Papal Baptism

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Papal Baptism

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On Easter Sunday Pope Benedict XVI performed the rite of baptism on an Egyptian-born journalist, Magdi Allam. Since Islam teaches that to abandon Islam is an apostasy punishable by death this is a significant event.

Allam has been a vocal critic of Islamic extremism and has lived in seclusion with death threats hanging over him. He took this step of baptism knowing the risk. It seems that Benedict chose to perform this rite in spite of the criticism that can come.

Catholic World News reports: “The Easter-vigil baptism, Allam said, sent a unmistakable message from Pope Benedict tothe entire world, and especially“to a Church that has recently been overly careful about the question of converting Muslims.” Christians, he said, should overcome their fear of reprisals and preach the Gospel boldly, even in Islamic countries, confidently leaving the results in God’s hands.”

The papacy is playing to the only strength it has–it’s political strength. In ages past the Catholic Church was the king maker in Europe as Popes traditionally crowned the heads of the Holy Roman Empire. Popes launched crusades against the Holy Land and sent fleets of ships to conquer.

But today it lacks this kind of muscle. Yet Vatican City is a separate state and sends representatives to all major nations. It crusades in different ways today to remain relevant to its own members and to the nations.

Pope John Paul II campaigned against communism and is credited as playing a significant role in the downfall of the Soviet Union. since that time the church has been looking for another dragon to slay. Islam may be that dragon.

Benedict made a speech in September 2006 where he quoted a Byzantine Christian emperor who referred to the Prophet Mohammed’s work as “evil and inhumane”. If Benedict chooses an aggressive stance toward Islam with more actions like this it could move the Vatican into a more prominent role in radical Islam’s conflict with the West. Such a move would have profound geopolitical implications.

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