Saturday, September 16, 2006

POPE in HOT SOUP - Over Quote from Emperor EMANUEL II “everything that Muhammad had promulgated was evil & inhuman"; PM Abdullah demands Apology

It is unfortunate that the Pope Benedict XVI has chosen at the University of Regensburg, to quote remarks by the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote that everything that Muhammad had promulgated was evil and inhuman, “such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. As usual when the unexpected fire storms reactions took place, the Vatican tried to say that he was quoted out of context.

The Pope obviously did not intend to cause offence to the world’s Muslims but L’Espresso magazine observed yesterday: “This is not exactly a diplomatic pope”.

“His mistake was his failure to distance himself from the emperor’s comments — surely inflammatory enough in their own time, but a thousand times more so when repeated today.”
Read the edited extract below.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi: "It is unfortunate that such an eminent figure like the Pope has not shown leadership in promoting good relations between religions."

Pope Must Apologise, Says Abdullah ; From Mokhtar Hussein

HAVANA, Sept 16 (Bernama) -- Pope Benedict XVI must apologise and withdraw his recent remarks linking Islam and violence that have offended Muslims all over the world, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

"The Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake," the prime minister told Malaysian journalists covering the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) here, Friday.

Abdullah, who is chairman of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said it was regrettable that the remarks showed insensitivity to Muslim feelings and would surely hinder the fostering of good relations between Islam and Christianity.

Benedict provoked the outcry on Tuesday when he quoted criticism of Islam and Prophet Muhammad by 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus in a theological lecture in

"It is unfortunate that such an eminent figure like the Pope has not shown leadership in promoting good relations between religions.

"Instead, his statement has had the effect of sowing more seeds of discord and will not be conducive for dialogue among religions," Abdullah said.

He said that judging from the reactions of various quarters around the world, obviously, the Pope's words could lead to further tension between religions.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar urged Muslims to be patient and not to get too emotional.

However, he said that the Muslim world should condemn the statement so that it was not repeated.

He said such statements were not good for world security and stability besides hampering efforts to avoid cultural and religious clashes.

Meanwhile The Deputy Primier

Meanwhile The Deputy Primier commented: "We regret with the Pope remarks though it may not be his intentions to hurt Muslim's feelings. But the Pope must be more careful, more so since the latest developments especially with issues taking historical fath"
and From The Times, UK, 16 September 2006, an insightfull report and analysis of his speech and the events that followed.

Muslims vent fury at Pope's speech
From Richard Owen in Rome and Suna Erdem in Istanbul

THE Pope’s visit to Turkey, which many hoped would herald a new era of improved relations between Islam and the West, was in doubt yesterday amid condemnation of remarks by the pontiff that appeared to link Islam and violence.

As Muslims all over the world protested, with effigies of Benedict XVI burnt during demonstrations in Pakistan, members of the Turkish Government urged the Pope to reconsider his visit in November. Senior officials in Turkey said that they could not guarantee his safety if he went ahead with the trip.

The Pope’s remarks were either “the result of pitiful ignorance” about Islam or a deliberate distortion of the truth, said Salih Kapusuz, deputy leader of the strongly Islamic party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister.

He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages,” Mr Kapusuz added. “Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini.”

The outrage followed a speech that the Pope gave on Tuesday during a tour of southern Germany. At the University of Regensburg, Benedict XVI quoted remarks by the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote that everything that Muhammad had promulgated was evil and inhuman, “such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.

The Vatican claimed that the Pope had been quoted out of context and that he had not intended to insult Islam. But even though the thrust of the Pope’s argument was that violence cannot be justified by any religion — drawing on a dialogue between the emperor and a Persian scholar — he was widely criticised for not distancing himself from
Manuel II’s opinions
and for quoting a particularly inflammatory statement.

Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey, which is due to take place on November 28-30, was already a source of controversy because of views he expressed when a cardinal that cast doubt on the country’s fitness to join the European Union, and for his references to Istanbul as “Constantinople”. There are also fears for his safety after a series of assaults on Catholic priests in Turkey, one of whom was murdered.

