.- The official Vatican daily, LâOsservatore Romano, has rejected claims in some media reports that the Holy See has âemphasizedâ the baptism of Magdi Allam, the Muslim convert and associate director of the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera who entered the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
In an article entitled, âReligious freedom and dialogue,â the Vatican newspaper pointed out that it is tradition for the Holy Father to baptize, confirm and give First Communion to seven adult converts from different parts of the world during the Easter Vigil Mass.
âOne of those persons was Egyptian-born journalist Magdi Allam,â the article noted, emphasizing that Allamâwhose baptismal name is Christianââfreely chose baptism after a long journey of discernment and personal preparation necessary to take this step.â
âThis event, which is so unique, solemn and joyful, has not been emphasized, as can be seen by the confidentialityâ with which the event was treated, the newspaper stated.
The article quoted Vatican Press Office Director, Father Federico Lombardi, who explained that the Pope âdoes not distinguish between persons. Everyone is important before God and welcome in the community of the Church.â
âBenedict XVIâs gesture at the same time has important meaning because it expresses religious freedom with kindness and clarity and that includes the freedom to change oneâs religion, as pointed out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,â he added.
The Vatican newspaper also rejected claims that the baptism constituted a âhostile act against such a great religion as Islam. For many decades, the Catholic Church has shown her desire to dialogue with the Muslim world, despite many difficulties and obstacles.â
The problems that exist âshould not obscure what we have in common and what will come in the future,â the article stated.