Is Pope Benedict Calling For Christians To Be Killed?
So why, then, is Pope Benedict lauding the Christian presence in Saudi Arabia? What purpose does such an acknowledgement serve?
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI lauded the contributions of Christians in Saudi Arabia—a kingdom that embraces a strict version of Islam, restricts worship by other faiths and bans Bibles and crucifixes—in the first meeting ever Tuesday between a pope and reigning Saudi king.
Benedict and the Vatican's No. 2 official raised their concerns during separate meetings with King Abdullah, the protector of Islam's holiest sites.
The Vatican counts 890,000 Catholics, mainly guest workers from the Philippines, among the estimated 1.5 million Christians in Saudi Arabia. Christians are barred from opening churches in the desert kingdom where Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, are located.
"The Vatican authorities expressed their hope for the prosperity of all the inhabitants of the country, and mention was made of the positive and industrious presence of Christians," said the Vatican communique on the meetings, referring in diplomatic language to the religious plight of non-Muslims in the kingdom.
Benedict greeted the king warmly, grasping both his hands before heading into 30 minutes of private talks in his library.
At the end of the meeting, Abdullah presented Benedict with a traditional Middle Eastern gift—a golden sword studded with jewels—and a gold and silver statue of a palm tree and a man riding a camel. The pope admired the statue but merely touched the sword.
He gave Abdullah a 16th century print and a gold medal of his pontificate.
Islam is the official religion of Saudi Arabia, and the kingdom requires all Saudi citizens to be Muslims. Only Muslims can visit the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Under the authoritarian rule of the royal family, the kingdom enforces Sharia, or Islamic law.
It follows a severe interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism that rejects the possibility of diplomatic relations with a Christian entity. This interpretation would prohibit a Vatican embassy in Saudi Arabia on the grounds it is equivalent to raising the cross inside Islam's holiest places.
Well, I guess this is what one calls, "diplomacy." Of course, Pope Benedict is not stupid. He knows the reality that exists in Saudi Arabia.
But, in a way, he is stupid. You wanna know how?
He seems to believe that if he follows the diplomatic law of engagement, opening lines of communication, and encouragement in the direction of one's own interests, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia might change.
Yeah, good luck with that, Pope.
For God's sake.