Pope does NOT agree with Archbishop on Sharia Law
Comment at end
15th March, 2008
I wonder if Tony Blair converted to Roman Catholicism just in time!
In an unusual move, the Vatican publicly took issue with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, calling him mistaken and “naive” for saying that the inclusion of some aspects of Sharia law in Britain is “unavoidable.” On March 11, the Vatican’s highest official dealing with Islam, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, criticized the Archbishop Williams in a session with reporters about Christian-Muslim relations, Reuters reported from Rome. Tauran also said that he was confident that a new, permanent body between the Vatican and Muslims would help defuse misunderstandings in the future. He is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Asked about Archbishop Williams’ statements on accepting some of Sharia, Tauran said: “I think it was a mistake, a mistake because, above all, one has to ask what type of Sharia. And then, it was a bit naïve. One can understand his good intentions but it seems to me he did not take into consideration either [the Muslims], the English juridical system, or the reality of Sharia.”
Sharia, Islam’s religious law based on the Koran, as well as the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Mohammad, has been criticized in the West over its harsh treatment of women and its severe punishments for adultery and apostasy.
Earlier this year, Archbishop Williams stirred a storm in Western Europe when he predicted the incorporation of Islamic law in the United Kingdom. Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, sparked headlines, and the best-selling “Sun” demanded that he quit. The controversy contributed to a broad debate on the integration Britain’s Muslims estimated to number 1.8 million. The issue acquired urgency after suicide bombings by British Muslim militants killed 52 people in London’s transport system in 2005.
Williams later sought to clarify his position, saying he was not advocating parallel systems of law and stressed he was not endorsing the kind of harsh punishments routinely meted out in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Tauran said: “It is not just a question of good will. There are juridical aspects that are not reconcilable [with Sharia]”.
According to Reuters, Tauran will be the Vatican’s top man in a permanent official dialogue with Muslims to improve “often difficult relations” and “heal wounds” still open from a papal speech in 2006. (In a lecture delivered in Regensburg, Germany, the Pope implied that Islam is violent and irrational.) As agreed last week, the Catholic-Muslim Forum will meet in Rome in November with 24 religious leaders and scholars from each side. Pope Benedict will address the group that will meet every two years.
Asked if meeting every two years was too little, Tauran said committees would meet more often and have an emergency mechanism. “There will be a sort of hot line always available if we need to talk and meet about a problem or take an initiative,” he said.