Not his first time to attack Islam, Was The Pope calling for a New Crusade?
Before moving on to refute what The Pope Benedict XIV said in Munich and Regensburg, we have to explain first who the Pope of the Catholic Church is. Is he a god father or the head of the Vatican? Actually, the reply is going to be offensive that the god father of the Catholic Church is himself the Head of the Vatican state. This state has all the features of a state; like having a governmental and diplomatic body (how many Vatican envoys are accredited to Islamic countries? (At the same time this state is governed by a God-Father, therefore the supreme authority for the Catholic religion (actually it is a religion as the official religion in Italian schools is the Catholic religion) mingles between the spiritual authority and the materialistic authority in the only theological country in our time. Therefore this man is a Pope and King at the same time! This has nothing to do with the democratic principles to separate powers. Despite this fact, one can see some people belonging to Vatican criticizes the Muslim society and calling them to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God, God according to the modern and advanced principles!! Moreover, they call Muslims to separate between powers in order to modernize Islam.
However, being Pope is not only his position, yet according to the papacy teachings he is the shadow of Christ on earth, the Holy See of Rome, the head of a sect and the absolute king in the international affairs.
Then the man is commissioned with organizing the Church for the state, appointing ministers, bishops, cardinals and envoys etc beside looking after the affairs of faithful people (more than a billion of individuals) and framing the policy of the State Church in dealing with other religious and cultural sects, as the tolerant pope Ratzinger calls.
After we mentioned the powers of the Pope of Vatican and his personality when dealing with other Christian Churches (the Protestants, Orthodox, and Coptic and all the branches thereof), we should add that the Pope is the Democratic shadow for the College of Cardinals where it summons all Cardinals all over earth after the death of the Pope of Vatican.
Josef Ratzinger, is a prominent scholar in theology, he is German. He was summoned at life term of John Paul II in the eighties to run a very fine position which was the Perfect of the Congregation of the Doctrine Faith, one of the important institutions of Vatican.
It is the fundamental base for the doctrine of the Catholic Church. However, Cardinal Ratzinger expressed with his strict theology the meaning of the term “Church”. It was not a mere linguistic or Philosophical argument. Some of the enlightened theologians like Hanner Kong were convinced that the term “Church” is a worldly term while “salvation” at the end will be the responsibility of all regardless of the God; also they believed that any “God” is equal to the “Other”, and in all cases the identity of God has nothing to do with the branches thereof.
However, Ratzinger wrote and insisted in more than one occasion especially in 1997, in the Declaration of Dominos Jesus that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Therefore he framed and limited the word Church and ascribed it only to the Catholic Church, this angered other Christian Churches.
This affected the visit of Pope John Paul II who was prevented from visiting Moscow as his signature was on the declaration. Yet, John Paul II was not to be blamed like his successor as this reflects his views.
I was from one of the guests who were invited to a symposium starts from 29 March to 1st April. I was the only Muslim to participate in, so I had to the chance to observe closely the tone of the man. The symposium was speaking about “The Future of the European College”.
The Papal Headquarter invited prominent representatives from 45 European states. His Holiness the Pope received us for the first time in April at Clement Hall, one of the particular Halls for great occasions. It was a chance to hear lively the Pope without any translations or mediation from press, because the Pope gave his speech in a perfect Italian Language. He said the Catholic Church is before two threats; the Islamic threat and relativism, these were the two titles said with great determination and on purpose, and he asserted on the Christian Heritage and roots of Europe.
This speech was displayed through all means of media, and I did not see one representative from Islamic Country calling for explanation from the Pope’s part. This is compared exactly to the mockery made by the Danish cartoons that were published in September 2005, but no body started to protest but at the beginning of the year!
Joseph Ratzinger is a theologian in Regensburg University, The perfect of the Congregation of the Doctrine Faith, then the Pope Benedict XIV. Despite being in different position, yet he never changed his views but remained devoted to his thought, continued his work in theology, and he forgot that being a theologian can not make him a leader. There is no wonder that Ratzinger criticizes in a violent tone the Prophet Muhammad, The Qur’an and Islam.
Two days I spent in Munich and in Ratinsberg, the pope uttered many abuses although he was the one who warned against mocking the sacred figures which became a common thing in our world. He claimed that The God who orders spreading religion by sword, prevents the free thought, regards changing a religion as an apostasy and includes all the perceptions in his revealed Book then he represents Himself only. This means that he doubts the revelation.
This Pope launches an evil campaign and a refused one against the Prophet Muhammad especially when he cited a tough quotation from, “Dialogues between a Muslim and Manual II who was the Byzantine Emperor from 1391 to 1425. This citation was translated by Theodore Khori in a book titled “A Byzantine Debate against Islam”.
This literary and historical citation was characterized by an anti-Islamic attitude suggested by the Arab Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir who is a teacher in the Eastern Papal Institute. Manual II speaking with the Persian Muslim saying, ” Show me just what Muhammad brought 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.”
Then he continues his anti-Islamic explanations by saying that “any religion spread by sword and violence is against reason, because violence is not from the nature of Lord.
In Ratsborne, he added that there is a vast hiatus between the Islamic and Christian religions as uniting faith with reason that inspires the Christian love can not be compared to the obstinate Lord in Islam who calls Muslims to be subjugated to him while Catholics are the shadow of God, besides, the Lord of Islam has no image no body can depict H-im or even imagine Him.
He said that the Lord of Catholics is made according to their image therefore the Catholic religion (not the Christian) can be imagined thus it is a rational one. While the Lord that Islam is against human reason and calls for nothing but submission this is reflected in the violence of those who believe in this religion.
The homilies of Ratzinger full of disrespectful hints about Islam, the Prophet and the holy Qur’an where there is inconsistence in what he is saying.
I hope that his own ideas are not extreme fanatic or the Matter is more than that as if he wants to call for “Holy war” in order to mobilize people around his Church and face an alleged enemy. Noteworthy, the word “holy war” reflects a Christian concept that dates back to the Pope Urban II who went in a Christian sermon to bless the first armed campaign for crusaders who are leaving for their Holy War in 1096.
Are we on the eve of an eminent new crusade? I hope it is not.
I want to just to remind those who call for a holy war or non holy war that the term holy war is a shocking one and this is reflected not in the word holy but in the word war.
I believe we should not have called for the Papal apologizes, because it will be an assumed one, although it is an obligation from his part, yet the Pope has to explain why he chose the quotation said by this Manual II and he should bring forth an initiative to understand Islam, if the Pope, as some say, that his speech was misunderstood then he has to explain the reality.
It is not enough to say they misunderstood me. Because if any one cited this anti-Islamic remarks, he should mention why?. We are here before a dangerous citation for a conflict that does exist on the political level then we bring it to ideological and religious level. If it were a political conflict that can implicate any mediation, if we bring it to a religious context, the mediation will be hard.
It is very hard that some one spent forty years of his life trying to frame the steps of dialogue between different religions, and then he moves to a hot area that can cause uproar and offends others. Dialogue between others and trials to understand the other is full of besets and obstacles, so in order to overcome them, every thing is necessary but not the Pope’s homilies in Munich and Ratisbon!
Professor Mahmoud Salim Al-Sheikh is a Professor in the Philology of Romantic languages and the deputy of Florence university president and an activist member in the Committee of Dialogue between religions.