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Bishop: Islam Expanding Conquests

October 13, 1999

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Islam is driving into predominantly Christian countries in a new campaign of expansion and conquest, a bishop at a Vatican synod claimed Wednesday in a warning to his European colleagues.

Giuseppe Germano Bernardini, archbishop of Izmir in Turkey, spoke at a synod of European bishops on what he said was Islam’s growing challenge to Christianity, even on its home ground.

``The ‘domination’ has already started with petrodollars, used not to create jobs in poor countries in North Africa and the Middle East, but to build mosques and cultural centers in Christian countries ... including Rome, center of Christianity,″ Bernardini declared.

``Who cannot see in this a clear program of expansion and reconquest?″ he asked.

The dire tone of his warning contrasted with repeated overtures to the Islamic world by Pope John Paul II, whose comments on Islam frequently stress the values it shares with Christianity.

The archbishop was one of several at the synod to express frustration in dealing with the Islamic world, however. Others in the weeklong session have spoken of the need for cooperation between Muslims and Christians.

Bernardini suggested the church call a synod specifically on the theme of Islam in predominantly Christian countries.

As a first, practical step, he said, Catholics must see to it that none of their churches are ceded to Muslims for practice of their faith.

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