The Holy Father Makes His Apology
... Let me just say that if NPR's Cynthia Poggiole alludes one more time to the surprising slur that Benedetto "does not place Islam on the same footing as Christianity," I am going to scream. Of course Christ's vicar on earth can do no such thing. Everyone needs to stop being so whiny.
As we all know by now, Papa Benedict recently quoted a 14th century statement the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, that itself alludes to the historical fact that Mohammed's robber bands had been doing their thing- Sure it was a risky move, in as much as Benedict's statement pokes at the very old wound in the history of Islam, namely, that history of violence that encloses an otherwise respectable, moral monotheism in tales of blood, gore and incest from its very inception. This wound is an inevitable and undeniable datum for every Muslim, and rightfully taken, should spur every modern Muslim to live at the opposite end of the spectrum by clinging to those Quranic passages that urge mercy and humanism rather than military jihad. Given their history of violence, modern Muslims must eschew that self-evident history and seek peace.
Modern Christians, of course, have the same option. Given the instances of violence in our own past, it remains to us (individually, personally, here and now) to cling all the more to the Savior who loves and feeds the enemy. We too need to live in the opposite end of the spectrum whenever we are faced with history's accusatorial reminders... crusade... inquisition... witch trials. Etc.
No, Benedict's benign statement hardly rises to the level of a legit "apology-" I have said that "I am sorry that you were hurt," is an entirely different thing from saying "I was wrong and I regret it and will do everything possible to avoid repeating the offense in the future." Nonetheless, Benedict's statements have been adequate and appropriate. There is simply nothing reprehensible about referring to historical fact in a way that will challenge modern practitioners to avoid the sordid stuff of their inheritance, and to live instead in what Muslim scholars call "that other face of Islam," wherein we Christians may be glad to rejoice with those Muslims who, with us, confess and adore the Creator, the one merciful God, and our Judge at the end of time.
May all good Muslims respond to Benedict's implicit invitation to eschew the violence of their history, rather than swearing to kill us all by the sword if we will not convert to Islam. It's realy too ironic: "No, we're not violent, but if you suggest that we are, we will kill you!" (More on that last bit here...)