Given the reaction to the apocalyptic undertones of the open letter from Muslim scholars sent to the Vatican last week, one might have thought the ensuing clamour would have had the Pope rushing for his quill in reply. But it seems Pope Benedict XVI was busy with other matters.
In a meeting with the South Korean ambassador to the Vatican, Ji-Young Francesco Kim, His Holiness declared that governments were morally obliged to subsidise faith schools.
“It is incumbent upon governments to afford parents the opportunity to send their children to religious schools by facilitating the establishment and financing of such institutions … public subsidies should free parents from undue financial burdens,” he said.
Catholic and other religious schools should “enjoy the appropriate latitude of freedom to design and implement curricula that nurture the life of the spirit without which the life of the mind is so seriously distorted,” he added. Presumably this largesse should not extend to madrasas.
Though there’s nothing new – or wrong – in a religious leader pushing for religious education, you have to ask whether the Pope should have also found a stained-glass window in his diary to respond to the unprecedented letter.
One wonders if the Pope has been taking lessons from David Cameron, who decided it was better to be in Rwanda even when parts of his constituency were underwater.
A week after being told that world survival is at stake, there is still no response from the Holy See.