Author Topic: The Pope's Engagement with Islam and other religions  (Read 14302 times)


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The Pope's Engagement with Islam and other religions
« on: December 03, 2006, 11:11:57 PM »

It seems to me that the Pope is on to something quite important with his discussion of God and Reason and his discussion of the principal of reciprocity.


Western Civ 101
Pope Benedict's seminar on fundamentals.

Friday, December 1, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

It is somehow appropriate that amid the confusions of the U.S. involvement with the sectarians of Iraq, Pope Benedict XVI, fresh from his own "engagement" with contemporary Islam at Regensburg, should come to Turkey, which has sought membership in the European Union for 20 years. The theologian Michael Novak said recently of Benedict, "His role is to represent Western civilization." I'd say Benedict is more than up to the task. What remains to discover is whether Western civilization is still up to it.

We have been in this spot before, and won.

When Stalin famously asked how many divisions the pope had, he assumed that the brute force of military power would be everywhere decisive. That belief led to a four-decade standoff between the Soviets' tank armies and NATO. Finally in the 1980s, John Paul II, the Polish pope, gave intellectual hope and heft to anticommunist dissidents. Ronald Reagan and his allies prevailed over Europe's marching pacifists and installed Pershing missile batteries in Europe. By decade's end, the long Cold War with communism was dissipating. The pope's engagement mattered.

One may assume that in some Himalayan redoubt, history's latest homicidal utopians, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, believe that coupling their ideology to Islamic suicide bombers--in New York, London or Baghdad--is more than a match for the will of a morally diminished West. Are they wrong?

Benedict XVI has written with force about a morally diminished Europe. So like his predecessor, this pope decided to engage in the greatest military and intellectual battle of our age.
We all know how a few months ago at the University of Regensburg, Benedict made himself a central player in the post-9/11 era by quoting the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus. Not much noted at the time was Benedict's second quotation from Manuel II: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably [emphasis added] is contrary to God's nature." Benedict's lecture at Regensburg mentioned "reason" and "rationality" repeatedly. He went so far as to claim that the "rapprochement" between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry (reason) was "of decisive importance" for world history. "This convergence," said Benedict, "created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe."

Very simply, he is talking about and defending what we call "the West"--both the place and the classically liberal idea, which radical Islam wants to blow up. Just as John Paul championed the jailed or hiding dissidents behind the Iron Curtain, Benedict is seeking similar protections for persecuted Christian minorities--indeed all minorities--across the Islamic world. Starting in Turkey.

Arriving in Ankara, the pope immediately raised two ideas from the wellsprings of the West. He said on his first day that a just society requires freedom of religion and on behalf of Turkey's tiny Catholic community, he raised the issue of property rights.

One might say the pope's counteroffensive--in the Islamic world and in the West--is overdue. One might also say his chances of winning are a long shot. Benedict's appeals to Europe to rediscover strength inside its religious tradition comes at a difficult moment. He admitted as much in a book-length interview 10 years ago ("Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium"). It is Islamic belief, Cardinal Ratzinger said, that "the Western countries are no longer capable of preaching a message of morality, but have only know-how to offer the world. The Christian religion has abdicated."
Militant Islam is on the march, literally, with enormous moral self-confidence. By contrast the West, as Wilfred M. McClay, an historian at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, aptly described it recently, is in "an era of post-modern moral insouciance." With others, Benedict argues that this moral insouciance is the West's greatest vulnerability. This, too, ought to be part of "homeland security."

Every nation in Europe has a birth rate below replacement, opting for material well-being over the (relative) sacrifice of raising two or more children. (Of all industrialized nations, only the U.S. birth rate exceeds replacement.) Against this trend, Benedict has thrown what he's got: the traditional Western notion of finding strength in the union of reason and religious faith.

It has become a hard sell. If the Vatican opposes abortion or stem-cell research, the West's intellectual elites deem it unfit to participate in any imaginable public forum. In the U.S., Christian evangelicals are feared by many as a threat equal to Islamic extremists, and unfit to participate in our politics. The hottest "religion" subject in the West now is atheism in the person of Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," who, Time magazine wrote this month, is "riding the crest of an atheist literary wave." Our obsessions seem to be off-subject.

I think the pope is right that the West is engaged in a decisive intellectual competition with the ideas of radical Islam. This won't end with the battle for Baghdad. Will scientific agnosticism defend the West against militant Islam? With what? In Europe, its intellectuals can barely mount an argued defense against internal threats. Externally, as in Afghanistan, they won't even fight.
Benedict XVI's evident intention is to engage the Islamic world, particularly its religious and political leaders, in an intense and long discussion of the religious, political and legal rights of their resident minorities, in other words, the Western tradition. The implications of this effort are obvious for achieving an acceptable modus vivendi with global Islam.

