Tuesday, September 19, 2006

what did the pope mean?

last week pope benedict quoted from a 14th century document which uses deeply intemperate, and in the pope's own words, 'shockingly brusque' language to condemn those who link religion and violence. he may or may not have intended to offend muslims. i suspect not - the comment was made in the context of an academic paper, and it is likely that it was assumed that the comments would not be heard by anyone not present at the gathering. while this may be evidence of naivety on the part of the former cardinal ratzinger, or perhaps arrogance, i frankly find it hard to believe that he expected never mind intended the reaction to the way his words have been construed in the press.

the fact that there have apparently been militant and even violent protests in response tends to prove the point that those who would use religion to endorse violence against the human person need to be engaged with, at least in terms of the kind of dialogue that academic popes may not yet be capable of, and better still in terms of religious leaders articulating a religious path that is both authentically spiritual and pro-actively non-violent, rather than the kind of practice that passes for mainstream religion in the west - which these days, in spite of some noble exceptions (e.g. yesterday's intervention by rowan williams regarding the crisis in childhood), tends toward either insipid and unengaging, or nationalistic and so blindly supportive of violence that it becomes about as far away from the teachings and way of jesus as it's possible to get without coming back in the opposite direction.


Anonymous said...

What "intervention" by Rowan Williams are you speaking of?

His words only show truth with the violent reactions of a few miltant muslims.

Anonymous said...

The pope's comments reflect a deeper misunderstanding of Islam on his part. As for your comments about how violent reactions somehow make the pope's point for him, you should be ashamed of yourself for that attack on Islam as a faith. Whether you like it or not, Islam is as valid a faith as yours, and the pope was wrong to quote without explanation or qualification an attack on the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Those responding violently do not represent true Islam, any more than those who kill in the name of Christianity represent the truth about Jesus (pbuh).

Anonymous said...

Just as the Pope is responsible for his words which represent Christianity, so are those who wear the garments of Islam. Both representatives are attacking their own belief by their shortsightedness. We are all responsible to carry on with truth that matches action.

gareth higgins said...

dear anonymous - i don't think my original comments said what you suggest. in fact, i was very careful to criticise my own religion - christianity - for example where it endorses violence and exclusive nationalism.