a different side of Israel

Faith by the Sword: Remarks by the Pope Inflame World Muslims

Faith by the Sword: Remarks by the Pope Inflame World MuslimsRemarks made by Pope Benedictus IVI on Sept. 12 at an address in the University of Regensburg during his visit to Germany, appear to be creating an even greater storm in the Islamic world than the Danish ‘cartoon incident’ did several months back. Most likely, His Holiness did not imagine the controversy the would be created when he mentioned an early 14th Century Medieval text containing a dialogue between Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleollogus and a Persian academic scholar regarding the true ‘message’ of Islam. The dialogue, reputed to have taken place during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402 by the Muslim Ottoman Turks, evolved a particular comment by the Emperor: “show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you find things only evil and inhuman; such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.

Obviously, the beleaguered emperor was under a bit of pressure in so much as the last vestiges of the Eastern Roman Empire, a small area surrounding Constantinople, was being besieged by the Turks, who themselves had been subservient to the Byzantine Christian administration for literally hundreds of years, prior to the rise of Islam. While Pope Benedictus went on to say that Manuel II told his “Persian interlocutor” that “spreading faith by violence was something unreasonable, and that violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul” appears to be a bit ‘one sided’ if one looks into the historical spread of Christianity itself.

The Crusades, that questionable period of European Christian history, revolved around attempts by European Christian rulers to wrestle control of the Holy Land and it’s places sacred to Christendom out of the hands of Muslims who had conquered the entire area from the Byzantine Empire in the 7th and 8th Centuries. These crusades, originally led by an itinerate monk named Peter the Hermit, considered even non-European Christians , including Byzantines, to be ‘infidels’ due to their different customs and religious worship practices (the Byzantines were not under the Church of Rome). Literally thousands of Byzantine Christians, Jews, and others were put to the sword or forced to convert to Catholicism during the Crusaders march to what they called Tierra Sancta. This bit of historical reality was not mentioned by the Pope during his address; nor did he touch on another dark period of Christian history, the Holy Inquisition, in which European Jews and Muslims were either expelled from their long residences in Spain, Portugal and Italy; or forced to convert to Christianity. The Inquisition, which officially lasted until the end of the 19th Century, brought untold suffering to those who became its victims; many of whom suffered horrible torture and death. In other words, it appears that Christianity has used the sword a bit throughout history to spread its ‘good words’ as well.

The Pope, while meaning to create a bridge between the faiths by intelligent dialogue, has now created something else altogether. He even went on to note that the ethos of modern Christianity was formed in Europe, and not through their ancient origins, including those of the Greeks, who made the first translation of the Bible into a European language.

What this new theological controversy is boiling down to is a major confrontation between the world’s billion plus Catholic Church, with its headquarters in Rome, and more than 1.2 billion members of the “Umma” or World Community of Islam.

With the growing presence of Muslims throughout Europe, including Italy where the Holy See is located, how long will it be before a future Pope, himself under siege, will have a similar discussion with a scholarly ‘Islamic interlocutor’ like Byzantine emperor Manuel II did upon seeing the ‘Saracens’ gathering outside his castle walls.

(Photograph courtesy of


  1. These articles are still being covered partially by the
    that menu thing on the right! Regarding the
    Pope, he did make an effort to appologize today.
    Question now was it too little – too late?

    We’ll see what happens now.

  2. Having spent the day yesterday on the Haaretz Talk Back on this subject which drew 800+ responses from all sides, Ive come to the conclusion of all “religions” that…

    They seek to Love God the best way that they know how. They also seek the Love of others FOR God, the only way they know how. The fear of being wrong is immense! This fear keeps them from hearing the simple truth, that is;

    7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Genesis 4:7

    We all need to take a peaceful look at what is accepted by all and what is not and why. I think we all may be surprised at just how much of what we do believe is accepted. Let’s start there. Undoubtedly, there will be much we will need to LET GO of and much we need to EMBRACE. The growing of faith is a creative process, the foundation of which has been written upon our hearts.

  3. And the first shall be last. Having gone through what they are going through, we need to lift them up. Humility is no easy thing!

  4. The comment of the Pope on Islam is akin to ‘ pot calling a Kettle black!’
    Come on, Pope cannot practice selective amnesia of the violent history of catholic church and the atrocities committed by the crusaders in the name of religion inspired only by his predecessors.
    Great scientists were killed by them to protect their interests.

    Violence is not ‘the’ trait of Islam alone. Its the charactristic ingredient of all exclusive monotheistic religions of middle east origin who claim monopoly to salvation only through their religion and the prophet they have faith in.

    The perfidious and treacherous spanish colonial forces, who eliminated the entire Aztec and Inca civilisations in South America
    are shame of all Europeans.
    Spaniards killed the Inca king most treacherously for the gold and that too after converting him to christianity by force.

    And now the catholics are at the same game of insulting and eliminating inclusive religions like Hinduism just as they did in Americas.

    Muslims are no angels and they are certainly bullies and violent.
    I do not hold brief for them, the cowards that they are.

    But I hate any violence people perpetrate in the name of religion. A religion bereft of spiritualism is no religion at all.

    All monotheistic religions merely glorify a jealous God. Religion is a personal matter and no one has right to impose ones beliefs on others.
    If that is accepted and the church and muslims just confine to their beliefs with out bothering others, it would be just fine.

  5. “But I hate any violence people perpetrate in the name of religion. A religion bereft of spiritualism is no religion at all.”

    I will say AMEN to this with reason;

    23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4:23

    Well said Secular.

  6. We need some reconciliation at this point. Why not try the sulha
    idea as was written about not long ago. It’s also too bad the annual
    sulha gathering in Israel had to be cancelled due to the war.

    It’s like what is going on with the US and Iran. If the two sides have no dialogue, how can there be any understanding?

  7. The really sad thing is, is that the vast majority of the people want reconciliation. While the minority speaks the loudest. How can our songs be heard?

  8. have any of the individuals who are now pontificating so vociferously
    on the pope’s remarks gone to the trouble of reading the pope’s

  9. Yes, He has accomplished what he set out to accomplish. Open dialogue. I think he may have gotten a few surprises though.

  10. Gerald,

    I read it; and had the Pope just left out those few lines, which were
    really superfulous anyway, none of this would had happened, and he would have gone on to his visit in Turkey, and possibly later on to other Muslim countries as well with a minimum of problems. Now, just giving his weekly masses is going to be a big security problem; as well as appearing at his window to bless the crowds in St Peter’s Square.

    But I guess everyone has done things they regret later. That’s what makes us human.

  11. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13: Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14: If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15: For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17: If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 18: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19: Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. 20: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. John 13:12-20

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