How many divisions does this pope have? Good question. At the moment, I'd say, not as many as the last time.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 08:20:16 AM by Crafty_Dog »


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Paroxysms of Hypocrisy
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2006, 06:57:40 AM »
Tangential, but germane to this discussion:,0,5108432.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Islam gets concessions; infidels get conquered
What they capture, they keep. When they lose, they complain to the U.N.

By Raymond Ibrahim
RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a research librarian at the Library of Congress. His book, "The Al Qaeda Reader," translations of religious texts and propaganda, will be published in April.

December 5, 2006

IN THE DAYS before Pope Benedict XVI's visit last Thursday to the Hagia Sophia complex in Istanbul, Muslims and Turks expressed fear, apprehension and rage. "The risk," according to Turkey's independent newspaper Vatan, "is that Benedict will send Turkey's Muslims and much of the Islamic world into paroxysms of fury if there is any perception that the pope is trying to re-appropriate a Christian center that fell to Muslims." Apparently making the sign of the cross or any other gesture of Christian worship in Hagia Sophia constitutes such a sacrilege.

Built in the 6th century, Hagia Sophia — Greek for "Holy Wisdom" — was Christendom's greatest and most celebrated church. After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts from Arabs, Constantinople — now Istanbul — was finally sacked by Turks in 1453, and Hagia Sophia's crosses were desecrated, its icons defaced. Along with thousands of other churches in the Byzantine Empire, it was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph. Nearly 500 years later, in 1935, as part of reformer Kemal Ataturk's drive to modernize Turkey, Hagia Sophia was secularized and transformed into a museum.

Protests aimed at keeping the pope out of Hagia Sophia rocked Istanbul right up to the morning of his visit to the site. Contrast that intolerance with the tolerance granted Muslims in regard to the Al Aqsa mosque — this time, an Islamic site in Jerusalem annexed by Judaism. Unlike the permanent Muslim desecration of Hagia Sophia, after Israel's victory in the 1967 war, the Jews did not deface or convert the mosque into a Jewish synagogue or temple, even though the Al Aqsa mosque is deliberately built atop the remains of the Temple Mount, the holiest site of Judaism and, by extension, an important site for Christians. Moreover, since reclaiming the Temple Mount, Israel has granted Muslims control over the Al Aqsa mosque (except during times of crises).

All this illustrates the privileged status that many Muslims expect in the international arena. When Muslims conquer non-Muslim territories — such as Constantinople, not to mention all of North Africa, Spain and southwest Asia — those whom they have conquered as well as their descendants are not to expect any apologies, let alone political or territorial concessions.

Herein lies the conundrum. When Islamists wage jihad — past, present and future — conquering and consolidating non-Muslim territories and centers in the name of Islam, never once considering to cede them back to their previous owners, they ultimately demonstrate that they live by the age-old adage "might makes right." That's fine; many people agree with this Hobbesian view.

But if we live in a world where the strong rule and the weak submit, why is it that whenever Muslim regions are conquered, such as in the case of Palestine, the same Islamists who would never concede one inch of Islam's conquests resort to the United Nations and the court of public opinion, demanding justice, restitutions, rights and so forth?

Put another way, when Muslims beat infidels, it's just too bad for the latter; they must submit to their new overlords' rules with all the attendant discrimination and humiliation mandated for non-Muslims. Yet when Islam is beaten, demands for apologies and concessions are expected from the infidel world at large.

Double standards do not make for international justice. Either territorial conquests are always unjust and should therefore be ameliorated through concessions, or else they are merely a manifestation of the natural order of things — that is, survival of the fittest.

If some Muslims wish to wage eternal jihad until Islam dominates the globe, they are only being true to Islam and its doctrines as they understand it. However, in that case, where the world is divided into two warring camps, Islam and Infidelity — or, in Islamic terms, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War — how can these Muslims expect any concessions from the international community? The natural conclusion of the view that "might makes right" is "to the victor go the spoils."

The fact that Turkey conquered Constantinople more than 500 years ago does not prevent the Turkish government from returning Hagia Sophia to Christendom today, which would undoubtedly be a great gesture. But of course that can never be. The Muslim world would undergo a "paroxysm of fury" if a Christian pope dares pray in the conquered church; what would the Muslim world do if Hagia Sophia were actually converted back to a church?

But perhaps Muslims cannot be blamed for expecting special treatment, as well as believing that jihad is righteous and decreed by the Almighty. The West constantly goes out of its way to confirm such convictions. By criticizing itself, apologizing and offering concessions — all things the Islamic world has yet to do — the West reaffirms that Islam has a privileged status in the world.

And what did the pope do in his controversial visit to Hagia Sophia? He refrained from any gesture that could be misconstrued as Christian worship and merely took in the sights of the museum. Moreover, when he was invited into the Blue Mosque nearby, he respectfully took off his shoes and prayed, eyes downcast, standing next to the the grand mufti of Istanbul like a true dhimmi — a subdued non-Muslim living under Islamic law and acknowledging Islamic superiority.