The Vatican had spoken of the trip as a chance to promote dialogue between Islam and the West. The Pope is also due to meet Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians, in Istanbul to help to heal the 1,000-year schism between the Western Church and the Orthodox faith.

But Ali Bardakoglu, head of the Directorate-General for Religious Affairs in Ankara, which controls Turkey’s imams, said that the Pope had reinforced “ingrained prejudice in the West” towards Islam, and said the Crusades showed that Christianity also had problems with violence. “The Pope’s aggressive, insolent statement appears to reflect both the hatred within him towards Islam and a Crusader mentality. I hope he apologises, and realises how he has destroyed peace.”

The Pakistani Parliament condemned the Pope and also sought an apology. “The derogatory remarks of the Pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Muhammad have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading acrimony among the religions,” the resolution said.

The Muslim Council, which represents 400 groups in Britain, said that the emperor’s views were ill-informed and bigoted. “One would expect a religious leader such as the Pope to act and speak with responsibility and repudiate the Byzantine emperor’s views in the interests of truth and harmonious relations between the followers of Islam and Catholicism,” Muhammad Abdul Bari, the council’s secretary-general, said. “Regrettably, the Pope did not do so.”

In Gaza, at the Saladin mosque — named after the Islamic warrior who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders — Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister, promised protests.
The University of Regensburg address

The Pope’s speech was entitled Faith, reason and the university. This is an edited extract:

"I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on, perhaps in 1391, by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Koran. . . In the seventh conversation the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that Sura (Koranic chapter) 2, 256 reads: ‘There is no
compulsion in religion
.’ According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war . . . He addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence, saying: ‘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.’

The emperor, having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God,’ he says, ‘is not pleased by
blood — and not acting reasonably . . . is contrary to God’s nature
. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats . . . To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons, or any other means of threatening a person with death . . .’ The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this is self-evident.

But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? . . . John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, with logos. Logos means reason and word — reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, between genuine enlightenment and religion . . . This inner rapprochement between biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history . . .

Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, took on its historically decisive character in Europe. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of
philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur — this is the programme with which a theology grounded in biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. ‘Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God,’ said Manuel II, according to his understanding of God. It is to these great logos, this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

Homily on faith, logic and holy war was seen as a slur on Islam By Richard Owen
Experts say the Pope was addressing Western culture and did not intend to offend Muslims

IT BEGAN as the joyous homecoming of one of Bavaria’s best-loved sons, with excited crowds lining streets to applaud the German priest who became the leader of 1.1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide.
The organisers who had included a visit to the town of Regensburg on the banks of the River Danube thought that it would be a gentle diversion for Pope Benedict XVI, who agreed to address scholars at the local university before continuing on his tour of the German hinterland.

But the homily given by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on Tuesday has provoked a firestorm of Islamic rage and left in doubt his eagerly anticipated trip to Turkey later this year, which was intended to improve relations between Christians and Muslims.

Yesterday effigies of the Pope were set alight in Pakistan and hundreds joined protests in countries from Indonesia to Lebanon. Presidents, prime ministers and religious leaders urged the Vatican to issue an apology.

At the Vatican the Pope’s senior advisers were mystified by the extraordinary scenes, which were eerily reminiscent of the protests over cartoons that appeared in Danish newspapers last year depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Then, as now, the reaction was slow to develop, and was stoked by an aggressive internet and e-mail campaign that
urged Muslims to take to the streets over what was described as a most vile slur on Islam.

Attempting to dampen down the flames, the Vatican claimed that the Pope had been quoted out of context. In his Regensburg speech, he had referred to a dialogue on Christianity and Islam between Manuel Paleologus II, the 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor, and an educated Persian.

He said: “The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He said, and I quote, ‘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’.”

