Harmful words and a lesson


As Ali Eteraz points out, its been almost a year since the Pope’s Regensburg lecture. I should remember, we waisted so much class time talking about it, that three months later, we covered three weeks of stuff in one night.

The part I find interesting isn’t that he’s posting about it now, but what he says about the Pope’s role as THE representative of Christianity.

The Muslim world itself is as cognizant of the authority of the Papacy as the most conservative Catholics. To the Muslim world, the Pontificate represents the Christian equivalent of the Caliph, or the Amir ul Mumineen (Commander of the Faithful). By casting their own longings for a single titular head onto Christianity, Muslims indirectly allot to the Pope the kind of authority that the Church wishes it received from Christians in Europe. In other words, while in the West the Pope may be in constant competition with his Protestant critics, in the Muslim world, the Pope is the be-all and end-all of Christianity.

Looking at it like that, its puts the Pope’s comments, and the spectacular negative reaction to them into a whole new light.

What Benedict said to the Muslims of Köln is probably the most important thing he’s said during his papacy. At least in regards to things not doctrinal.

Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. We must not yield to fear or pessimism. Rather, we must cultivate optimism and hope. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.

Unfortunatly, since then, it seems like neither side has done much to change his perception about the other. I’m sure there is another big conference thing at the Islamic Center of America, (which was going on smack in the middle of the Pope’s lecture last year) and there will be things said.

But I doubt anything will be done.


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