Pon Tiff

Pope Benedict was in Germany the other day and gave a lecture. I don't think anyone has bothered to read the whole thing, but a small part of it comparing Christianity and Islam has been repeated quite a bit lately in the press. The part where he quoted 14th-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II saying "show me just what Mohammed 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." Muslims got kind of upset (or more upset), which didn't really suprise anyone.

To calm things down, the Pope issued an apology. Well, not quite an apology. He didn't say he was sorry for what he said, but he did say he was sorry for the reaction to it. Meaning, 'It's too bad you guys are all crazy.' And that's what he should have said. He criticized Muslims for being violent, and they responded by getting violent. In the words of Cardinal Pell, the reaction showed "the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence." This seems to be a pattern I've seen before.

Now the Pope was reading a quote from someone else, so they weren't his own words, but he did choose to use that quote. And the larger point that he was making, that Islam is irrational, and Christianity is not, is still not exactly praising Islam. So maybe there is cause for Muslims to get upset. But really, the idea of a religion calling another religion irrational is kind of absurd. Irrational, even. I thought most of Benedict's arguments could easily have been about the Catholic church, or at least the early Catholic Church. In fact, I've noticed many parallels between Muslim extremist beliefs today and the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. Forced conversions, religious control of government, unwillingness to hear outside opinions...

He may have been misguided, but I don't think the Pope was trying to upset Muslims. He was just trying to help Catholics understand their faith, the reasonability of it. I really doubt he was prepared for this kind of Spanish Inquisition.


Anonymous Cardinal Ximinez said...

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

19/9/06 18:05  

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