The Vatican is building a strong friendship with Iranian authorities and clergy.
The Holy See’s course with Iran’s Ahmadinejad began in 2009 at the United Nations, when at the first day of the “Durban II” Conference, the Iranian president, the only head of state to attend, made a speech blasting Israel as “totally racist” and referred to the Holocaust as an “ambiguous and dubious question”.
When Ahmadinejad began his rant against the Jews, all the European delegates left the conference room. The Catholic delegation didn’t say a word.
Recently, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, head of the Lebanon’s Catholic Church, sent his envoy, Father Abdo Abou Kassem, to Teheran for the weekend, to attend a conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada and of a “Zionist-free middle east”.
The conference was attended also by Hizbullah ideologue, Mohammad Raad, and by the Hamas’ leader Khaled Meshaal.
A few days before that, a delegation of clergy members of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly visited the Vatican in Rome. They met with top Catholic officials.
“We held talks with the Vatican’s culture minister over the conditions and the popular uprisings in the region and the Vatican minister said that popular uprisings are inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran”, a member of the parliament’s Clerics Commission, Hojjatoleslam Hossein Ebrahimi, told Fars News Agency.
The Iranian delegation paid visits to several academic and scientific centers in the Vatican.
In June, the Vatican sent Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who is the official representative of Vatican politics, to Teheran to attend an “international conference on the global campaign against terrorism”. He welcomed a call for instituting a “secretariat for dialogue” with respect to the fight against terrorism.
Receiving the new apostolic nuncio to Tehran, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, President Ahmadinejad called the Vatican a positive force for justice and peace in the world.
Last autumn, Vatican representatives met with Muslim leaders from around the world in Teheran for “a three-day interreligious dialogue”. The Catholic and the Muslim leaders announced the cooperation “in the search for the common good”. They also promised to work together in “answering modern challenges, promoting moral values, justice and peace and protecting the family, environment and natural resources”.
In 2001 Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is known for having a pro-Islam position and who was appointed by the Pope as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, became the highest ranking Vatican official to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Last autumn Tauran returned to Teheran to praise Iran’s “spirit of cordiality” and “the friendly Ahmadinejad”, despite the allegation, according to the annual list compiled by Open Doors International, Iran is the second worst persecutor of Christians in the world.
The Vatican delegation also visited the city of Qom, a Shi’ite spiritual center in Iran.
Ahmadinejad sent a high-level delegation to Rome, headed by Mahdi Mostafavi, the president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization in Tehran, a former foreign minister and one of Ahmadinejad’s trusted men and “spiritual advisers”, with whom he meets “at least twice a week”.
An Iranian delegation and an authoritative Vatican delegation held a closed door meeting in Rome on the theme “Faith and reason in Christianity and Islam”, which concluded with a meeting with Benedict XVI.
When the Holy See acts, nations take notice. How should the West and Israel interpret the new Vatican friendship with the Iranian Holocaust-enablers?