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RU 37/2006 - VATICAN, Benedict XVI facing Islam

- VATICAN: They only waited for that. Who? The Islamists from all over the world! Benedict XVI had quoted, at the time of an academic conference at the university of Regensburg on the relation between faith and science, during his visit to Bavaria of this week, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos who had conversed towards the year 1391 with a Moslem of Syria, while the Turks besieged Constantinople: "The emperor knew surely that in the Surate 2,256 it's written: no constraint in matters of religion!... But the emperor knew naturally other affirmations - added later - about the Holy Wr. Without getting lost in details..., he simply addresses himself, in a quite abrupt manner, to his interlocutor with a cntral question concerning the relation between religion and violence in general. He declares: 'Show me please what Mohammed added, and there you will only find the bad and inhuman things, as for example that he prescribed that it's necessary to propagate by the sword the faith that he preached'. The emperor, continued Benedict XVI, explained then in a detailed way why the propagation of the faith by violence is irrational. It is in contradiction with the essence of God and the essence of the soul. (The emperor said:) 'God is not delighted with blood, and the fact to act without reason (syn logo), is contrary to God's essence... To convince a reasonable soul, one doesn't need one's arm nor weapons nor whatever is used to threaten someone to death.'" Benedict XVI continues: "The essential sentence in this argumentation against the conversion by violence is this one: 'Acting in an unreasonable way, is contrary to the essence of God' ". That's what the pope had declared on Tuesday Sept. 12th in a strictly theological scientific context. But this was too much for the Moslems. They only see offense, intolerance and attack in these words. The first to shout were the Turks. Already on Thursday September 14th, Ali Bardakoglu, the chief of the Ministry "Presidency for Religious Matters" (Diyanet), required the pope's apologies. He reproached him "a mentality of crusaders". The pope is accused to have put in question the rationality of the Islamic concept of God, and this would represent "a hostile attitude". "Christians should first explain how their religion can be conform to the reason!" declared Mr Bardakoglu to the press. He explained himself: "They say that Jesus is God's son. How does this relate to the reason?" And he recalled the Koran which defines that God "doesn't generate and is not generated" (Surate 112). - After this sound of trumpet - nearly a call to the Djihad - , from Friday Sept. 15th onward, various Islamic voices rose up at different places in the world in order to criticize the pope severely and to require apologies. The Pakistani parliament condemned the pope's conference unanimously while saying that it had wounded the feelings of the Moslems. The Indian Commission for Religious Minorities declared that this speech recalled the spirit of the Christian crusades of the Middle Ages. Finally, some conservative and radical organizations in Indonesia called also for protests. In short they blamed the pope for having said, directly or indirectly, that Islam and violence are intimately tied together, this is too much for their tender souls. The shy explanations of the spokesman of the Vatican, Fr. Frederico Lombardi SJ, wanting to minimize the pope's declarations ("It was surely not the pope's intention to analyze the Djihad and the ideas of Islam on this topic - and yet less to hurts the Moslems' feelings), didn't change anything. On Friday September 15th, the first violences sprang up against Christians, in Palestine: a granade exploded in front of the house of the Christian youth, not far from the oldest church of Gaza, without making victims. And on Saturday September 16th, the Sheik of the famous university Al-Azahr of Cairo, highest authority of the Sunnite Islam in the world, Mr. Mohammed Sayyed Tantaoui, declared himself "offended" by the pope's conference and affirmed that it "showed a blunt ignorance of Islam and of its prophet, which causes the anger of 1.3 billion of Moslems around the world". The general orchestration is obvious, we already experienced it some months ago. But this time it's directed against Christianity, its ancestral enemy. This same Saturday also, Molotov cocktails have been thrown against several churches at Naplouse, in Transjordany. In Afghanistan, the Talibans required "the pope's apologies to the Moslem nation". The pope, just returned to the Vatican from his journey to Bavaria, declared by the mouth of his new secretary of state Mgr Tarcisio Bertone, who started his function on this very morning, that he regretted to have given the impression to offend the Moslem believers. "I'm absolutely distressed", he was quoted, obviously surprised by the anti-Catholic fire that spreads everywhere. Even the closest ecumenical friends, the Copts, already disavowed the pope: so the Egyptian Coptic (orthodox) church rejected on Saturday morning the remarks of Benedict XVI and refused "to touch the Moslem symbols". The only voice that, until now, rose in defense of the pope came from an unexpected side. The German chancellor Angela Merkel declared: "Those who criticize the pope, underestimate the intention of his speech which was to invite to the dialogue between religions". First fruit: Ahmad Syafii Maarif, high personality of one of the most important Islamic organizations in Indonesia, which is the biggest Moslem country in the world, ended up declaring (as he also looked surprised by the massive protest waves which are coming up): "Let's keep cool and let's first study what the pope really said, and the complete context in which he pronounced it!" Finally a wise word! - Beyond this dangerous imbroglio, we are - maybe - approaching , in spite of all, finally the true dialogue between the Church and Islam, the true Islam, the hard Islam, the Islam of the Koran, the Islam of the history of the shed Christian blood, and not its sweety picture as it is usually designed by a western intelligentsia - ecclesiastical or laic - which is depraved and trembling on the ground. - (ru; cf. KN Sept. 14; NSJ Sept. 14; R.V. Sept. 15; L.L. Sept. 16)


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