The football-loving archbishop tipped to be the next leader of Britain’s Roman Catholics talks to our correspondents Helen Rumbelow and Alice Miles On Wednesday afternoon in Birmingham a young Muslim woman found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. The doors of St Chad’s Cathedral opened and hundreds of men surged out, their yellow robes flapping in the sunshine. She, in black robes, glanced back, alarmed, and broke into a run. She had better keep running. Last out was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, agitator-in-chief and hot tip to be the Church’s next leader in Britain. He had just blessed the priests of his diocese, urging them to fight a culture that he said was becoming aggressively antireligious. Name a controversy where politics and religion meet and invariably the Archbishop’s name pops up. Faith schools? It was he who forced the Government to back down on admissions quotas. Gay adoption? His views made him the liberals’ punchbag. So why, we asked as we met after the service, did he think that Britain had become so antireligious? He thought for a moment and his gentle Liverpudlian accent at first beguiled us to the strength of his opinions. It turns out that it is the Muslims’ fault, because the unease the West has with them gives other faiths a bad name. The acts of terrorism have shaken people’s perception of the presence of faiths in this country and around the world and I just wish there was a bit more differentiation in the reflection about the role of faiths in society. Some politicians jumbled all faiths into one. Sometimes the anxieties that are expressed around faith schools are actually to do with Islamic schools. And when you press a politician they say, _Well of course we don’t mean Catholic schools and we don’t mean Church of England schools’, but they still hesitate to move away from the umbrella phrase of faith schools. […]
Italian police were ordered this week to tighten security at potential Catholic targets across the country as the leaders of the Roman Catholic church anxiously waited to see if a personal expression of regret by Pope Benedict would assuage Muslim fury over his remarks on Islam.
ITALIAN bishops gave warning yesterday against Catholics marrying Muslims, citing cultural differences and fears that children born to mixed marriages would shun Christianity. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the president of the Italian Bishops Conference, said: In addition to the problems that any couple encounters when forming a family, Catholics and Muslims have to reckon with the difficulties that inevitably arise from deep cultural differences. Cardinal Ruini, one of the right-hand men of Pope Benedict XVI, said that it was often the woman who married a Muslim man and it was she who converted to Islam. In a statement, the bishops said that if an Italian woman married a Muslim immigrant and then settled in his country of origin, her rights were not guaranteed in the way they are in Italy or in other Western nations. In addition the children of mixed marriages tended to be brought up as Muslims and not as Catholics. Such marriages should, therefore, be discouraged. Church officials said that there were 200,000 mixed marriages in Italy, with 20,000 this year alone, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. The statement enraged liberal groups, which accused the Roman Catholic Church of interfering in Italian affairs. Emma Bonino, a leader of the Transnational Radical Party, accused the Vatican of seeking to affect the general election, due in April, as politicians from the Right and Left courted the Vatican to gain Catholic votes. She said that the Vatican had taken strong stances on issues such as abortion, same-sex unions, and euthanasia in violation of the 1929 Lateran Treaty between the Vatican and the Italian State. Mara Tognetti Borgogna, a sociologist at Bicocca University, Milan, said of mixed marriages: Each case is different. It depends on the circumstances.The most critical moment usually comes when the children reach adolescence and come into conflict with one parent or both over their life choices. Signora Borgogna said that they could work, but you need a high level of mutual tolerance between two languages, two religions, two ways of looking at the world. On the other hand, the mixed marriages we have now are a kind of social laboratory, because that is the way our society is going.
Centuries after Christian building was put at the centre of C_rdoba’s mosque, Vatican hears Spanish appeal to allow Islamic worship there. Muslims across Spain are lobbying the Roman Catholic church in the southern city of C_rdoba to make a symbolic gesture of reconciliation between faiths by allowing them to pray in the city’s cathedral. C_rdoba’s renaissance cathedral sits in the centre of an ancient mosque complex, and local Muslims want to be allowed to pray there again. They have appealed to the Vatican to intercede on their behalf.
By Alessandra Rizzo ROME – A new book by controversial journalist Oriana Fallaci that hit bookstores here Monday accuses Europe of having sold its soul to what she describes as an Islamic invasion. Entitled “The Strength of Reason,” (“La Forza della Ragione” in Italian), the book also accuses the Roman Catholic Church of being too weak before the Muslim world.
An Italian court order a kindergarten to take off all crucifixes from classrooms at the request of a Muslim activist, sparking shock waves in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.
While immigrants live largely apart from mainstream Italian society – doing manual or factory work or scraping a living peddling trinkets or vegetables on the streets – the influx of foreigners in recent years, many of them Muslim, is rapidly changing the cultural makeup of this Roman Catholic country.