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The Vatican's Blunder on the Attack in Libya

by Christopher A. Ferrara
September 22, 2012

Following the attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, supposedly provoked by a laughably crude anti-Muslim video that went viral on YouTube, the Vatican Press Office issued a declaration that expressed more concern for the alleged offense to Muslims than the murder of four American Embassy staffers, including the United States Ambassador to Libya himself.

The declaration called for "[p]rofound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions" as "an essential precondition for the peaceful coexistence of peoples" and deplored the "serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers" which had "tragic results... unleashing unacceptable violence."

So, "unacceptable" is the most the Vatican would say about the burning of the American embassy and the murder of four Americans by a crazed mob of Islamic fundamentalists, whose alleged provocation was a silly amateur video that disparaged Mohammed and the religion he invented. As far as the Vatican was concerned, it was the video that had "unleashed" violence, not the actual perpetrators of the violence.

Worse, instead of strictly condemning murder and mayhem by Muslim fanatics, the Vatican declaration referred inanely to "[t]he 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, indicates the path that everyone should follow in order to construct shared and peaceful coexistence among religions and peoples."

Not surprisingly, the declaration produced shock and dismay among Catholics around the world. Even the Jewish international news service, JTA, noted that "[t]he statement... did not mention the murders of the diplomats... The Vatican statement's wording also — to some readers — seemed to condemn the film as much as the violent reaction." Not as much as, but more than!

Plainly embarrassed by its gaffe, the Vatican Press Office, speaking through its head Father Federico Lombardi, issued a second declaration the following day in which Lombardi stated that "[t]he very serious attack organised against the United States diplomatic mission in Libya, which led to the death of the ambassador and of other functionaries, calls for the firmest possible condemnation on the part of the Holy See. Nothing, in fact, can justify the activity of terrorist organisations and homicidal violence."

Well, why didn't Lombardi say so in the first place? Why was the first reaction of the Vatican Press Office to condemn the offense to Islam, rather than the murder of four people in the name of Islam? Answer: according to the illusory "new orientation" of the Church since Vatican II, the utter novelty of "interreligious dialogue" — endless, useless palaver with the "representatives of the world's religions" — is of paramount importance. It was thus was the first thing the Vatican saw fit to mention in the aftermath of the attack.

Compare the Vatican's new, namby-pamby approach to Islam with this declaration from the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Pope Pius XI (r. 1922-1939) — the same Pope who condemned the nascent "ecumenical movement" — ordered to be included in the Roman Missal and read from the pulpit on the Feast of Christ the King:

Be Thou King of all those who even now sit in the shadow of idolatry or Islam, and refuse not Thou to bring them into the light of Thy kingdom.

Today, of course, the Vatican would regard the very words of the Supreme Pontiff as an offense to Islam that could "unleash violence" if uttered publicly. Yet those words still appear in the traditional Roman Missal used by Catholics who attend the traditional Latin Mass today with papal approval. Yet another sign of diabolical disorientation in the Church.