Buried away on page 48 of the former press proprietor Conrad Black's superb, soon-to-be-published autobiography, A Matter of Principle, is the answer to a burning question that very many people have been asking for several years: What does the pope really think about Islamic immigration into Europe? What, in his heart of hearts, does the Supreme Pontiff of the world's estimated 1.15 billion Roman Catholics truly feel about the future of Western civilization in a continent that has seen such large-scale Muslim immigration over the past half century?
Everyone remembers the massive international controversy surrounding Pope Benedict XVI's lecture at Regensburg University in September 2006, when he quoted the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the last Christian rulers before the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." There were riots in the streets of many Muslim countries, the Pakistani Parliament demanded a retraction, Christian churches were firebombed—including five in the West Bank and Gaza, our exciting new Palestinian state—and 100 Muslim clerics wrote an open letter criticizing the speech, even though all the pope was doing was quoting someone else. As security was stepped up around St. Peter's, the Vatican issued an apology, saying that the pope "sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions."