Pope Remarks Muslim Reaction

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by cranston36, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. cranston36

    cranston36
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    In the middle of September, 2006 Pope Benedict of the Catholic Church made a speech at the University in Regensburg, Germany.
    The core of the speech has been characterized as a criticism of modern western civilization for committing itself too much to reason and cutting God out of science and philosophy.
    Ian Fisher of the New York Times said that Pope Benedict started out ‘by recounting a conversation on the truths of Christianity and Islam that took place between a 14th- century Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, and a Persian scholar.’
    Even the New York Times seems to have gotten the message wrong that Pope Benedict was sending.
    Pope Benedict did not start by recounting the conversation. The quotation that caused the stir was far into the speech but that is only a minor point.
    He was speaking about how reason has polluted faith to such an extent that the message of peace that Jesus brought was being lost in modern society. In fact the speech contained elements of his inaugural lecture at the University in Bonn from 1959.
    It is a speech of love, the message of Jesus, the word of God and of and for humanity.
    The media reported on a reference to a statement made by Emperor Manuel II Paleologus hundreds of years ago and sparked off a bitter response from the Muslim community around the world.
    I am going to begin this evening with a short history so that we have a background for Emperor Paleologus.
    The Fall of the Roman Empire took place over a long period of time. During one period the Empire broke into two pieces. There was the western empire which fragmented further into several countries like France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal - et cetera with a central church whose head of state was in Rome.
    The Eastern Empire retained its government and shape but was slowly over run by barbarians from the north and the Muslims from the east who were considered savages at the time.
    Eventually the capital of the Eastern Empire at Byzantium was conquered and the Eastern Emperor, of which Manuel II was one of the last, ceased to be a governing power. The Eastern Churches are called Orthodox and range from the Greek Orthodox to the Russian Orthodox with other churches formed from what were formerly mainly Roman provinces.
    Each of these orthodox churches has a different internal governing system and until Pope John Paul II made overtures they did not even speak to the Catholic Church in Rome.
    During the Fall of the Western Empire a pantheon of gods was replaced by belief in the One True God. Much of the material from that time was preserved and passed down through the ages to the present day. Much of it was also destroyed.
    Some of the most holy places in Rome to Catholics were once the same places used to worship Apollo, Diana, Zeus and Hera. Those are the ancient gods of Rome. Their statues were moved it of the buildings and the interiors redesigned to reflect the Catholic faith. A lot of this art is still in existence.
    To the east of the Roman Empire - to the east of the Eastern Empire in fact, was in ancient times a nation called the Parthian Empire. After much fighting the Parthian Empire eventually ended up as the Persian Empire.
    What happened when Mohammad came along was more bitter, divisive and destructive than the slow and thorough absorption of the old Roman religions by the Catholic religion.
    Mohammad declared a campaign of destruction. When the Muslims entered Riyadh they attacked the pantheon of the Parthian or Persian Empire. They destroyed every statue and image they found. The priests were killed along with faithful trying to make a defense. Families were destroyed, the city burned and all the wealth and weapons taken for the continued fury of the spread of the Muslim faith.
    The result is that the Muslim faith seemingly has no memory. There was a complete and willful break from the past which, rather than supplanting what was before it replaced it with another more insecure and fragile arrangement. Where local Parthian or Persian tax payers used to collect money now armed priests called Imams collected what is referred to as the ‘poor-tax’ which finds its way these days rarely to the tables of the poor and more often to the makers of guns, rockets and mortars. Osama Bin Laden for example had access to billions of dollars and rather than using it for constructive projects he used it to attack the World Trade Center in order to disrupt trade.
    Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and other governments controlled in this way whine to the west about helping the poor while they sit on oil, gold, silver, tin and other natural resources controlled by a few religious leaders as in Iran or by Kings and princes as in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
    It was a terrible time and unlike the slow change that took place in Rome it has never seemed to end. In fact the same behavior that the early Muslims showed to the art and culture of their own people was repeated when the Muslim Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed the 18 story tall statues of Buddha with dynamite.
    This sort of destructive, irresponsible behavior was echoed again when a Danish cartoonist drew a caricature of Mohammed wearing a bomb for a hat.
    These are two well known incidents in modern times but the destructive behavior has been repeated time and time again through history. Muslims sometimes say it is to defend their faith but lately it has started to seem a little like the fanaticism of men like Billy Sunday and Billy Graham who pull an enemy out of the hat so the donations of the faithful will keep pouring in.
    The problem is that the violence that is unleashed through the old interpretation of the Koran is extreme.
    Now to return to modern times. What exactly did Pope Benedict say?
    Here it is. The Pope is referencing an edited text of Emperor Paleologus’s remarks :
    "But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:
    Show me just what Mohammed 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 goes on to explain in detail 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 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 of any kind, 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. ""

    The sentence that drove the Muslim world into a blood frenzy is : "Show me just what Mohammed 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 press did not dwell on the next sentence which reads, "The emperor goes on to explain in detail 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."

    The response of the Muslim community was almost instant. As if they had been sitting in wait for anything to set them off. If their reaction had not been so violent, apparently unthinking and illogical it might have been humorous.
    But several people died apparently as a result of their reaction.
    The onus was put back on Pope Benedict and it was intimated that his remarks caused the violence. I heard one radio talk show host on a local religious radio station in Detroit talk about the ‘behavior’ of the Pope and yet she admitted that she had not seen the text of the speech. She was acting just like the Muslim fanatics that opposed him. The text was available online at that time but this Christian fanatic decided to remark on items she did not take the time to investigate.
    The problem for the Muslim world is that even though he did not intend to paint the modern Muslim religion as bloodthirsty and violent the response and reaction from Muslim leaders around the world can only lead a responsible, logical adult to conclude that this may be so.


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  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    The Muslim reaction seems to come down to: "How dare the Pope say that we Muslims are violent! He should be killed for saying that!"
     
  3. cranston36

    cranston36
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