Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI and the Clash of Faith and Reason

1. I have not made any public comment on the Pope's lecture on Faith and Reason at the University of Regensburg, except to my own Clergy and Religious. I have read the Pope's lecture twice—very closely. I have analyzed its tone, its premise, its main issue, the way it is developed, its conclusions. It is closely reasoned. It was given to scholars in an academic setting.

2. As a former academic, frankly I am completely shocked and bewildered by the vehement reaction to the Pope's lecture from various quarters of the Muslim world. TV has shown effigies of Benedict XVI being burned as an enemy of Islam. Churches in several countries have been attacked. The murder of a religious Sister in Somalia has been speculated on as a possible retaliation. I even surmised that the violent reactions could unfortunately confirm the wrong belief of many non-Islam people that Islam may, indeed, be a religion of violence. If this were so, it would be a great pity.

3. But most certainly Pope Benedict XVI is definitely not anti-Muslim. This I declare unequivocally from personal knowledge. I have talked with him several times when he was yet a Cardinal. I have referred issues of inter-religious dialogue to him. He was the closest and most trusted theological adviser of Pope John Paul II. I personally know that he shared the vision of the late Pope John Paul II with regard to inter-religious dialogue.

4. I know that he has the greatest respect for peoples of different religions, particularly of Islam. Together with the Pontifical Commission on Inter-Religious Dialogue, he collaborated with the late Pope on the many significant papal documents and events that had significantly promoted respectful dialogue with Islam. He thought that dialogue with the great religious traditions had a lot to do with the deeply rooted cultural traditions of various peoples.

5. That is why I was not surprised when he placed the Pontifical Commission on Inter-Religious Dialogue under the Vatican office on Culture - a move that was misinterpreted by some critics as a down grading of the process of dialogue. I am sure that he thought of the move as enriching the process and emphasizing the role of culture in inter-religious dialogue. One can see his emphasis on cultural religious values on his insistence that Europe recognize this in its Constitution. One can likewise see this point clearly in his lecture at the University of Regensburg.

6. Further, he continues to regard the continuing war in Iraq with great disapproval. In his own academic style he severely and negatively judged the anti-Islam cartoons in Denmark. In doctrine and in practice, he certainly holds great respect for Islam and its believers. With his great predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he holds in common the conviction that violence is not to be justified in the name of religion, Christian or otherwise. The tragic blunders of religious belief in this regard have littered history with thousands of corpses.

6. The one fault the Pope could have had at the University of Regensburg is his "political" simplicity. Some might call it "naiveté." Certainly I see him as a simple person without any worldly political sophistication, a scholar "without guile". Perhaps he believed that everyone would understand his use of a medieval text in its proper context -- as a simple starting point for a wide-ranging scholarly discussion on the need for the West to restore faith and religious values into its secular mentality. Such restoration has to be done, he says, if the West were to successfully enter into dialogue with the great cultural religious traditions of peoples. Here I suppose he would include such traditions as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.

7. We now know, of course, from his message of September 16, that was covered live by Al-Jazeera that he does not endorse the medieval text. In fact, we are told that the German word that he used in his lecture to describe the statement of the Byzantine Emperor really means "crude."

8. I pray that things will settle down quickly with the apology so humbly expressed by this simple yet learned religious leader.

+Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, DD
September 20, 2006

1 comment:

magnamus said...

Your Excellency,

Do you believe in the thrice-defined Catholic dogma, that "Outside the Catholic Church, there's no Salvation"?

Do you know the heretical teachings of other religions? Buddhism, Hinduism (i.e. polytheists), Islam, Protestantism?

Do you know that Islam denies the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the dogma of the Holy Trinity?

Do you remember that Our Lord said, "He who denies Me, I'll deny before My Father"? Do you remember what Our Lord said, "He who is not with Me, is againts Me?"

Do you remember that the followers of “religions” refuse the only Mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus (I Tim 2:5) or which, by denying the existence of one only, personal God are nothing more than atheism and idolatry?

Do you believe that the Catholic Church is divine and the only True Church, the One Holy Catholic Church, established by Our Lord, purchased by His Precious Blood?

The Catholic Church founded by Him and to which He entrusted all the treasures of salvation is for her part also jealous of the privileges of her sole Master and Lord, and teaches all men that they must turn towards her and be baptized by her if they wish to be saved and partake of the glory of God in a happy eternity.

The True Catholic Attitude of "Reaching Out" to Non-Catholics is this:

"But God forbid that the sons of the Catholic Church ever in any way be hostile to those who are not joined with us in the same bonds of faith and love; but rather they should always be zealous to seek them out and aid them, whether poor, or sick, or afflicted with any other burdens, with all the offices of Christian charity; and they should especially endeavor to snatch them from the darkness of error in which they unhappily lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth and to the most loving Mother the Church, who never ceases to stretch out her maternal hands lovingly to them, and to call them back to her bosom so that, established and firm in faith, hope, and charity, and 'being fruitful in every good work' [Colossians 1:10], they may attain eternal salvation."

--Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, par. 9, August 10, 1863 (Denzinger 1678)