And therein is the final lesson. Muslims' zeal for their holy places and lands is not intrinsically blameworthy. Indeed, there's something to be said about being passionate and protective of one's own. Here the secular West — Christendom's prodigal son and true usurper — can learn something from Islam. For whenever and wherever the West concedes ideologically, politically and especially spiritually, Islam will be sure to conquer. If might does not make right, zeal apparently does.


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Re: The Pope's Engagement with Islam
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2008, 05:18:09 AM »
Its the NYTimes: Caveat Lector:

BTW, did the Church just sign on to opposing the Danish cartoons?

Catholics and Muslims Pledge to Improve Links
Yahoo! Buzz

Published: November 6, 2008
VATICAN CITY — Catholic and Muslim leaders worked on Thursday to deflate suspicion between their two faiths, pledging at a high-level seminar here to work together to condemn terrorism, protect religious freedom and fight poverty.

The meeting came a year after 138 Muslim leaders wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI after he offended many Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who called some teachings of the Prophet Muhammad “evil and inhuman.” In turn, top Vatican officials have worried about freedom of worship in majority-Muslim countries, as well as immigration that is turning Europe, which they define as a Christian continent, increasingly Muslim.

But on Thursday both sides said they hoped that the seminar would open a new and much-improved chapter in Catholic-Muslim relations, as the two groups said they might establish a committee that could ease tensions in any future crisis between the two religions.

“Let us resolve to overcome past prejudices and to correct the often distorted images of the other, which even today can create difficulties in our relations,” Benedict told the Muslim delegation. He called the gathering “a clear sign of our mutual esteem and our desire to listen respectfully to one another.”

Addressing the pope on behalf of the Muslim delegation, Seyyed Hossein Nasr of Iran, a professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University in Washington, said that throughout history, “various political forces” of both Christians and Muslims had carried out violence.

“Certainly we cannot claim that violence is the monopoly of only one religion,” he said.

The three-day forum brought together nearly 30 Catholic clerics and scholars, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; and as many Muslim clerics and scholars, led by Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina based in Sarajevo.

The meeting “exceeded our expectations,” said Ingrid Mary Mattson, the director of the Islamic Society of North America and a professor of Islamic studies at the Hartford Seminary.

“The atmosphere was very good, very frank,” said Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University. A celebrated intellectual in Europe, Mr. Ramadan in 2004 was denied a visa to the United States on the grounds that he had donated to two European charities that the State Department later said gave money to Hamas.

Mr. Ramadan said the thorniest questions the group tackled were “apostasy” and “freedom of worship in a minority situation.” Some Muslims believe it is apostasy to convert out of Islam.

The 15-point declaration the group issued on Thursday did not address issues of conversion.

It called on Catholics and Muslims to renounce “oppression, aggressive violence and terrorism, especially that committed in the name of religion.”

And it said religious minorities should be “entitled to their own places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider sacred should not be subjected to any form of mockery or ridicule.”

In 2006, Muslims around the world protested, some violently, after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons of Muhammad.

One participant, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, called the meeting “a first step” but said he hoped that the declaration would “bear fruit.”

In recent years, Islamic militants in Kirkuk have killed, kidnapped or forced Iraqi Christians to convert. Archbishop Sako noted that in their homilies, “many imams are preaching against infidels and crusaders,” and that “some simple people” believed that this referred to all Christians.

He called on Muslim leaders to publicize the declaration, with its assertion of shared Christian-Muslim values. “This should be clarified, stated, given to the media to teach people about it,” he said. “For us Christians living in Muslim countries, that would be very, very helpful.”

The Muslim delegation included representatives of Sunni and Shiite Islam, as well as several converts and participants from North Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines and Uganda.

It notably did not include any participants from Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslim worship is not tolerated and with which the Vatican has had strained ties. Two Saudis were expected to attend, but had to cancel at the last minute for health reasons, said Ibrahim Kalin of Turkey, a spokesman for the Muslim delegation and a professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington.

Yet in July, Cardinal Tauran and other Vatican officials attended an interfaith dialogue organized by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Spain.

Participants in this week’s conference pledged to hold another dialogue in a Muslim country in 2010.


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Pravda on the Hudson:
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2009, 08:52:30 AM »
The Church of England has survived the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and Elton John performing “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral. So it will probably survive the note the Vatican issued last week, inviting disaffected Anglicans to head Romeward, and offering them an Anglo-Catholic mansion within the walls of the Roman Catholic faith.

But the invitation is a bombshell nonetheless. Pope Benedict XVI’s outreach to Anglicans may produce only a few conversions; it may produce a few million. Either way, it represents an unusual effort at targeted proselytism, remarkable both for its concessions to potential converts — married priests, a self-contained institutional structure, an Anglican rite — and for its indifference to the wishes of the Church of England’s leadership.

