Near the beginning of his talk, the Pope said:
In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.That one sentence apparently has the Moslem world in an uproar, asking for an apology and comparing Pope Benedict with Hitler and Mussolini.
In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.
Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "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."
The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") 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...."
Maybe the Moslem world has a short memory. Powerline doesn't. From 2002:
Al-Qaeda planned to assassinate Pope John Paul II on two occasions during visits made or planned by the Pontiff to the Philippines in 1995 and 1999, The Times of London reported today.
Masterminding the assassination attempts was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, also accused of plotting the September 11 attacks on the US, who was in the Philippines during both papal visits, the newspaper reported.
Also, as has been noted at The Corner, 2 Christian reporters were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.
Apparently the Moslem world missed the last line of the address:
It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.Some of the reaction has been a little less heated. From the Guardian:
...if you cannot, as part of a lengthy and profound academic lecture, cite a 600 year-old text for fear of stirring the aggravation of noisy politicians half way around the world, what CAN you do? We might as well all retreat into obscurantism. And keep our mouths shut, for otherwise, who knows who we might offend. And if, as a result of the outrage, some Catholics get killed or their churches burned down by offended scholars and textual exegesists it might be thought that Manuel's original point had rather been made.But all the analysis and defense of what the Pope said are worthless now:
Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday apologised for causing any offence to Muslims amid growing fury across the Islamic world over a speech he made implicitly linking Islam and violence.If someone is going to criticize Islam, they should first be sure they are able to stand up to the fierce rhetoric--and more--that the Moslem world will dish out.
“The Holy Father is extremely sorry that certain passages of his speech appeared offensive to Muslim believers and were interpreted in a way that does not correspond in any way to his intentions,” said the Vatican’s new secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone.
Update: Arutz Sheva points out that Pope Doesn´t Quite Apologize to Muslims.
If so, then whatever will come of Pope Benedict's words has not yet run its course.
The Anchoress puts it this way:
Whether he is “media savvy” or not, Benedict has managed - in his very scholarly fashion - to apply a very hot drawing poultice to the enormous and festering boils of both radical Islamism and rampant secularism.All the more reason to hope that the Pope has thought this thing through
The Anchoress has all kinds of links on the subject and in a subsequent post here.
If the JBlogosphere is looking for an opportunity to help focus attention on the threat of Islamism, here it is.