"…from the abyss of death he was able to rise to life. Now he raises us from death to true life. This is exactly what happens in baptism," the pope said.
"The pope traditionally baptizes newborns on January 1 and adult converts to Catholicism on Easter eve.
One of the seven adults he baptized on Saturday night was Magdi Allam, 55, an Egyptian-born journalist who, as deputy director of the leading newspaper Corriere della Sera, is one of Italy’s best-known intellectuals.
Allam, a fierce critic of Islamic extremism and a strong supporter of Israel, is protected by a police escort because of threats he has received.
His conversion to Christianity was a well-kept secret, disclosed by the Vatican in a statement less than an hour before the Easter eve service started.
"For the Catholic Church, each person who asks to receive baptism after a deep personal search, a fully free choice and adequate preparation, has a right to receive it," it said.
Allam defended the pope in 2006 when the pontiff made a speech in Regensburg, Germany, that many Muslims perceived as depicting Islam as a violent faith.
The Vatican statement announcing Allam was joining Catholicism said all newcomers were "equally important before God’s love and welcome in the community of the Church."
Allam, who has been living in Italy for 35 years, has said he was never a very devout Muslim. Still, his conversion to Christianity came as a surprise.
"What amazes me is the high profile the Vatican has given this conversion," Yaha Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, vice-president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community, told Reuters." Yahoo News
Never hear of him before. It’s a normal thing for people to be welcomed into the Church on Holy Saturday. That happens every year.
One would hope that this man’s exercise of conscience would be respected, but,
I suppose that he will be declared "murtad" (an apostate) and that "fatwas" will be issued by some fool or collection of fools that call for his death. If that is true, then it is simply another indication that Islamdom needs to think about its relevance to modern life or indeed to any life.
Benedict would like to talk to the Muslims about issues between us. This does not mean that he intends to do so from a position in which he is a supplicant.
If this is taken as evidence that the pope is leading a "crusade" against Islam, then that will be a sad thing. pl