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Regensburg lecture/Assessment of the lecture's purpose

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Part of the series on the
Regensburg lecture
Pope Benedictus XVI january,20 2006 (17)
'Lecture by
Pope Benedict XVI'
Pope Benedict XVI's lecture
Initial reactions
Subsequent Vatican statements
Open letters from top Muslim clerics
Protests, attacks and threats
Controversial Statements about Qur'an Chapter 2
Assessment of the lecture's purpose
Article discussion

Assessment of the lecture's purpose

In contrast to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy - which is now deemed a precursor to the controversy over the Pope's lecture - the media focus was not on the issues of free speech or injured religious sensitivities. Underlying the widely talked about question of whether or not the Pope should apologize, and whether or not his subsequent statements even constituted an apology, several competing and separate interpretations of his intentions have been proffered. These are, broadly and in no particular order:

  • Responses to the speech ignore the fact that the Vatican advised against the US led invasion of Iraq, supports Tukey's entry into the EU [1], supports allowing muslims in France the freedom to wear headscarves [2], and has been part of a long campaign to promote basic human rights for Christians in Muslim dominated countries where they are persecuted / killed (Sudan, Somalia, post-war Iraq) or marginalized (most of the rest of the Islamic world including secular Turkey).
  • The lecture was claimed by many Catholic apologists to not be directed at Islam at all and the incendiary passages were purely circumstantial to the lecture's real intention, which was to counter the demotion of theology in the university environment in particular and of faith in a society plagued by postmodern relativism and irrationality in general.[3][4][5]
  • Pope Benedict's lecture was a "calculated risk," a move designed to win the hearts of the Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church who are surrounded by Muslims and whom Pope Benedict would be visiting in November, 2006. Given what he sees as close theological affinities between these two churches and other personal characteristics specific to Pope Benedict (traditional liturgy; criticism of scientific interpretation of scripture), "some form of reunion is not only feasible; from Benedict's point of view, it is highly desirable."[6][7]
  • Pope Benedict's lecture portends a parting from the Vatican's previous policies on dialogue with Islam, away from promoting harmony at all costs towards more reciprocity; that is, he wants the Muslim world opened up for Christian missions in the same way that Europe is open to Muslims and conversion out of Islam to be a legal or social possibility. In this view, according to the Pope, the position of Christians in Muslim-majority countries must be improved. However, observers state that Europe is not run by the as a Christian state but from the principles of liberal secularism which can be traced to the Age of Enlightenment, which was inspired in part by the region's Christian principles though sometimes at odds with Church authorities. It was also the Papal Fleet at the Battle of Lepanto that protected Europe's growth by preventing a massive Ottoman invasion of Europe in 1571. European countries must allow all people regardless of religion the ability to build places of worship due to the secular nature of European constitutions. Some European countries disallow the wearing of muslim scarves, something the Catholic church has condemned these governments for [2]. One must also be aware that most Muslim countries are ruled by secular dictatorships, though many also allow Islamic law Sharia to govern.



  1. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 [ http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/2848 ]
  3. However, observers note that the Pope insisted on keeping such comments in his speech even after his handlers advised him against it. According to Israeli analyst Uri Avnery, this "quote serves exactly the requirements of .... George Bush II. He, too, wants to unite the Christian world against the mainly Muslim "Axis of Evil". Moreover, the Turks are again knocking on the doors of Europe, this time peacefully. It is well known that the Pope supports the forces that object to the entry of Turkey into the European Union." The Pope has actually called for allowing Turkey into the European Union and spoke against the US invasion of Iraq. Moreover, this non-Christian analyst cited above, Uri Avnery, fails to understand that Catholics and Evangelicals are philosophically fundamentally different and disagree on many issues. The blatantly false comment by Uri Avnery could also be seen as an attempt to ignore the deeply seated conflict in the Islamic world with Israel and blame everything on the Pope who hasn't commanded a military force in nearly 500 years. From Faith, Adding a Blunt Footnote on Jihad'], The New York Times, 13 September 2006]
  4. 'Benedict XVI's background is theological, not diplomatic', The Jerusalem Post, 18 September 2006
  5. 'The Pope Was Right', Los Angeles Times, 20 September 2006]
  6. Sailing to Byzantium, International Herald Tribune, 29 September 2006
  7. Calculated Risk, Deutsche Welle, 27 September 2006

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