Cardinal’s remarks not an attack on Islam
REMARKS made by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell ,about Islam that have attracted criticism were aimed only at reinforcing the importance to democracy of genuine religious faith, according to the Church’s ecumenical agency.
The address, made at the Acton Institute in Michigan, US, in October, was mistakenly interpreted in some early reports as comparing Islam to communism.
Sr Giovanni Farquer, executive director for the archdiocesan Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations, says the thrust of Cardinal Pell’s address dealt with the failings of secular democracy and democracy’s need for strong religious life in the wider culture.
“ The talk does not suggest that Islam and democracy are incompatible,” Sr Giovanni said.
“ The comparison to communism is strictly limited to the appeal communism made in the West to people’s sense of justice. Islam also makes a strong appeal to people’s sense of justice in the West as elsewhere.
“ Certainly there is no suggestion in the talk that Islam is a ‘dark’ religion. The reference to darkness refers clearly to “political substitutes for religion”. Neither Islam nor Christianity falls into this category.”
Sr Giovanni said she responded promptly to the Muslim group Affinity Intercultural Foundation after press reports of Cardinal Pell’s address.
She said the reply from the foundation, established by a group of young Australian Muslims in 2001 to interact with greater society and increase awareness of Islam, was positive.
The president of the foundation, Mehmet Ozalp, wrote back acknowledging the ecumenical role of the Church and the need for caution over media reports.
“ I am a witness that the Catholic Church has been the most sincere supporter of interfaith dialogue in Australia and I am confident that its support will continue for many years to come,” he wrote.
The full text of the address at Acton will be published in Quadrant next
month. It will then be available on
Cardinal Pell has been in Indonesia this week attending the Federal Government’s Dialogue on Interfaith Co-operation meeting.