It seems that Pope Benedict has ideas of doing what his predecessor did – no, not building bridges but taking sides in an ideological war.
The previous head of the Catholic Church, John Paul II with his Polish background, saw it as his mission to crusade against the godless communism. He took sides in that war, with such fervour that the Kremlin of the old USSR saw it necessary to launch a (failed) assassination attempt against him.
Pope Benedict thought he wanted to do likewise, taking sides in the Western world’s declared war against terrorism, which in the minds of the West, has been instituted by mainly Islamic states or groups.
His address on Tuesday at a German university, where he taught theology, have been interpreted by many experts in interfaith relations as a signal that the Vatican is now assuming a new and more demanding stance for its dealings with the Muslim world.
They said that Pope Benedict appears to believe that the West's confrontation with radical Islam as a fateful moment in history that demands the Vatican's moral authority, in the same way as his predecessor reshaped the Church’s stance by openly taking sides in the Cold War.
Unfortunately, by needlessly quoting a medieval statement by a Christian Emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, his message has now been received by the Muslim world as the Vatican actively participating in a broader Western cultural and political campaign against Islam.
Reader xpyred was annoyed that the Pope's speech has been taken out of context. He(?) said: "If people have actually read and understood what he was saying, they'd know that he was actually making a huge, massive attack on post-Enlightenment rationality, which prizes a certain view of human ends devoid of any considerations of religion. Also, he makes an attack on the view of the divine devoid from reason. There's just so much more that he says that make those quotes sensible in the context in which they are said."
I think ;-) that xpyred meant the Pope's speech postulated that today's people take drastic actions without bearing in mind the sacred teachings of religion, and then one shouldn't use religion without reason, as in perpetrating acts of killing in the name of religion.
I am sure that would be something everyone would agree to, especially victims of Islamist and Tamil Tigers' suicide bombings or those of US-Israeli hi-tech wanton massacres.
However, John Voll, director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington analysed the papal speech as also reflecting deep dismay over the current conditions of Christians in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world.
Voll said Pope Benedict intends to ‘distinguish himself from his predecessor on his approach to interfaith dialogue’. He wants more reciprocity, meaning that it’s not just going to be all give and no take. Voll predicted that the Pope may now instruct Vatican envoys to stress more forcefully on issues of forced conversions of Christians and limits on Christian rights and worship.
Meanwhile, and predictably, PM AAB, also as Chair of the OIC, has demanded that the Pope apologises and withdraws his remarks.
AAB said: "The Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake."
"It is unfortunate that such an eminent figure like the Pope has not shown leadership in promoting good relations between religions. Instead, his statement has had the effect of sowing more seeds of discord and will not be conducive for dialogue among religions."
Pope Benedict Shattered Glass House & Goodwill