At last! Some intelligent views on Islam are now voiced here in AustraliaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦
Pell challenges Islam - o ye, of little tolerant faith
By Linda Morris, Religious Affairs Reporter
May 5, 2006
AUSTRALIA'S most influential Catholic has said the Koran is riddled with "invocations to violence" and the central challenge of Islam lies in the struggle between moderate and extremist forces as the faith spreads into a "childless Europe".
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, said reading the Koran, the sacred text of Islam, was vital "because the challenge of Islam will be with us for the remainder of our lives - at least".
But in a speech to US Catholic business leaders, Dr Pell said Western democracy was also suffering a crisis of confidence as evidenced by the decline in fertility rates. "Pagan emptiness" and Western fears of the uncontrollable forces of nature had contributed to "hysteric and extreme claims" about global warming.
"In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions."
Dr Pell said the September 11 terrorist attacks had been his personal wake-up call to understand Islam better.
He had tried to reconcile claims that Islam was a faith of peace with those that suggested the Koran legitimised the killings of non-Muslims.
While there was room for optimism in fruitful dialogue between faiths and the common human desire for peace, a pessimistic response began "with the Koran itself".
Errors of facts, inconsistencies, anachronisms and other defects were not unknown to scholars but difficult for Muslims to debate openly, he said.
"In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages."
Last year, Dr Pell courted controversy when he drew a link between Islam and communism.
His speech on Islam and Western democracies was delivered in Florida on February 4 but only appeared on the archdiocese's website on Wednesday.
Dr Pell said every nation and every religion, including Catholicism, had "crimes in their histories". In the same way, Islam could not airbrush its "shadows".
Claims of Muslim tolerance of Christian and Jewish minorities were largely mythical and he wondered about the possibility of theological development in Islam when the Koran was said to come directly from God.
"Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited," he said.
However, like Christianity, Islam was a living religion and the existence of moderate Islam in Indonesia was proof of the softening impact of human intervention.
Democracy and moderation did not always go hand in hand and an "anorexic vision of democracy and the human person was no match for Islam", he said.http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/pell-challenges-islam--o-ye-of-little-tolerant-faith/2006/05/04/1146335872951.html
The full article is at http://www.sydney.catholic.org.au/archbishop/addresses/200627_681.shtml