Report on pope was inaccurate, but what he said was still very bad

The report I quoted from the news site was incorrect. The Corner has an English translation of the pope’s remarks today in St. Peter’s Square. He did not say that he had not meant to criticize Islam in his September 12 speech. Rather, he repeated and expanded on his retraction of his quote of the “evil and inhuman” comment of the 14th century emperor. So Benedict’s statement today is not the total undermining of his critique of Islam that Expatica story made it appear.

However, the pope’s statement is filled with so many respectful noises toward Islam, including his expression of “my profound respect for the great religions, and in particular for the Moslems, who ‘adore the one God,’ and with whom we are engaged in ‘defending and promoting together, for all men, social justice, moral values, peace and freedom’ (Nostra Aetate, 3),” that I’m ready to throw up. Surely Benedict knows that Islam does not believe in “social justice” (what, is the pope a commie?), peace, and freedom for all men. Islam believes in Islam for all men, it believes in submission to Allah and the Prophet for all men, it believes in sharia law for all men, and it believes in either death or the degraded state of dhimmitude for all men who refuse to convert to Islam.

The pope, who is supposed to know so much about Islam, doesn’t know this?

Benedict is caught between two stools. He cannot meaningfully criticize Islam while remaining a faithful follower of Vatican II with its ecumenist embrace of Islam as proclaimed in the 1965 Declaration Nostra Aetate (see my earlier discussion of Nostra Aetate). As long as he supports Vatican II, Benedict is to Islam as the Israelis are to the Palestinians. He is like an Israeli leader saying: “I am deeply committed to dialog and negotiations, I believe in the peace process. True, we don’t have a peace partner at the moment, but we’ll keep waiting for one to turn up (he is the Hidden Peace Partner, the True Savior), and, in the meantime, no matter how antagonistic and savage the Palestinians behave, we will refuse to reach a definitive conclusion about their character and their intentions. Regardless of all evidence, we will remain forever open to the possibility that the Palestinians want peace.”

In short, Benedict is a liberal, someone who will occasionally glance off the truth of cultural and religious difference, but never face it fully and consciously and draw conclusions from it. From this point onward, unless he decisively renounces the liberalism of Vatican II, I will look at all his promising-sounding, “conservative” utterances with a cold eye.

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A reader writes:

How come a “teacher” could be so misunderstood? I expect that type of doublespeak from the chairman of the Treasury, like Greenspan saying, “If I made myself understood I misspoke.” Perhaps that is why the Muslims have been slaughtering countless Christians in recent years—because the “Holy Father” isn’t so sure his God can save him—so he is taking no chances

Tom S. writes:

I share your disappointment with the actions of the Pope. The Vatican has been an enormous, an absolutely jaw-dropping disappointment in the current struggle against Islam. I chalked up JPII’s weak utterances and morally obscene dealings with the murderer Tariq Aziz to senility and expected better from Benedict. Even his chosen name seemed to hold promise. His initial statements were indeed promising, but his “conditional climb-down” on this most recent matter, coupled with his pronouncements on the recent Israeli actions against Hezbollah (which condemned both sides equally) have caused me to alter my position. If the modern Catholic Church were half as concerned about the murder of innocent Israelis and Americans as it seems to be about contraception, we would all be better off.

The Catholic Church has traditionally been the bastion of Europe and the West against Islamic aggression. If it falls, what remains? Where is the next Don John of Austria, riding to the sea to save Christendom? If he arrives, it will not be at Pope Benedict’s calling, at least not based on what we have seen so far.

It pains me to say this, it really does. Cardinal Ratzinger always seemed to be a tough, no-nonsense sort of guy, and I (a non-Catholic) thought that he might make an historically great Pope—it seems that he has “grown in office”. I’ll bet that, somewhere, Belloc and Chesterton are livid right now.

N. writes:

You may be too harsh, and expect too much, from the current Pope of Rome. The absurd notion in Vatican II that Moslems “adore the one God” puts every Roman Pope selected since then into a corner. No Roman Pope can speak total truth about Islam, because Vatican II declares it effectively to be some sort of variant of Judaism. Based on his “in school” comments earlier this year about the unlikelihood of true reform in Islam, due to the nature of the Koran, it seems that Benedict XVI is quite aware of what Islam is, and is not.

But there’s no way politically he can jettison the toxic notion of “Abrahamic faith” contained in Vatican II.

In short, he’s playing a bad hand the best he can. At some point in this century, a Vatican III will have to be convened to fix the damage done by Vatican II. If it isn’t done, the Roman Catholic Church may vanish. This statement may seem extreme, but look at the demographics, look at the ongoing “fusion between Islam and Christianity” being bandied about by the EUrabian elites, and the signs all point downhill for Roman Catholicism as it currently exists.

I think you are hasty, even rash, in your critiques of Benedict XVI.

He’s a scholar, not a politician or a warrior, and arguably doing the best he can think of under adverse circumstances. We should support him when he’s right, criticize him when he’s wrong, and bear in mind that he is under the burden of institutionalized multi-culti liberalism via Vatican II.

All of which makes me much happier that my church is old fashioned, even retrograde, because it is better equipped to resist such nonsense. “Adore the one God”, my left foot!

LA replies:

You haven’t made any case that I’m being too harsh and rash, you’ve simply asserted it. Your comment that he is merely a scholar, as though he were merely a private individual exploring his own opinions, and therefore not responsible in a public way to take consistent positions, is absurd. He’s the Pope, for God’s sake. He is a head of state and the leader of a billion Catholics. He has no right to use his public statements as Supreme Pontiff as an opportunity to engage in a private play of ideas.