This is not the way well-mannered modern churches are supposed to behave. Spurred by the optimism of the early 1960s, the major denominations of Western Christendom have spent half a century being exquisitely polite to one another, setting aside a history of strife in the name of greater Christian unity.

This ecumenical era has borne real theological fruit, especially on issues that divided Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation. But what began as a daring experiment has decayed into bureaucratized complacency — a dull round of interdenominational statements on global warming and Third World debt, only tenuously connected to the Gospel.

At the same time, the more ecumenically minded denominations have lost believers to more assertive faiths — Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, Mormonism and even Islam — or seen them drift into agnosticism and apathy.

Nobody is more aware of this erosion than Benedict. So the pope is going back to basics — touting the particular witness of Catholicism even when he’s addressing universal subjects, and seeking converts more than common ground.

Along the way, he’s courting both ends of the theological spectrum. In his encyclicals, Benedict has addressed a range of issues — social justice, environmental protection, even erotic love — that are close to the hearts of secular liberals and lukewarm, progressive-minded Christians. But instead of stopping at a place of broad agreement, he has pushed further, trying to persuade his more liberal readers that many of their beliefs actually depend on the West’s Catholic heritage, and make sense only when grounded in a serious religious faith.

At the same time, the pope has systematically lowered the barriers for conservative Christians hovering on the threshold of the church, unsure whether to slip inside. This was the purpose behind his controversial outreach to schismatic Latin Mass Catholics, and it explains the current opening to Anglicans.

Many Anglicans will never become Catholic; their theology is too evangelical, their suspicion of papal authority too ingrained, their objections to the veneration of the Virgin Mary too deeply felt. But for those who could, Benedict is trying to make reunion with Rome a flesh-and-blood possibility, rather than a matter for academic conversation.

The news media have portrayed this rightward outreach largely through the lens of culture-war politics — as an attempt to consolidate, inside the Catholic tent, anyone who joins the Vatican in rejecting female priests and gay marriage.

But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam.

Here Catholicism and Anglicanism share two fronts. In Europe, both are weakened players, caught between a secular majority and an expanding Muslim population. In Africa, increasingly the real heart of the Anglican Communion, both are facing an entrenched Islamic presence across a fault line running from Nigeria to Sudan.

Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world.

By contrast, the Church of England’s leadership has opted for conciliation (some would say appeasement), with the Archbishop of Canterbury going so far as to speculate about the inevitability of some kind of sharia law in Britain.

There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him.

This could be the real significance of last week’s invitation. What’s being interpreted, for now, as an intra-Christian skirmish may eventually be remembered as the first step toward a united Anglican-Catholic front — not against liberalism or atheism, but against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe.


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WSJ: The Pope's Engagement other religions
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 08:21:27 AM »
By FRANCIS X. ROCCA Assisi, Italy

In this Umbrian hilltop city 25 years ago, Buddhists chanted to the accompaniment of gongs and drums, Zoroastrians tended a sacred fire, and an American Indian medicine man in traditional headdress smoked a peace pipe and called down the blessings of the "Great Spirit." In a moment that produced the day's most famous image, robed leaders of the world's major religions sat side by side under a sign bearing various translations of the word "peace."

The World Day of Prayer for Peace on Oct. 27, 1986, was of one of the most remarkable events in the spectacle-filled reign of Pope John Paul II. It epitomized that pontiff's historic opening to other faiths, the legacy of which is now known as the "Spirit of Assisi."

On Thursday, some 300 religious leaders returned to the city of St. Francis to join Pope Benedict XVI in commemorating his predecessor's gesture and renewing their commitment to the cause of peace. Yet this year's event differed in several ways that reflected the current pope's distinctive approach to interreligious dialogue.

The 1986 meeting at Assisi, for all its appeal to those of other persuasions, was far from universally popular among Catholics. Among its critics was then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, who told an interviewer that Assisi "cannot be the model" for such encounters. The cardinal later wrote that "multireligious prayer" of the kind offered there "almost inevitably leads to false interpretations, to indifference as to the content of what is believed or not believed, and thus to the dissolution of real faith."

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Pope Benedict XVI with religious leaders at Saint Francis Basilica on Thursday in Assisi, Italy.
.Such prayer should occur only rarely, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, and to "make clear that there is no such thing . . . as a common concept of God or belief in God, that difference not merely exists in the realm of changing images and concepts" but in the substance of what different religions claim.

Of course, Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict, so it was hardly surprising that this year's Assisi gathering would reflect his concerns about religious relativism. Not that everyone was on message: A Hindu swami declared that "truth is one" even though "professed in many different ways," and there were several invocations of one deity or another. Otherwise public prayer was conspicuously absent. Even this restrained display, however, was too much for the most intransigent opponents of ecumenism.

Followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the ultra-traditionalist who cited the first Assisi gathering as a major factor in his decision to break with Rome in 1988, are now considering a Vatican overture that would bring an end to more than two decades of schism. Yet a statement authorized by their current leader denounced this week's event as a "dreadful blasphemy toward God as well as an occasion of scandal for all on earth."

This year's gathering did draw another group traditionally resistant to the appeal of interfaith activity: those who profess no religion at all. Among the guests chosen to speak in Assisi's Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, along with the patriarch of Constantinople and the archbishop of Canterbury, was the Bulgarian-French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, one of four nonbelievers in attendance.

Benedict's decision to include agnostics, to whom he dedicated the conclusion of his address, was the choice most revealing of his priorities. In acknowledgment of their presence, Thursday's official program called for "reflection and/or prayer," and the day itself was rechristened one of "reflection, dialogue and prayer." Thus at a gathering of religious leaders, worship had become optional.

This change, redefining the group as united not by faith but by the desire for peace and justice, ruled out any interpretation of their meeting as an advertisement for religious syncretism. Even more importantly, opening the dialogue to nonreligious "seekers of the truth" underscored one of the major themes of Benedict's pontificate: the need for Western culture to restore its dialogue between faith and reason, and thus to rehabilitate the concept of objective truth in the realms of metaphysics and ethics.

This audacious goal has unsettling implications for Catholicism's relations with other faiths. After all, if religion is of more than merely subjective value, and if its many varieties are not just different expressions of the same reality, it follows that some religions are truer than others. And Benedict has never hidden his conviction of where the truth in its fullness lies.

However undiplomatic it may seem in certain contexts, Benedict's emphasis on objective truth is, by his lights, essential to the agenda for which he prayed in Assisi. As he told a European ambassador last week, social justice is based on norms accessible to all, derived not from divine revelation but from "reason and nature"—that is, from "universally applicable principles that are as real as the physical elements of the natural environment."

Mr. Rocca is Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service.


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The Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI) released yesterday a translation of a communiqué from the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).

The IUMS, headed by Egyptian Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, best known for his al Jazeera program, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat (Sharia and Life), which has an estimated audience of 60 million plus worldwide.

The gist of the communiqué demanded the following;

"While the [International] Union [of Muslim Scholars] is working to calm the rage of Muslims worldwide, [which was aroused] by non-Muslims insulting the honorable Messenger [i.e. the Prophet Muhammad], [so that they] confine themselves to peaceful protests and not attack any embassy or Christian site – it [also] calls on the pope to apologize to Muslims for his lecture [in 2006 in Regensburg, Germany], his apostolic exhortation, and the slaughters committed by the Crusaders [against Muslims] in Andalusia, just as he apologized to the Jews."

Truth At German Lecture Or Insult...?

Al-Qaradhawi demands an apology for the Roman Pontiff's 2006 lecture Glaube, Vernunft und Universität — Erinnerungen und Reflexionen (Faith, Reason and the University — Memories and Reflections) at Germany's University of Regensburg.

During his lecture, Pope Benedict stated a strong criticism of Islam, which he described as being of a "startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded.".
Yet the firestorm from his lecture was over the Pope quoting 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos who described Islam in a less than favorable light;
"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only bad and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Spanish Freedom Or Spanish War Of Conquest...?

The sheikh also demands an apology for the alleged slaughter of Muslims at the hands of Catholic warriors during the Spanish Reconquista.  The Iberian peninsula was invaded by Muslims Moors during the 8th century, occupying the vast majority of the land mass.  After centuries of combat, the Muslims were finally defeated and expelled from Spain in 1492 by Their Most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Ysabella.

The Death Of Christ...

Neither Pope Benedict nor the official teaching of the Catholic Church ever placed blame on the Jewish race for the death of Jesus Christ, hence, no apology was ever issued or required.  In his book "Jesus of Nazareth, Part II," Pope Benedict clearly re-enforced the centuries long official teaching that the Jews, as a people, did not kill Jesus.
To do so would damn the souls of not only Christ's mother, The Blessed Virgin Mary, but also of the Apostles and the first disciples who were all Jews.

(Marc:  This is not quite the way I remember it.  I remember that somewhere in the early 1960s the Pope made some sort of a statement that we were no longer responsible for killing Christ.  Can anyone find a proper citation for this/)


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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2016, 09:28:51 PM »
 By Daniel Henninger
Jan. 27, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET

Some wonder how history will treat Barack Obama’s presidency. That depends on who writes the histories.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s account will fist-pump the Iran nuclear deal as the central foreign-policy event of the Obama presidency, a triumph for Western diplomacy.

But news photographs in recent weeks are producing a different history. These photos document the abject humiliation of the West by Iran. Americans who plan to vote in their presidential election should look hard at these photos, because the West’s direction after this will turn on the decisions they make.

The first photo is of a hallway in Rome’s Capitoline Museums, a repository of art dating to Western antiquity. Out of what the government of Italy called “respect” for the sensibilities of visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the museum placed large white boxes over several nude sculptures, including a Venus created in the second century B.C.

