Islam's Unreasonable War Against Benedict XVI
by Sandro Magister
In Regensburg, the pope offered as terrain for dialogue between Christians and Muslims “acting according to reason.” But the Islamic world has attacked him, distorting his thought, confirming by this that the rejection of reason brings intolerance and violence along with it.
ROME, Sept. 18, 2006 (www.chiesa.espressonline.it) – As soon as he returned from his trip to Bavaria, Benedict XVI, as had been planned, installed cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as head of the secretariat of state and promoted archbishop Dominique Mamberti as the Holy See’s new foreign minister.
At the same time, he found himself facing a wave of unprecedented protest on the part of the Muslim world – on account of things he had said at the University of Regensburg on September 12.
The two facts are not disconnected from each other. Bertone is not a career diplomat, but a man of doctrine and a pastor of souls. More than secretary of state – he has said – he wants to be secretary “of Church.” By installing him, the pope has confirmed that what is expected from the secretariat of state and the pontifical representatives is, above all, collaboration in the task that belongs to him as successor of Peter: “strengthening the brethren in the faith.”
This, and nothing else, is what Benedict XVI went to do in Bavaria, as he emphasized at the end of the trip: “I came to Germany, to Bavaria, to re-propose the eternal truths of the Gospel as present-day truths and strength, and to strengthen believers in their adherence to Christ, the Son of God who became man for our salvation. I am convinced in the faith that in Him, in his word, is found the way not only to attain eternal happiness, but also to build already a future worthy of man upon this earth.”
Less diplomacy and more Gospel: this is the course that Joseph Ratzinger is setting for the Church’s central governance. Even in the choice of archbishop Mamberti as foreign minister, what the pope kept in mind even more than his diplomatic competency was his direct familiarity with the Muslim world and with the related questions of faith and civilization. Born in Marakesh, with French citizenship via Corsica, Mamberti was a pontifical representative in Chile and to the United Nations, but also in Algeria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and most recently in Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia.
And it was again this criterion – less diplomacy and more Gospel – that led the pope, in the course of his trip to Germany, to say such politically incorrect, and such potentially explosive, words.
Anyone who is an expert in the art of diplomacy and a proponent of “realism” in international relations would certainly have censured as inopportune and dangerous many passages of the homilies and speeches delivered by Benedict XVI in Germany.
But this is not a pope who submits himself to such censorship or self-censorship, which he sees as being inopportune and dangerous indeed when it concerns the pillars of his preaching. His goal on his trip to Germany was to illuminate before modern man – whether Christian, agnostic, or of another faith; from Europe, Africa, or Asia – that simple and supreme truth that is the other side of the truth to which he dedicated the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.” God is love, but he is also reason, he is the “Logos.”
And so when reason separates itself from God, it closes in upon itself. And likewise, faith in an “irrational” God, an absolute, unbridled will, can become the seed of violence. Every religion, culture, and civilization is exposed to this twofold error – not only Islam, but also Christianity, toward which the pope directed almost the entirety of his preaching.
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