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 CNS Story:

GANSWEIN-ISLAM Jul-27-2007 (240 words) xxxi

Papal secretary says Christian identity of Europe must be protected

By Catholic News Service

MUNICH, Germany (CNS) -- While Christians respect Islam and desire to dialogue with Muslims, they must act to protect the Christian identity of Europe, said Pope Benedict XVI's private secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein.

A long interview with Msgr. Ganswein appeared in the July 27 edition of Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, published in Munich. The interview was conducted by Peter Seewald, the same journalist responsible for the book-length interviews, "Salt of the Earth" and "God and the World," with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

The interview with the pope's secretary covered everything from how the pope looked immediately after his election -- "his face was as white as his soutane" -- to the pope's concerns about the state of most Catholics' faith.

Seewald asked Msgr. Ganswein about Pope Benedict's September 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, and its criticism of violent trends within Islam.

"I believe the Regensburg speech was prophetic," Msgr. Ganswein said, because it countered a "certain naivete" among people who do not recognize that various currents exist within Islam.

"Attempts at the 'Islamification' of the West cannot be denied," he said. "And the associated danger for the identity of Europe cannot be ignored out of a wrongly understood sense of respect."

Msgr. Ganswein said, "The Catholic side sees this clearly and says as much."

True respect, he said, is shown in a dialogue with Muslims that is frank, open and honest.

END


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