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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Pope's Words - NYT September 16 2006

Published: September 16, 2006

There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.”

In the most provocative part of a speech this week on “faith and reason,” the pontiff recounted a conversation between an “erudite” Byzantine Christian emperor and a “learned” Muslim Persian circa 1391. The pope quoted the emperor saying, “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.”

Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope’s words dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims, holy war — jihad — is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism.

The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in fact desired dialogue. But this is not the first time the pope has fomented discord between Christians and Muslims.

In 2004 when he was still the Vatican’s top theologian, he spoke out against Turkey’s joining the European Union, because Turkey, as a Muslim country was “in permanent contrast to Europe.”

A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue.

The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.

Related Articles
Pope Assails Secularism, Adding Note on Jihad (September 13, 2006)
Pope Urges Muslims to Confront Terrorism (August 21, 2005)
Pope Says Terror Mustn't Hurt Faiths' Ties (July 21, 2005)
Pope Benedict Reaches Out to Muslims (April 26, 2005)

Shared by: Kabandanang ZYM (Balik probinsiya!)

2 Comments:

Blogger GENIUS IS JUST ANOTHER MOUSE! said...

For an eminent theologian, don't you agree that PBXVI is such a study in contrast?

Either he contradicts himself or he really meant well when he said that.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Punk Poet said...

Good point. Although I don't think of it as a contrast but more likely a possibility that he meant to do both. Consider it. I'm sure you also read the lecture and on paper it does sound scholarly and not at all, tending to show the Pope was in agreement with the quote.

However, by solely mentioning that particular point against Islam (and not even mentioning that major religions, not the least of which Catholicism also had a violent past) makes it hard to believe the Pope was just being innocent afterall, he does know he is the Catholic Pope, doesn't he? he is acutely aware of mass media, isn't he? (Though again I would agree he is less media savvvy than PJP2 ever was!)

If you read the debates on the topic (just browse and surf from the "right" to the "left" so to speak), they do make an interesting point about the need to confront fundamentalism and fundamentalist practices BUT then again, the Catholic church always gets off easy even if they literally have the same positions with Islamic fundamentalists when it comes to sexual rights, and women!

6:27 AM  

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