The Resurrection, El Greco
Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate this joyous day.
The messages from the Pope and newly baptized Magdi Allam, a Christian convert from Islam, say it all this morning:
The Pope has marked Easter Sunday with renewed calls for peace in Iraq, the Holy Land and Tibet.
A white canopy on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica protected the 80-year-old pontiff from downpours, while thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans under a sea of umbrellas braved thunder and rain to attend Easter Mass in the square.
At Easter, Christians celebrate their belief in the resurrection of Jesus two days after he was crucified. Thanks to the apostles’ preaching about the resurrection, “thousands and thousands of persons converted to Christianity”, Benedict said.
“And this is a miracle which renews itself even today,” the pope said, hours after a Saturday night Easter vigil service in which he baptised seven adults.
Allam’s conversion will set off the usual promptings of apostasy fatwas from the Religion of Perpetual Outrage:
The converts included Magdi Allam, a prominent journalist and commentator in Italy who has received death threats for his denunciations of Islamic fanaticism.
Allam, 55, deputy editor of Corriere della Sera newspaper, was born a Muslim in Egypt, but was educated by Catholics and says he has never been a practising Muslim.
He wrote in a front-page letter published on Sunday in Corriere that he was now taking on the middle name Cristiano – Christian in Italian.
He expressed his gratitude to Benedict, calling Saturday “the most beautiful day of my life”.
Allam wrote: “The miracle of the resurrection of Christ reverberated in my soul, freeing it from the shadows of a preaching where hate and intolerance toward he who is different, toward he who is condemned as an ‘enemy’, prevailed over love and respect for your neighbour.”
Catholics in Qatar worship in fear of retaliation by Muslims:
Qatar’s first Christian church has no cross, no bell and no steeple.
And when thousands of worshippers gather at Our Lady of the Rosary to mark Easter, they pray no one will notice.
“The idea is to be discreet because we don’t want to inflame any sensitivities. There isn’t even a signboard outside the church. No signs at all,” said Rev. Tom Veneracion.
For Qatar’s fledgling Roman Catholic community, the sprawling $15-million, dome-shaped building, a 15-minute drive into barren desert is a victory, built with the blessing of the current emir.
But critics in this devoutly Muslim country call it a desecration, with a militant website last week threatening retaliation against the congregation. One former politician has called for a national referendum to decide its fate.
Lahdan bin Issa al-Muhanada, a popular columnist in Doha’s Al-Arab newspaper, argues: “The cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha.”
Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, the former dean of the Islamic law school at Qatar University, is among the church’s most staunch defenders, writing that having “places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam.”
Sitting in the offices of the modest portable that has doubled as his makeshift chapel for the past six years, Father Veneracion said he is bewildered by the dispute.
“It is confusing to us. We tried to be discreet and I think there’s an atmosphere generally in the Gulf that’s fairly anti-Christian, but that’s mainly to do with what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has nothing to do with us at all,” said the priest, a slight, soft-spoken Filipino who seemed genuinely caught off guard by the controversy.
Oh, it has everything to do with us all.
Independent Conservative reports on a mass purge of Christian YouTubers.
You can still view the Lichfield Cathedral Choir performing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today:”