For the curious and the cautious, here’s the actual address in full (from Zenit, of course ;-)). Since the speech, the Pope has issued an apology saying he was “deeply sorry” and that “These in fact were quotations from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought”. It seems though, that wasn’t enough and some are requesting a fuller apology.
So far, there’ve been some pretty extreme reactions according to the Times Online article: “yesterday Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza”, while Al-Queda linked websites plans a “major attack” on the Vatican, and a Kuwait jihadist website called for full-scale “violent retribution” against all Catholics (um, yah… these do a lot to disprove the “evil and inhuman” quote! 8O). I guess this might prevent the Pope’s visit to Turkey planned in a couple of month but, perhaps, it’s not such a bad idea since the current best-seller book there is entitled “Attack on the Pope: Who will kill Benedict XVI in Istanbul?” (the article also notes that Hitler’s Mein Kempf was in that position last year)! Hm. Divine providence?
However, as our friend Universal has warned me, and as G. K. Chesterton put it, there are always good people in bad religions, and bad people in good religions, so admittedly people’s actions are not entirely a basis for assessment of the belief system. If that was the case, Christianity would fail the test pretty quickly. Afterall, there are Muslim leaders that condemn these violence too.
As the Catholic Education Resource Centre article, Islam: The Appeal and the Peril explains, there are many things which are praiseworthy in Islam, such as their complete submission and strict adherence to the moral code. As our friend Universal would say, there’s also a great deal of good things it has taken from Christianity and Judaism (since, according to Universal, Islam is in a sense an amalgamation of a Christian heresy [Nestorianism], Judaism and paganism of the Middle East – so it’s the greatest theistic heresy). Unfortunately though, as the same article notes, there’s also an inherent tendency toward violence, especially toward atheists, pagans and other non-Abrahamic monotheists (ie. those who are not Jewish or Christians), for whom the following verse of the Quran applies: “slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them” (Q 9:5). Christians and Jews are slightly better off, in that we also get given the option to live in subservience: “Fight those who do not… follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book [i.e., Jews and Christians], until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection” (Q 9:29). This is perhaps why organizations such as the Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society exists, especially with regard to certain lack of Human rights in the more fundamental Islamic countries.
I’ll have a look at the more “moderate” responses on part II.