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The Pope offered yet another clarification of his comments at the University of Regensburg, attempting to ease the rage of Muslims around the world following his criticism of violence in religious conversion. The repeated attempts to appease Islamists have begun to create a different reaction from non-Muslims, as the New York Times' Ian Fisher reports from Rome:
Three days after saying he was “very sorry” about the reaction to his remarks, delivered last week in Germany, Benedict sought to clarify them again.
“This quotation, unfortunately, was misunderstood,” he said, alluding to protests and attacks on churches by offended Muslims. “In no way did I wish to make my own, the words of the medieval emperor.”
“I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together,” he said. He added that he hoped he had made clear his “profound respect for world religions and for Muslims.”
But in the crowd here, and around much of the world that is not Muslim, there were voices like Mr. Corbetta’s, saying the pope did not need to keep explaining himself.
Perhaps, some of them said, he should have been more diplomatic in his choice of quotations in his speech, in Regensburg, Germany. But some Catholics and other non-Muslims say that Benedict has distinguished himself from other world leaders in these tense times by speaking about violence and Islam — and that the violent reaction to his remarks simply proved his point.
Count me among this group. With every new apology or "clarification", Benedict gives more power to the violent demonstrations and the terrorists making threats against his life. The speech itself hardly gives any reason for any kind of remonstration, but even if one can honestly be offended by the rehashing of 600-year-old comments, Benedict's first apology/clarification should have been more than sufficient. The threats of violence and assassination that followed the Regensburg address more than proved the point Benedict made in any case.
Ian Fisher quotes a number of people in this article, including myself. He called me from Rome to do a short telephone interview after reading my open letter to the Pope, which he accurately describes as "anguished". Fisher accurately quotes me and gets the gist of our conversation exactly correct, a much-appreciated result. Fisher also includes quotes and analysis from non-Muslims who feel the Pope did not go far enough with his apologies. Overall, however, his story reflects what appears to be a growing consensus that Catholics may have reached their limit of enforced sensitivity to Muslim concerns over crtical thinking applied equally to all religions.
At the least, as Fisher also notes, the Pope's speech shoud stand as a message to Islam that Christians would start insisting on reciprocity in the name of ecumenical understanding. Benedict and his predecessor John Paul the Great have spoken at length about the need for tolerance for opposing religious faiths, specifically Islam. John Paul the Great raised eyebrows throughout Christendom when he kissed the Qu'ran. Since that gesture, Islamic countries have actually gone backwards in their forbearance of Christians, and the Church has to eventually demand reciprocal respect. Benedict's speech could send that signal, if he would quit backing away from it.Sphere It View blog reactions
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