Monday, December 19, 2005

The Roman Pontiff as savior of the West

In his piece today, Magister includes an address by a prominent historian at a conference at the Pontifical Lateran University and a commentary by a well-known Muslim in the Italian daily la Repubblica.

Read the complete article From Lepanto to Baghdad, There’s a Road that Leads through Rome from www.chiesa.

Walter Brandmüller the historian in his address recounted the place of the Christian in traditional Muslim society. He explained the use of the word 'jihad' and discussed the attacks on Christianity by the Muslim Caliph of Egypt that led to the First Crusade (in contradiction to the assertion that Muslim society at the time was a place of peaceful tolerance).

Brandmüller looked at Pius V and that Pope's organization of a league of Christian kingdoms to fend off and destroy the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The historian pointed at the victory as the means by which Europe was able to not be dominated by Islam and was able to follow through with the Renaissance and after that the Enlightenment. He added at one point the following on the neutralization of the only uniting force in European history by "secularism":

The so-called “secularism” that would silence all the monotheistic religions through accusations of fundamentalism, or that exalts dialogue by negating their differences, intends to blot out the age-old conflict that has pitted the two religious communities against one another. Above all, it intends to neutralize the Roman pontiff, who has shown himself capable of blocking the Islamic advance and saving Christian civilization.

Khaled Fouad Allam the Muslim commentator in his piece in the Italian daily talked about the political process in Iraq and especially the reformation of Iraqi society by bringing together the different groups, ethnic Kurds and Arabs, confessional Shi'ites, Sunnis and Christians, etc. into the democratic process.

Because it will be precisely on the terrain of politics, of the forces in play and the game of alliances, that the new Iraqi society’s capacity to define itself politically will be demonstrated. Politics is the very strange art of living together: but to practice it, the Iraqis need to rediscover their liberty, which was taken from them in the name of the nation, eliminating what a society is, meaning its ethnic, religious, and cultural complexity. I maintain that the Americans saw things properly in considering the communitarian perspective an obligatory step for the reformulation of Iraqi society.

But Allam also sounded a warning:

There remains a fundamental problem: the situation in Iraq, if it does work, will work only in the context of a homogeneous Middle East. If this new democracy remains surrounded by countries governed by antidemocratic forces, the risk is a weakening of what has just been constructed.

No comments: