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Pope’s Islam overtures force Muslim-born convert to quits Church

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – A Muslim-born journalist whose 2008 baptism by Pope Benedict XVI made him Italy’s most famous convert announced Monday he was leaving the Catholic Church over the new pontiff’s overtures to Islam.

Magdi Allam, a former deputy editor of leading daily Corriere della Sera who was born in Egypt, voiced his irritation over what he described as the “papolatry” surrounding the onset of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

“My conversion to catholicism, by the hand of Benedict XVI on the eve of Easter on March 22, 2008, came to an end when his pontificate did,” he wrote in Il Giornale newspaper.

“I am convinced that Islam is an intrinsically violent ideology,” Allam wrote, predicting that “Europe will end up under Islam’s boot”.

Pope Francis, who was elected earlier this month, said he wanted to intensify the dialogue with other religions, including Islam.

“The legitimisation of Islam as a true religion, of Allah as a true God, of Mohammed as a true Prophet, of the Koran as a holy scripture and of mosques as places of worship… have driven me away from the Church,” Allam wrote.

Allam also said he disagreed with the church’s insistence on priestly celibacy, sexual abstinence outside of marriage and other issues.

Allam’s views on Islam and the pope’s decision to conduct the baptism himself had earned the Vatican scathing criticism at the time, forcing the Holy See to distance itself from the journalist.

“Beyond … the phenomenon of extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent to a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam,” Allam wrote the day after his baptism.

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