Pope not worried about today’s al-Qaeda statement against him

.- Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, told the Italian press today that Pope Benedict XVI is not worried about a statement released by Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda, in Iraq.  The organization said the Pope’s current trip to Turkey is the continuation of an anti-Islam crusade.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq released a statement by internet Wednesday, saying that, “This visit of the pope has the aim of preparing a Crusade against Muslim countries following the failure of Crusade heads such as (US president George W.) Bush, (British premier Tony) Blair, (former Italian premier Silvio) Berlusconi and (Australia's prime minister John) Howard to extinguish the flame of Islam lit by Muslim brothers in Turkey.”

According to the AKI news agency, the terror group, founded by the late leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, says the Pope's trip is aimed at "cancelling Islamic tradition and cutting Islamic roots ... to send them (Turkey) into the arms of the European Union and stop the Islamic wave."

The terrorist statement also touched on the Holy Father’s controversial speech in Germany this year, as well as the conflicts currently underway in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “The pontiff of the Vatican has started his visit in Turkey, which in the past was a refuge of Islam,” the release said, “just a few months after his attack on Islam and its Prophet Mohammed and occurs at an extraordinary moment which concerns the Muslim world. The battles of the Crusade campaign against the Muslim world have been defeated by the mujahidin and their silence reveals that they have reached a dead end in Afghanistan and Iraq," the statement said.

Italian press organization ANSA has reported, however, that the Vatican is not concerned by al-Qaeda’s statement.  Fr. Lombardi said today that, “This type of message is not a concern on the part of the Pope nor for his entourage.”

The message confirms yet again, Fr. Lombardi continued, “the urgency and importance of a common commitment to speak strongly against the use of violence.”

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