This time a more media savvy pontiff
BBC News has a transcript of the Pope's remarks today:
He's not the media novice that so many first thought, including yours truly.
In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together.The New York Times reports, and notes an interesting television audience for the Pope:
Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognises the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.
Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will.
In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life.
Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction.
Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity.
When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognising the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.
Dear friends, I pray with my whole heart that the merciful God will guide our steps along the paths of an ever more authentic mutual understanding.
At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his blessings, together with the communities that you represent.
In a brief meeting at the Pope’s summer residence here, which was broadcast live on the Al Jazeera satellite network around the Muslim world, the pope did not apologize for the speech he made nearly two weeks ago that set off waves of protest in Muslim countries; he did not even refer directly to the speech, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor of the 14th Century calling Islam “evil and inhuman.”The Financial Times reports:
“The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known,” he told the envoys, along with representatives of Italian Muslim groups.
Instead, in remarks lasting about five minutes, the pope said that he respected “Muslim believers.” He said he hoped that Christians and Muslims could “work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence.”
The meeting underscored the Vatican’s strong desire to defuse tensions caused by the speech and to set the worlds of Islam and Catholicism back on good terms.
His remarks represented, in part, another attempt to soothe Muslim feelings after an uproar caused by a lecture, delivered two weeks ago in his native Germany, in which he drew a link between Islam and violence.Benedict has made numerous attempts to play down the controversy over his speech of September 12. But he is not abandoning the point that dialogue is necessary between the faiths. When he refers to "human dignity" he is referencing extensive Catholic writings and also the conclusion of his speech:
But in his latest speech, the 79-year-old pope made a pointed reference to what the Vatican sees as discrimination against Christians in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states where they are denied full freedom of worship or suffer repression.
Benedict quoted a speech given in Morocco by John Paul II, his predecessor, in which the late pope said: “Respect and dialogue demand reciprocity in all fields, above all in relation to fundamental freedoms, and most especially religious liberty.”
In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.Much has been made of Benedict's comparative lack of media savvy. But, think about this: he said the following on al Jazeera today, early in the month of Ramadan:
Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. ... The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.
At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his blessings, together with the communities that you represent.He has called for a reasoned peace and a reasoned dialogue.
He's not the media novice that so many first thought, including yours truly.