Given the Muslim outrage the last time the Pontiff said something substantive about the history of Islam and the West, it has fallen to his secretary to make public observations about what is going on:
Pope Benedict XVI’s private secretary warned of the Islamisation of Europe and stressed the need for the continent’s Christian roots not to be ignored.
“Attempts to Islamise the west cannot be denied,” Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published Friday.
“The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness,” the magazine quoted him as saying.
As if to underline his point about this decline in the West Venice, along with a little help from its friends in Paris and New York, is celebrating its long relationship with Islam:
For a thousand years Venice had a unique trading relationship with the great Muslim dynasties who shared their magnificent art and culture in a way that still defines the city today.
From the sumptuous silks, ceramics, carpets and gemstones sold by oriental traders to the Moorish architecture reflected in its elegant palaces and famous Basilica San Marco, the city has incorporated Islamic influences like few other cities in Italy.
Now Venice is celebrating its centuries-old relationship with the Islamic world in a vast exhibition which opens on 28 July.
The show is the result of collaboration between the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musei Civici Veneziani.
“Venice was pushed by the Vatican to join the crusades, but always had a pragmatic approach,” Carboni (the curator) said. “The doges were always trying to mediate between the church and its Islamic neighbors.”
Capable of understanding and appreciating its achievements in the world of science and philosophy, the city also showed itself capable of establishing relations with the great Muslim dynasties of the Ayyubids, the Mamelukes and the Ottomans.
Carboni said the exhibition was particularly timely since there is so much misunderstanding in the world between east and west.
“If we can show that Venice had a relationship with the Middle East that was also positive, it’s a good message.”
Italy is fading into the Dhimmi dust. But you have to admit that at least Venice makes a beautiful corpse.
Hat tip: His Grace, Cranmer
[Sic Transit Gloria Mundi]