HERE. But there are two things that I would like to print. He has a great piece on Pope Benedict and how the world reacted to his Regensburg speech. And then he has a bit of an editorial on the new archbishop of Sydney, Australia, every much a similar see to Chicago in terms of Pope Francis' choice of bishops but the one in Sydney a protege of the conservative Cardinal Pell, one of Pope Francis' closest and most respected advisers. Yet, there is nothing near the same coverage of that appointment as the one in Chicago and the silliness of the right and the left concerning Archbishop Cupich.
Apologizing to Benedict XVI
In the Catholic commentariat, there’s been discussion lately about
whether Pope Benedict XVI is owed an apology for the brouhaha that broke
out in 2006 over a speech he gave in Regensburg, Germany, which opened
with a citation of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor linking Muhammad,
the founder of Islam, with violence.
At the time, Benedict’s quotation was seen as a crass religious slur.
Now, with the rise of the self-declared ISIS caliphate in northern Iraq
and its bloody crackdown on religious minorities, things look a little
However, the revisionist take on his words risks a repeat of the
fatal mistake of eight years ago, only in reverse. Aside from its second
paragraph, the Regensburg speech really had nothing to do with Islam,
and reading it that way distorts the point the retired pontiff was
trying to make.
If you read the entire 4,000 word text – which, to this day,
relatively few of the pundits commenting on it seem to have done –
you’ll discover that Benedict’s primary points of reference aren’t
Muslims, but rather Socrates, Duns Scotus, Immanuel Kant and Adolf von
Harnack, luminaries of the Western intellectual tradition.
If Benedict was criticizing anything, it wasn’t Islam, but rather
Western secularism and its tendency to limit the scope of reason to what
can be scientifically and empirically verified, excluding any reference
to ultimate truth.
The heart of Benedict’s argument at Regensburg was that reason and
faith need each other. Reason shorn of faith, he suggested, becomes
skepticism and nihilism, while faith deprived of reason becomes
extremism and fundamentalism. In isolation, each becomes dangerous; to
be healthy, they need each other.
In Regensburg, Benedict warned against “a reason which is deaf to the
divine,” among other things pointing out that ignoring the transcendent
handicaps the West in trying to engage the rest of the world, which
takes religion seriously, indeed.
“Listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious
traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular,
is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable
restriction of our listening and responding,” he said.
Benedict XVI saw himself as a teaching pope, not a governor or a
diplomat, and there’s no doubt his eight-year reign suffered because of
Yet as a teacher, he had an impressive record. His Regensburg speech
was part of a four-volume work that also includes memorable addresses at
the Collège des Bernardins in Paris in 2008, at Westminster Hall in
London in 2010, and at the Bundestag in Germany in 2011.
In each, Benedict tried to lay out a vision for a constructive role
for religious believers in post-modern democratic societies, arguing
that democracies depend upon a bedrock of values they can’t supply for
themselves, and that citizens motivated by religious beliefs can help
One can disagree with Benedict’s analysis, and he would be the first
to concede that when he’s functioning as a cultural critic his thought
is not covered by the infallibility popes claim when they’re pronouncing
on faith and morals.
At some point, however, his arguments at least deserve to be heard.
If we owe Benedict XVI an apology for anything, it’s probably not for
overreacting to his reference to Muhammad at Regensburg — which still
seems ill-advised, especially in the absence of any context. It’s for
never considering the rest of what he had to say.
And then this about the Australian appointment of a new archbishop:
...If Burke is sent packing, it will be difficult to see the move as anything other than trimming his sails.
Yet before anyone concludes that Francis is conducting an ideological
purge, this week brought yet another personnel move that cuts in a
slightly different direction: the appointment of Anthony Fisher,
formerly the bishop of Parramatta in Australia, as the new Archbishop of
Just 54 years old, Fisher is an erudite Dominican given to subtle
reasoning about matters, making him difficult to characterize in terms
of sound-bites. That said, he’s perceived in Australia as a protégé of
Cardinal George Pell, the former Sydney archbishop who now is Francis’
finance czar, and so Fisher’s appointment will be seen as vote for
continuity with Pell’s conservative leadership.
As a footnote, the choice certainly confirms Pell’s influence with
this pope. Francis’ may be the signature on the bull sending Fisher to
Sydney, but dust it for prints and I guarantee you’ll find Pell’s all
Yet Fisher and his mentor are hardly clones of one another. Whereas
Pell is a tough guy who relishes a fight, Fisher is a kinder, gentler
soul, and he will undoubtedly surprise people with his capacity to
listen and to make careful distinctions...