“... and its struggle to find a place in modern society.”
That and much more, all of it worthy, over at Crisis Magazine in this piece by George Rutler called Benedict XVI: Pope as Prophet:
If a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, a great prophet is not without honor save in the whole world. Pope Benedict XVI bent under that mantle in 2006 when he spoke in Regensburg. His only miscalculation was to assume that civilization might still be civil enough to respect reason. Quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, himself a remnant of a decaying civilization which still distinguished good from evil, he considered how the Islamic notion of a divine power divorced from reason, whose absolute will is its own justification, could ransack the dignity of man. He condemned no one, and spoke only for truth without which the votaries of unreason, for whom there is no moral structure other than the willfulness of amorality, and whose God is not bound by his own word, rain down destruction.
The response of some, who protested with violence, proved by that very violence the Regensburg hypothesis, if the Incarnate Christ whose word is truth, can be called a hypothesis. Pope Benedict said: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul…. God 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 death….”
Later, the distinguished Egyptian Jesuit scholar, Father Shamir Halil Shamir, wrote: “Benedict XVI is probably one of the few figures to have profoundly understood the ambiguity in which contemporary Islam is being debated and its struggle to find a place in modern society. At the same time, he is proposing a way for Islam to work toward coexistence globally and with religions, based not on religious dialogue, but on dialogue between cultures and civilizations based on rationality and on a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion. This choice to wager on cultural dialogue explains his decision to absorb the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue into the larger Pontifical Council for Culture.”
The president of Argentina, the problematic Christina Kirchner, said that the Pope’s remarks were a “diatribe” and “dangerous for everyone.” A supporter of Kirchner, the left-wing “investigative journalist” Horatio Verbitsky, adept as a conspiracy theorist, claimed in the journal “Pagina/24″ that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, at that time archbishop of Buenos Aires, had distanced himself from the Regensburg address, and the cardinal’s spokesman, Father Guillermo Marco, was quoted in Newsweek Argentina as saying that Bergoglio was “unhappy” with what Pope Benedict had said. The London Daily Telegraph made the same claim with nothing more substantial than the article in Newsweek Argentina. It is the case that another Argentinian archbishop, Joaquin Pina, criticized the Regensburg thesis, four days after which the Holy See accepted his resignation, but he already was one year past retirement age.
These few years since have seen written in the suffering of distressed souls what Pope Benedict described calmly and charitably. Such a short time can sharpen perceptions, and Pope Francis, whom we are assured is close to Benedict, has recently said from his humble abode: “The news coming from Iraq leaves us with dismay and disbelief.” Consequently, the Holy See conceded that military action may be needed to stem the atrocities of the Islamic State of Iraq. Only time will tell if that is a day late and a dollar short. Pythagoras’s belief that history repeats itself is a notion contrary to Christian progress, but all history attests that mistakes can repeat themselves, and the only way out of that fatal trap is to admit error and make amends. Both Benedict and Francis continue to grace the world with their obedience to the Logos. Should the God of Love call Benedict first to his heavenly home where humility’s only advertisement is the peace which passes all understanding, may Francis or another successor of Peter, declare Benedict a Doctor of the Church. Of one thing we may be certain: like the bold prophet Jeremiah, the benign prophet Benedict will never say in this world or from the next, “I told you so.” Reality has said that already by events more than words.
The prayer of every decent person must be that radical Islam succumb to international pressure for peace absent the need for violent confrontation.
Dear God let it be so... and give guidance and direction should that international pressure fail as it appears, in our humanity, that it will.