September 25th, 2006

Parsing the Pope’s words; having a “dialogue”

The Pope hosted Moslem leaders in a conference today, giving a five-minute speech that sounded conciliatory, at least from the short excerpts published (I can’t find a full transcript). Although he didn’t offer an apology for his previous remarks, the topic was working together to overcome historic enmities between the two faiths.

The feeling tone was good, too. The Pope “greeted [the envoys] one-by-one, clasping their hands warmly.”

Iraqi Albert Edward Ismail Yelda seemed happy: “The Holy Father stated his profound respect for Islam. This is what we were expecting…It is now time to put what happened behind and build bridges.”

Al Jazeera televised the speech in its entirety. The Vatican, in an unusual move, offered an Arabic translation of the text in its press releases.

So, according to Mohamed Nour Dachan, an Syrian-Italian-Moslem “The dialogue goes on….The dialogue is a priority for both Muslims and Christians.”

Ah, that wonderful buzz-word, “dialogue.” It’s an article of faith that “dialogue” is the first step to understanding. And, of course, it can be; it’s sort of like that well-known goal of all marriage therapists, “communication.”

But both these things depend on other elements being present for their success. There’s no doubt that some Christians and some Moslems do have common goals, and productive dialogue is possible between them. But for those Moslems who don’t share those goals, all the dialogue in the world will not alter a thing. Islamist totalitarian Moslems are not interested; “dialogue” with other faiths tends, for them, to be a tool to stall for time or to trick the enemy.

And, in fact, moderate Moslems who are interested in such dialogue seem afraid of the Islamist totalitarians, as well they should be. They are their enemy, too, as well as ours. Note the following details in the article about the Pope’s talk:

Nearly all the other envoys left without speaking to reporters. The embassies of Egypt and Turkey said their ambassadors would have no comment. The Iranian, Indonesian, Lebanese and Libyan embassies did not answer their phones.

It’s interesting that the quotes showing approval of the Pope’s speech were from the Iraqi and the Italian. They are free to speak. What about the others? And what would they say if they could speak? Because one of the main thrusts of the Pope’s words was reciprocity in allowing religious freedom, and in the goal of ending religious intolerance.

Islam is a supersessionist religion. It prohibits proselytizing by other religions, and the punishment for Moslem apostates is still death. Those facts are not consistent with the Pope’s words about religious freedom, try though we might to believe otherwise.

Could this change? Of course. Christianity changed in its supersessionist and even violent strains. But there has to be the will to do so, the time to do so before some sort of world conflagration, and enough of those famous “moderate Moslems” brave enough to do so in the face of the threats against them to make a difference.

29 Responses to “Parsing the Pope’s words; having a “dialogue””

  1. Stephen Britton Says:

    Oh I’m sorry, forgot to leave my name….

  2. Lurch Says:

    I’ve said this since 9/11 and will continue to do so: what Islam needs, very much, is a reformation. Islam will continiue to be at odds with modernity until this takes place.

  3. Harry Forbes Says:

    But there has to be the will to do so, the time to do so before some sort of world conflagration, and enough of those famous “moderate Moslems” brave enough to do so in the face of the threats against them to make a difference.

    We could also do with more brave secularists, Christians, and Jews in the west, who recognize the importance of religious tolerance to our way of life.

  4. Ymarsakar Says:

    You may not be able to kill all the terrorists in the world, but I’m pretty sure the terrorists can kill all the brave moderates that crop up.

  5. Aardvarkian Says:

    Thanks for pointing out the vapid vacuity of the word “dialogue.” It’s the favorite word for media wonks and diplomats and other idiots. I’d like to take a hammer to the head of every fool in front of a camera who uses the word dialogue.

  6. jgr Says:

    Harry writes about:
    “importance of religious tolerance to our way of life”

    20 c. Western secularism has a poor track record for religious tolerance (ie. Nazism, Communism, today’s secularist elites/media).
    It doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is the last part, Harry: “our way of life.”
    The West will either defend “our way of life”–united– or we will
    1/die
    or /2 submit to Islam. Slavery.

    It’s what the Islamists insist.

  7. Nyomythus Says:

    I’ve also said that Islam needs a Reformation >>>>>>>>here

  8. kungfu Says:

    Neo,

    I’m always surprised that you spell it “Moslem.” Why not “Muslim”? I’ve pasted the wikipedia entry below.

