The most important address
commemorating 9/11/01 was delivered on 9/12/06, a day after the fifth
anniversary of this cataclysmic act of jihad terrorism. It was not delivered by
Bush, and was not
even pronounced in the United States. On September 12, 2006 at the University of
Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture (“adding some allusions of the
Reason and the University”.
Despite his critique of
modern reason, Benedict argued that he did not intend to promote a
…back to the time before
the Enlightenment and reject[ing] the insights of the modern age. The positive
aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: We are all grateful
for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the
progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos,
moreover, is the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an
attitude which reflects one of the basic tenets of Christianity.
Christianity, the Pope
maintained, was indelibly linked to reason and he contrasted this view with
those who believe in spreading their faith by the sword. Benedict developed this
argument by recounting the late 14th century “Dialogue Held With A Certain
Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia” between the Byzantine
ruler Manuel II Paleologus, and a well-educated Muslim interlocutor. The crux
of this part of his presentation, was the following:
Violence is incompatible
with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God’, he [the Byzantine
ruler] 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. Whoever would lead
someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without
violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong
arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with
However, it is Benedict’s
discussion of the Byzantine ruler’s allusions to “…the theme of the jihad (holy
war)”—Koran 2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion”, notwithstanding—that
has unleashed a firestorm
of condemnation and violence from Muslims across the world. Here are the words deemed so
incendiary by both Muslim leaders, and the masses:
Without descending to
details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the
‘Book’ and the ‘infidels’, he [Manuel II Paleologus] turns to his interlocutor
somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between
religion and violence in general, in these words: ‘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
The historical context for
these words—which were likely written by Manuel II Paleologus between 1391 and
1394—turns out be much more banal, albeit unknown to fulminating Muslims (here; here),and Islamic apologists of all
ilks, especially the disingenuous Muslim (here; here) and hand-wringing
non-Muslim promoters of
empty “civilizational dialogue”.
Read it all.
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