Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fr Samir on the Pope's Dialogue With Islam

Asia News Online has a very well-written article on the Holy Father's call to dialogue with Islam. The article is insightful and written with clarity and logic. The author, Fr Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, deserves praise for it, and may warrant a Google search for additional online resources.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Benedict's masterly lecture at Regensburg was seen by many Christians and Muslims as a false step by the Pope, a simple mistake, something to get over and forget, if we don't want to set off a war of religions. Instead, at Regensburg, this Pope traced, with his balanced, courageous and by no means trivial thinking, the basis for true dialogue between Christians and Muslims, giving voice to many reformist Muslims and suggesting to Islam and Christians the steps to be taken.

  • From the 9th to the 11th century Islam had integrated in its vision the Hellenistic dimension of Greek philosophy and, through this, the critical, logical and reasonable dimension. This happened thanks to the Christians that lived in the Muslim world. But, for almost a thousand years, Islam abandoned reason to continuously repropose a literal application of what was said in the past. The current crisis in the Muslim world is based on this very gap between faith and reason and, many Muslims, in various ways, are saying so.

  • Benedict XVI's speech did not deny the facts, but proposed that they be understood within a human context. That is, he suggested that Islam begin to undertake an interpretation of texts.

  • At Regensburg, Benedict XVI dared to speak of violence, the lack of reason, the necessity of interpretation in Islam, and thus many Muslim intellectuals praised him and hoped that "the Pope does not apologize." In the West, the calls for an apology were numerous, even among Christians. In effect, what had happened, however, was that the Pope's behaviour at Regensburg upset the overly irenic conception of the Church's mission and the tolerant do-goodism of lay environs. Benedict XVI made it understood that speaking the truth, saying things that hurt, is not an insult, but a path for healing. Occasionally, a bitter pill must be given.

    To read more, click here to go to the Asia News website.

    Hat Tip to Catholic World News!

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