Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Iran's press denounces pope for reconciling with Jews

AFP - World News:
Iran's hardline press on Monday denounced pope John Paul II for his efforts to reconcile with the Jewish people, saying Israel should be seen as an enemy of the church and not just the Islamic republic.

"Not only did the pope never condemn the crimes of the Zionist regime in the territories, the Vatican officially recognised its existence," the Jomhuri Islami newspaper complained.

The paper also said the expansion of Islam had been "a constant worry" for a pontiff it said had "compromised with the Zionist regime". READ MORE

The Hamshahri newspaper, also on the Iran's right wing, complained that the late head of the Roman Catholic Church "caved in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ".

But there was also praise for the pope's attempt to build bridges with the Muslim world.

"He tried to show the independent face of the Vatican, recovering Muslim public opinion lost through his rapprochement with the Jews," Hamshahri wrote, noting that John Paul II was "the only Christian leader to have entered a mosque and kissed the Koran".

The paper also praised his position after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, when he took the opposite view to those who "went on a crusade on the pretext of fighting terrorism."

On Sunday, President Mohammed Khatami heaped praise on John Paul, describing him as "a disciple of religious mysticism, philosophic deliberation and thought, and artistic and poetic creativity."

Visiting Vienna on Monday, Khatami said he felt a sense of "loss" from the pope's death.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Khatami recalled meeting with the pope in 1999 in the Vatican and talking about "world politics and (international) cooperation."