Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE BENIGN PROPHET, POPE BENEDICT WON'T SAY I TOLD YOU SO, BUT HIS HOLINESS DID

 John Allen has a very good and balanced Catholic blog coming out of the Boston Globe of all places! Who would have thunk! It is called Crux. On this 9/11 there is a progressive look at Pope Benedict's prophecy concerning Islam what can no longer be viewed as a papal misstep but a papal prophecy:
Eight years ago this Friday, Sept. 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria in which he seemed to diagnose Islam as a religion inherently flawed by fanaticism.

It was an undiplomatic assertion, to say the least — especially coming a day after the 9/11 anniversary — and it sparked an enormous outcry among Muslims. It came to be seen as one of a series of missteps that would plague Benedict’s papacy until he resigned last year.

Now, with the Islamic State on the march in the Middle East, leaving a trail of horrifying brutality and bloodshed that has shocked the world, some of Benedict’s allies on the Catholic right are saying, in effect, “He told you so.”

“Regensburg was not so much the work of a professor or even a pope,” wrote the Rev. Raymond de Souza in a column for the National Catholic Register. “It was the work of a prophet.”

Eight years later “we have ISIS” — an acronym for the Islamic State — “And beheadings. And persecution. And hatred. And war,” added Elise Hilton in a blog post for the Acton Institute, a libertarian Catholic think tank.

“It appears that the world owes Pope Benedict an apology,” she wrote.

So what did Benedict say at Regensburg that continues to resonate so widely?
The lecture was meant to be a homecoming of sorts for the German pope who had been the chief guardian of orthodoxy for Pope John Paul II.

For it was as a teacher at Regensburg during the 1970s, when he was the Rev. Joseph Ratzinger, a leading Catholic theologian in Germany with a growing international reputation, that Benedict was happiest.
In his 2006 speech, simply titled “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections,” Benedict characteristically took up a knotty concept — the interplay of faith and reason. He wanted to show how reason untethered from faith leads to fanaticism and violence.

To illustrate that case, Benedict dug up an obscure 14th-century dialogue between a long-forgotten Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, and a Persian scholar, about the concept of violence in Islam.

“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,” Benedict quoted the emperor as saying to his Islamic interlocutor.

In Islamic teaching, Benedict said, “God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.”

Given the tinderbox that was the Muslim world then, as now, it was no surprise that Benedict’s citation of Islam as an example of a religion gone wild touched off the firestorm.

Not only were moderate Muslims offended, but extremists attacked churches in the West Bank, killed an Italian nun in Somalia, and beheaded a priest in Iraq. Benedict’s allies saw those episodes as proving the pope’s point, and they cheered his willingness to “get tough” with Islam. “Benedict the Brave,” the Wall Street Journal called him.

But many in the West, and in Benedict’s own church, cringed at what they saw as his impolitic — to say the least — remarks, and criticized his analysis of Islam.

Fast forward eight years and today, the old pope’s allies say events have proved them — and Benedict, and Emperor Manuel II Paleologus — right.

“Today when the news from ex-Iraq is once more making history, and is showing to anyone who has eyes to see what the Quran translated into action looks like, they need to apologize to both of you,” Camillo Langone wrote in Il Foglio, a conservative Italian periodical.

Yet those reactions may not be doing justice to Islam, or Benedict.

For one thing, while many Catholic critics of Islam cheered Benedict’s Regensburg address, the pope himself tried to distance himself from the more anti-Islamic interpretations. He tweaked the wording of the official Vatican version of the talk to say that the emperor’s remarks were delivered “with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable.”

And he added explanatory footnotes saying that he is “in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic.”

Meanwhile, the Vatican portrayed the speech as an attempt to open a dialogue with Islam, rather than representing it as the pope’s final word on Islam.

In fact, a number of Islamic scholars took the opportunity to invite Benedict and the Catholic Church to a deeper dialogue on the topic of religion and violence — a dialogue that in itself showed Islam may not be as reflexively violent as some said. And Benedict went out of his way to repair relations with the Islamic world, visiting a mosque in Turkey and saying many nice things about Islam during the rest of his papacy.

Moreover, the history of Islam and Christianity provide much evidence that counters the idea that Islam is always and everywhere violent, or that Christianity is inherently virtuous. There is no monolithic Islam just as there is no monolithic Christianity.

Islam in Spain throughout the Middle Ages, for example, represented a sort of golden age of religious comity and intellectual and artistic flowering that rivaled anything in Christendom.

Benedict “could easily have found other passages by Muslim scholars showing the compatibility, even the necessity, of faith and reason as allies not enemies in Islamic thought,” wrote Bruce Lawrence, Islamic scholar and professor emeritus at Duke University in an email from India, where he is delivering a series of lectures.

Lawrence cited the 14th-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun as an influential Muslim who argued that “‘aql” (the Arab word for intellect) and “naql” (meaning tradition) “are as close in practice as they are in sound; i.e., they rhyme and complement one another.”

