Father Jim Tucker from Dappled Things, Northern Virginia:
The Pope's Controversial Remarks at Regensburg -- Earlier today, I read the Pope's Regensburg University address, which has so many Moslems incensed around the world. Having scanned the headlines, I was expecting to read a lecture about holy war, or compulsion in religion, or the negative aspects of Islam. Rather, it is a fascinating look at the relationship between faith (in general) and reason, premised on the Greek/Christian notion that God is perfect Logos -- reason, rationality, Word -- and so man's service of God also most be reasonable and in accord with the Logos. The discourse examines attempts to de-Hellenize Christian theology and makes the argument that the pagan Greeks hit upon a truth (that of divine reason) that is inalienable from Christian thought, which only arrived centuries later. It is this reasonableness of religion that makes inter-cultural conversation meaningful and possible.
When one has read what was actually said, it is very hard to understand why there are great Moslem protests against the Pope's words at all. The answer, I think, is what this Egyptian Jesuit suggests: the protestors haven't read the lecture. In fact, the protests began before the German text had even been translated into Arabic (is it even in Arabic now?), before it had even been translated into English or French. The press, being bored with philosophy and history, plucked a quotation from a 15th-century Byzantine Emperor, -- a quotation that the Pope characterizes as "startlingly brusque" -- to the effect that anything new which Mohammed added to what Christianity already taught was evil and inhuman, and the Emperor cites forced conversions as a case in point, and that is what the press prints, complete with big, stupid headlines like "POPE SLAMS ISLAM." In fact, Benedict actually takes the time to cite the Koranic verse that "there is no compulsion in religion" as a warning against simplistic assertions that Islam is essentially violent and opposed to freedom.
No one can read the papal address and conclude that Pope Benedict was slamming Islam or inciting hatred. The problem is that very few people are reading the address. And even fewer are discussing the fascinating themes that the Pope raised. Instead, they flick on their televisions or open the newspaper and read a sensationalized two-sentence excerpt of a talk than runs twelve pages of double-spaced type. The outraged need to calm down, read what was written, think, and stop allowing the media and ideologues to keep manipulating them. Then perhaps we could get around to the conversation of cultures that Pope Benedict keeps insisting that we urgently need to undertake.
Father Guy Selvester (sic) from Shouts From the Piazza, New Jersey:
OK...calm down everybody! The Pope and the Muslims
Amy Welborn from Open Book
Egyptian-born Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir puts the events of the week and the day in context, at AsiaNews:
The Speech of the Pope at the University of Regensburg
From the New Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone
Saturday Afternoon Wrap-Up
The old Catholic Encyclopedia article might give you a sense of the traditional Catholic understanding of the concept.
John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical on the topic of Fides and Ratio.
1. What happened was that the media wrote headlines like "Pope takes private time after slamming Islam."
2. But this will be a growing sentiment, I fear. That for some reason - because of a lack of media savvy, or a real agenda to foment discord, the Pope did something wrong here.
There are many approaches to discussing this, aren't there? Let's collect them under "A" and "B"
1) One could discuss the various pertinent passages within the Koran and try to understand how, indeed, they have been understood historically within Islam.
2) One could look at the role of compulsion and violence within Islam, historically and today - this has many implications beyond what happened to those FoxNews reporters, by the way. When a country with a Islam-based system of law forbids or limits the practice on non-Muslim faiths and punishes Muslims for converting to non-Muslim faiths, that is compulsion.
3) One could even get all philosophical and debate whether the Pope is right - whether or or such a system does, indeed leave reason outside in the cold. And one could, as discussed in some of our comboxes right here, look at the impact of Hellenistic thinking of medieval Islam.
Or, one could do this:
Courtesy of Father "Z":
What do the captions say?
The script in red calls for the Pope’s beheading. The rest of the translation:
"Swine and servant of the cross, worships a monkey on a cross, hateful evil man, stoned Satan, may Allah curse him, blood-sucking vampire."
Remember those Danish Cartoons you never saw because the newspapers didn't dare print them. I didn't have a blog then:
If you care to compare these three (out of 12 or so) cartoons from the Danish collection with the defaced photo of the Pope, above and rate them as to offensiveness, I would be pleased to give you all the space you want.