The world knows by now about the controversial speech the Pope gave at the University of Regensburg. His words led radical muslims to target Roman Catholics with violence.
The Pope, now witnessing the firestorm, sent out an apology to the Muslim community. That apology contains troubling words for some Christians. His sorrow over Muslim’s anger toward his speech seems reasonable enough. But, he goes on to say his remarks do not reflect his personal beliefs. So what does he believe? I read several bogger pundit’s take on the Pope’s speech, each one unique to the other. Their personal analysis infers confusion on the matter. The Pope’s speech contains much ambiguity. My reading of the text, however, leads me to this synopsis: The Pope, concerned about violence, particularly related to Islamic jihadists, used an illustration from history to substantiate a claim that violence is unreasonable and without reason interfaith dialogue fails. He refers to his historical source, 1391 Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, this way:
In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 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 Qur’an, 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 text in question is highlighted in bold type.
From my perspective, the Pope goes on to say Christians learned that faith and reason go together. Again, faith without reason issues in violence. Christians cannot carry on interfaith dialogue without reason.
Sounds reasonable to me. Now the Pope says, I presume, he does not believe Mohammed brought inhumane and evil means to spread his faith. So, why does the Pope refer to this historical illustration within the context of today’s jihadist violence? Does he believe in the significance of reason? Why would he challenge a university to use reason in dialogue if he did not mean it? Has the Pope become a universalist? Paragraph #816 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares that through Christ’s Catholic Church alone one finds the fullness of the means of salvation. Although Christian, brothers and sisters outside the Church (meaning Protestants) cannot receive full salvation. I gather the Pope desires to open the door to Muslims so as to baptize and convert them. Without reason the mission fails.
This Pope needs to clarify his beliefs on the matter. His parishioners desire it. Remember, Jesus declared, “They persecuted me they will persecute you also.”