Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rioters' madness shames Muslim world

Father Raymond J. de Souza wrote in National Post The eruption of rage in some quarters of the Islamic world against Pope Benedict XVI requires that several tough things be said. Painful though it may be, speaking frankly is necessary if there is to be honest and open dialogue between the Abrahamic faiths. Given the reaction to Benedict's address, though, one wonders if that dialogue is even possible.

It could take place with True Muslims only after they find a way to purge their faith of these firebrand clerics that stir up violence for political purposes, and who hijack the faith of Islam.
The Pope devoted almost 4,000 words to examining the relationship between faith and reason, and the prospect for dialogue between modernity and the world of religion. In the course of that address he quoted a dialogue recorded between the Byzantine (Christian) Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an erudite Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam. The dialogue took place during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402. During their conversation, the Pope said, the Emperor "turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: '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.' "
Or perhaps it is just another example of faith being used to try to achieve secular, political objectives.
Benedict was quoting a 14th-century Christian emperor, under siege from the Ottomans, defending the position that spreading religion by violence is contrary to the nature of God. The Emperor, quite reasonably given his circumstances, suggested to his Persian interlocutor such a view did not prevail in Islamic thought. In response to this historical excursus in an academic lecture by one of the world's most erudite theologians, we are witnessing a wave of madness and malice, no doubt an embarrassment to millions of Muslims.

Roman Catholics are likely angry. Relations between adherents of the two religions simply cannot develop without all conducting themselves as mature adults. It does a disservice to children to call the wild-eyed statements and deranged behaviour of the past days childish.
That is a very good point.
It is not only the obscenity of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist terrorist band suppressed in several Muslim states, demanding an apology from anyone, let alone the Holy Father. It is not only the grandstanding Pakistani politicians passing resolutions condemning a papal speech few read, and even fewer understood. It is not only the extraneous charges about the Holocaust and Hitler by the agitated and excited. It is that we have seen this before.
The Cartoon Wars were one such place.
When Pope John Paul II made his epic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Palestinian Muslim representatives jostled him on the Temple Mount, shouted at him, and, in one episode of maximum rudeness, abandoned him on stage during an interfaith meeting. Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, treated him to an anti-Semitic rant when the late pope visited Syria.
That just shows that some Muslams can be idiots; it does not show that Islam itself leads to idiotic behaviour.
Catholic goodwill toward global Islam is severely attenuated by such continued maltreatment of our universal pastors. And it is well past time that the maltreatment of history ceased too. The irony of the accusations that Pope Benedict has a "Crusader mentality" is that he was speaking about the period in which the Crusades themselves took place.
Most, if not all, of which, involved a Pope. The loudmouths complaining about the Pope's words should give thought to whether they would like to see additioinal Crusades.

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