Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Pope angers the Muslims...

During a visit last weekend to Kajang, to visit my fiance's grandma who is staying at the auntie's house for the day, we brought up a topic that has swept the world with controversy - our Pope Benedict's statement on the Islamic Jihad.

I really wanted to stay out of the conversation on it, and my belief is that the Pope meant not harm nor insult to the Islamic faith. The Pope shouldn't be that stupid to provoke one of the largest faith in the world. However, I think he just did not choose the right words.

The main story? Apparently, the Pope was quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor on the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the Muslim faith on a speech during his visit to Germany. He said: "He said, I quote, '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."' He also said that violence was "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul". The Pope has apologised, saying that he is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to the Muslims.

The Pope is actually referring to the Islamic Jihad. More precisely, the "Jihad by the Sword", or the "holy war" because there are other Jihads. Whereby, when pushed to the limits, you can retaliate to preserve the holiness of your faith. (I hope I got that right, correct me if I am wrong). Now, this is serious. He is almost stroking the patience of the Muslims by going straight at the heart of the Islamic faith. The bombings, 9-11, the Iraq invasion, etc... had all happened in only recent years. Surely, the Muslims, any Iraqi or Arab descents all have gone restless and felt oppressed because most of the world have generalised them with terrorists and violent people. They don't need any more of that.

Bickering on religion and faith is always pointless, in my view. That is why I always avoid such talks if possible. I can understand the reaction of the Muslims. Should someone starts attacking my faith, with or without grounds, I would most definitely be upset. In the past, some people have challenged me to a religious debate many times, and I backed off gracefully whenever I can. And whenever I am forced to indulge in the the debates, I always win. Sure, I won. But so what? I'm not happy cos it's the outcome of it that I don't like. And normally, in the heat of the debates, we may say something that doesn't sound right to the other party. So if I lose, I get upset, and they continue gloating. If they lost and took it negatively, they hate me. And if the debate have shook the cornerstone of our faith, we get confused with life and its purpose. It's always good if both parties are open-minded, so that no matter what the conclusion/outcome of the debate is, we still respect each other. But that rarely happens.

Therefore it's not who is right nor who is wrong. The point of the matter is not whether the Pope has solid understanding of the Muslim faith, nor even that his good intentions behind his speech is misunderstood. The point is - he should not have brought it up in the first place unless he had structured his words properly.

Look at the aftermath of this event right now:

The Pope has apologised but it has planted a seed of hate and distrust to any of the future speeches and lectures that he will be making.

Although some Muslimes have accepted the statement and apology, there are other Muslims has stepped further, and demanded that the Pope apologise in person, and that they do not accept the explaination that the speech was "badly interpreted". What are they gonna ask next?

This gives the terrorists, a new reasons or excuse to bomb churches and pillage monasteries. In fact, they have set fire to 2 churches in West Bank, somewhere in the Palestinian area.

Some Muslims said that the Pope has (intentionally or not) linked terrorism much closely with Islam. They may start to blame the invasion of Iraq and the attacking of Afghanistan on this speech.

News sites and journalists put the single-quote or double-quote symbol to Pope Benedicts apologetic words e.g. "is very sorry", 'deeply sorry'. What? They don't believe him? They do not think he is sincere enough? Are they quoting him now? Yes, they are saying that his statement sounded like a "clarification", not an "apology". Look how all this has affected his image.

Being a rabid worrier, I am most afraid of the possible sequel for the Crusade. A war that I can't even imagine. The Pope has scheduled to visit Turkey this year on November. I'm sure security measures have been tightened but I am still worried for him.

In any case, I still love Pope Benedict, and his works of continuing Pope John Paul II's mission of promoting peace. If you're looking for more information on Pope Benedict and his activities around the Vatican, I found this blog quite informative. The Pope Blog.

Pope Benedict needs to consult with his advisors or fellow councils before he go out in public. He needs to understand the brevity of every statement, every move, and every decision that he makes, can impact the world as a whole, even at the slightest detail. This is not his first time of making statements that are offensive or negative towards Islam. But I do indeed hope that he will change.

Pope Benedict XVI and Islam - UK BBC News 15 Sep 2006

*sigh* It's always times like this that I miss Pope John Paul II, He is just amazing. Wonder what would he have done if he was in Pope Benedict's shoes?

Pope Benedict XVI's remarks of regretting causing offence to Muslims in his speech in the Bavarian city of Regensburg, 12 September 2006.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The pastoral visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today.

I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit.

As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday's general audience.

At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.

Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words.

I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

Source from UK BBC News

"Christ's message to us, is not to respond to an injustice with another injustice, to violence with another violence, but to remind us that evil can only be overcome with good, not with another evil."
- Pope Benedict XVI, April 10 2006

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