The Pope’s Counter Narrative

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The Easter Sunday baptism of Madgi Allam, an Egyptian Muslim, by Pope Benedict looks to be a symbolic push back against militant Islam of the first order. Much of the symbolism seems to be lost on the media.

The peaceful images of the baptism beamed around the world form a powerful counter-narrative to the violent images associated with militant Islam of late. A head bowed in reverence vs. one about to be severed. Love vs. hate. Life vs. death. The contrast couldn’t be starker. Was it not Bin Laden himself that said something along the lines that you love life and we love death?

Pope Benedict XVI like his predecessor Pope John Paul II understands the power of global media and its ability to connect and move people to action. Choosing Easter Sunday was a master stroke in presenting contrasting perceptions without being overly proactive. While Europe is roiling over cartoons and the new anti-Islam movie “Fitna” by Dutch Politician Geert Wilders, the Vatican used one of its greatest rites to make a point.

By sending these images via satellite TV and Internet, the church was able to reach out and touch many of its 1 billion members–not to mention anyone else conscious on Sunday. That is important because a large portion of its members reside in the developing world where they area at odds with Islam. The Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan and Nigeria come to mind.

I find it interesting that the Pope Benedict chose an Egyptian to make his point. The Coptic Christians and Chaldean Catholics are under increasing pressure throughout the Middle East. The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul , Paulos Faraj Rahho, was captured and later found dead this month in Iraq. Pope John Paul II chose Poland as the starting point to push back against communism this Pope may have picked Egypt.