Then, because Mr. Rouhani will not attend a meal that serves alcohol to anyone, the nominally Italian government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declined to serve wine.

They did so for the same reason that beggars grub change in front of Rome’s churches. Freed by the Obama nuclear deal with Iran, Italy’s tin-cup businesses signed about a dozen deals with Mr. Rouhani this week, totaling $18 billion.
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. ENLARGE
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. Photo: Associated Press

The bowing and scraping to Mr. Rouhani continues this week as France and Germany sign more deals. This is not economic re-normalization. Rather than reform its weak, politically unstable economies, Europe is content to make itself a dependency of the aborning Iranian empire.

The second photo of Western submission depicts what appears to be a glee-filled meeting between the president of Iran and the leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Francis, who gave Mr. Rouhani 40 minutes of his time.

The Vatican argues this is realpolitik by a pope trying to protect Christians in the Middle East by inducing Iran to play an “important role” in the peace process.

Set aside the “role” Iran has played in the death of a quarter-million Syrians and the refugees now destabilizing Europe. One still may ask: Why such public and jolly photo-ops with this person?

The U.S. State Department’s religious-freedom report says in 2014 Iran executed at least 24 individuals for the crime of moharebeh (enmity against God). And surely that understates the total killed.

The persecuted in Iran include Bahais, Sunni Muslims, Christians (notably evangelicals), Jews, Yarsanis and even Shia groups.

Mr. Rouhani is grinning in this photo because he knows these people can’t move Iran’s culture out of the 16th century.

The third photograph is of 10 sailors from the U.S. Navy who are kneeling in rows, hands on their heads, on the deck of an Iranian boat.

The Obama administration hasn’t provided an explanation for how this “deviation” and capture by Iran in the Persian Gulf happened.

Instead of outrage over Iran’s treatment of the sailors, Sec. Kerry praised the Iranians’ “cooperation and quick response.”

Cooperation? Iran humiliated the sailors by making them kneel in the style of an Islamic State execution ceremony and then humiliated the U.S. by releasing that photo.

Meeting in a congratulatory ceremony with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members who took the sailors, Iranian supremo Ayatollah Khamenei said, “This event should be considered God’s work.”

One is tempted to tip one’s hat to the Khamenei-Rouhani strategy team. Iran took the West’s measure with its nuclear brinkmanship and the West bent.

Some may say the Italians are the Italians, the pope has his reasons, and Barack Obama and John Kerry are just finishing their apology tour. But that understates the long series of political compromises and cultural surrenders that have brought the U.S. and Europe to this point.

Italy’s repudiation of its own heritage to accommodate Iran’s president is a significant symbolic event. The Capitoline’s Venus isn’t just a naked lady carved out of marble. Just as the naked man and woman in Masaccio’s “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden,” painted in 1423 at the dawn of the Renaissance, are hardly figure studies.

In her recently published book arguing a relationship between the Western artistic legacy and democratic evolution, “David’s Sling,” Victoria Gardner Coates says these works “are not isolated aesthetic objects; part of their value as historical evidence derives from their role in the public life of the communities that produced them.”

Unless that public life is forgotten. Western schools may no longer teach the Battle of Thermopylae, but one may assume Hassan Rouhani knows the details of Persia’s historic loss to brave Greece in 480 B.C. as if it were yesterday.

Putting a white box over a Venus to placate a Rouhani is a loss in the Persians’ return trip to the West.


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The Pope's Visit to Arabia
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2019, 08:59:11 AM »
Certainly this article raises a deep question that must be looked at squarely, but OTOH the fact of the visit itself, and the open celebration of Christian ceremony are of great significance.


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Re: The Pope's Engagement with Islam and other religions
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2019, 10:18:19 AM »
The catholic church is utterly, totally corrupted.


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Stratfor: The Pope's visit and emirati soft power
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2019, 08:47:43 AM »
By Kristin Smith Diwan for the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington

On February 5, Pope Francis concluded a historic three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, the first-ever trip of a pontiff and leader of the Roman Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula. This landmark event was preceded by years of preparation and represents the most high-profile of a series of initiatives positioning the UAE as a champion of interfaith dialogue, moderation, and pluralism. These stand as ideational touchstones for Emirati soft power, tying together the UAE's positioning as an economic hub within the global economy, its leadership in the Middle East, and its outreach to the broader international community.
Papal Visit, Clerical Initiatives, and a "Year of Tolerance"

Pope Francis' activities in the UAE aimed to highlight the country's leadership role in several distinct realms: tolerance of different faith communities at home, championing the meeting of religious leaders with the Arab world's foremost Islamic leadership, and facilitation of interfaith dialogue globally. The pontiff's visit was organized to coincide with the Global Conference for Human Fraternity, a dialogue among leaders of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh faiths focused on encouraging peaceful coexistence among communities. In addition to meetings with the Emirati leadership, Pope Francis met with Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt and chairman of the Abu Dhabi-based Muslim Council of Elders. The pope's program closed with a public celebration of the Holy Mass at Zayed Sports City attended by members of the Catholic community living in the UAE as well as other states in the Middle East.