The phrases on Islam were “brusque”, he said, and he pointed out several times that he was quoting the emperor, not endorsing him. Yet insiders were left wondering whether he had deliberately raised the issue of Islamic extremism to provoke debate.

“Pope Benedict’s remarks about jihad may have been taken out of context but they were not an aberration,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the newly appointed Jesuit head of the Holy See press office. “On the contrary, they stem from his thinking about Islam and
the West in the one and a half years since he became Pope

Father Lombardi added: “What emerges from an attentive reading of the text is a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence. It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas on the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful. Quite the contrary, what emerges clearly from the Holy Father’s discourses is a warning, addressed to Western culture, to avoid ‘the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom’.

“What is clear, then, is the Holy Father’s desire to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, including, of course, Islam.” Although the desire for “respect and dialogue” is not in question, it has emerged that, six months after he succeeded John Paul II, Pope Benedict convened an unpublicised two-day conference on Islam, the West and Christianity at Castelgandolfo, his summer residence, attended by Western experts on the Muslim world.

At the end, according to Vatican insiders, the Pope concluded that it was time for a “more robust” approach to Islam, which in its “fanatical” or “violent” form posed a danger to the West. The problem with Islam, the Pope told delegates, was that unlike Christianity,
which distinguished (in Christ’s words) between “that which is God’s and that which is Caesar’s”, Islam sought to “ integrate the laws of the Koran into all elements of social life”.

Whereas Jesus and the gospels offered a model to follow, the Koran was imposed rigidly with “no distinction between civil and religious law”. There was little spiritual or religious common ground, he is said to have told the conference. Therefore, Christianity could engage with Islam only as a “culture” and remind it to “respect human rights”, including the rights of Christian minorities in Muslim countries.

In May, the Pope told a Vatican conference on immigration that although he favoured “dialogue” with Islam it could only be conducted on the basis of “reciprocity”. Christians should “open their arms and hearts” to Muslim immigrants, but Muslims in turn had to overcome “the prejudices of a closed mentality”. As L’Espresso magazine observed
yesterday: “This is not exactly a diplomatic pope.”

Since becoming Pope, the former Cardinal Ratzinger has been at pains to counteract the image he acquired as a ruthless enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy when he was John Paul’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Once nickamed God’s Rottweiller, or the Panzer Kardinal, he has projected a gentler public face — making jokes, beaming from beneath his wavy white hair and even kissing babies as he meets crowds.

Many were pleasantly surprised when, in January, he chose the theme of love, sex and Christianity for his first papal encyclical. But he was elected in April last year over, say, a Latin American candidate because many cardinals were impressed by his insistence on the need to bolster Christian values not just in the Third World but also in Europe, which he believes is threatened by secularism, loss of faith — and Muslim immigration. As a cardinal, he was on record as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union. He has also, despite liberal Catholic hopes, so far shown no sign of relaxing doctrine to allow the use of condoms to prevent Aids in Africa.

In a little-noticed sign of his tougher line on Islam, in February he abolished the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, subsuming it into another council and dispatching its head, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, as his emissary to Egypt and the Arab League. The move was seen by many as a snub to Archbishop Fitzgerald, the most senior Briton in the Vatican, for his conciliatory approach to Muslims.

It is difficult to imagine Benedict entering a mosque, as John Paul did in Damascus in 2001,” said Marco Politi, the Vatican correspondent of La Repubblica. Although he made overtures to Jews, Muslims and non-Catholic Christians after his election, and paid homage at Auschwitz in May, Pope Benedict lays less emphasis than his predecessor on dialogue with other faiths, let alone praying with or learning from them.

Vito Mancuse, lecturer in theology at the San Raffaele University of Milan, said: “The message of Regensburg is that logos — reason — is at the heart of Christianity, whereas the God of Islam is more arbitrary, and in the absence of reason lie the seeds of war. For Christians, God is love. Muslims don’t know what God is, only that he exists and
dominates the world.”