Others note that the religious wars that raged across Europe in the wake of the Reformation are among the many instances of brutality carried out by Christians that rival anything we see today in the Middle East.

In a column for The Week, for example, Michael Brendan Dougherty detailed how the English and the established Anglican Church treated the Irish and Catholics much the way the Islamic State deals with its foes.
But such historical analogies aren’t going to make many feel better about the present-day predicament.
Neither is it clear what Benedict would make of all of this. He is retired and living in semi-reclusion in a Vatican convent, and doesn’t seem eager to stir the pot.

As the Rev. George Rutler wrote in Crisis, a conservative Catholic magazine, “like the bold prophet Jeremiah, the benign prophet Benedict will never say in this world or from the next, ‘I told you so.’”



24 comments:

JBS said...

This is all very nicely put, but I think the critical questions are:

Did Jesus Christ instruct his disciples to conquer territory by violent means?

Did the prophet of the other religion instruct his disciples to conquer territory by violent means?

JBS said...

Using Spain as an example of their peaceful ways is nonsensical. They conquered the peninsula by means of violence, and used violence every last step of the way to resit its reconquest by the Christian majority. The only times they were not violent were when no one was resisting them.

rcg said...

Islam must represent acquiescence through brutal oppression as peace, just as the grave is quiet. Christ brought us eternal turmoil through the will of the Living God and therefore, the vigour of life. I concur with Aquinas. .

Gene said...

Many of us have been saying this for a very long time...

Joseph Johnson said...

Back to the subject of Card. O'Connor "turning his back" to the gays---see the latest Rorate Caeli post with copy of an old story and picture of the Cardinal on that issue from the early 1990's.

Anonymous said...

Also hailing from something I saw on Rorate. Father, what do you think about Cardinal Daneels being appointed to the synod on the family? PF seems to have appointed the 2 most liberal cardinals from the continent to the synod.
What is your opinion on this?

Anonymous 2 said...

I would have been even more impressed if Pope Benedict had counseled against the Iraq War. Oh, yes, I forgot – he did:

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/cardinal-ratzinger-says-unilateral-attack-on-iraq-not-justified

I guess he is a hero, a Jeremiah even, when what he says can be trotted out to support U.S. military adventures but ignored when it doesn’t (the Bush administration does seem to have ignored him in 2003 just like it ignored Pope John Paul II). So you will understand if I take all this with a large pinch of salt.

By the way, Gene, which bit have you been saying for a long time – the stuff in the first part of the article or the stuff in the second part that comes after the line “Yet those reactions may not be doing justice to Islam, or Benedict” or both?

JusadBellum said...

I suspect most people who didn't want to invade Iraq in 2003 were more anti-Bush than pro-peace.

After all, the moment Obama was elected the peace movement vanished. No more nightly news updates of the casualty count. No more heart string pulling moms whose sons died. No more hand wringing about how our drone strikes were inspiring terrorism.

The movement just vanished.

But here's the thing that those who were against US war in 2003 never did: they never explained why their preferred policy was morally superior. It's like persuading some kid to not have sex - if all you say is "just say no" when the hormones are raging, it's probably the case that they'll ignore you.

But if you spell out in great detail why premarital sex is harmful and will hurt at least you stand a chance. In Iraq's case, those against war didn't spell out their reasons why it was unjust other than to assume Bush would carpet bomb civilian neighborhoods, intentionally target civilians, intentionally blow up civilian infrastructure and intentionally seek to harm "the children".

The reality was, he didn't and we didn't. The vast majority of Iraqi casualties was from the irregular/paramilitary/terrorist bands running amok. The sectarian violence that erupted was occasioned by but not directly caused by the US.

Unintended consequences of DEMOCRAT policies are never, EVER held against liberals. no no no. So long as they meant well, so long as they claim their intentions are noble "for the poor" it doesn't matter at all if the actual results are disastrous. Because they meant well.

Now, if this sort of moral calculation works - and half the country acts as though it does since they're democrats... how come it doesn't work with foreign policy when Republicans are in charge?

Ah, because the implicit moral judgment is that Republicans are adults whereas Democrats are children. When you "should know better" you are held to a higher standard.

Anonymous 2 said...

JusadBellum

I will try to respond later. I do not have much time now. But as a preliminary – we are talking about the Iraq War not all those other things, and morality is not determined by numbers. Anyway, many of us were opposed to the War for good, sound moral reasons – the conditions for just war were not made out – as well as for prudential reasons (it was a stupid idea). With your identifier you, of all people, should appreciate the just war point.

John said...

well my Muslim neighbours and work colleagues don't represent acquiescence through brutal oppression as peace... don't know what planet you're living on rcg. Also your comments probably aren't really appropriate for a catholic blog.

Gene said...

