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The Vatican's rift with Islam demonstrates that Pope Benedict XVI has swept aside his predecessor's strategy in dealing with Islam and backs a less diplomatic, more evangelistic attitude to the Muslim faith, Vatican watchers said Monday.
"While John Paul II, in his dialogue with Islam, insisted that both religions shared a faith in a single God, and made this fraternity an essential part of his campaign against violence, Ratzinger has adopted the attitude of speaking ex-cathedra telling people what they should do," said Marco Politi, Vatican watcher with Italian daily La Repubblica.
According to Politi, Benedict adopted a different strategy with Islam from the very beginning of his pontificate.
"Already in his inaugural mass, Benedict dropped any reference to fraternal relations with the Islamic religion," he said.
Gian Enrico Russoni, of the Turin daily La Stampa, ruled out "a communication error" as being responsible for the clash with Islam. Nor was it "a simple misunderstanding," he said.
He said the pope knew what he was doing when he cited an obscure Byzantine Christian emperor during a speech last week in Germany exploring the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity, and the relationship between violence and faith.
"John Paul II took time to soften the contradictions between the main religions. As far as Islam is concerned, Joseph Ratzinger destroyed with one speech all his predecessor's work."
Now, with Muslim hardliners venting their anger, the Vatican strategy towards the world's fastest growing religion "has to be entirely rebuilt," says Politi.
Originally posted by xmotex
There is a desparate effort by fanatics on both sides to ignite a general clash of cultures. Frankly I think about 90% of the people on either side want nothing to do with it, in order to change that, the fanatics are doing their best to ramp up the fear and hysteria.
It's up to the rest of us whether they succeed or fail.
Originally posted by Astygia
I'm curious, the Vatican is technically a state within itself, correct? So who provides military aid if something like this happens? Rome? That's a complex issue.
The force has varied greatly in size over the years and has even been disbanded. Its first, and most significant, hostile engagement was on May 6, 1527 when 147 of the 189 Guards, including their commander, died fighting the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V during the Sack of Rome in order to allow Clement VII to escape through the Passetto di Borgo, escorted by other 40 guards. The last stand battlefield is located on the left side of St Peter's Basilica, close to the Campo Santo Teutonico (German Graveyard).
Today the Swiss Guard is not considered to belong to any larger force, but is instead the army of the sovereign state of the Vatican. At the end of 2005, there were 134 members of the Swiss Guard. This number consisted of a Commandant (bearing the rank of "oberst" or Colonel), a chaplain, three officers, one sergeant major ("feldwebel"), 30 NCOs, and 99 "halberdiers", the rank equivalent to private (so called because of their traditional weapon). Not only are the guards fully trained and equipped in modern tactics and weaponry, they also receive instructions in using the sword, and the recognizable ceremonial weapon of the Guard, the halberd.
The guards must be Catholic, unmarried males with Swiss citizenship who have completed basic training with the Swiss military and can obtain certificates of good conduct. Recruits must have a professional diploma or high school degree and must be between 19 and 30 years of age and at least 174 cm (5'9") tall.