When Manuel II Paleologus, a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, said that Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman”, Christianity and Islam already had a long history of animosity. Within a few decades of Islam’s 7th-century beginnings, its empire had
spread from modern-day Saudi Arabia to encroach on the Christian heartlands of Spain to the west and Jerusalem to the east

A further psychological blow was struck in AD846 when Muslims raided the Church of St Peter and Paul in Rome. Christians within Muslim areas were largely allowed freedom of worship and autonomy to run their own affairs

Relations deteriorated in the 11th century, with Al Hakim, the Egyptian Shia ruler, ordering the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and an onslaught on Christians in the Holy Lands

By the 11th century a Christian counter-offensive was well under way. Muslims were pushed back in Spain and Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade, calling for the recapture of the Holy Lands. Eight crusades would follow over the next 200 years, but ultimately Jerusalem remained under Islamic control

The Muslim advance continued in the East, with Byzantium (Istanbul) falling in the 15th century, and a high-water mark in the 17th century when Turkish Ottoman troops besieged Vienna

In the West, Islam was less successful. After the 15th-century Muslim retreat from the Iberian Peninsula the “Andalusian model”, whereby worshippers of both faiths coexisted, was abandoned. Muslims had to choose conversion or expulsion

Over the following centuries the Turkish Ottoman Empire gradually declined in mportance, until its final dissolution after defeat in the First World War

Serious errors of both fact and judgment
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

EVEN his critics agree that the Pope did not intend to cause offence to the world’s Muslims. In quoting a work edited by the highly respected Lebanese-born scholar
Theodore Khour
y, he was trying to assert his academic credentials in the university where he once taught.

This speech, as its esoteric tone and content testifies, was an address by Professor Joseph Ratzinger, scholar, rather than by Benedict XVI, world religious leader. His mistake was his failure to distance himself from the emperor’s comments — surely inflammatory
enough in their own time, but a thousand times more so when repeated today.

He can hardly complain that he has been taken out of context by thousands of enraged Muslims around the world when he is himself guilty of the same offence in regard to Manuel II Paleologus.

His address is undermined further by a serious error in regards to the Koran. “Sura 2,256 . . . is one of the suras of the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and under threat.” In fact, this sura [Koranic chapter] is held by Muslim scholars to be from the middle period, around the 24th year of Muhammad’s prophethood in 624 or 625,
when he was in Medina and in control of a state. Contrary to what the Pope said, this was written when Muhammad was in a position of strength, not weakness.

The Pope’s old sparring partner, Professor Hans Küng, a former colleague of his at Tübingen university, agrees that he did not intend to provoke Muslims. “He is very interested in dialogue with all religions. But this quotation and his whole approach to Islam in the lecture was very unfortunate.

He found it incredible that the Pope quoted an emperor, a Christian adversary of Islam, who had set down the comments while in the middle of a battle, the siege of Constantinople in 1394 to 1402. “If a Jewish person said such a thing about a Christian, we would also be offended,” said Professor Kung.

“He can of course quote what he wants, but he did this without saying the emperor was incorrect. “This shows the limits of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger. He never studied the religions thoroughly and obviously has a unilateral view of Islam and the other religions.”

The Pope has a history of criticism of Islam. According to a leading Catholic, he believes that Islam cannot be reformed and is therefore incompatible with democracy.

Earlier this year, Father Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Naples and founder of the publishing house Ignatius Press, said that the Pope believed that reform of Islam was impossible “because it’s against the very nature of the Koran, as it’s understood by Muslims.”

Professor Kung said: “The Pope just was not aware of the implications of what he was saying.”

The tragedy of the episode is that the Pope was arguing against the idea that violence can be justified in any religion. He was making the case for the compatibility of reason with religion at a time when fundamentalism is gaining terrifying ground across the religious

The irony is that the Islamic response illustrates how desperately the world needs to hear his message.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13: Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14: If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15: For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17: If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 18: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19: Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. 20: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. John 13:12-20

11:25 AM  

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