John, your Muslim neighbors may kill you one day.
But, keep right on thinking they are just like us, ok?

Anonymous said...

Gene you are correct John's neighbors may one day indeed kill him, please read the Quran it tells you exactly what Muslims are supposed to do to non Musilms
it is there for all to see, very frightening indeed. That's the "religion of peace" Breaking news just in the British aide worker David Haines was just beheaded by Islamic maniacs.

Anonymous 2 said...

Equally frightening is the level of ignorance about Islam. But this is always how it begins, isn’t it? What’s next – internment camps for all Muslim Americans? Better check under the bed, too. There might be a Muslim there.

If all you need to do is read the Qur’an to see what Muslims are supposed to do to non-Muslims, why is it that Muslims worldwide are condemning ISIS? Don’t they read the Qur’an too? Of course, this FACT is not being reported in the United States very broadly and, it seems, it is certainly not being reported on FOX News (no surprises there given how “fair and balanced” they are). I wonder why. (It reminds me of how those of us following foreign news sources knew about all the reports indicating there were no WMD in Iraq but somehow these reports just didn’t get covered in the U.S. media. Hmmmm):

http://www.globalresearch.ca/muslim-leaders-worldwide-condemn-isis/5397364

https://www.google.com/search?q=muslim+condemnation+of+isis&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=nts

Please read the article in the first link. The most lethal combination of all is when Ignorance allies with Arrogance. We saw it when we invaded Iraq in 2003. I pray to God that we will not see it again, but I fear we will.

Gene said...

Anon 2, For your staunch and unflinching support of Muslims and their heathen religion you receive, absolutely free, one scimitar suitable for beheading, one white Christian female, sub-incised and suitable for breeding, and a lifetime supply of flea powder for you and your camel. Congrats!!!

Gene said...

PS I think internment camps for MUslims is a fantastic idea that should have been implemented on 9/12/01.

Anonymous 2 said...

Thank you for proving my point, Gene. I knew I could count on you.

Gene said...

BTG, Anon 2, there is good news and bad news..the good news is that you have 72 virgins waiting for you…the bad news is that they are all about your age!

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

What do you actually know about Islam and what are your sources?

What do you actually know about the Catholic Church’s position on Islam and what are your sources?

What do you actually know about the statements of recent Popes on Islam and what are your sources?

Gene said...

One of the best accounts of the invention of Islam by Mohammed is in Will Durant's volume 4 (in his "Story of Civilizatiion"). He goes into great detail about all the nonsensical cut and paste Koran and Mohammed making up stuff as he went along. The closest thing we have to it is Mormonism, and someone might do a good grad thesis on the similarities…or, some psychiatric resident might do a monograph on delusional ideation and paranoid schiz as manifested in the formatio Islam.

Now, one does not need to know the inner workings of the enemy to know they are the enemy.

Gene said...

PS my previous post last line of first paragraph should have read "in the formation of Islam."

Gene said...

Anon 2, let's cut right to the chase…these people are the scum of the earth…savages, murderers, disgustingly filthy, and determined to conquer or destroy Western Civilization, Israel, and the Church. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would waste as much ink and breath as you have apologizing for them. This says a lot about you to me…none of it good.

Anonymous 2 said...

As you know, I like the Durant series and will check out his treatment of Islam. But do remember that Durant was also a creature of his times and, if I recall, not a believer although he did see the social value of religious belief as a support for morality. His lack of belief might explain his discussion of St. Paul’s "epileptic seizure" on the road to Damascus. However, I disagree with you about the need to understand the inner workings of even an enemy. You should check out the CIA analyst training manuals on this point sometime. Also, you seem to conflate Muslim with those living in the Middle East (I won’t say Arabs because the Iranians aren’t), who account for only one fifth of all the Muslims in the world.

As to what my attempt to take a reasoned and balanced approach towards Islam says about me, it says I am a Catholic – hence my questions to you about the positions of the Catholic Church and the statements of the Popes on Islam, which I take seriously and accept but which, based on your lack of response to these questions, I suspect you do not. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.

I have had Muslim students and have some Muslim colleagues. I worked with Muslims when I lived in Europe and Britain. My wife works with Muslims. They are not “the scum of the earth…savages, murderers, disgustingly filthy, and determined to conquer or destroy Western Civilization, Israel, and the Church.” Perhaps you should get to know some of these Muslims before you sound off.

Did you read about the widespread Muslim condemnation of ISIS in the link I posted yesterday? If you didn’t, why didn’t you? And if you did, how do you account for it?

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. What does your own apparent obsession with Muslims and, dare I say, your apparent visceral hatred of them say about you, Gene?

Gene said...

Anon 2, when I say it isn't important to know the inner workings to know they are the enemy, I am not talking about strategy. Of course, in order to destroy them , you need to know tactically and strategically all you can. But, to know they are the enemy…no.
Hey, enjoy your Muzzie friends and students…LOL!