Pope disses Islam, invokes Byzantine emperor who fought Turks

On a visit to his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI weighed in Sept. 12 before an audience at Regensburg University, where he once taught, on the contentious issue of rapport between Islam and the West. Calling for a “genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today,” he began his speech by quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, in a conversation with a “learned Persian” on Christianity and Islam — “and the truth of both.” But the words he quoted from the emperor were: “Show me just what Muhammad 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 preached.” He went on to say that violent conversion to Islam was contrary to reason and thus “contrary to God’s nature.”

Ironically, the bulk of his speech was an attack on Western secularism which would have warmed the heart of any Islamist. He even criticized secularism as a barrier to dialogue between the West and Islam — as if secularism was inherently alien to the Islamic world. “The world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion from the divine, from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”

The speech was a central moment in Benedict’s six-day visit home to Bavaria, where he grew up and rose to a cardinal. Earlier in the day, at an outdoor Mass attended by some 250,000, he urged believers to stand up against the “hatred and fanaticism” that he said were tarnishing “God’s image.”

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the chief Vatican spokesman, tried to explain the Pontoff’s comments to the New York Times: “I believe that everyone understands, even inside Islam, there are many different positions, and there are many positions that aren’t violent. Here, certainly, the pope doesn’t want to give a lesson, let’s say, an interpretation of Islam, as violent. He is saying, in the case of a violent interpretation of religion, we are in a contradiction with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”

The Times notes that in the weeks after John Paul’s death in April 2005, the question of Islam was a key issue in the selection of a new pope. As a candidate, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who took the name Benedict after his election, embodied the more skeptical school within the Vatican. Unlike John Paul, Cardinal Ratzinger did not approve of joint prayers with Muslims and was skeptical of the value of inter-religious dialogue. In 2004, he caused a stir by opposing membership in the European Union for Turkey, saying that it “always represented another continent throughout history, in permanent contrast with Europe.”

In his first trip outside Italy as pope, he met with Muslim leaders in Cologne, where he said Catholics and Muslims must overcome differences, but also told them they had the responsibility to teach their children against terrorism, which he called “the darkness of a new barbarism.”

Last summer, he devoted an annual weekend of study with former graduate students to Islam. Notes the Times: “In that meeting, and since, he has reportedly expressed skepticism about Islam’s openness to change, given its view of the Koran as the unchangeable word of God.”

(Um, excuse us, but don’t Catholics take the same view of the Bible?)

In his invocation of Manuel II’s phrase, Benedict did say “I quote” twice to stress the words were not his. But, not surprisingly, Muslims are not assuaged. The Pope is due to visit Turkey in November and the Turkish outcry over the words has been strong. The BBC reports that “Turks see Benedict as a Turkophobe and commentators call his words just before the holy month of Ramadan ‘ill-timed and ill-conceived.'” Ali Bardakoglu, head of the state-run Turkish religious affairs directorate, called for the Pope to immediately issue an apology. He said the Pope’s comments represented an “abhorrent, hostile and prejudiced point of view”. While Muslims might express their criticism of Islam and of Christianity, he argued, they would never defame the Holy Bible or Jesus Christ. He said he hoped the Pope’s speech did not reflect “hatred in his heart” against Islam.

The BBC quoted a Pakistani Islamic scholar, Javed Ahmed Gamdi, who said jihad was not about spreading Islam with the sword. Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior leader of Pakistan’s Jammiat Ulema-e-Islam party and an MP, warned Pope Benedict not to follow the lead of US President George W Bush. “Jihad is a tool for defence and we expect the Pope to speak against aggression,” he said.

In Indian-administrated Kashmir, police seized copies of newspapers which reported the Pope’s comments to prevent any outbreak of reactionary violence.

A Moroccan newspaper warned the remarks risked sparking fresh protests following the controversy earlier this year over the publication of anti-Islamic cartoons in a Danish newspaper.

Haken al-Mutairi, secretary general of the Kuwaiti Umma party, also demanded the pope apologize immediately “to the Muslim world for his calumnies against the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and Islam”. He called on Arab and Islamic states to withdraw their ambassadors to the Vatican until an apology was offered.

