[lit-ideas] Reading the Pope's speech and his apology

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2006 08:39:49 -0700



The above is the English translation issued by the Vatican of the Pope
Benedict speech that offended Muslims.  I read it this morning with a
headache and before I assimilated my first cup of coffee so I don't trust my
understanding; nevertheless though Benedict does indeed quote Manual II to
say "Show me 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."  


Benedict then paraphrases Manual II to say "Violence is incompatible with
the nature of God and the nature of the soul.  'God,' he said, 'is not
pleased by blood -- and not acting reasonably [the Vatican's translation
renders the Greek terms into symbols.  Here it should read 'syn logo'] 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. . . ."


Benedict elaborates to explain the Islamic position by saying that "the
noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez . . . points out that Ibn Hazn went so far
as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing
would oblige him to reveal the truth to us.  Were it God's will, we would
even have to practice idolatry."  [Benedict doesn't say whether Ibn Hazn is
Manual II's interlocutor.  I couldn't find Ibn Hazn's dates.  Google kept
sending me to Ibn Hazm or other copies of Benedict's speech.]


Benedict then gets into his real subject which is "faith and reason" and
pretty much leaves Manual II and Ibn Hazn hanging.  He might as well be
writing on Lit-Ideas.  I have to guess as to why he did that.  I'm guessing
that he was so engrossed in his faith vs reason discussion that he didn't
realize that his initial example might offend Fundamentalist Muslims.  


And of course, as we might expect, Fundamentalist Muslims are expressing
their outrage at the idea that the Pope might be accusing them of using
violence and threats by using violence and threats.  


I've been trying to find out the nature of the Pope's apology.  Perhaps the
following is accurate:


In it Benedict says, "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries
to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were
considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.  These in fact were a
quotation from a medieval text which do not in any way express my personal
thought. I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true
meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to
frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect."

That sounds like caving into Islamic pressure to me.  I read the Koran but
didn't keep track of the additions Manual II is referring to and so don't
know whether everything Mohammad added fits this description, but the
addition of the spreading of religion by violence is in contrast with
Christianity.  Surely Benedict can't be distancing himself from that. 




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