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» 09/16/2006
Card.Toppo: "Face Islamic protests with truth, courage and prayer"
by Nirmala Carvalho

The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India has told AsiaNews that the recent protests against the speech of Benedict XVI in Regensburg are a great gift to the Church, to be used at this historic moment in time to launch serious and lasting inter-faith dialogue.

Ranchi (AsiaNews) – The Christian community in India must face Muslim protests against the Pope's address "with Christian courage and prayer because truth needs no other defence". This was the thrust of a statement given to AsiaNews by Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.

We publish the text of the statement in full:

"These protests by our Muslim brothers, which started yesterday after Friday prayers, are misplaced as the Pope has not commented on Islam; he only quoted a Byzantine emperor and another great Persian scholar. I have read the text of Benedict XVI, it is an eight-page speech and what has sparked all this is just one quotation extrapolated from the context.

The crowds that have taken to the streets of India are probably reacting to articles in local newspapers about the speech of the pope, where some of his phrases have been quoted out of context.

This is also symbolic of the situation today: without even contextually situating the text, or dwelling on its meaning, some people have taken the quotation as a cue to take to the streets in protests.

This is the time for all Christians to be patient and pray for those who do not understand. The situation which comes at this point in time is also a great gift for the church - for us to engage in serious and lasting dialogue with our brothers and sisters of different faiths. A true culture of tolerance is possible only in a dialogue of religious identities.

The Holy Father was quoting from history and he was trying to show us a way through faith and reason in today's terrorist ridden society. These reactions are indicative of what the Pope was trying to emphasize – only reason and enlightenment through faith bring about mutual respect and peace.

I am not saddened by these protests: we have to face them with Christian courage and prayer because truth needs no defence.

The teachings of any religions preach justice, peace and brotherhood. These elements bring about unity in humankind, if applied and a qualitative change in people's lives.

Truth, beauty and unity reside in the heart of man who seeks and professes authentic religion.

Benedict XVI was making a very clear emphasis, that violence is not compatible with the nature of God. Violence and killing is contrary to the nature of the Divine. He was very clear that God is love and love ensures and brings forth life. God is life-giving. That is the fundamental reason why such a respected and highly-acclaimed theologian like the pope gave such a clear message in his first encyclical - Deus Caritas Est.

The pope was speaking in a university, where he chose to repeat that the religious dimension is necessary for all men, and that faith is fundamental to experience fullness of life.

The coldness of rationality often yields to a desacralised life – this is what he was trying to say."

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See also
Muslims in Pakistan: "We respect pope; his speech was used"
09/17/2006 ISLAM – VATICAN
Amid criticism and violence the first balanced views about the Pope's speech appear
09/18/2006 INDIA
A great sign of peace from the Pope, say Indian Muslim leaders
04/05/2006 VATICAN
Pope: "Stop communion with those far from saving doctrine"
09/09/2006 INDIA
Card.Toppo: "Condemn violence and cling to hope of better future"
by Nirmala Carvalho
Pope: Faith and reason to escape violence and suicide of Enlightenment
The Pope's speech: lending Islam a helping hand to avoid a downward spiral
Controversy about Pope and Islam useless, open to manipulation
Pope worried only about the "religious motivation of violence"
Pope's remarks misused by Islamo-nationalists, vicar apostolic says
Islamic nationalists in Turkey protest against visit of Benedict XVI
islam - vatican
Benedict XVI's words spark calls for apologies and requests for clarification in theIslamic world
Two churches struck in Nablus as Muslim countries criticize pope
Pope is sorry, reaffirms esteem for Islam and rejection of violence
Pope's trip at risk as Turkey becomes less secular
Pope "truly sorry" for Muslim reactions but did not offend
Amid criticism and violence the first balanced views about the Pope's speech appear
Not all Teheran behind ayatollahs in anti-pope criticism
A great sign of peace from the Pope, say Indian Muslim leaders
Pope only wants inter-faith harmony, Pakistani bishops say
Turkish bishops confirm trip of Benedict XVI will go ahead
Moderate voices in Lebanon urge people to read what the Pope actually said
Vatican - islam
The Pope and eastern and western terrorism
Pope's explanations not good enough for radical Islam
What the Christian Pope thinks about Islam matters to the Muslim world
Armed guards in Bethlehem churches, but Christians are on pope's side
More calls for dialogue in a Muslim world angered by Pope
Syria's Grand Mufti says Pope's explanation "more than enough"
In Pakistan Christians and Muslims study Pope's speech together
Sincere faith and dialogue are the only ways to peace between Christians and Muslims
Pope: I was misunderstood about Islam, may my words become an opportunity for dialogue
Rise above controversy about pope, say Lebanese bishops on day for peace
Ahmadinejad proclaims respect for pope but Iran has strange anti-Catholic coalition
Pope to meet ambassadors from Muslim countries
Pope: Sr Leonella Sgorbati, an authentic Christian witness
Bangladeshi bishops defend a misunderstood Pope
Radical Muslims against pope: two churches attacked in Mosul and Baghdad
Pope with ambassadors: much praise and some "buts" from Muslim world
Manila: Muslim MP urges understanding, not criticism, of pope
Pope: dialogue between Muslims and Christians "a vital necessity"

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