Aiman Mazyek, president of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims said: “After the bloodstained conversions in South America, the crusades in the Muslim world, the coercion of the Church by Hitler’s regime, and even the coining of the phrase ‘holy war’ by Pope Urban II, I do not think the Church should point a finger at extremist activities in other religions.” (NYT, 7 Days [UAE], Sept. 15; BBC, M&C News, Sept. 14)

Significantly (as the Chronology of Greek History at the Greek Folk Dance Resource Manual website reminds us), Manuel II Paleologus was Byzantine emperor when Constantinople was first beseiged by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Bayezid I in 1393. Pretty amazing that none of the media accounts have noted this rather salient fact. Constantinople finally fell to the Turks in 1453 under Emperor Constantine XI Paleologus, son of Manuel II.

See our last posts on Islamophobia, the Vatican and its increasingly creepy nostalgia for medieval Holy Wars.

  1. The Catholic Church Does Not Teach Bibilical Infallibility
    “In that meeting, and since, he has reportedly expressed skepticism about Islam’s openness to change, given its view of the Koran as the unchangeable word of God.”

    (Um, excuse us, but don’t Catholics take the same view of the Bible?)

    I guess you never researched the matter. Bible literalism is a feature of modern Protestantism, not modern Catholicism.

    1. I didn’t say “literalism”
      I said “unchanging word of God”, and the Catholic Encyclopedia would seem to agree with me.

      The Bible, as the inspired record of revelation, contains the word of God; that is, it contains those revealed truths which the Holy Ghost wishes to be transmitted in writing… The Bible not only contains the word of God; it is the word of God. The primary author is the Holy Ghost, or, as it is commonly expressed, the human authors wrote under the influence of Divine inspiration.

  2. Pope disses Islam…
    It would be nice if the news just told the story without adding their narrow, ill informed biases.
    I believe the Pope speaks the truth. I’m sure his comments were well thought out before he spoke, unlike the mainstream news.

    1. The very reason that Pope’s
      The very reason that Pope’s comments were well thought out makes me wonder about is wisdom. There is no point in making comments which serve no possitive purpose, specially by people in high positions.

  3. Excuse me, but Catholics
    Excuse me, but Catholics don’t cling to the Bible as you suggest. And I am not defending them. They pretty much ignore the Bible and wait for the Pope to tell them what to do. It is other Christian sects that claim that the Bible is literally true. And secularism allows people of different beliefs to live together in peace. Religion has never brought peace anywhere.

    1. Religion has never brought peace
      >>> Religion has never brought peace anywhere.

      I AGREE.

      Based on what is happening now …
      .. The purpose of Religion is to divide and destroy.

  4. Pope Disses Islam
    Its about time someone had the balls to stand up and say to stand up against “hatred and fanaticism” of the Muslims and Islamic extremests! Extremest Muslims and Islamics should STOP, and consider what they have been doing – Killing, murdering, and bombing. Get over it!

  5. This is no man of God
    First Catholics do not believe that the Bible is the unchangeable word of God. That is the realm of Evangelicals.

    This man, this vile little nazi of a Pope is not a man of God.

    1. Brother, Don’t be so
      Brother, Don’t be so judgmental to our Pope. For us, Catholics we honor and love him because he is our leader, our pastor. I am sure you also honor and love your leader the way we do. Let’s just respect one another, by doing this we are living the very word of our Lord Jesus Christ “to love another”. I think He did not say “do not love the protestants, muslims, hindus, orthodox or even catholics.
      Just to inform you bro, we do love the bible…we believe in it. It is the word of God. How can we ignore it or do not love it? I admit not all catholics are aware of the importance of the bible but you know our Church leaders are doing their best to reach out to all catholics. Again bro, please do not give harsh statement against us. I am deeply hurt and I am deply sorry for you because you do not know the root of our Catholic Christian faith.
      I am not saying that the Church is perfect, that would be in the height of hypocrisy and arrogance if I would say that it is perfect and flawless. History tells how the church falters and commits sin. It is undeniable…but have you asked yourself, Why still the Christian Catholic Church continues to grow and exist? Jesus promised that not even the gates of hell could destroy it. It is no longer debatable, it is a Gospel thing.
      Let’s us pray for ane another, for world peace. I respect your opinion, your faith, your pastor. All my unity with you. I love you. Let us help one another. Try to discover our faith, know it. I am not forcing you, it is just an advice so that you will know.
      May the love of God, the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.
      if you want to write me this is my email ad. aldrinvaldehueza@yahoo.com

