Pope Benedict XVI exhibits a keen awareness of the challenges posed by Islam in Europe and regularly speaks out in defense of Western values. It was thus no surprise that the Catholic Church reacted quite negatively when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, asserted that the acceptance of some elements of Shari'a law in the UK "seems unavoidable."

At the time, the Vatican's point man for relations with Islam called Williams' comments a "mistake," adding that "one can understand his good intentions but it seems to me he did not take into consideration either them [the Muslims], the English juridical system, or the reality of Shari'a."

One of the pope's British subordinates apparently never got the memo. Like Williams, he has recently predicted that accommodating Islamic law is "inevitable":

However, Canon Gerard Tartaglia, priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow and lecturer in canon law at Scotus College, Bearsden, does not agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent sense of urgency and believes UK law will evolve in accordance with the development of multicultural communities.


Canon Tartaglia said: "In the long term, I cannot see how our law will not be influenced by the customs and practices of the communities which exist in these islands. It is inevitable there will be influence from Islamic law to one degree or another.

"I cannot see how it can be avoided, but nor can I imagine our society adopting laws which would not be of benefit. And it may be that the legislators introduce elements of Islamic law and that we will be none the wiser.

Tartaglia's attempt to distance his views from Williams' offers a distinction without a difference. Whether the normalization of Shari'a law emerges through a "sense of urgency" or evolves "in accordance with the development of multicultural communities," the outcome is the same: an unacceptable compromise of Western ideals.

Also disturbing is the canon's comfort with British legislators implementing precepts of Islamic law under the radar. It recalls the stealthy way in which welfare benefits were extended to the additional wives of polygamists.

Pope Benedict, a member of your flock clearly needs some shepherding.