Pope Saddened by Religious Riots in Nigeria
REUTERS, Feb. 21 — Pope Benedict said he was saddened by days of anti-Christian riots in northern Nigeria in which dozens of people were killed and churches torched.
At least 38 people, including a Catholic priest, have died since Feb. 18 as religious violence flared in three predominantly Muslim Nigerian cities. Some estimates put the dead at more than 50.
“Saddened to learn of the tragic consequences of the recent violent protests in northern Nigeria, his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI assures all those affected of his closeness in prayer,” said a telegram sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State.
He added, “He likewise prays for all involved in providing security, encouraging them in their efforts to ensure peace and to promote the rule of law for which all people of good will long.”
Italian Senator: Be Firm With Muslim Fanatics
AGI, Feb. 21 — Marcello Pera, speaker of the Italian Senate, said the Western world will surrender to fundamentalist Islam if the religious fanatics are not met with a firm response, the Italian news service reported.
In an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pera said that “the truth is that many fanatics, not only a few terrorists, declared a holy war against us, a jihad that began even before Sept. 11. Those fanatics and terrorists who are penetrating in the Islamic masses declared war on us.”
“They try to use a violent interpretation of their faith to incite rebellion and hatred against the West,” he added. “We must take cognizance of it, be realistic and not undervalue this phenomenon. If we apologize, if we bend, if we are too appeasing we have already lost, we have already surrendered.”
Opus Dei Demands Cuts to Da Vinci Code
GUARDIAN UNLIMITED, Feb. 15 — Opus Dei has called on the makers of the film The Da Vinci Code to change the ending so as not to offend Catholics, the English website reported.
In a statement released Feb. 14 in Rome, Opus Dei said that Sony Pictures still had time to make changes to the film, which is currently in postproduction, that would be appreciated by Catholics, “particularly in these days in which everyone has noted the painful consequences of intolerance” — an apparent reference to violence in the Muslim world sparked by the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
The Da Vinci Code film is based on Dan Brown’s novel, which posits that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and had children, and that Opus Dei and the Catholic Church have spent 2,000 years covering it up.
“It’s not enough to offer to the offended party the opportunity to defend itself while the offense continues,” the statement said. “Correct behavior is to avoid offense while it’s still possible.” By making the changes, Sony would demonstrate that freedom of expression is compatible with respect for beliefs while also offering “a service to the cause of dialogue among cultures.”