John Allen today asks this question:
Will it be the Benedict of Regensburg, challenging his Muslim hosts to embrace rationality, hence to renounce violence and to respect religious freedom? Or will it be the post-Regensburg Benedict, seemingly determined to project a "kinder, gentler" face to Islam, missing no opportunity to send signals of reconciliation?
Can Benedict XVI indeed be both the great critic of Islam and the great reconciler of Islam and the Church? Let's look at an analogy. A few weeks ago, Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, visited the United States to attend the UN's proceedings. While in the US, Chavez made some remarks about President Bush that were not well received. One of the most widely publicized counters to Chavez's remarks were was made by a New York Democrat member of Congress who basically told Chavez to get lost. The moral of the story is that people inside prefer to keep their monopoly on criticism and when people on the outside voice hostile thoughts, those thoughts are met with a firestorm.
This raises an interesting point for Benedict. Can he afford to be only the reconciler and keep any kind of credibility? No. If he's all lovey-dovey with his hosts and says not one word about the... shall we say 'old-fashioned eccentricities' of Islam, that would just send a message to the rest of the world that once again in the face of opposition, the West caves in. The Holy Father has one avenue and one avenue only. He needs to stick with the specific issue of Christians living in Muslim-majority countries and their treatment in those countries. He needs to say, "Look your religion is your business, but your so-called claims of being the religion of peace, fairness and decency don't square with the facts. For example, you won't even let the Orthodox of your own country (supposedly secular Turkey) open their seminary."
That is how I would advise him. Moving on.
That's it I guess. I will leave you all with this image of a new church going up in Knoxville, TN that Amy posted the other day at Open Book. Two parishes in the greater Iowa City area are moving, St. Thomas More to north Coralville/North Liberty and St. Patrick's to eastern Iowa City. Both will be constructing new buildings. Let us all hope and pray they are inspired in their choices for a new building's style and design. Click on it to see it full-size.