The global conference is indicative of a host of interfaith dialogues that have been held over the past several years, often spearheaded by the Muslim Council of Elders and other clerical initiatives created in the wake of the Arab uprisings. The Muslim Council has worked to institutionalize cooperation between the UAE and Al-Azhar, drawing upon its standing as the pre-eminent institution of Islamic learning and Egypt's importance as the most populous Arab country.

The Muslim Council and related Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies have promoted conversations within Islam and with other faiths. These initiatives play a leading role in advancing the ideational component of countering extremism through the implicit recognition and tolerance of difference. Their programs often engage faith communities toward this end, such as the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities in November 2018 in Abu Dhabi and the International Muslim Communities in May 2018.

These international initiatives have been organized in tandem with domestic campaigns championing multiculturalism and the acceptance of others within Emirati society. In 2015 Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan issued a federal decree criminalizing blasphemy toward any religion as well as hate speech. The following year, the government created a new post, the minister of state for tolerance, and approved the National Tolerance Program to strengthen the government's role as an incubator of tolerance. These culminated in the declaration of 2019 as the "Year of Tolerance," meant to highlight the UAE's leadership instilling the values of co-existence and peace in local, regional, and international communities.

Understanding why the UAE would elevate multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue to such prominence, investing institutional capital and leadership bandwidth around these issues, requires understanding the UAE's strategic position in the global economy and its ambitions within the wider region.
Multiculturalism Anchors a Global Economy

While still dependent on oil as its primary income, the UAE has gone further than any other Gulf state in diversifying its economy, in part by opening it up to non-Emirati residents and stakeholders. Indeed, the UAE cultivates foreign participation — as investors and visitors — to a degree unmatched in the Gulf. The UAE was thus the first state to open up to foreign property ownership and, more recently, to allow foreigners to fully own businesses and obtain long-term residency visas with some restrictions.

This approach has allowed the UAE striking success in becoming a hub for transportation, finance, commerce, and even tourism, building a brand recognized internationally. But it has not come without stirring some qualms at home, as Emiratis represent less than 15 percent of the total population. This anxiety is expressed in campaigns for the elected Federal National Council, as candidates voice their fear of losing a distinct Emirati culture and way of life. The Emirati government has countered by maintaining economic privileges for Emiratis and cultural norms such as distinctive dress. Still Emirati nationalism has been framed in ways that encourage Emiratis to embrace these diverse investing and contributing communities, with pluralism and tolerance as leading values.
Interfaith Outreach and Emirati Soft Power

In more recent years, this progress in positioning the UAE as an important regional hub in the global economy has been matched by new political ambitions to project Emirati leadership in the region as well as globally. These same values of multiculturalism and religious tolerance have become important ideational resources deployed in countering regional rivals and winning diplomatic allies.

The Emiratis have championed the struggle against extremism, defining it in ideological as well as operational terms. This viewpoint conflates terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant with political movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, whose members once advocated nativist rights within the UAE. In this ideological struggle, the interfaith dialogues and peacemaking undertaken by Emirati organizations form a useful contrast to the Islamist activist clerical associations such as the International Association of Muslim Scholars based in Qatar, whose efforts are focused on mobilizing support for Islamic communities.

Emirati officials have also voiced concern for the viability of minority communities such as Coptic Christians in Egypt and Yazidis in Iraq, seeing the elimination of regional diversity as a threat to their model. The Marrakesh Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Predominantly Muslim Majority Communities, which emerged from a conference jointly organized by Morocco and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, speaks to their plight. The hosting of Pope Francis, courting the opprobrium of Islamic actors who see his presence on the Arabian Peninsula as an affront to the heartland of Islam, is further evidence of the Emirati commitment to this posture. Still, despite these initiatives, the position of Christian communities in the Middle East remains precarious, which is a primary motivator for the pontiff's visit.

The Emirati championing of a more pluralistic Middle East has been a potent element of the UAE's international diplomacy. The strong ideational stance of the Emiratis against Islamic radicalism is broadly appreciated by the United States, as is the Emirati championing of minority and Christian communities in the Middle East. Initiatives in interfaith dialogue have opened up doors to key stakeholders in U.S. politics concerned with Christian communities in the Middle East and Israel's acceptance in the region.
The Force and Contradictions of Emirati Soft Power

As with any soft power, there are inconsistencies and limits to these ideological positions. While championing liberal cultural elements, the Emirati embrace of pluralism does not extend to open political expression and democratic representation within the UAE. Faith communities experience greater openness than elsewhere in the Gulf states, but blasphemy laws remain in force and proselytizing by non-Muslims remains illegal. Elsewhere in the region, the UAE has been willing to opportunistically ally with groups antithetical to tolerance, such as the Salafi militias in Yemen deemed necessary to counter rival Muslim Brotherhood and Houthi groups. And of course, the Emiratis' ideological confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood has contributed to divisions within the Gulf and wider Middle East, confrontations they deem necessary to achieve the transformation they seek in the region.

