Monday, October 11, 2010

The Pope and Iran

Even in recent times, popes have influenced tense political situations in the world. Pope John XXIII is viewed as easing tensions during the Cuban missile crisis and Pope John Paul II played a role in the collapse of communism is Eastern Europe. This past weekend, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent Pope Benedict a letter thanking him for opposing the Qur'an burning that was set to happen at a so-called church in Florida. Ahmadinejad had also sent Benedict a letter in 2006 regarding sanctions that were being imposed on Iran during that time.

In this weekends letter, Ahmadinejad also denounced Western secularism and materialism and stated: "Close cooperation and interaction among divine religions to halt such destructive moves is an absolute necessity." In light of past history, this begs the question of whether Benedict could play a role in Western conversations with Ahmadinejad. Benedict's criticism of Western society obviously strikes a cord with the Iranian president. If this possibility is not on Benedict's radar, perhaps it should be. The similar world-view that Benedict and Ahmadinejad share concerning the harmful nature of secularism could be a starting point for fruitful dialogue. Of course, this could all be a smoke screen (particularly the respect Ahmadinejad shows for other revealed religions) on the part of Ahmadinejad, but there is no harm in trying, and everything to be gained.

A Faithful Catholic

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