Monday, November 6, 2006

Pope Benedict Roundup!

Pope Benedict XVI and Christian-Muslim Dialogue

Among the interpretations of Benedict's Regensberg address are those which see a historical relevance to Benedict's citation of Manuel II Paleologus -- but an earlier stage of the "clash of civilizations" and the Islamic threat which now threatens the West.

In "Paleologus and Us: What Benedict Really Said" (The New Republic Post date: 09.28.06 / Issue date: 10.09.06), David Nirenberg's poses the question:

[W]hy in our troubled times did Benedict choose to bring the world's attention to the unoriginal words of this Byzantine emperor?

One answer is that Turkey has long been on the pontiff's mind. Readers may recall then-Cardinal Ratzinger's interview with Le Figaro in 2004 in which he commented that Turkey should not be admitted to the European Union "on the grounds that it is a Muslim nation" and historically has always been contrary to Europe. Courtesy Bibliotheque NationaleLike Ratzinger, Manuel II Paleologus also worried about keeping the Turks out of Europe. As the antepenultimate emperor of Byzantium and the last effective one (he ruled from 1391 to 1425; Byzantium fell in 1453), he spent his life fighting--sometimes in the Muslim armies, but mostly against them--in the final great effort to keep Constantinople from becoming Istanbul.

Andrew G. Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, makes a similar judgement in The Pope, Jihad, and “Dialogue” (American Thinker Sept. 17th, 2006):
When Manuel II composed the Dialogue (which Pope Benedict excerpted), the Byzantine ruler was little more than a glorified dhimmi vassal of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid, forced to accompany the latter on a campaign through Anatolia. . . .

During the campaign he was conscripted to join, Manuel II witnessed with understandable melancholy the great metamorphosis—ethnic and toponymic—of formerly Byzantine Asia Minor. The devastation, and depopulation of these once flourishing regions was so extensive that often, Manuel could no longer tell where he was. The still recognizable Greek cities whose very names had been changed into something foreign became a source of particular grief. It was during this unhappy sojourn that Manuel II’s putative encounter with a Muslim theologian occurred, ostensibly in Ankara.

Whether intended by the Pope himself or not, the historical context of Paleologus' 'debate' are worthy of consideration, and in themselves pose something of a challenge to the assertion that Islam has forever and always been a "religion of peace."

At the same time, there are some who go too far in their speculation that Benedict's remarks were intended only to accentuate the division between Islam and the West, to deliberately provoke a confrontation. That, unlike his predecessor, Benedict is not genuinely concerned with advancing Christian-Muslim relations and dialogue between the two. David Nirenberg closes his essay with just such a conclusion, asserting:

What we cannot accept without contradiction or hypocrisy is the pope's presentation of the speech as an invitation to dialogue. It is true that the talk concludes with an invitation: "It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures." But it also concludes with the claim that "only through [rationality of faith] do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today." The bulk of "Faith, Reason, and the University" is explicitly dedicated to the thesis that European Catholicism has effectively mixed faith and reason in the logos, and that other religions, specifically Islam, have not. Forget for a moment the historical inaccuracies (not just about Islam, but about other religions as well) in such a statement, and focus only on the logic. What kind of invitation begins by denying its guests the qualifications for attendance at the party? The pope's "invitation" at Regensburg was not to a "dialogue of cultures" at all. What he was advocating was a kind of conversion, or at least a convergence of all religions and cultures toward a logos that is explicitly characterized as Catholic and European.

Just like Manuel's medieval "dialogos" with a Muslim (the Greek title of the emperor's treatise means "controversy" or "debate" rather than "dialogue" in our modern sense), Benedict's lecture was a polemic posing as a dialogue.

As pointed out by Prof. Robert Aurujo in his Preliminary Response to Professor Nirenberg, such an assertion is made either in ignorance or exclusion of the many invitations that Benedict has made to the contrary.

Likewise, the Vatican has published the final draft of the Regensberg address, together with footnotes. Referencing the quote from Paleologus, Benedict observes:

In the Muslim world, this quotation [from Paleologus] has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur’an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion. In quoting the text of the Emperor Manuel II, I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason. On this point I am in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic.

