Friday, September 22, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI and the Regensburg Address

Pope Benedict XVI's full address available here in PDF.

No doubt the Pope’s address is a story that’s getting worn thin right now…or is it? I’ve been following it very closely, trying to understand the important aspects of Benedict’s address as well as the shocking reaction of Muslims.

There’s a couple of personal observations I’d like to make and then I’d like to refer you to the two articles on this story which I found most helpful, balanced and insightful.

This chain of events since Benedict’s visit to Regensburg has reminded me to be very careful in my judgment of the Pope. Initially I thought the Holy Father’s remarks concerning Islam were some sort of miscalculation or error in judgment. However after much reading of the reports, my respect and admiration for Pope Benedict has increased enormously. I was too hasty in my judgment. I was the one mistaken.

I believe His Holiness fully intended to engage the world on the subject of faith and reason, the topic of his Regensburg address. This engagement extended primarily to Western secular society, to its Protestant component, to all world religions, and especially to Islam at this juncture of time.

I believe this was an introductory foray into his war against the “dictatorship of relativism.” And by striking at the very heart of the problem, the relationship of reason to faith in religious expression, it may have been the most powerful offensive of that war. Who knows…it might have been a mortal wound to that enemy. It certainly caught the whole world’s attention and has already sparked an immense degree of dialogue, probably enough for many years of follow up.

Think about it. Who else but the Pope, Christ’s representative on earth, could have launched such a challenge against the principalities and powers of our day? If it were possible for any one speech or sermon to turn the tide of human events, the one delivered at Regensburg has the potential to right this upside down world if every rational Christian and other honest seeker after God would pay serious attention. And who else but the Pope could have garnered such a response?

Give this address your close consideration. And also make a point of reading the Holy Father’s first encyclical on "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love"), which is an urgent and timely message to this world on Love and Reason. Perhaps this encyclical and the Regensburg address are more intricately linked to the solutions of modern man than we have imagined.

Read the encyclical online here, PDF here

The two articles that I thought to be most helpful and that I referred to above can be found at:

Is Dialogue with Islam Possible? by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.


In Defense of Pope Benedict, by Justin Raimondo. Incredibly, as far as I can determine, this writer is an atheist and considered by some to be on the far left fringes, and near lunacy. However, I found his essay very impressive. Your thoughts would be most welcome.

I have one final point to make. After lengthy searches online for Protestant evangelical reaction to Pope Benedict’s address I was able to find virtually nothing significant. Does this group of Christians have no comment on such a momentous event? Or is this event not regarded as very weighty or worthy of comment?

The only article I found which carried a few lines about Benedict’s address was located on Albert Mohler’s blog. Mohler is President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and he has recently written some interesting articles concerning the contraceptive mentality. Mohler prefaces his comments on the Regensburg address with about a page of biased criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy and then proceeds to write only two very short paragraphs related to Benedict’s actual comments.

It was a disappointing show to say the least, but I do think it is illustrative of the evangelical tendency to simply ignore or berate the significance, validity and impact of other Christian bodies, particularly the Catholic Church.

Remember to pray for Benedict XVI at this time when he is being unjustly reviled and threatened. And be sure to speak up for him and his holy office whenever possible!

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