Pope Benedict XVI’s private secretary warned of the Islamization of Europe and stressed the need for the continent’s Christian roots not to be ignored, in comments released Thursday.
“Attempts to Islamize the west cannot be denied,” Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in an advance copy of the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published Friday.
“The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness,” the magazine quoted him as saying.
Gaenswein also defended a speech Benedict gave last year linking Islam and violence, saying it was an attempt by the pontiff to “act against a certain naivety.”
Muslims around the world protested against Bendict’s speech, with churches set ablaze in the West Bank and a hard-line Iranian cleric saying the pope was united with US President George W. Bush to “repeat the Crusades.”
An Italian nun was also gunned down in a Somali hospital where she worked, and the Vatican expressed concern that the attack was related to reaction to the pope’s remarks.
Recently, the influential archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner, said in a widely-publicized interview on Deutschlandfunk radio that the “immigration of Muslims has created a breach in our German, European culture.”