You've heard the story of Magdi Allam's baptism last night by Pope Benedict XVI. A friend sent me a link to John Allen's column about this controversial journalist's conversion which shows an interesting CL link, as an example of friendship via cultural work.
One of the best-known Muslims in Italy, a journalist who in some ways is the heir to Oriana Fallaci as the country’s most prominent critic of Islamic radicalism, is to be baptized this evening by Pope Benedict XVI and received into the Catholic church.
Magdi Allam, a columnist and vice-director of Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, is among seven new Catholics from five countries to be personally baptized by the pope during the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica....
Though Allam has typically described himself as a “secular Muslim,” he is no stranger to the Catholic church. Over the years, he has been close to the Communion and Liberation movement in Italy, becoming one of the star attractions at the annual “Meeting” sponsored by the movement at the Italian seaside resort of Rimini. That event typically draws in excess of 700,000 people, including the cream of Italy’s political class.
During those sessions, Allam has typically voiced deep appreciation for Catholic social doctrine and, more generally, for the strong defense of a link between reason and faith offered by both John Paul II and now Benedict XVI.
Allam enthusiastically embraced Benedict’s call to resist a “dictatorship of relativism,” connecting it to the struggle against Islamic extremism.
“We must put together a coalition of values among those who believe that all life is sacred, to fight a kind of ideological nihilism that sees life’s value as merely relative,” he said recently. “Only in this way can we remove the roots that nourish the terrorists’ wars.”