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Tag: Pope Benedictus XVI

Deeply Shocked and Saddened

Deeply Shocked and SaddenedPope Benedictus XVI appeared sincere enough when he appeared Sunday before the crowds waiting in the rain outside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. His remarks of being “deeply shocked and saddened” by the angry reactions of Muslims all over the world will hopefully calm things down a bit before Muslims resort to further violence against Christians and church property – whether Catholic or not. All Christians were in danger from outraged Muslim mobs, and this was indicative of their burning effigies of the Pope and committing some acts of vandalism against churches in Muslim dominated countries, including two churches in Gaza. The Gaza churches, by the way, were not Catholic; which made the Pope’s quick apology even more important.

The Pope’s remarks, in which he stated that the quoted words from the 14th century medieval text did not reflect his personal opinion, makes one wonder why they were uttered in the first place. After all, doesn’t His Holiness have both speech writers, as well as person advisors in respect to possible Islamic sensitivities that might result from this kind of rhetoric? Even though he said he had ‘felt at home’ within the academic confines of the German university in which he addressed the faculty and student body, he should have taken into account that reporters would be present, and perhaps a number of Muslims as well (academics, professors, and the like).

As a result of this ‘slip of the tongue’ Vatican officials, including the Pope himself, are more acutely aware of the growing strength, and influence, of Islam all over the world; including this reality in Europe. Italy, once under nearly complete dominance by the Catholic Church, who even had control of what was known as the “Papal States”, now find themselves being encroached on by Muslims from North Africa (especially Egypt, Libya and Morocco) and other countries as well. Mohammad Habib, an official in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, said that he accepted the Pope’s apology but “would like to know the Pope’s personal views concerning Islam”.

In light of the events of the past few days, however, these ‘views’ will most likely not be forthcoming; although an acceptance of the Popes apology by one such high official in an organization such as the E.M.B. is a good sign that the international Muslim community is interested in restoring calm. In the future, Benedictus XVI will most likely be a bit more candid in his remarks regarding Islam.

This episode doesn’t begin to hide the fact that there are definite strains emerging between two of the world’s largest religions, whose combined followers make up around 45% of the entire population of this planet. Islamic terrorism, on the rise since the now infamous “9-11” attacks in America, will cause further stress between the world’s Christian and Muslim communities. These kind of remarks, even if made ‘out of context’ do not help efforts to bring about any kind of reconciliation; and only add more fuel to a fire that is now progressing well beyond the ‘smoldering embers phase’.

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

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