Al-Qaida Reference To Pope “Not Surprising”

Vatican Aide Says Terrorists Worried by a Pontiff Who Dialogues

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2007 ( - Al-Qaida is worried by Benedict XVI’s efforts to dialogue with Muslims, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi affirmed this today when commenting on a one-hour 37-minute video from al-Qaida’s second-in-command, who criticized Benedict XVI’s Nov. 6 meeting with Saudi Arabian King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The video from Ayman al-Zawahri was posted Sunday on the Internet. The al-Qaida leader said the Pope’s meeting with King Abdallah, the first ever between a Pontiff and a Saudi monarch, was offensive to Islam and Muslims.

Father Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, noted a growing impetus toward dialogue with Muslims, which he said is worrisome to those who do not wish to commit themselves to peace. He recalled the letter sent Oct. 13 by 138 Muslim scholars at the end of Ramadan. The Holy Father responded to the letter with an invitation to meet with a group chosen by the signatories.

These events “are a significant fact for the whole Muslim world,” the Vatican spokesman said. “The fact that these voices that explicitly wish to dialogue and commit themselves to peace would have a growing importance in Islam is evidently a fact that worries those who do not want this dialogue.”

The “negative reference” to the Pope, Father Lombardi added, “is not surprising, nor does it particularly worry us.” In fact, the spokesman recommended that it not be given “a great importance.”

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