Significant events in October provide illustration for Pope Benedict's genuine commitment to Christian-Muslim dialogue:

  • On September 25, Pope Benedict met with Muslim clerics and ambassadors from 21 predominantly Muslim countries at Castelgandolfo. According to the Catholic News Agency:
    The Pontiff, who invited the Muslim representatives to his residence at Castelgandolfo to reaffirm his respect and esteem for their religion and people, told the leaders that the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, “cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends.”

    Benedict clearly indicated his desire to forge ahead with interfaith talks, barely mentioning the comments which have caused an uproar in the Muslim world. “The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known,” Benedict commented, reminding them that he has already offered his regrets that offence had been taken and his assurances that the views of emperor Manuel II in no way reflect his own.

    In a substantial analysis, Holy Challenge: A new chapter in Christian-Muslim relations? (National Review Sept. 29, 2006), John F. Cullinan examines Benedict's remarks on Sept. 25 and finds that they are "fully intelligible only in the light of the four ecclesial texts he cites or quotes from," and from which we can discern "his very precise bottom line for future dialogue with the Muslim world."
    1. Jews and Muslims occupy wholly separate categories in Catholic thought. Lacking a "common spiritual heritage" such as shared between Christians and Jews, purely theological dialogue is counterproductive and should be subordinated to an examination of how to exist peacefully in a pluralistic world. That’s the meaning of Benedict’s September 25 exhortation in favor of “sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.”

      Likewise, the assignment of responsibility for past conflicts (such as the Crusades) is not so important as -- citing an April 2005 address -- "[the] imperative to engage in authentic and sincere dialogue, built on respect for the dignity of every human person, created, as we Christians firmly believe, in the image and likeness of God.”

    2. As indicated in his Cologne 2005 address to Christian & Muslim leaders, Benedict believes that "religiously-motivated violence [is] an urgent agenda item" in Christian-Muslim dialogue. In contrast to the Christian traditions of just war or pacifism, "Jihad — in the sense of armed conflict for religious reasons — remains a living element of Islamic thought and life."
    3. Benedict identifies religious freedom as perhaps the most urgent single issue for Christian/Muslim dialogue. Benedict cites a 1985 address of his predecessor, John Paul II: “Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom.” The plight (and in some cases outright persecution) of Christian minorities in Muslim states remains a persistent concern.
    4. Benedict quite delicately raises the pressing question of who exactly speaks for Islam. Lacking a papal counterpart in the Islamic world or a Muslim equivalent to the ecclesial hierarchy, the Vatican has opted in favor

    From the Vatican, here is the complete text of Pope Benedict's Sept. 25 address to Muslim clerics and ambassadors. American Papist has a roundup of coverage.

  • In the Sept. 29 edition of National Catholic Reporter's "All Things Catholic", John Allen, Jr. commented on "Pope Benedict's damage control":
    The encounter was carried live both on CNN and its counterpart in the Arab world, Al-Jazeerah.

    It seems to have been partially successful. The ambassadors applauded as the pope entered the room, and beamed as he moved down the reception line afterwards. Later, several Muslim participants told the media that they believe the dialogue is "back on track."

    "Today begins a new phase," said Abdellah Redouane, secretary general of the Islamic Cultural Center of Rome.

    "We overcame the tensions of recent days, and now we must intensify initiatives, on the part of both Christians and Muslims, that favor dialogue among the two great religions, which is important for the serenity of the entire world," Redouane said.

    Not everyone, of course, was ready to forgive and forget.

    Just 24 hours later, the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, meeting in New York on the margins of a session of the United Nations, adopted a resolution calling upon Benedict "to retract or to correct" his Sept. 12 comments. In Egypt, officials of the Al-Azhar mosque and university threw cold water upon the idea of inviting Benedict XVI to deliver a lecture, and a spokesperson told Italian media that the pope's comments to date "are not the clear apology that Al-Azhar has requested, but merely a way of placating [Muslim] anger."

    Nevertheless, the wide popular outrage across the Muslim world seems to be ebbing, and many commentators have said it's time to move on. The question now is, move on to what?

