(underlining and red stuff my emphasis. I'm really offended at outraged that the New York Times has insulted the leader of my religious tradition. I demand an apology! More tomorrow.)
There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.”
In the most provocative part of a speech this week on “faith and reason,” (scare quotes...why???) the pontiff recounted a conversation between an “erudite” Byzantine Christian emperor and a “learned” Muslim Persian circa 1391. The pope quoted the emperor saying, “Show me just what Muhammad 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.”
(So...now we live in a world in which quoting 14th century texts necessitates apologies?)
Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies and threatened to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican, warning that the pope’s words dangerously reinforce a false and biased view of Islam. For many Muslims, holy war — jihad — is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence. And they denounce its perversion by extremists, who use jihad to justify murder and terrorism. (And a few Muslims around the world have burned an effigy of the Pope, held angry protests and have said that the Pope's words might inspire violence...which argues against the purported point being made...how?)
The Vatican issued a statement saying that Benedict meant no offense and in fact desired dialogue. But this is not the first time the pope has fomented discord between Christians and Muslims.
In 2004 when he was still the Vatican’s top theologian, he spoke out against Turkey’s joining the European Union, because Turkey, as a Muslim country was “in permanent contrast to Europe.”
A doctrinal conservative, his greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue.
The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.
(Please send me links to the NYTimes editorials calling on Muslim leaders to offer deep and persuasive apologies for pervasive, virulent and demonic anti-Semitic speech and action endemic in the Middle East, as well as the persecution of non-Muslims in many Muslim countries. Thanks much. It shouldn't take long.)
I'll have more to say at some point tomorrow. Meanwhile, you have a go. You'll do better than I at this point, considering my brain just exploded.
(And in case you're slow- that request for links is called "sarcasm")