Emirati interfaith initiatives focus on the power to convene and redefine discourse; some skepticism is warranted regarding the ability for this to change reality on the ground. Pope Francis himself alluded to such shortcomings in his remarks on February 4, advocating for equal citizenship rights for Christians and noting the horrific humanitarian costs of the Yemen war.

Yet there remains an internal coherence to the Emirati posture, which aligns its economic interests with its regional competition and international diplomacy. The Emiratis have made a significant investment in constructing this narrative: building a nationalism consonant with the UAE's global economic posture, a positive counter to Islamist rivals in the region, and a potent resource in international diplomacy. Welcoming the pope to the UAE was the latest expression of this commitment and the international attention it can bring.

Kristin Smith Diwan is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.


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WSJ: The Pope in Iraq
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2021, 07:22:35 AM »

Aboard the Papal Plane

I have covered three popes and joined countless papal voyages around the world. These journeys are thoughtfully planned months, sometimes years, in advance. Their detailed itineraries always include picture-perfect stops meant to inspire. But I can’t remember any image as stirring as Pope Francis among the ruins of a city once controlled by Islamic State.

Residents of Mosul suffered greatly during the American invasion of Iraq and subsequent civil war. But nothing came close to the brutality of ISIS, which occupied Iraq’s second city from 2014 to 2017. The militants were eventually routed after a bloody military campaign that flattened the city and left thousands dead, civilians and soldiers alike. It is estimated that during the years of ISIS rule at least half a million people fled Mosul, among them 120,000 Christians.

The emotional pinnacle of the trip earlier this month came during a stop at the Hosh al-Bieeya, or Church Square, which contains the ruins of four Christian churches destroyed by ISIS. One was converted into a prison by ISIS, which in its fury also damaged most of the mosques in the area.

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The pope offered a brief prayer for the group’s victims and the terrorists themselves, concluding: “May they repent, touched by the power of your mercy. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”

Elisabetta Piqué, an Argentine journalist and papal biographer who has known the pope for decades, tells me, “I have accompanied Francis in other places marked by tragedies and misery. But I am sure that he’d never seen anything like Mosul and that he must have been in shock.” On the flight home the pope admitted as much. “I was speechless,” he said. “Our human cruelty is unbelievable.”

The Iraqi historian Omar Mohammed —a resident of Mosul who documented ISIS rule for years with his clandestine blog, Mosul Eye—was particularly moved. “It’s the first time since the destruction of Mosul that I see it as the most beautiful city of the world,” he says. “It is because I saw it through the eyes of the pope.”

While the visit recognized and honored the victims of countless tragedies, Pope Francis also intended to look forward. At Church Square he spoke to a group of Muslims and Christians working together to restore the 12th-century Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul’s Old City, as well as two nearby churches, Al Tahera and Al Saa’a. “We want to hear the chimes of the church clock again,” one Muslim member of the group explains. “They remind us that every hour is a gift from God.”

A Muslim craftsman had even worked with a priest to make a cross from the remnants of benches and chairs gathered from destroyed churches. The cross symbolized the plight of Christians such as an Iraqi woman named Doha, who told the pope she was working to forgive the terrorists who murdered her son. Pope Francis later said that in that moment he saw not division, mistrust and malice, but “the hope of a horizon of peace and fraternity.”

As the pope was leaving the square, he saw three children and an elderly man. He asked his driver to stop, according to Olivier Poquillon, a Catholic priest coordinating the reconstruction of one of Mosul’s ancient churches. “No one could have imagined that there was a family living in the rubble,” he tells me. “The pope got out of his car and went to the kids and blessed them. When he left I asked the kids, ‘Do you know who he was?’ They said, ‘No we don’t.’ And so, a Muslim friend that accompanied me told them, ‘He is a man of God, God came to your place.’ ” As he stood in the middle of the rubble, Father Poquillon says, “in a place that wasn’t clear of explosives a few days before, Pope Francis was a testimony of the value of the people: they have value for God.”

No matter how powerful the visit, the pope won’t change Iraq’s long history of war and violence over a few days. But it meant something to this Muslim-majority nation. “The only way to live in peace with yourself is to tolerate the other,” Mr. Mohammed said. “It is time for us to understand that the other is not a threat, that sectarianism will lead us to destruction and violence. I look at the differences as a beautiful image, not a threat to me.”

Mr. Martínez-Brocal is director of Rome Reports, a TV news agency that specializes in coverage of the Vatican.