“In the seventh conversation…the emperor [the erudite Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both] touches on the theme of the holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, 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.”
The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God,” he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.”
1. It is broadcast around the world that the Pope slandered Islam and the Pope issues a swift apology.
2. People get mad based on the news report.
I thought the Pope tried to be very charitable to Islam. Read the first few sentences of the first paragraph, and you can see he’s dancing around controversy.
Oh, and that little thing about Mohammed preaching the spread of his faith by the sword . . . Well, that’s a tough one.
Granted, everyone is going to repeat this without presenting the full context of the speech (there is the link at the top of this post to that), but it seems like Pope Benedict has hit on a thorny issue.
Most would agree that religion should not be spread via violence. The odd thing is that Christians have the Bible that advocates justice and peace, and we’ve backed some of the worst violence in history.
Both religions have been used to justify violence in both the past and present. Yet I’m not sure what how the Pope can back peddle out of this one.
Read more about Islam and violence: link 1.