Vatican City 2006
Vatican City. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Vatican City include Independence Day (February 11) and New Year (January 1). An investigative group, appointed by the Italian Parliament, in March determined that the former Soviet Union was behind the 1981 attempted murder of former Pope John Paul II. The motive would have been that the Pope posed a threat to communism in Eastern Europe. The decision to murder the pope would have been made at the highest level in the Kremlin. Individuals in the Bulgarian security service would also have been involved. However, in a murder trial in 1986, it could not be proved that Mehmet Ali Agca – the Turkish man who carried out the murder attempt – had been hired by the Bulgarian security service on behalf of the Soviet Union.
Pope Benedict XVI in May ordered 86-year-old Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, who has been accused of sexual abuse on several occasions, to resign. The Vatican declared that Maciel, who founded the influential Catholic words of the Legionnaires of Christ, had only escaped an internal trial within the church because of his high age and fragile health. The order marked a turning point in the Vatican state’s previously cautious approach to dealing with the sexual abuse revealed by Catholic priests in recent years.
At a theological lecture in Germany September 12, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Christian tradition commands man to understand the sacred with reason, while reason in Muslim tradition was secondary and that Muslims have accepted the use of violence as a way to convert people. In the lecture, the Pope quoted a Byzantine 13th-century emperor who said that Prophet Muhammad had only contributed “evil and inhumane things, such as his command to spread the faith he preached with the sword.” The lecture aroused great anger in the Muslim world. Portrait of the Pope was burned and many churches were set ablaze in violent protests. The al-Qaeda terrorist network issued a death sentence against the Pope. The Pope first defended himself by saying that the quote did not reflect his own views, but was intended to spark debate. Many non-Muslims took the Pope in defense, saying that the violent reactions among the Muslims quickly confirmed the content of the Pope’s lecture. On September 18, however, Benedict asked XVI for apologizing for hurting the feelings of Muslims with his lecture. A week later, the Pope met 21 ambassadors from Muslim countries as well as representatives from the Arab League at his summer residence Castel Gandolfo outside Rome. At this reconciliation meeting, the pope expressed the hope that Christians and Muslims would cooperate against all forms of intolerance and violence. When, for the first time in November, the Pope visited a Muslim-dominated country, Turkey, the conflict that his lecture in Germany seemed to have caused was definitely resolved.