.- Sensational and inaccurate media reports about a document describing the status of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue regarding Christian unity are “not helpful to the task of preserving and strengthening inter-church relations,” said Cardinal George Pell over the weekend.
The Cardinal-Archbishop of Sydney also discussed the interaction of Christians and Muslims in the world at a recent panel discussion he took part in.
The Anglican and Catholic churches have been talking for 40 years about how to foster friendship and co-operation, he explained in his March 4 column published in the Sunday Telegraph, adding that reports in recent weeks that the two churches planned to unite under the Pope were “much ado about nothing.”
“Reports of ‘secret plans’ to force an issue, destroy goodwill and create mistrust at a time when both trust and goodwill are essential among all Christians for the common [cultural] struggle,” he said.
“A hasty rush to unity would only produce a lowest-common-denominator form of cohesion, sacrificing the richness of traditions along the way and weakening Christianity still further,” he said.
The Cardinal noted that a significant number of Christians around the world continue to be persecuted, enslaved and killed for their faith.
The cardinal picked up on the latter theme during a recent panel discussion about Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia. Muslims in Australia are offered the same rights as other citizens, he said, but he doubts non-Muslim minorities in the Muslim world are afforded the same equality.
"Christians are being harassed, they're being persecuted and even sometimes in the Sudan being sold into slavery,” he was quoted as saying in The Australian. “I would like to know where my Muslim friends stand on this issue."
The cardinal also claimed that the Muslim community is overly sensitive to the criticism it receives in democratic societies and its leaders need to develop more appropriate responses to criticism.
"In a democratic society, every group is criticized,” he was quoted as saying. “Prime Minister (John) Howard said quite rightly last year that if Catholics rioted in Australia every time they were criticized, there would be regular riots.
"It's not appropriate that Muslims regularly reply to criticism with insults, denigration and evasions while avoiding the point of issue,” he continued, “and unfortunately we've seen too much of this from some Muslim public personalities.”
Cardinal Pell claimed that there is also a small minority of Muslims in Australia who do not identify with the country, who are hostile to it and who are “planning violence" against Australia and other Western countries. He said there is “significant evidence” to support this claim.
This “doesn't seem to happen in any other migrant group," he noted.
Cardinal Pell said integration was a "key tool" for a harmonious and secular democratic society.
"Equal rights, however, carry with them equal responsibilities. Problems arise when minorities demand special consideration that places them outside the law as it applies to other citizens," he reportedly said.
"Flexibility and adaptability are called for when refugees and immigrants arrive in our country but there is a limit in (adopting) minority demands beyond which a democratic host society cannot go without losing its identity," he was quoted as saying.