Though Vatican II and its documents exist, there is no need for him to reference them. He did NOT reference them in his speech in Germany. Now he turns around and references them. No higher power compelled him to do that. He chose to do that.

One way to get bad laws undone is by ignoring them. The pope chose to put V2’s affirmation of Islam front and center today. If that is his position, then he should not have given the speech he gave last week. He has a responsibility for what he says. He is carelessly abusing that responsibility. He is jerking us around, and I for one resent it.

Ben writes:

I see him as a man who I believe wished to speak out against the ecumenical teachings and against jihad, did so, but because of weakness caused by modern liberalism and pressure from Vatican II, crumbled. This is as optimistic as I can get.

He missed a great opportunity to change the course of Western civilization. A mistake that could mean grave consequences for all of us. After watching this disaster with the pope and Chavez and Ahmadinejad coming to America calling for our downfall and destruction in the past two days, we are seeing the Apocalypse of liberalism in progress.

Ortellio R. writes:

I follow your work with great respect, not least for your willingness to keep thinking and rethinking. I think it is having and will have a strong influence for good, especially among people already awoken and alerted by Mark Steyn, Melanie Phillips and others who see and tell the dangers but remain silent or ineffectual about remedies.

Benedict XVI’s sequence of statements is certainly disconcerting. But it deserves to be followed with great precision. I am not a cleric of any kind but have had the opportunity to watch him close up for long periods over a number of years. He is not vain or feckless or in love with the nuances of words for their own sake like some mere academic. He has retracted nothing, not a word, of what he said in his own voice about Islam. He has explicitly reaffirmed everything that Manuel II said apart from the sentence about what Mahomet brought into the world. Even that sentence remains unwithdrawn: it “does not express my personal convictions,” but perhaps it represents what he considers a tenable opinion, at least when it is expressed with more precision than the emperor gave it: everything that Mahomet introduced that was not already present in Judaism and Christianity was of negative value. That thought has been deliberately thrown like a dart into the world’s debate, and having thrown it, the Pope has not denounced it save to say that the Emperor put it in a way that is extremely brusque by our standards. True enough.

You are entirely correct to say that that part of Manuel II’s remarks was not necessary for the Pope’s critique of Islam’s violence and Islam’s irrationalist view of God. The critique remains entirely undisturbed, and it is fundamental.

Our friend Fjordman is criticising the Pope for preaching open borders, and quotes a report at Dhimmi Watch that says: “Benedict said Christians were called to “open their arms and their hearts to everyone,” regardless of their countries of origin.” But this, like some of what you have said about his predecessor, is a misconception. The whole sentence just quoted from reads: “This is why single believers are called to open their arms and their hearts to every person, from whatever nation they come, allowing the Authorities responsible for public life to enforce the relevant laws held to be appropriate for a healthy co-existence.” This draws with great firmness, albeit brevity, a distinction fundamental to Christian political thought. It entails that you and I, and indeed any Christians whose arms are open to individual strangers from anywhere, are at the same time free, even welcome, to argue for the most severe legal restrictions on, and discriminations in, immigration that we believe are appropriate for healthy co-existence within our societies and between our societies and others.

If he made a slip with the unnecessary “evil and inhuman” sentence—which is not certain—he has not fallen over. Nothing is withdrawn, but the heat on the Muslims shifts to the other parts of both the emperor’s and the Pope’s remarks, which are extremely severe. They too are compatible with “great respect”—you should not render that “total respect”—for Muslims who are working for peace and justice etc. He didn’t say for all Muslims, or even most Muslims, still less for Islam. Manuel II had enough respect for his Muslim Persian interlocutor to debate with him with energy and penetration.

Patrick H. writes:

The goal for the Catholic Church is the spreading of the gospel and the conversion of souls. The pope is the defender of our faith and not our civilisations and nations—though the former will ensure the latter.

The pope is the Vicar of Christ but also an administrator. The pope oversees 1.05 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, the world’s largest religion/denomination. If B16 were to say something as categorical as “At the core of Islam is violence, … “ from the outset then there would be wholesale slaughter of Roman Catholics far beyond anything his recent comments have stirred. What’s more no American army let alone a European one would come to their rescue. The Americans are comitted to their gospel of democracy and the Euros their gospel of appeasement.

The Holy Father has to turn the giant tanker that is the Roman Catholic church and he can’t do it on a dime as the American expression goes. Your proposed statement, though something you and I desire from the comfort of our Western homes, though true, would be literally disastrous for the many Catholics (and Christians) in the Mid-East, Africa and elsewhere that Islam rules. [LA replies: I did not say that the Pope has to say: “At the core is Islam is violence.” His articulation on September 12 was fine. It’s unqualified praise of Muslims and Islam on September 20 that I am protesting.]

So given the Church’s goals and given its military constraints (there is no military) and given the human lives it serves to protect, if we are to defeat Islam then our strategy must be a religious one. After all, no matter what politicians say this is a religious war. Just as multiculturalism (the ideaology) is the Trojan horse that brings Islam in our midst then reason is our trojan horse that will divide Islam….

By defining God in relation to reason B16 is introducing the Trojan horse. Reason must allow for doubt and doubt is anathema to Islam. There are many Muslim souls to be saved and telling them about our God of reason (and doubt) will undermine their faith in Islam.

The test for my understanding of the pope’s message will be that he continue to enunciate his challenge and call to reason over the following months. A momentum must be built where Muslims who profess their ROP are called to discuss it in the light of reason.

Islam is a house of cards protected by the sword. Without the sword it is cards and with the sword that is all it is—the sword. Reason (and thereby doubt) is the trojan horse that can divide and ultimately conquer Islam.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 20, 2006 04:47 PM | Send

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