Romney and Rome on Libya attack

In light of Mitt Romney's verbal attack on the Obama administration's response to the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, I wonder what he would say about the Vatican's statement:

Profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions is an essential precondition for the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days, as we see the reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence.

The message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions, which the Holy Father is preparing to carry with him on his forthcoming trip to Lebanon, indicate the path that everyone should follow in order to construct shared and peaceful coexistence of religions and peoples.

The violence was sparked by the release of a trailer for an amateur film that smears the Prophet Muhammad; Islamist militants killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Tuesday night. Romney quickly responded by assailing a statement, released by the American embassy in Cairo, that said, We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others." As it turned out, the Cairo statement was issued before the attack. But Romney responded as if it followed the attack, charging, Its disgraceful that the Obama Administrations first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.The Vatican's statement reflects concern for the plight of Christians throughout the Middle East who would be endangered if the violence continues. It comes just as Pope Benedict XVI is heading to Lebanon, as Catholic News Service notes. It's a delicate situation that calls for something other than Romney's bluster.Update: And while we're at it, contrast the Vatican's statement with the one the Catholic League issued.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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