Former Vatican envoy says Pope was surprised by reaction to comments re Islam

.- A former Vatican envoy told he believes the violent reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about radical Islam served as “an eye-opener” for the West about the need to pay more attention to other countries.

In an exclusive interview with the online media outlet, the former mayor of Boston, Ambassador Ray Flynn, said he believes the reaction to the Pope’s speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany last month was unwarranted.

“I think a lot of people just flew off the handle before they even knew what his message was all about,” he was quoted as saying.

Flynn said the Pope was likely surprised by the reaction. “I don't think he [the pontiff] ever realized the intensity, the hatred, that is in society today and I think it was an eye opener for many,” he added.

However, Flynn said, he does not believe the Pope should have apologized for his comments since he was not expressing his personal point of view but citing a 14th-century Christian emperor.

“It's fair game in society today to attack the Catholic Church and to attack the papacy — it's almost as if no matter what the Pope or the Church says, they are going to be attacked anyway so I'm glad he held his ground and didn't apologize,” he was quoted as saying.

Flynn told he believes this type of violence has been going on for a long time, but this particular incident serves as “an eye-opener” for the West and the United States, which “pay so little attention, even in our foreign policy, to the rest of the world.”

“As a result, we don't understand the severity and the extent of what's going on in other parts of the world and in other peoples' culture and we don't appreciate the intensity of hatred that is out there,” he was quoted as saying.  

Flynn served as U.S envoy to the Vatican from 1993 to 1997. He is also the best-selling author of "John Paul II, a Personal Portrait of the Pope and the Man" and "The Accidental Pope."

Flynn, a longtime friend of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said the current Pope is a peaceful, gentle man, who is committed to inter-religious dialogue.

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