European leaders call on EU to support Pope and freedom of expression

.- Two members of the European Parliament are calling on EU member states to declare clear support for Pope Benedict XVI and for freedom of expression, in the wake of violent reactions to the Pope’s lecture at the University of Ratisbona.

One of the fourteen vice presidents of the European Parliament, Mario Mauro of Italy, sent the complete text of the Pope’s lecture to all 732 members of the legislative body in German, English, French and Spanish, with a press release attached.

Mauro said his intention was to prevent “misinterpretation (of the Pope’s words) in the future” and to get “the European Parliament to express its clear position in support of freedom of expression.”

In his press release, Mauro states that “with his discourse, the Pope simply called for dialogue.  Evidently he has been misinterpreted by a part of the Muslim world and also by the media, which has not been capable of understanding the true thinking of the Holy Father.”

Likewise, the European commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini, said, “The threat against the Pope is not only a threat against the Vatican, against Italian territory and against Christianity, it is a threat against all humanity.”

During a press conference in the city of Tampere, Frattini explained that the Pope symbolizes not only a religion but also a message of reciprocal tolerance and respect.”  Europe, he said, should be united “in defense of this message of tolerance.”

It is not “acceptable” that the message of the Pope has been “misinterpreted” and has unleashed violent reactions, or that “a majority of Muslims be held hostage by a minority,” he added.

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