Liberal Grace

Saturday, September 16, 2006

An apology from the Pope is the Christian thing to do.

I'm not just saying this because my own church might be bombed.

Here we go again... the Pope must act quickly if there is any hope to avoid another "cartoon crisis."

The Pope Tackles Faith and Terrorism

The quote that has everybody riled up is from the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus.

Here is an extended excerpt from the speech: Pope's Islam comments condemned

I expect this to be another hurtful, damaging round of Muslims accusing Christianity of being against them and the west accusing Muslims of being irrational and violent.

I expect people to die over this.

Now would be a really good time for the pope to step in and calm the situation.

In the past, many Muslims have rejected the apology they demanded. Still, one should never withhold an apology just because it might not be well received.

I suspect this is a cultural clash. In the west, we tend to deliver apologies from behind podiums or, worse, through a spokesperson. I think the better way to apologize to Muslims would be for the pope to personally meet with some respected leaders and deliver the apology personally. Those Muslim leaders then announce that they have accepted the apology and that their followers should also.

Apologies are a very Christian because they recognize our own personal sinfulness/fallibility and acknowledge that we have hurt others with it.

Pope Benetict's apology should have real sincerity and gravitas -- not one of those irritating "I'm sorry you misinterpreted what I said" non-apologies.

His premise seems disingenuous.

It isn't just the quote he should apologize for. I think he should apologize for the premise of his speech.

As I understood his lecture, he was trying to make the point that Islam and Christianity are very different in regard to violence.

His discourse Tuesday sought to delineate what he sees as a fundamental difference between Christianity's view that God is intrinsically linked to reason (the Greek concept of logos) and IslamĀ“s view that "God is absolutely transcendent."

Benedict said that Islam teaches that God's "will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." The risk he sees implicit in this concept of the divine is that the irrationality of violence can potentially be justified if someone believes it is God's will. "As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?"
The Pope Tackles Faith and Terrorism

How can anyone sincerely claim this in light of crusades?

And not just the crusades -- it's all the wars in the Christian west that make him seem hypocritical to Muslims.

Muslims generally view WWII in Europe as a inter-Christian conflict in the same way that we view the Iran-Iraq war as an inter-Muslim conflict. In vivid memory it was the Christian Serbs slaughtering their Muslim neighbors.

Clearly we Christians need to talk about violence in the most humble terms.

A far more productive speech, regarding religion and violence, would be for the pope to tell us what lessons his church has learned from the Crusades, Italian fascism, Liberation Theology, Just War theory and Irish Catholic terrorism.

Sharing one's own lessons is always more effective than pointing fingers at others.

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