Those who are worried about "Assissi III", the inter-religious meeting called by the Pope later this year clearly aren't paying attention in my view! And Fr Blake has a useful post today on this topic.
But here is some context to think about. Over the last few weeks the Pope, never backward in saying what he thinks needs to be said, has made a series of interventions, including a message on New Year's Day for World Peace, and an important speech to the diplomatic corp, on the subject of the rising wave of persecution of Christians, particularly in Islamic countries, as well as China, and the importance of the freedom to practice the faith.
Exposing the oppression of Islam
And each time he has garnered a reaction from religious leaders and others that give the lie to claims that Islamic moderation is the norm and the terrorists are merely a fringe group.
First there was the Egyptian Grand Imam who criticized the Pope for defending Copts in that country. This was followed up by the withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador to the Holy See in protest at the Pope's speech to the diplomatic corps.
The latest is from Pakistani MPs, who, according to the Oz today (picking up an article from The Times), see the Pope's call to repeal their blasphemy laws as "an insult to Islam":
"Pakistan is an Islamic ideological state and the Pope cannot tell us to change our laws, which are in conformity to our belief," said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, one of the country's largest Islamic groups supporting the blasphemy laws.
Farid Paracha, the leader of Jamaat-i-Islami, the most powerful Islamic party in the nation, said: "The Pope's statement is an insult to Muslims across the world."
Things to pray for...
So please join me today in saying a prayer for the Church's missionary efforts in countries where persecution is rife, and for the Pope's efforts to engage in genuine interreligious dialogue for the purpose of promoting the religious freedom for Christians.
And don't forget to keep the people of Queensland, many of whom are now homeless following the demolition of their homes by the hurtling flood waters, many thousands in evacuation shelters, and all facing scenes of devastation when they are finally able to return home, in your prayers. The confirmed death toll is now 10, with 78 missing. And it is still raining...