  6. Scripture in Catholicism vs Islam
    >> Um, excuse us, but don’t Catholics take the same view of the Bible?)

    No, they don’t. The Islamic view of the Koran is similar (and possibly indebted) to the Kabbalist/Judaic view of Torah as something pre-existing even creation. Catholics, for all their faults, have never really fallen into book-workship. Consult your local Jesuit for more info.


  7. Christians are not terrorists ?
    One must measure everything realistically…The world history is replete with examples of christian atrocities and bloodshed…the recent attack on WTC ( which still remains disputed as to who did it) ,even if blamed on muslim extremists , is not even 1/1000 th of wot christians did in ww2 and ww1 or vietnam or Iraq…So, I say to the Pope…simply shut your mouth.

    1. belief vs evidence(?)
      > the recent attack on WTC ( which still remains disputed as to who did it)

      Oh, does it? Care to elaborate?

      A pox on all your churches: “Imagine there’s no heaven.”

      Let’s lay off the word ‘terrorist’ while we’re at it. I think Fox has a copywrite by now.

    2. One must measure everything

      One must measure everything realistically…The world history is replete with examples of christian atrocities and bloodshed…the recent attack on WTC ( which still remains disputed as to who did it) ,even if blamed on muslim extremists , is not even 1/1000 th of wot christians did in ww2 and ww1 or vietnam or Iraq…So, I say to the Pope…simply shut your mouth.

      This is the most biggest pile of shit I have ever read, sure Christians were killing other Christians (not to mention the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem joining forces with Hitler) and I do agree they could of done a lot more but how on earth do you class that as a war with Christians whilst Hitler (along with Stalin), both of whom rejected Christianity, waged war along the whole of europe and the far east?

      None of the wars you mentioned were in the name of Christianity nor started in the “name of God”, so in theory you should shut your mouth but be thankful, in democracy you are allowed freedom of speech unlike the islamic countries.

      Your comments just show how little knowledge you have and reference to history is simply of poor accuracy.

    3. Pope and islam
      Oh God.This time the comment was made by Pope in his home town of Bavaria.So Muslims leaders will issue statements. In hyderabad we will demonstrate and burn buses.And positively say,the poe was misled coerced by Hindu fantics and saffron group to make the irrelevant statement.And Muslims may become angry on 9th sept every year,all the leaders will beg and plead with muslims to be calm, no muslim leader will issue a request to be calm, leave alone fatwa, all state governments will be put on extra security like we do on 5th and 6th of Dec.AndMulayam singh Yadav will say, Hindus must restrain and will even say it would be better if Hindus are not coming outof their haouses, on these days, as a precaustion,as UPGovt cannot assure protection.He will say Muslim anger is understandable.And will say Hindus should not celebrate any
      function, as a best solutuion and participate in Ramzan and Moharum.

      Hindu Editor Mr N Ram willwrite a beautiful article justifying Muslim anger.
      Imams/Mulim Leaders and Secularisats will say. Narendra Modi is responsible for what happened in 1391.

      Long live Islam, Islamic values and Principles.But allow Hindus also to exist.

      1. Another conspiracy theory heard from…
        The Pope is the pawn of Hindu fundamentalists. Of course! How did we ever miss it?

        Would you care to explain the Dec. 5 and Sept. 9 references?

        1. The Pope is the pawn of

          The Pope is the pawn of Hindu fundamentalists. Of course! How did we ever miss it?

          It is obvious that Hindu right wingers influenced Jesus to found Xtianity when he was in India, so that they can have such a pope.

