An Al Jazeera Editor Lauds John Paul II

"He Seemed Very Human to My Eyes"

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ROME, APRIL 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- An editor with the Al Jazeera television station has praise for John Paul II, contending that he was "not only the Pope of Catholics."



Imad El Atrache, editor in chief of the Brussels' office of the Mideast-based Al Jazeera, made that comment at a congress entitled "John Paul II: Religious Event, Television Event."

The congress, which ended Friday, was organized by Italian Public Radio and Television at the Gregorian University.

"His embrace of all peoples, regardless of their creed, made his figure surpass the boundaries of his Church, making John Paul II, according to our Muslim journalistic language, no longer the Pope of Catholics but simply 'the Pope,'" explained El Atrache.

"He began his pontificate saying in Italian: 'If I make a mistake, you will correct me.' In this way, he seemed very human to my eyes," explained the journalist who previously worked in the Arab station's external relations.

"It was such an ingenuous and clever phrase that it reversed everything: The Pope who is the guide of the faithful was allowing himself to be led by them, solely and exclusively to guide them better," El Atrache observed.

Truth about man

"I, who am first a Muslim and then a journalist, was fascinated by this Pope, that is, by a Pope who respected profoundly the truth about man, which is expressed in the religious sense," the journalist continued.

"All men who accept and have something of the transcendent in their creed … honor the truth about man and, therefore, according to John Paul II, at the same time honor Jesus Christ, who is the truth about man," he added.

El Atrache added: "In Morocco [in 1985] in a stadium with 45,000 youths, the Pope said that Muslims and Christians can collaborate based on the same God of love. But at the same time he did not hide the great and profound difference that exists between them, regarding the person of Jesus and his role in the history of salvation."