Taken Out of Context: What the Pope Really Said.
By James WF Roberts.
We’ve all been in situations and scenarios when things we have said have been totally taken out of context. You feeling cocky at a party and make a joke that offends people, you leave a word out in a text message or email that can change the whole meaning of what you wrote.
Or you can be like His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI—giving his lecture to the Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg; and have one very obscure line in that speech, taken so far out of context, that you end up being condemned by the entire Islamic world, and leaving yourself open to ridicule from close-minded, dim-witted tonight show hosts, that don’t even understand any part of the historic and antiquated
debate of Nominalism and Realism in Islam and Christianity.
Just imagine, the bored, frustrated members of the press, sitting on the sidelines having no idea what the German pontiff is talking about, and then suddenly bang “Islam is a religion which preaches murder in the name of god”; or something to that effect, I do not need to quote what the media has already quoted, as I actually am in possession of the real quote. The Pope was reminiscing about his younger life as a professor at this particular university, and was discussing how academic changes have been made so drastically in recent times that open-forum discussions of all manner of intellectual disciplines and subjects—
“We’ d meet before, after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas”.
He went on and on about the “profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God.”.
“…in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question”.
And here is where the trouble started, “I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster), part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. Presumably, it was the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinoplebetween 1394 and 1402; this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, (Koran) and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture”, the Holy-Father then went off the beaten track renumerating some other anecdotal phrases. What really set the Cat amongst the Pigeons is what follows; “The emperor must have known that surah 2, verse 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”
He then went on to discuss how the emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body”. Basically he is saying that if you lead someone to faith, you must have the ability to speak well and to reason properly…not conquer, I know unusual for Western religions…
So that is what the Pope was on about, I know it is not as salacious as you might have expected but there it is the simple, undeniable truth and the real facts as well. I agree with the Holy-Father’s decision of not recanting what he said, for he did nothing wrong, I wholeheartedly agree with a few in the legitimate press (unbiased and non-commercial) that this is just another hole dug on the road to total Holy War that for some reason the press loves to stoke the fires of!