He didn’t mean it. He had no idea it would be offensive. He has nothing but respect for… in fact some of his best friends are… Aw, face it, the Pope knew what he was doing, and thought is was wise to do it. And maybe he’s right.
Speaking at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI quoted from a book in which 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel II Paleologos said, “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman….”
“Only evil and inhuman?” When challenged on this point, the Pope said he was simply quoting a text, that these were not his own words. Given the fact that he did not quote the text in order to argue against it, however, one can only surmise that he affirms it.
We should not be surprised at this. The fact is that the three Abrahamic religions as conventionally taught are mutually incompatible, and each of them rejects as false anything that is new. The only way the rabbis could claim their Judaism was true was to insist that it was old, that it was given to Moses along with what was then the Written Torah. Any so-called revelation that came after it was by definition false. So much for Christianity and Islam.
Christianity itself follows suit. There is no further revelation after Jesus so anything claiming to be revelation, i.e. the Koran, is by definition false. And Islam makes the same claim for itself: Mohammed is the seal of the prophets, the final prophet, and there is no further revelation after the Koran, and those that came before are corrupt and inoperable.
Simply put, if Torah is true, the Gospels and the Koran are false; if the Gospels are true the Torah is incomplete and the Koran is false; and if the Koran is true, the Torah and Gospels are corrupt and only the Koran is the true revelation. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
The Pope has apologized for the reaction his words have stirred in the Muslim world. He has not apologized for the idea that Islam is evil, nor has he backed down from his challenge to Islam that it publicly and unambiguously denounce all violence in the Name of God. Good for him. I just wish he had called upon all clergy to do so. Coming from the former head of the Inquisition, the Pope’s challenge may have carried some weight.
The truth is that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can be used to sanction violence, even genocide, in God’s Name. They have all engaged in evil and inhuman acts in God’s Name in the past, and continue to do so in the present. What is needed is a recognition of this fact, and a bold denunciation of ever using God to sanction violence.
Clergy must disassociate themselves from those strands of their respective religions that kill or fantasize about killing in God’s Name.
Let priests and pastors condemn the bombing of women’s health clinics and the murder of doctors who perform abortions. Let them walk away from churches that salivate at the thought of the Tribulation and Armageddon.
Let rabbis refuse to serve synagogues that support the oppression of Palestinians, and openly condemn those Jews who wish to destroy the mosque on the Temple Mount and replace it with an animal slaughterhouse.
Let imams leave mosques that preach and support hatred and violence, and proclaim those who use of the Koran to foster evil infidels.
Let these clergymen and women gather in Rome, Jerusalem, Mecca, and New York to preach peace. Let them issue a proclamation that they and their religions must outgrow their violent histories, and affirm the best that each has to offer, a best that says in one voice from one God that justice, compassion, humility, and nonviolence are the Way, and that anyone who violates this Way will be arrested along with their families to be publicly humiliated, tortured, burned in this world and the next and… oh. This may be harder than I think.