The Pontiff Apologizes

The Pope could have avoided this controversy by being a little more sensitive and by applying some discretion while selecting references for his speeches. But then as this editorial says, how could we expect this from a ‘doctrinal conservative’. His apology is timely but the damage has been done.

The New York Times – Editorial
The Pope’s Words
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.

Published in: on September 16, 2006 at 6:59 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. really ur site is so nice, keep it up
    best regards

  2. I absolutely agree with you. However, there is something called freedom of speech , and even the Pope should be entitled to it. Our brethren all aoround the world have a tendency to react with violence to verbal expression. I will reiterate again “only verbal expression”.The pope should offer deep apology and the demands should be made via a dialogue rather than killing an italian nun in Somalia and settinf churches in west bank afire. Did the world witness any outrage at Ahmedinaj regime led holocaust contest by the jews or christians ? no matter how deeply one feels about things but civilised nations deal with things maturely sans violence. We need more and more people like you who bring their sentiments to writing as this is the only way to deal with the divide that has been created in today’s world between islam and west.

  3. GS: your points are most valid. Indeed, muslims must not reinforce the prevailing stereotypes. But then the Pope is not an ordinary man. We expect more ‘compassion’ and understanding from him than was displayed by those unfortunate remarks. Your emphasis on dialogue in these troubled times is most appropriate.
    Why don’t you write something to be posted here..?

  4. Agian I agree that Pope is not an ordinary man but my point is that as a muslim should it matter to me what opinions the Pope, George Bush or Musharraf hold about my religion and its prophet. Religion and the acts of Muhammad P.B.U.H teach tolerance and the way that the muslim community reacts to criticism on islam these days gives it the image that it has these days. if I love Muhammad, i love him regardless of what pope says about him and if or should he apologise or not. it was despicable the way muslims reacted to the cartoons and to the Pope’s remarks about Mohammad. The horrendous reaction only proves the Pope right in quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam with violence. We can erase these baseless sterotypes by our behaviour and reaction. let the Pope and evangelical charistians theorise about Islam as much as they want, but we as a community can prove all their thoeries wrong by acting just a little sensibly and with some common sense.

  5. Someone in a position of responsibility and authority as the pope really should be able to speak objectively and intelligently. I feel deeply saddened by the sheer shortsightedness of his unfortunate comments. Hatred breeds hatred. Intolerance breeds intolerance. I only hope that he hasn’t done permanent damage.

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