.- While Cardinal George Pell of Sydney is in a “row” for stating that the violent reactions among some Muslims to the Pope’s remarks last week justify the pontiff’s concern about links between faith and violence, American bishops have only begun to respond to the situation.
Australia's Muslim leaders say the Pope has already apologized for his comments about Islam, and that Cardinal Pell is out of step with the Vatican and just making things worse.
Meanwhile, Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said the Pope’s words point to the need for dialogue. Skylstad issued a statement yesterday saying the USCCB enthusiastically supports the call for dialogue made by Pope Benedict in his Sept. 20 audience message.
"Given the circumstances of the last week, it is clear that dialogue is essential between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue in which we respect, in the words of the Holy Father, 'what is sacred for others,’” Bishop Skylstad said in a press release.
"In the United States, the bishops are participating in such a dialogue,” he continued. “We recognize, with Pope Benedict, that Catholics and Muslims ‘worship the one God.’”
“Because of the events of the last five years, this dialogue is especially urgent so that Christians and Muslims are able to work together to promote ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity,’” he said, citing Pope Benedict and referring to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and subsequent actions.
The bishops expressed their hope that the controversial speech Pope gave last week “will be understood fully and correctly.”
"It is this attitude of the Holy Father that deserves the world's attention rather than the centuries-old words of another which express a point of view that we cannot deny existed but which no longer motivates the authentic Christian," the bishop concluded in his statement.
The Pope’s speech was “misconstrued as a denouncement of the Islamic faith as a whole, something the Vatican and Pope Benedict himself did not intend,” added Archbishop John Myers of Newark in a separate statement.
The archbishop pointed out that the Pope “has maintained an attitude of respect toward people of Muslim faith” throughout his pontificate.
“It is unfortunate that some in the Muslim world have not shown him the same respect. We realize that they do not represent the majority of Muslims,” he stated.