Monday, March 24, 2008

Magdi Allam - from Mohammed to Christ

Magdi Allam is one of the foremost Muslims in Italy - a journalist who has been a prominent critic of Islamic radicalism. He is deputy director of the leading newspaper Corriere della Sera and has angered some Muslims with his views, especially in his support for Israel. He was baptised by Pope Benedict XVI in the traditional Easter Vigil Mass which takes place in St Peter's Basilica, and received into the Roman Catholic Church. All arrangements were kept secret by the Vatican.

There is no doubting the need for secrecy in this case - particularly in the wake of recent charges by Osama bin Laden that Benedict XVI is leading a ‘new crusade’ against Islam – but such a high-profile Muslim convert receiving such a high-profile baptism and reception, and on the holiest day of the Christian year, seems almost purposely designed as to cause offence in certain quarters: it is a manifest boast, and certain journalists have not disappointed in their triumphalist recapitulation, as though the denomination were more important than the glory of finding the incomparable Christ. Mr Allam could, after all, have been baptised and received by a local and obscure parish priest in Viterbo, where he lives, and the media would have been none the wiser.

And neither would Cranmer.

According to Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson: ‘For the Catholic church, every person who asks to receive Baptism after a deep personal search, who makes a completely free choice following adequate preparation, has the right to receive it. For his part, the Holy Father administers Baptism in the course of the Easter liturgies to the candidates who are presented to him, without making distinctions among them, considering them all equally important before the love of God and the welcome of the community of the church.’

Without making distinctions? Considering them equally?

So the hundreds of converts eligible to participate in this service drew lots, and all had an equal chance of being selected, did they?

This baptism, after Tony Blair’s reception which was performed personally by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, gives the impression that Rome is not remotely concerned with the last being first: there is a manifest pecking order of privilege.

But Cranmer wonders if the Vatican would have been so high-profile with an anti-Palestine Jewish convert, or might it have been sensitive to the recent accusations of anti-Semitism?

And would the media report anything at all of a Roman Catholic journalist converting to the Church of England? And if it did, would not a high-profile ceremony performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury have been greeted with ridicule or with accusations of anti-Catholic bigotry?

15 Comments:

Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Your Grace
Having read the first half of your post, I was thinking how clever you were to have written about this, and read on, looking for what I thought you would say: something about why you believe Magdi Allam was chosen and what this says about the Pope's supposed desire for peace with the Muslim world.

But instead you have somehow managed to turn this into another post about the unfair treatment of the Church of England. I'm not saying this isn't the case. But I have suggested elsewhere that some of your communicants suffer from the victimhood disease. And I believe the strange conclusion of this post could possibly suggest something similar of its author. Or am I being unfair?

24 March 2008 at 12:07  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

Blogger Snuffleupagus said...Or am I being unfair?

The Roman Religion has a new found confidence and is on the ascendancy. We might as well get used to it. It seems to be the religion of choice for some of the media, which is understandable, because at least you know where you are with Rome.

My concern is with Magdi Allam as he is now a target from those who believe the Koran. He is a brave man.

24 March 2008 at 12:27  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Ms Snuffy,

His Grace is delighted to hear that you do not find him remotely predictable.

He was considering mantion of the point you make, but that would have been to judge the motives of His Holiness.

24 March 2008 at 12:28  
Anonymous oiznop said...

It might depend who it was, but the media by and large wouldn't comment on an RC conversion to CofE. Especially it was someone already critical of their church and married to a member of the CofE. Magdi Allam is married to an RC, so its probably no surprise he's gone there, but its still not very friendly to Muslims to rub their noses in it by making it so high profile.

24 March 2008 at 14:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Magdi Allam is such a fool, who he to mis-quote Al-Islam. If you do not wich to follow the fastest growing faith, then that`s fine. .....your loss!! mate.He will be held accountable on Judgement day

24 March 2008 at 15:38  
Anonymous zargon zolaxis said...

Anonymous remarks by semi-literate Islamicists always bring a smile to the face.

Cranmer, you must stop whining so much about the fact that the CofE gets less press coverage than the RCC. It is no substitute for the informed comment which you are capable of.

24 March 2008 at 15:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does that assertion come from?

If Islam is the fastest growing religion that is because it encourages excessive population growth (the status of women etc) and all its consequences such as poverty and oppression.

People don’t convert, they have no choice, they are born Muslim.

24 March 2008 at 16:37  
Anonymous The recusant said...

My understanding is that Magdi Allam was never a convinced or practicing Muslim, as a Christian I rejoice in the return of a prodigal son, and offer my congratulation to him and a welcome home.

