Bill Buckley has long been a dissenter from the Catholic Church in which he was raised (and still, IIRC, professes to belong.) Thus, it's rather ironic to see Bill Buckley pontificating--
The talk over the weekend concerning the pope's blunder had to do with his under-instruction in diplomacy. Several matters were cited, among them that he had, for lack of intelligent concern, dispatched his principal Arabist to Cairo on a trivial diplomatic mission. The assumption is that if His Holiness had had his ship in order, somebody would have told him that the little paragraph about Islam in his forthcoming speech at the University of Regensburg would bring on a major diplomatic foofaraw.
So far, so good. There were a lot of chipmunks in the media (and within the Church) who bemoaned the Pope's apparent lack of intellectual and political firepower. They were wrong, of course...but that's another topic.
...Substantially lost in the caterwauling was the pope's objective in his speech, which was to bemoan the dissipation of faith and efforts to separate it from reason. The paragraph quoting the Byzantine emperor's words about Islam was intended to remark historical accretions in religion that the pope was deploring as undesirable developments. He might also have remarked the crusading days of the Christian church as a regrettable historical development.
Here, Bill's half-right. The "crusading days" of the Roman Catholic church were not totally offensive actions; early on, they were justifiable, and defensive. But we quibble.
...The great unanswered question in modern political thought is: Who speaks for Muhammad?
...But who is to say, nowadays, what is the authentic voice of the Islamic exegesis? There is no Islamic Council that can speak with authority in these matters. And surely what the pope was attempting to say, or should have been attempting to say, was that behavior of certain kinds has no warrant to excuse itself simply by citing someone's interpretation of the Quran.
But to delve into that question becomes, ironically, more difficult rather than less since the pope's speech at Regensburg, and for this the pope could legitimately apologize.
False. The Pope put the question on the table for a very good reason having nothing to do with the "difficulty" of addressing it. He put it on the table because someone had to ask in order to get the (so far, very silent) majority of Muslims to do likewise--ask.
And, presumably, begin to find both courage AND voice to stifle the terrorists. This is part of a larger strategy: to tell the Muslim fanatics that they will not have a place at a civilized table and to, once again, reconcile reason with theology.
It's both theological and practical--things with which Benedict XVI is very good, indeed.
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It is quite odd that many seem to fear a war of words between the Church/Western Civ and Islam more than physical war between them. While we certainly mourn the victims of the violent reactions that occured in the wake of the speech, we weren't in a peaceful nirvana before the speech.
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