    “Until the late 1980s, the term Moslem was commonly used. Muslims do not recommend this spelling because it is often pronounced “mawzlem” /m?zl?m/ which sounds somewhat similar to an Arabic word for “oppressed” (Za’lem in Arabic). The word is pronounced /muslem/ in Arabic, but often /m??l?m/ in English. The word is now most commonly written “Muslim”

  9. Dave Schuler Says:

    Your wish is my command! Here’s an English language translation of Benedict’s comments.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    kungfu: I guess my age is showing. I learned the word before the 80s.

  11. Mike O'Malley Says:

    This is a English only translation posted on the Vatican website:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060925_ambasciatori-paesi-arabi_en.html

  12. jgr Says:

    From my lay reading of the below RC publication, and elsewhere, I see Benedict seeking to challenge Islam. But on his terms. It’s the RC church’s game.

    I hope the some Western leaders carry an intelligence edge over the Muslims; we need it. We will see in Benedict.

    FIRST THINGS links to a NYT op ed that begins:
    ‘Desire for a more muscular stance, however, has been building among Catholics around the world for some time. In part, it has been driven by persecution of Christians in the Islamic world.. But perhaps the greatest driving force has been the frustrations over reciprocity. To take one oft-cited example, while Saudis contributed tens of millions of dollars to build Europe’s largest mosque in Rome, Christians cannot build churches in Saudi Arabia. Priests in Saudi Arabia cannot leave oil-industry compounds or embassy grounds without fear of reprisals from the mutawa, the religious police. The bishop of the region recently described the situation as “reminiscent of the catacombs.”’

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=476

    As a side note: I gather that Boston is the new home for a huge mosque located in the heart of downtown, said to be aided by taxpayer dollars. I’ve not researched this.

  13. Sergey Says:

    Reforms of Christianity were greatly facilitated by introduction of Aristotelian approach by Thomas Aquinate and so of rationalism. In Jewish theology the same was done by Maimonides. Analogous attempt in Islam theology was made by Ibn Rushd (Averroes), but unsuccessfully. The main historical difference stemmed from the fact that Aquinate and Maimonides won their battles, but Averroes lost it.

  14. Sergey Says:

    My parental grandmother was a prominent scholar in medieval Islam history, an Arabist, translator of Koran and Koranic literature. And I remember her assessment of perspectives of reforms in Muslim societies: Islam clergy is totally unmovable, our best hopes should be not on reform of Islam, but on forceful secularization, like that of Ataturk.

  15. camojack Says:

    I came across an interesting blog post, pertinent to this thread, by an Egyptian blogger.

  16. troutsky Says:

    What I find interesting is there has been little or no interest in the actual substance or intellectual rigor of the argument the Pope was trying to advance.His thesis, in which he used the unfortunate quote, was that Christianity, as somehow opposed to Islam, was based on the Word.He equates the Word with logic to arrive at:”in the beginning was the logos and the logos was God.” His proof for his thesis? Of course there can be none, he falls back on ‘faith’ and considers it a scholastic debate.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    “It both these things depend on other elements being present for their success. There’s no doubt that some Christians and some Moslems do have common goals, and productive dialogue is possible between them. But for those Moslems who don’t share those goals, all the dialogue in the world will not alter a thing. Islamist totalitarian Moslems are not interested; “dialogue” with other faiths tends, for them, to be a tool to stall for time or to trick the enemy.”

    It’s not really any different for Christian totalitarians – they too are not interested in dialouge.

    When they attempt to pass vilification for ‘dialouge’ and then are rebuffed when the ‘apologize’ – well it fits quite nicely into the demonization and hysteria of those who seek to advance further propaganda and war.

    Again Neo – not much substance in what you’ve written beyond the usual..

    Muslims bad.

    Christians good.

    Yeah – we know…

  18. Sergey Says:

    Again the old trite argument of moral equivalence. But it does not hold water: nobody attacks now muslims for being muslims, but a whole swarm of muslims attacks christians just for being christians. And where our troll found totalitarian christians nowdays? May be, they exist, by hardly have any political weight and any relevance to actual clash of civilizations.

  19. Stephen Britton Says:

    It takes two to tango, Sergey.

