On Monday, the Vicar of the Diocese of Rome and President of the Italian Bishops Conference told a group of Italian prelates that it was, “a cause of surprise and sadness that some of the statements in the lecture have been misunderstood to the point of being interpreted as an offense against the Islamic religion.”
The Pope, he said, was trying to foster, “a true dialogue of cultures and religions – a dialogue which we need so urgently.”
Magister points out that it is because the Pope knew just what he was doing and is not afraid to do it, that he will not, “fall silent or backpedal.” The dialogue with Islam is a real concern of the Holy Father’s, as so many at the Vatican have noted in recent weeks.
And, as for the words of Emperor Manuel II Paleologos (who is quickly becoming the best-know Byzantine emperor of all time) Magister holds that they were deliberate.
The time of the emperor, like our own times, were filled with war and holy war, Magister notes. Yet in the midst of such conflict Manuel saw the need to bring his Persian counterpart, “to the terrain of truth, reason, law, and violence, to what marks the real difference between the Christian faith and Islam, to the key questions upon which war or peace between the two civilizations depends,” the Vatican writer explains.
Pope Benedict, too, is asking Islam, “to place a limit of its own on ‘jihad.’ He proposes to the Muslims that they separate violence from faith, as prescribed by the Qur’an itself, and that they again connect faith with reason, because ‘acting against reason is in contradiction with the nature of God.’”
And, Magister concludes, Benedict will not be silent or backpedal because he is hopeful. “He would not have been so daring if he did not believe in the real possibility that an interpretation of the Qur’an that marries faith with reason and freedom can be reopened within Islamic thought.”
This is why, despite voracious criticism from the Arab world and the West alike, Magister coninues, the Holy Father neither apologized nor retracted a single line of his speech.
“The lecture in Regensburg was not an academic exercise for him,” Magister continues, “He did not put aside his papal vestments there in order to speak only the sophisticated language of the theologian, to an audience made up only of specialists. The pope and the theologian in him are all of a piece, and for everyone.”
As Magister points out, Benedict believes that faith must again be wedded to reason and that he must raise his voice to call for such a marriage in the secular West.
“In reality, almost the entirety of Benedict XVI’s lecture in Regensburg was addressed to the Christian world, to the West and to Europe, which in his view are so sure of their naked reason – too sure – that they have lost the “fear of God,” Magister writes.
The lecture at Regensburg, as noted by Cardinal Ruini, is a continuation of the same fundamental message the Pontiff had begun to give voice to with his first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” and his Christmas greetings delivered to the Roman curia on December 22, in short, that God is both love and “logos,” that there is an “essential link between human reason and faith in God”, and that “this link is not confined to the past, but even today opens up wide perspectives for our desire to know and experience a full and free life.”
See Magister’s column in its entirety at: http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y
Pointing out that Cardinal Camillo Ruini has grasped the essence of the pontificate of Benedict XVI better than other Church leaders, Vatican insider Sandro Magister released a new column today supporting Ruini’s praise for the Pontiff’s “splendid” lecture at the University of Regensburg.