Thursday, December 14, 2006

Turkey and Regensburg are not to be divorced

Samir Khalil Samir of the Jesuits in Asia News writes on the continuation of what Benedict XVI said at Regensburg through his trip to Turkey. (My bolding.)

[...] But now, most comments are that “finally” Regensburg has been forgotten, wiped out, killed and the Pope changed his “policy” in Turkey [my link], having become even an astute politician who is more careful about opportunity than about truth.

Actually, though, the Pope’s message in Turkey is a continuation of that of Regensburg. The essential message at Regensburg was two-fold. Firstly, with a view toward the West, it was to say that secularization is not a positive thing and does not allow for universal dialogue. Instead, Reason allows for universal dialogue on the condition that it is not detached from religiosity and from moral principles. This was a critique of the West. There was also a critique of the Islamic world, too tempted by violence.

The final aim of this two-fold critique was a positive affirmation: if we want universal peace and global dialogue, these aspirations are threatened in the West and the East by these two main issues. The Pope is thus striving to build a philosophical-theological framework centred on rationality, but a rationality which is open to the transcendental dimension.

In his trip to Turkey, Benedict XVI gave substance to this vision, applying it to a concrete situation, but his thinking remains that of Regensburg. Speaking to the Muslims, he discretely [sic?] recalled the question of violence, but avoided the misunderstanding which occurred with his words at Regensburg. [...]

Father Samir's points are a valid look at the Pope's message from a man who has been intimately involved with Cardinal Ratzinger and then Benedict XVI for some time. He pointed out back on November 1st that "If he refers directly to it, I don’t think it will help because Muslims are not ready to understand it." Father Samir's comments are further comfirmation that Benedict is a pretty bright guy who shouldn't be underestimated when it comes to getting his message across to those who aren't really interested in hearing it.

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