AWAITING THE POPE'S RESPONSE TO THE LETTER FROM 138 MUSLIMS
Chiesa recently published a very interesting article by Sandro Magister entitled Why Benedict XVI Is So Cautious with the Letter of the 138 Muslims. Although there has not yet been a formal response from Pope Benedict to the letter, there have indeed been responses by Christian groups. One such response which was authored and signed by 300 scholars who were mostly Protestant is summed up by Magister:
"The message lavishes praise upon the letter of the 138. It endorses the letter's contents, or the indication of the love of God and neighbor as the "common word" between Muslims and Christians, at the center of both the Qur'an and the Bible. And it prefaces everything with a request for forgiveness to "the All-Merciful One and the Muslim community around the world."
"This is the reason given for the request for forgiveness:
"Since Jesus Christ says: 'First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye' (Matthew 7:5), we want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the 'war on terror') many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbor."
Pathetic--if this is the best response Christians can muster --civilization is truly on the brink.
But thank God the world still awaits the Pope's response with the hope that it will be a dialogue based upon truth and dogma, and not upon feelings and self-loathing false charity.
But what kind of dialogue with Islam does Benedict XVI want? Magister does a very good job of analyzing what we can expect from the Pope based upon previous statements.
As an indicator Magister points to an address to the Roman curia, on December 22, 2006 where the pope explained:
"We Christians feel in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom."
Of course that is not to say that there necessarily exists practicing muslims that fit the Pope's description--since Islamic dogma does not acknowledge the synergy between faith and reason and between religion and freedom. This may explain some of the Pope's caution and delay.
Magister states that Pope Benedict's vision is the same as that which the authorities of the Holy See have demonstrated each time they speak on these topics such as...
"...[the]message addressed to the Muslims last October, on the occasion of the end of Ramadan, from the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, headed by cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran... has at its center "freedom of faith and its exercise," as a task for all the religions, in keeping with the "plan of the Creator."
Magister states that even before this- in January of 2004 the pope in a conversation with the secular philosopher Jürgen Habermas conceived of dialogue with Islam and the other religions in Munich...
"On that occasion, Ratzinger said that a universally valid "natural law" is far from being recognized today by all cultures and civilizations, which are divided from each other and also divided on this issue within themselves. But he indicated the way in which "the essential norms and values known or intuited by all human beings" may be illuminated and "keep the world united." The way is that of a positive bond between reason and faith, which are "called to reciprocal purification" from the pathologies that expose both of these to domination by violence."
But Magister believes that the lecture in Regensburg on the need for "synergy between faith and reason" is the most fully elaborated foundation of Benedict's vision. With the violent reaction from the Islamic world to the Regensburg speech I am certain the pope is carefully arming himself with the truth for the long and treacherous journey of dialogue with Islam.