  • Commonweal magazine invited Kevin Madigan, SJ, president of the Institute for the Study of Religions and Cultures at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, to comment on the meeting as well (The Pope & Islam Sept. 25, 2006). Pointing out that Christian scriptures contain their fair share of violent passages, Madigan asserted that "It is nonsensical to say to someone who claims that Islam is a peaceful religion that he may not believe such a thing because the Qur’an says such-and-such." He went on to reject the idea of "reciprocity" in dialogue -- the curious notion put forth by John Paul II that ""Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom" -- as counter to the spirit of dialogue and the gospel itself:
    There is a world of difference between reciprocity as a condition for dialogue, and reciprocity as a hoped-for outcome of dialogue. However, that distinction tends to be blurred, not only in press reports of Vatican policy, but also among some theologians. Reciprocity is not a Christian value. Gratuity is. The teaching of Jesus (Matt. 5:39-47) could not be more explicit on this subject: we give without hope of return, and we open our tables especially to those who will not repay our hospitality (Lk 14:12-14).
  • At Castelgandolfo, Benedict also remarked on the Christian witness of Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, who was killed along with her bodyguard in Mogadishu, Somalia. Benedict praised Sr. Leonella Sgorbati for pardoning her killers (Catholic News Agency Sept. 25, 2006):
    "Some are asked to give the supreme testimony of blood, just as … Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, who fell victim to violence," the pontiff said.

    "This sister, who for many years served the poor and the children in Somalia, died pronouncing the word 'forgive,'" the Pope said. "This is the most authentic Christian testimony, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hatred and evil."

Further Commentary to the "Regensburg Address"
  • On October 3, 2006, Zenit News Service interviewed Father James V. Schall, on Benedict's address and the world's reaction:
    My own opinion is that Benedict was not surprised by these reactions. Indeed, I suspect it is precisely this unreasoned reaction that has made his point so clearly that no sane mind can deny it. It was a point that had to be made.

    It could not have been made by the politicians, who in fact did not make it even when they needed it. Politicians talked about "terrorists," as if a more fundamental theological problem was not at issue. Until this deeper issue was spelled out, which is what the Regensburg lecture was about, we were doomed.

    This address is probably one of the most liberating addresses ever given by a Pope or anyone else. As its import sinks in, those who were unwilling to consider what it was about will find themselves either embarrassed -- if they are honest -- or more violent, if they refuse the challenge of reason.

    Make no mistake about it: This address illuminated, more than anything that we know, the problems with a modernity based on an explicit or implicit voluntarism that postulated that we could change the world, our nature, our God according to our own wills.

  • Benedict at Regensburg: Islam, War, Death, Apostasy, Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Poverello, by Michael D. O'Brien. October 4, 2006 Feast of St. Francis of Assisi:
    I believe that the Pope’s brilliant, spiritually discerning talk was perfectly timely and potentially quite fruitful. Whether or not the Pope was aware of the furor that would ensue from his talk, the Holy Spirit was guiding it and divine providence is working it to the good. Above all, Benedict is a man of charity and of truth, and rarer still, he is a man who has integrated both within his life and teaching. In a sense he is like St. Francis of Assisi, who in 1219, during the Crusades, walked into the midst of the Saracen camp and preached for days, and eventually spoke with the Sultan of Egypt in the hope of converting him. . . . He was a sign of contradiction to all parties in the wars. He was unarmed. He was a presence of Christ to the major adversary of Christian civilization in those times.

    So, too, Pope Benedict continues to be a sign of contradiction. He has crossed the lines of our normal categories of thought regarding the world situation. He has made possible a dialogue with Islam. He is unarmed. He speaks the truth in a spirit of love. He calls all mankind to turn to the only true source of peace, to Jesus Christ himself. He is not naïve about the nature of radical Islamics, and indeed his Regensburg speech has been the catalyst of clearer vision about the nature of militant Islamism — its irrationality, its spirit of relentless hatred and contempt for human dignity. Yet we must remember that neither is the Pope naïve about the other beast — the one that is killing us from within the parameters of our civilization, the secular humanism of Late Western Man. Neither is he naïve about that most subtle and corrosive beast, the spirit which would compromise the Church from within, the legion of people who betray Christ in the name of Christ.

  • On October 5, the The Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica charged that Muslim fundamentalists distorted the meaning of Pope Benedict's speech in Regensburg "to stir up Islamic peoples against the Pope and Christians."

