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A Holy Mission

On this joyous Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI called for peace around the world. At the same time, however, he took a strong stand in his choice to publicly baptize and welcome Magdi Allam into the Catholic Church. This Italian Journalist and former Muslim drew death threats from Hamas for his criticism of Palestinian suicide bombings and support for Israel. Just days before, Osama Bin Laden targeted Pope Benedict, accusing him of launching a crusade against Islam. While I hardly call it a crusade, I am pleased to note that Benedict is making a strong impression as the leader of the Church. His predecessor, John Paul II was known for his leading role in the fight against communism. Benedict seems to be acting in a similar vein, taking a stand against the largest threat facing the world today: terrorism justified by radical Islam.

Benedict emphasizes his desire for peace, while also flexing the power of the Church. Many think that the Church is losing influence, particularly due to declining mass attendance, but tickets to the masses to be celebrated by Benedict in the United States were tremendously difficult to obtain. These coveted tickets were distributed mainly through lotteries by the various dioceses. Thousands of the faithful gathered today in St. Peter’s Square to attend Easter mass despite thunder and rain. The conversions celebrated all around the world at Easter Vigil indicate the continued strength of the Church. As long as the millions of Catholics around the world believe, Pope Benedict will have the opportunity to take a leading role in uniting the world against this threat to the safety and security of all.

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