When The Pope Speaks
Ankara, Turkey – Amidst arguing controversial, Pope Benedict charges forward on his visits to Turkey. Details of his visit are highly sensitive because of the remarks the Pope made in a speech back in September. In his highly infamous Regensberg Speech, the Pope simply quoted the Fourteenth Century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus as well as quoting the Qu'ran. Infuriated Muslims believe that the Pope was depicting Islam as an irrational people bent toward violence. But, this anger is misplaced and there are stirring reasons as to why.
Pope Benedict has always come across as an intellectual who likes to explore various sides of an issue. But he is also known as hard-knuckled meaning that when he has contentious opinions, he does not hesitate to voice them no matter what other issues may arise from his words. Since becoming Pope last year, he has made quite a mark on the world already. He has addressed gay marriage as not recognized and not valid. He has condemned the ordination of women. And most recently, he has spoken out about the relationship between Islam and Christianity.
The Pope's purpose of his speech was to discuss the deep philosophical debate between Faith and Reason. In a review of this historical debate, Pope Benedict notes that the discussion honors the "Three Laws," which are listed as The Old Testament, The New Testament and The Qu'ran. In this discussion, these three laws are authoritative and must each be used as the basis for logic in the debate. Pope Benedict in fact quotes the Qu'ran in 2.256 that, "There is no compulsion in religion …" Religion is not forced on anyone. It is a matter of one's own choice to follow religion.
The Pope further quotes Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, "Show me just what Mohammed thought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." This is a quote of an Emperor who lived in the Fourteenth Century, not the words of Pope Benedict delivered on that notorious September 12, 2006 day.
But when the media makes its own spin on the Pope's words, it leads many people to believe that the Pope spoke out against Muslims. His message was that it is historically believed by those who have studied and followed religious doctrine that a holy war is not justified by God, no matter what religion or law you follow. In quoting the Qu'ran, the Pope makes it clear that Islam does not believe in coercion religion on others and theby, know that war as a result of religion is not reasonable. How in the world has the media published such a speech as offensive to Islam?
Such articles give us some insight as published in New York Times, written by Ian Fisher, "Pope Benedict, in Inflammatory Speech, Assails All: Secularism, Jihad, Islam and the Prophet Muhammad." In that article Ian Fisher states, "[The Pope] said that violence, embodied in the Muslim idea of jihad, or holy war, is contrary to reason and God's plan, while the West was so beholden to reason that Islam could not understand it . " An irresponsible remark such as this, with absolutely no truth, leads many readers to believe whatever it was designed to make them believe.
The Pope's exact speech can be read by anyone on the Catholic World News website, the Vatican website, and even the Zenit organization website as well as plenty of other websites throughout the globe. But, people rarely have time to research things on their own or read through a seven page document that took the Pope over half an hour to deliver. Therefore, the minds of The People are often influenced by the haphazard remarks journalists craft when they are trying to make the news. Stirring drama where it often does not belong, many reporters will intentally misquote a world figurehead knowing that the illegitimacy of such remarks will go unnoticed.
While the Pope is trying to embrace the world and invite meaningful dialogue between these two major religions, there are reporters within the media who would like to undersine these efforts. Some reporters might be thinking of the next world war as a way to gain notoriety and one day rank up there with the likes of Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite. Maybe, there are actually some journalists in this world who are such drama queens that they froth at the mouth at the chance to stir up some trouble. Whatever the reason, it would be a better world if everyone would do the research on their own whenever they feel deeply offended about the latest issue in the media.
Opening up dialogue and participating in meaningful discussion is touchy but possible. Misinterpreting someone's meaning is dangerous and as discussions move forward, questioning what you do not understand is the most appropriate way to reach a greater understanding. Either way, this is and always has been the best way to bridge the gap between our cultures and to fight terrorism. With a greater understanding of each other, we have less of a need to spread hate.