  • On October 9, Chaldean priest Fr. Paulos Iskander (Paul Alexander) was kidnapped. Among the demands, that "signs be posted once again on his church apologizing for the Pope's remarks as a condition for negotiations to begin." The priest was later beheaded. (Report: Another victim of Pope Rage, by Michelle Malkin. October 13, 2006).

  • Two significant Muslim responses to Benedict's address have been published. According to Sandro Magister,
    The first was published on September 13 in the most important liberal Italian newspaper, “la Repubblica.” Its author is Khaled Fouad Allam, an Algerian-born Italian resident, professor of Islamic studies at the universities of Trieste and Urbino, and widely read and listened to in Catholic circles.

    The date of this commentary should be noted. The article was published the morning after the pope’s address in Regensburg, when much of the Muslim world had not yet unleashed the onslaught of invective and violent acts that would fill the newscasts of the following days, and force the Islamic voices not in agreement to be silent.

    The central thesis of Allam’s commentary is that Benedict XVI has legitimately brought up “an immense problem concerning the real position of the Qur’an toward the question of violence”; that on this question the Qur’an “can be read according to opposite interpretations”; and that therefore “it is necessary to break the terrible chain of fundamentalism” that ignores the Qur’an’s condemnation of violence and “proclaims itself the only bearer of the truth.”

    The second response is by Arab theologian and philosopher, Aref Ali Nayed, also introduced by Magister:
    Nayed is also known and listened to within the Catholic Church. Born in Libya, he is currently the managing director of a technology company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. He studied hermeneutics and the philosophy of science in the United States and Canada, has taken courses at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and has given lectures at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. He is a consultant for the Interfaith Program of the University of Cambridge. He is a devout Sunni Muslim, and describes himself as a “theologian of the Asharite school, Maliki in jurisprudential tendency, and Shadhili-Rifai in spiritual leanings.”
    Here is the full text of A Muslim’s Commentary on Benedict XVI’s “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections”, by Aref Ali Nayed.

    But that isn't all. According to Sandro Magister (A Sprig of Dialogue Has Sprouted in Regensburg (www.Chiesa Oct. 30, 2006):

    . . . Some of the passages of Aref Ali Nayed’s exposition received a reply from an Italian Catholic scholar who is an expert in medieval philosophy and theology, Alessandro Martinetti, from Ghemme in the province of Novara. Martinetti insisted in particular upon the relationship between God and reason, and on the radical difference in this relationship as seen by Islam and by Catholic doctrine. . . .

    Aref Ali Nayed, in turn, replied to Martinetti’s theses. And this extensive reply is also presented in its entirety on this page, in its original English version. Aref Ali Nayed’s counter-thesis is that it is wrong to oppose a “God-as-pure will” in Islam against a “God-as-Logos” in Christianity. In his view, the theology of Thomas Aquinas himself on the relationship between God and reason “is very close to Ibn Hazm and Asha’rite Muslim theologians.”

    Magister's article publishes both the comments of Aref Ali Nayed and Alessandro Martinetti. These are in turn followed by the quasi-unpublished remarks of Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The complete text of Bertone's is due for formal publication in 30 Giorni's issue devoted to the Regensburg address.

  • On October 12, 2006, an Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was conveyed by 38 leading Muslim religious scholars and leaders around the world to the Pope:
    All the eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam are represented by the signatories, including a woman scholar. In this respect the letter is unique in the history of interfaith relations.

    The letter was sent, in a spirit of goodwill, to respond to some of the remarks made by the Pope during his lecture at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12, 2006. The letter tackles the main substantive issues raised in his treatment of a debate between the medieval Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an “educated Persian”, including reason and faith; forced conversion; “jihad” vs. “holy war”; and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. They engage the Pope on an intellectual level concerning these crucial topics—which go well beyond the controversial quotation of the emperor—pointing out what they see as mistakes and oversimplifications in the Pope’s own remarks about Islamic belief and practice.

    The online text of the letter can be found here, courtesy of Islamica magazine.

