A reader sent me the following article from the Washington Post’s On Faith section which is an example of how some love to editorialize when the facts are against them.
Pope Benedict’s speech has done irreparable damage to Christian-Muslim relations. No amount of apology can undo the harm the irresponsible comments about Islam and its founder have done to the prospects of dialogue between these two Abrahamic traditions.
The more one tries to defend the Pope’s remarks as being made “inadvertently,” the more the transparency of their real intention becomes obvious: To close the door on the dialogue between Muslims and Catholics permanently.
It will be hard on those who firmly believe that the solution to the world peace is the message that undergirds pluralism: Live, and let live!
It is unthinkable that in a speech in which the argument was to open the doors for theological studies in the secular universities on the grounds that faith and reason are both divine gifts to further a coexistence that has been rarely experienced in the Christian academic culture, can actually become an irrational polemical tone implicating Islamic rather than Catholic tradition, in the battle against violence in the name of God.
Even the formulated question this week for the “On Faith” forum is not free of such preconceptions about the sources of violence, and, assumes as if the Pope’s polemics were supposed to “refashion” Muslim militants into less violent and more civil elements.
The Pope had no such noble intention to change the minds and hearts of Muslim militants. Quite to the contrary, the comments were meant to provide a conclusive argument that Muslims and Islam had no place in “civilized” and “rational” Christian Europe: an argument made last year by the present Pope against the membership of Turkey in EU.
It is such an assessment of Islam and Muslims that makes the papal invitation to “serious, sincere dialogue” in Ankara a non-substantiated call.
The world community needs interfaith dialogue today. But if the religious leaders themselves demonstrate disrespect for other faith communities and stoop to insult their faith and reason, then it is doubtful that there can ever be a dialogue between faith-communities. A precondition in a dialogue is equal respect to all the parties in a dialogue. The moment one party assumes a moral high position it changes the dialogue to a monologue, just as the Pope did in his lecture at the University of Regensburg in Germany on September 12, 2006.
Just as no self-righteous attitude among Muslim leaders can ever further dialogue with other communities, the attitude adopted by Vatican at this time is least conducive to dialogue.
When pretty much all of the coverage of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey ended up pretty positive to his trip, some have to once again go back to the Regensburg address and to subsequently mischaracterized it to make the Pope the baddy in inter-religious dialogue.
He also might want to get his facts straight. The Pope did not make an argument last year against Turkey’s membership in the EU. It was over two years ago before he was elected. This writer who cares so much about plurality and dialogue among religions might want to turn his pen against Turkey instead which does not allow Christians, Jews and other religious minorities recognition under Turkish law and to own property for churches or synagogues, schools and hospitals. A country where those who convert from Islam and flee to Turkey are extradited back to their home country. A country where last week two Christian converts were put on trial for insulting ‘Turkishness.’
The writer also does not understand that you can believe your faith to be true and still have respect for those in other religions. That the Pope believes the Catholic Church to be the one true Church is seen as an attitude of superiority. Any religious believer who does not believe his faith to be true is a fraud and to see this as problem is silly unless you are a syncretist. Though since he is a professor of Religious Studies this might be the case. The old joke about studying comparative religions is that you become comparatively religious.