Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Pope Regrets

The Pope gave a lecture this week past at his old university, the University of Regensburg, on faith, reason, and the University. He refers to and quotes from a 'dialogue between the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.' The actual part he quotes is far from flatering of Islam. Having read the lecture, my immediate reaction is that the reference does not really contribute anything to the substance and thrust of the lecture.

From this point of view, it may have been wise not to have made the reference. But that is not what is being argued by his critics this week. They are arguing that it was wrong in principle to make the reference. He must not only regret his comment, he must apologize for it.

Amazing! One of the biggest criticisms of Roman Catholicism, historically, is that it has suppressed free speech through such things as the inquisition. It seems now that we have a new inquisition so that it is always wrong to say anything negative about Islam, whether true or not.

It surely should always be wrong to be gratuitously offensive. As a Christian, I am thoroughly fed up of the stuff we have to put up with in the mass media. It seems that you can say anything about Christianity in the interest of free speech, but nothing about Islam in the interest of not being offensive. You can't have it both ways.

There does need to be sensitivity to people of all religions. There also needs to be responsible criticism and analysis. Christians and Moslems should be prepared to deal with both.

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