Your insinuation that there was some kind priority given to Mr Allams minor celebrity status is, dare I say it somewhat socialist in outlook Your Grace. Along with Mr Blair, these people were public figures before their conversion, interest in there activities is a matter of public interest. However if you think there occurred a manifest injustice can you site the disgruntled Catholic concerned and I promise to send them all the information they need to have a public audience with the Pope. It is freely available on the Vatican web site but if you think there are artificial barriers to meeting the pope then we must correct that, anyone who wishes too can meet the Pope at his weekly audience, and thousands do. If you manage to get a seat in the front row and he has time he frequently comes down to meet them. You have to keep in perspective that he sees millions of people each year.

It may interest you to know that as Bishop of Rome the Pope visits all the churches in his diocese to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on Roman Children without fanfare or intrusive media coverage, are they unfairly privileged?

When the McCann’s were presented to the Pope for a blessing last year at one of his many public audiences, was there then a manifest pecking order of privilege, were they concerned with the last being first.

You must know that the RCC is not a democracy; we do not demand our democratic rights or insist in some leveller practice of drawing lots. It doesn’t matter if hundreds! (Surely you mean thousands) of converts had an equal chance of being selected or not, nothing surpasses the sheer joy of an Easter reception into the Church, even if the Pope himself conferred it.

If your anti-Palestine Jewish convert was a high profile figure I’m sure they would receive all the attention from our prurient media that they could handle, in such a case the opportunity to attack the Church would be a media feast just too delicious to miss.

Finally have you any particular Roman Catholic journalist in mind converting to the Church of England. If so what was the reaction, in such a hypothetical case believe me it would not even raise an eyebrow in Catholic circles ecclesiastical clerical or laity, perhaps a few comment here and there but it wouldn’t register on the Vatican’s radar, not even a blip. Why? Well because we all have free will and if that is their choice in good conscience, then good luck to them. Claims of anti-Catholic bigotry for a conversion to the CofE , please! We have a Government that monopolises all the anti-Catholic bigotry we can handle at the moment, thank you very much.

No I’m just off for tea with the Queen, Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong, mustn’t forget the Battenberg.

24 March 2008 at 16:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear Archbishop,
While concurring on the thought that the Bishop of Rome needn't baptize high-profile candidates, I feel it is high time our dear Ecclesia anglicana came to its senses regarding the Great Commission of Our Lord.

Rather than encouraging Sharia law in Britain, this is one time the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury SHOULD follow the example of Rome and baptize Moslems himself into Christ's faith.

Your obd't servant

24 March 2008 at 17:20  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
A brave man in some respects , but then again , in a world where atheism is the new religion , to see another dimension and take up the free choice to accept christ is about brave as it gets.

i hope he enables some understanding

24 March 2008 at 20:41  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
cardinal o conner has done an article in the guardian , i suggest you take a look at the comments .

i think the responses reflect the problem ??
i especially liked the one about being ground down into its behavoir , and it being a crude method of control . the poster i assume was taking some pride in his more complex one!!

24 March 2008 at 21:53  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

I have noticed that Catholicism seems to be a lot more strident and apparently successful of late. I guess Pope Ratzinger is doing a good job.

Really compared to the muppet beardy weirdy the CoE endures its not too surprising the CoE doesn't seem all that successful in comparison.

If it makes Cranmer happy, this avowed atheist got invited to dozens of events by evangelical CoE people this year! I even went to a couple of them. Interesting enough. Lots of young CoE evangelicals around, and not a beardy weirdy in sight. Theres hope yet.

25 March 2008 at 00:25  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

Your Grace,

why are you so coy, nay almost embarrassed about the Pope baptising an important convert for *all* the world to see? I would have expected that you would hope for more muslims following his example, instead of worrying about the message that this sends? One could be forgiven to wonder if you you find your religious belief to be damaged goods and are thus reluctant to push it's virtues? (Ok, I know, you're in a splitter org, but Xtians are still Xtians, no?)

Suppose it was Jesus himself who did the public baptising(and is the Pope not the authorised agent anyway?) -- would you recommend the safety of the catacombs over the evil eye of adverse publicity amongst the heathens to him?

25 March 2008 at 02:30  
Blogger Ttony said...

I suppose "smoke gets in your eyes"or you might have chosen to read the story and find that when HH the P heard of the forthcoming baptism, he contacted Allam and offered to baptise him himself, either privately or publically. Allam chose the Easter Vigil in St Peter's.

This isn't about trying to make Anglicans feel sidelined: I'm sorry to say that I doubt that either the Pope or Allam spent much time worrying about the reaction of the ANglican on the Canterbury omnibus.

This was an individual act of witness by one man who has embraced Christ and the expectation of martyrdom; and an institutional act by a Church which believes that all who do not believe in Christ are called to conversion.

25 March 2008 at 20:19  
Blogger steadmancinques said...

James 2: v 1-7.
Ubi Caritas

29 March 2008 at 20:46  

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