, Fallaci’s ranting against Islam had landed her in court and there was outrage at the Pope’s insensitive invitation. The Pope refused to backtrack and insisted the meeting was purely ‘pastoral’.

“Put last week’s lecture in Bavaria and the Fallaci audience alongside his vocal opposition to Turkish membership of the EU, and the picture isn’t pretty. On one of the biggest and most volatile issues of our day – the perceived clash between the west and the Muslim world – the Pope seems to have abdicated his papal role of arbitrator, and taken up the arms in a rerun of a medieval fantasy.”

Guardian, 19 September 2006