          Would you care to explain the Dec. 5 and Sept. 9 references?

          Dec 6 was when the Babri Masjid, a mughal era mosque, was demolished by Hindu activists to try build a temple to Ram (too simplistic, and it’s at Ram’s birthplace they say).

          sept 9 was prob one terrorist attack or another.

    4. i agree with you to an
      i agree with you to an extent that the pope should understand that ignorance is not a path to mutual understanding. If the pope done his research he would have found that early Islam did not spread through violence but through dialogue and kindness. All muslims are not bound together. Everyone is accountable for his actions. There are good and bad people in all religions. This does not mean that the religion is bad.

      1. > If the pope done his
        > If the pope done his research he would have found that early Islam did not spread through violence but through dialogue and kindness.

        Can you back that up with any historical evidence? Violence was a way of life in the 8th century but I have seen no indications of anything better than tax based tolerence in the early Islamic empires.

          1. Where do we stand now?
            Accepting that by the standards of 12 hundred years ago Islam was slightly less blood thirsty than the norm, where is the evidence that Islam is now a religion of peace (anywhere in the world)? Of course, answering that question involves lumping all Muslims into one ideological group which, while the accepted practice of the US media, is simplistic in the extreme. Not all Jews are Zionists (and not all Zionists are psychopatic racist militarists), not all Muslims are Whahabbi (sp?), and not all Catholics are crusaders. And not all Republicans are wanna be fascists. wait … hmmm … unclear.

            1. Let us not burden ourself withh all these philosophies
              There are so many philosophies preached by Islam, Hindusim, Christianity , etc.. I do beleive in GOD, but frankly speaking, all these religious scriptures should be put aside for the fact they leave each and everyone to intrepret in their own way. SO why do we need to follow those scriptures (Bible, Quran, etc.) which are too complicated and complex ? The simple thing is instead of blaming a particular religion, let us keep things simple by following the philosophy of “Just loving our family and friends”. I assume only educated people have logged their messages. But I wonder why they find some or the other way to hate other religions. Let us forget our religion and love each other. That’s simple instead of following all those religious rituals and leaders. Only GOD should save this earth from the clutches of all the religious fundamentalists.

              1. THE REAL FACE OF JESUS
                I was once approached by a christian who spoke elaborately about Jesus Christ and tried to convert me. I told him I would embrace Jesus Christ if the Vatican and Pope come out and apologise for tricking the public for centuries on what Jesus Christ actually looks like.
                In pictures world-wide Jesus Christ is potrayed as a white male, long blonde/brown hair and with blue/brown eyes. People who pray to Jesus, before going to bed, or any other time, have this image in their mind when they pray.
                But the facts points otherwise. Jesus of Nazareth was born in (Nazareth is Considered part of a desert area and the rocks are mainly calcareous) an arid landscape where the people did not look like how Jesus is pictured.
                From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
                The race of Jesus has been a subject of debate since at least the 19th century. The physical appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, though with no explicit emphasis on race, was also debated by theologians from early on in the history of Christianity. Different societies have depicted Jesus and most other biblical figures as their own ethnicity in their art, for example he is primarily white in the West, and black in Africa. Such representations are not, in the modern day, usually intended to be historically accurate. The current dominant opinion among secular historians and scientists is that he was most likely a bronze-skinned man, resembling modern-day persons of Middle Eastern descent. Others, however, have suggested other possible racial backgrounds, including African ones. For Christians the question is complicated by the belief that his birth was a unique miracle, an “incarnation in flesh of divine substance.”
                Please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_of_Jesus for more information on what Jesus would have actually looked like.
                Even the Jews have done forensic studies, and came up with a man who had short curly hair like the Africans and dark complextion named Jesus.
                So christians, you have been praying for centuries with the wrong image of Jesus in your mind. This is the biggest sin the Vatican has hidden from the world.
                Apologise, put the record straight, and I will head for the Vatican during my next summer holiday and be converted from a stout muslim, to a stout Christian.
                P.S. When you pray tonight, pray that the real face of Jesus is revealed to you, and when it is, dont be shocked.