Pope to baptize Muslim journalist: report

March 23rd, 2008 - 3:47 am ICT by admin  

Vatican City, March 23 (DPA) An Italian journalist who is under police protection in the wake of threats from Muslim extremists is set to be baptized late Saturday by Pope Benedict XVI, according to news reports citing the Vatican’s spokesman. The Egyptian-born Magdi Allam, a deputy editor for Italy’s most respected newspaper Corriere della Sera, will join five other converts who will receive sacraments from the pope, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.

Benedict was scheduled to preside at an Easter Vigil ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica where he would administer the sacraments to the converts who include nationals from Cameroon, China, the US and Peru, the Vatican said.

Allam, who has described himself as a “moderate Muslim,” has been outspoken in condemning what he has said is Italy’s and Europe’s inability to thwart the spread of radical Islam.

Allam’s conversion and pending baptism came as a surprise in Italy, with main state television RAI TG UNO newscast interrupting its schedule to make the announcement which came less than an hour before the Vatican ceremony was scheduled to begin.

The pope traditionally administers sacraments, including baptism, confirmation and First Communion to converts during the solemn Easter Vigil.

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