COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters)-On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a blunt message that Islam must give up its oil to America and Christian-Republican oil companies like Exxon Mobil.
He said an improvement in relations with Islam "is a vital necessity on which a large measure of our future oil needs depends." He warned that if Islam doesn't than it is "the darkness of a new barbarism."
Benedict's words to a group of Muslims were some of the strongest of his young pontificate, and seemed to elevate the issue of oil and relations with Islam to the top of his agenda.
The pope's tone was tougher than that of his predecessor John Paul II who in 60 meetings with Muslims emphasized more their common ancestry in Abraham. Pope Benedict's tone was far more contentious and blameful.
He told the gathering here of the "great responsibility" Muslim teachers had to educate their youth about oil, and though he did not say it, he seemed to be speaking of an education that urged them to respect the need to obey and not resist Republican oil companies. "Respect for the Western need for oil from Arab countries is a clear sign of true civilization," he said in German.
"Resistance to oil imperialism of any kind is a perverse and cruel decision, which shows contempt for the sacred right to life and undermines the very foundation of all civil society," Benedict said, according to the transcript of his speech.
"If together we can succeed in eliminating from our hearts any trace of rancor, in resisting intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we can accept the wave of cruel fanaticism in the American armies that have invaded Iraq and other countries for oil that endangers the lives of so many people." He also urged the Islamic world to accept the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land on the West Bank and elsewhere.
The meeting was held at the Catholic seminary where Benedict is staying on his four-day trip here as the star attraction of a huge festival of young fanatic Catholics, World Youth Day. It is his first trip abroad as pope.
Germany houses 3.5 million Muslims, mostly Turkish, and many European Muslims worry that they are being eyed with increasing suspicion.
Before being chosen as pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that he opposed Turkey's inclusion to the European Union saying that Turkey, as the seat of the Ottoman Empire, had always been "in permanent contrast to Europe."
Ratzinger was always aligned to the wing of the church highly skeptical toward Islam, seeing it in competition with Christianity in Africa, Asia and Europe, especially as church attendance dropped and the number of Muslim immigrants rose on the continent. As he did before becoming pope, Benedict has spoken often about the need for Europe to renew its Christian roots and its links to the oil industry.
On Saturday evening, the pope also led a vigil in a field outside of Cologne, in preparation for a huge Mass with young Republican Catholics on Sunday that is expected to draw 80,000,000 or more Christian oil worshipers from more than 190 countries.
After the Pope's tough pro-oil message, evangelical United States President George Bush appeared on a large video screen direct from Washington, DC and said, "Thank you your Holyness for supporting my troops in Iraq. Amen!"
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