What a better way to spend a Sunday morning than writing about religion….
I’m a big believer that there is more to most news stories than what we are told. Its usually a lot more complex than what we are offered and sometimes the reality is totally different.
A good example is the recent hubbub about the Pope.
The Pope is accused of offending Muslims in a speech he made saying that they were violent and wanted to convert people by the sword. (The reaction of some Muslims was to kill people and burn things, but that’s another topic)
After the initial news hit, the headlines were that the Pope was sorry for how Muslims reacted, but didn’t apologies for what he said.
So, what did he say?
Here is the entire text of the speech he made at the University of Regensburg. The speech was titled “Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections”.
He does indeed quote Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus saying: “Show me just what Mohammed 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”.
That is in the context of a much longer quote which is:
“God is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.
The entire point of the quotation is to start a discussion of rationality and Christianity, and in doing so he discusses the differences in the Christian and Islamic nature of God. In the Christian view, God is rational. Hence, God would not want people to act unreasonably (spilling blood). Islam holds that God is above even human concepts of rationality and isn’t bound by anything.
I think the Pope is right on this one. He has nothing to apologize for other than not picking a better quote. Given how the media as presented this, it seems as if he was giving a speech on the evils of Islam. He wasn’t. In fact, he ended his speech with the following:
The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.