Wednesday, September 20, 2006

World: Pope Benedict XVI Under Fire - Africans, Americans, & Germans Speakout

Global Voices Online (a Harvard Law School - Berkman Center for Internet and Society project) has a roundup post on the controversy in the Muslim world over Pope Benedict XVI's reading of a 14th Century text. GVO's citizen editor Ndesanjo Macha highlights in his post Africa's Reactions to the Pope's Remarks what some of the African bloggers from both sides of the aisle (Christian and Muslim) have to say. Following is my comment left at that GVO post which pretty much sums up my feelings about all of this worldwide nonsense:

”Great roundup on a very controversial subject. In my opinion, Pope Benedict XVI has clarified his position on this subject (3 times+) and should go about the business of taking care of his flock. It is outrageous that so many religious leaders, theologians, and world leaders would take offence that a text from a 14th Century document was read aloud at the German University in Regensburg by a Roman Catholic Pope. I am certain that within the halls of institutions and mosques and political offices within the Islamic world much worse has been said and done re: Christians and Jews down through the centuries. All major religions of the world can point to a violent and inhumane past”… and their respective followers today should bow their heads in shame and prayer for forgiveness.

Get a grip on yourselves! Damn!

Sorry Pope Benedict, but this kind of stuff can get a good Christian to cussin'... if not worse. What's next? Do we all have to go out and buy a suit of armour, swords and scimitars, war horses and camels, kiss the wife and kids goodbye as we march off to free the City of Jerusalem from the Infidels?

Update Sep 21st:

In following links to blogs posting on this subject via the German news magazine Spiegel International Online (see below) I discovered an interesting roundup post by an American mom titled The Pope's Speech and Why It Matters to Non-Catholics. One of the commentors at The Common Room points readers to an article written by a former student of Pope Benedict XVI at Universität Regensburg, a Father Joseph D. Fessio S.J. (Doctorate in Theology, Regensburg University 1975). In Father Joseph's article "Is Dialogue with Islam Possible?" he states the following:

In the main body of the lecture, Benedict criticizes attempts in the West to "dehellenize" Christianity: the rejection of the rational component of faith (the sola fides of the 16th century reformers); the reduction of reason to the merely empirical or historical (modern exegesis and modern science); a multiculturalism which regards the union of faith and reason as merely one possible form of inculturation of the faith. All this is a Western self-critique.

But as the starting point of his lecture, Benedict takes a 14th century dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor and a learned Muslim to focus on the central question of the entire lecture: whether God is Logos. The Emperor's objection to Islam is Mohammed's "command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor asserts that this is not in accordance with right reason, and "not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature". Benedict points to this as "the decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion".

It is at this point in the lecture that Benedict makes a statement which cannot be avoided or evaded if there is ever to be any dialogue between Christianity and Islam that is more than empty words and diplomatic gestures. For the Emperor, God's rationality is "self-evident". But for Muslim teaching, according to the editor of the book from which Benedict has been quoting, "God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality".

Benedict has struck bedrock. This is the challenge to Islam. This is the issue that lies beneath all the rest. If God is above reason in this way, then it is useless to employ rational arguments against (or for) forced conversion, terrorism, or Sharia law, which calls for the execution of Muslim converts to Christianity. If God wills it, it is beyond discussion.

The entire text (translated) of the lecture by Pope Benedict XVI can be found in the resources I have listed for readers below.

German press reports on the Pope's remarks controversy
Spiegel Online International (German news magazine, English edition)

Muslims Angered by Pope’s Remarks – 09/15/06

The Pope’s Lecture at the University of Regensburg (translated) – 09/12/06

Popes Apology Rejected by Some, Accepted by Others – 09/18/06

Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, the Pope – Who’s Next? by Claus Christian Malzahn – 09/18/06

Spiegel interview with German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble – 09/20/06
“We have no relationship to our diverse Muslim Society”

Spiegel Photo Gallery – Don’t miss
the “Pope on Fire” Muslim anger photo album

Der Speigel Online (Original German language version, for the purist)

Papst Contra Mohammed – Glaubenskampf um den Islam, die Vernufnt und die Gewalt
Heft Nr. 38/2006

The Catholic Press

Ignatius Insight - Is Dialogue with Islam Possible? by Father Joseph Fessio - 09/18/06

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1 comment:

BRE said...

Thanks to a tip from Abdurahman Warsame's blog "No Longer at Ease" I found a very interesting and informative online dialogue about the Pope's comments and apologies at the Washington Post's new blog experiment "PostGlobal". Please visit the new PostGlobal blog and read their September 19th post about inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Here is an excerpt from that post:

Pope Benedict XVI said he was "deeply sorry" for the reaction in some countries to his recent speech in which he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor saying the prophet Muhammad brought "only evil and inhuman" things to the world.

From where you write, was the apology enough? What should Christians and Muslims be talking about now?
- Amar Bakshi

We asked Ali Ettefagh, Daoud Kuttab, Shekar Gupta and the other members of our panel of commentators to answer the question.