I first heard the Pope’s comments on radio while getting ready for work, on an fm station’s half hourly news break.
Already I’ve lost all credibility.
From what I heard of the “news” on radio, I believed that the Pope had made the comments himself, when in actual fact he was quoting someone else as having made the comments. I was led to believe by the 2 second news grab that the pope not only made this comment (as read from a 14th century text) but also reinforced them/backed them up, kind of giving them his seal of approval.
I was pretty disheartened by this and had a long conversation with my sister about how sad it is that a man with so much knowledge would perpetuate such a division. Anyway, today I went to Eteraz’s blog and luckily his sister’s writing at the mo, so I got this very useful link. It’s the whole speech that the Pope made.
Here’s the particular passage in question:
In the seventh conversation-controversy, edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threaten. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without decending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: “Show me just what Mohammed 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 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 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… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.
The paragraph before this, makes mention of the high esteem the Pope holds this Emperor dude’s opinion in.
I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
So now I know what was said and I’m a little more relieved. Though should I be?
The Pope was quoting the Byzantine Emporer and not directly supporting his claim. He used the passage to illustrate the point that to act without reason is against the nature of God, therefore forcing your belief system down someone’s throat is a poor shortcut to take. The presence of God should be reasoned and argued as that is congruent with the nature of God.
Something to that effect.
The problem is not so much in the first paragraph that I’ve highlighted. The Pope’s just quoting some other guy (why he would pick that quote… well then that’s questioning intentions of which we have no ilm (knowledge)).
You’ve gotta read deeper. Analyse.
The second para that i’ve quoted, gives it away. The Pope has qualified said Emporer’s work as the truth. The truth people.
All those in search of the truth, you’ve been brought it here. Via this blog.
Do you feel enlightened? Have the clogs started fitting and churning in harmony? Do you feel complete? Have you “found” yourself?
That link again: http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=83303&eng=y