    Nor does it have anything to do with ‘moral’ equivalence per se.

    It’s merely a factual observation by any accounts.

    Where do you find Christian totalitarians nowadays?

    Gee, that’s a tough one…

    Can anybody help poor Sergey out?

  20. Stephen Britton Says:

    And by the way – they have alot of political weight…

    Alot.

  21. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    Stephen:

    Raving again, eh?

    I find YOU intolerant…intolerant to any flavor of Christianity.

    I find you intolerant to any flavor of to-the-right-of-left political thought.

    I find you TOO tolerant to failed socialistic dogmas, including the canard of The Brotherhood Of Man. Not to mention Big Brother flavors of government.

    But aside from that, you’re a prince among boys (not men).

  22. Stephen Britton Says:

    Charles:

    I’m not intolerant to Christianity.

    And there’s nothing I’ve said to indicate otherwise.

    Nor am I intolerant to “right of left” political thought.

    You mistake my interest in having reasoned political thought, and an even greater interest in having a dialouge about hypocrisy, intolerance, provacation and ignorance – for ‘intolorance’.

    Unfortunately…

  23. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    Stephen:

    I am reporting the impression you gave me…

    Secondly – correct me if I’m wrong – I have the impression that you are Canadian.

    Not that it matters: some of my best friends are Canadian, eh?

    Cheers, S.

  24. Stephen Britton Says:

    Charles:

    Fair enough – but allow me to offer that you aren’t getting that impression from anything I wrote specifically – you are getting it from reacting instinctually to my acknowlegement of certain realities that may call into question Neo’s perspective on Islam and Christianity.

    Yes I’m too the left of you on most topics – but we’d probably agree on more than you think.

    Anyway – yes I’m Canadian…

  25. jgr Says:

    “in having a dialouge (sic) about hypocrisy, intolerance, provacation (sic) and ignorance..”

    These are harsh feelings about your fellow Canadians. They’ve never gotten over being failed Americans.

    Stephen (– or STEVE), ol chum: I guess Charlie sees YOU representing all these DEFICIENCIES.

    NOTICE: Christian totalitarians are erecting a new Fence along the Canadian border. North of the Fence is open to every Islamic terrorist group who needs VICTIMS.

    You are ONE good infidel, STEVE (Stephen), according to local Canadian jihadi sources.

    You INFORM THEM, Steve, how you hate the American Nazis. –just before they–uh.. well: sever you into more pieces than one. (Not that I blame them; I’m tolerant of mercy killing.)

    See 9-26 Pajamas Media for this story & preview of your funeral:

    ‘How we found Pearl buried in ten pieces: By Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan at the UK Times. The culprits were a Briton who attended the London School of Economics. The man who actually slit Pearl’s throat may have been Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. “We exhumed the body and found it in ten badly decomposed pieces. Our doctors stitched the pieces back together as best as they could.”’

  26. Sally Says:

    Muslims bad.

    Christians good.

    Oh let’s just say “Islam bad” and leave it at that.

  27. harry Says:

    Ok, somebody point out to me this Christian totalitarianism. Im unable to see this and Im a god-less atheist heathen.

  28. Ariel Says:

    “Ok, somebody point out to me this Christian totalitarianism. Im unable to see this and Im a god-less atheist heathen.”

    Ditto.

  29. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Says:

    I think the anti-Christian remark is how totalitarian it is to oppose the legal murder of an unwanted human fetus, merely because it is inconvenient. Of course, most “Christian” nations are so secular as to allow that cruel execution of the innocent human fetus, rather than insist the woman go thru the bother of a birth.

    But that’s a troll-bait nibble on my part.

    The real issue is whether the moderate Muslims will be safe enough to speak up. So far, not in any non-democratic Islamic dominated country; nor in Palestine.

    A huge failure of the West is in not following the murders & assassinations of many Muslim dissidents; nor of Palestinians who advocated peace with Israel.

    Reducing the terrorization of moderates is the main advantage of having more troops in Iraq, or in S. Lebanon. While I’m not sure more troops would have been overall better in Iraq, IF they would have been it would be because only a few more Americans would have been killed and a lot fewer Iraqis killed — with more Iraqis turning in Iraqi supporters of terrorists.

    A dialog where one side is scared to death won’t be much of a dialog.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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