  • Stratford Caldecott heralds the Open Letter to Benedict XVI as a positive sign in the Dialogue with Islam ( October 24, 2006):
    I have suggested that the suppression of Sufism and the whole ihsani dimension of Islam (leaving only Creed and Law) in recent times represents the corruption of the religion as a whole by ideologies of resentment and violence. Unfortunately Islam has no infallible center of authority, as Catholicism does, to preserve it against error on this scale. The solution, if there is one, is therefore up to individual Muslims and Muslim leaders. What Christians can do is avoid making matters worse. We need to be realistic about the scale of persecution Christians are currently experiencing in Islamic countries, and the danger of growing Muslim fanaticism in our midst, but we must encourage and assist moderate Muslims to raise their voices and speak on behalf of Islamic traditions that may be more “rational” than we suppose. Neither Islam nor Christianity is going away, so we need to find ways of speaking together. The Open Letter recently addressed to the Pope may demonstrate that a moderate and rational consensus is beginning to emerge. At any rate, the Pope’s speech has created an opportunity to take the debate concerning religious and cultural diversity to a much deeper level.
    Caldecott is editor of Second Spring and a member of the editorial board of Communio, and European Director of the Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture. For more of Caldecott's writing on Islam and interreligious dialogue, see His Seed Like Stars: The Dialogue Between Christians, Jews and Muslims Second Spring Spring 2002 and "The Mystery of Islam: Further Reflections", in which he speculates provocatively on "the providential role or “participated mediation” of Islam."

  • The Regensberg address has been "widely discussed, but far less widely understood," says Lee Harris. In Socrates or Muhammad? Joseph Ratzinger on the destiny of reason (Weekly Standard ), he focuses not on Benedict's encounter with Islam but rather the lessons Benedict can teach Western academia, likening the Holy Father's role to that of Socrates ("not to preach or sermonize, but to challenge with questions") or St. Clement of Alexandria:
    St. Clement argued that Greek philosophy had been given by God to mankind as a second source of truth, comparable to the Hebrew revelation. For St. Clement, Socrates and Plato were not pagan thinkers; they prefigured Christianity. Contrary to what Tertullian believed, Christianity needed more than just Jerusalem: It needed Athens too. Pope Benedict in his address makes a strikingly similar claim: "The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance." This encounter, for Benedict, was providential, just as it had been for St. Clement. Furthermore, Benedict argues that the "inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history." For Benedict, however, this event is not mere ancient history. It is a legacy that we in the West are all duty-bound to keep alive--yet it is a legacy that is under attack, both from those who do not share it, namely Islam, and from those who are its beneficiaries and do not understand it, namely, Western intellectuals.
  • And, from Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus' "The Public Square" (First Things 167. November 2006): 59-76): "The Regensberg Moment":
    In the Vatican and in the Catholic journalistic world, there were voices that joined in the tut-tutting of an uncouth and unlearned pope who had disrupted the dialogue with a “religion of peace.” The nitpicking pedantry of some Catholic experts on Islam was given prominent display in the world’s press. But, from Catholic and other Christian leaders, along with Jews and some secular intellectuals, there was also an outpouring of support for what the pope had the wisdom and courage to say. They recognized that momentous issues of long-term consequence had at last been joined in a way that made possible and imperative continuing debate.

    Regrettably, the official response of the Catholic bishops conference in this country, issued by Bishop William Skylstad, the conference president, was not helpful. The tone was condescending and patronizing, almost apologizing for the pope’s inept disturbance of our wonderfully dialogical relationship with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are assured that, despite his unfortunate statements, he really does want peaceful dialogue. I paraphrase, of course, but the statement was anything but a firm defense of the pope, never mind an effort to explain what he actually said. It might have been written by a public relations firm engaged in damage control, and possibly was.

    But for many others, the words spoken on September 12, 2006, and the responses, both violent and reasonable, to those words may, five or twenty years from now, be referred to as “The Regensburg Moment,” meaning a moment of truth. As I say, it is by no means certain, but it is more than just possible.

In Other News . . .

  • After Verona: How to “Restore Full Citizenship to the Christian Faith”, by Sandro Magister. www.Chiesa Oct. 26, 2006:
    From October 16-20, the Italian Church gathered in Verona the full spectrum of its members: bishops, priests, and faithful. And the German pope placed his bet precisely on what distinguishes Christian Italy: its being, not a minority Church, but a Church of the people, “a very lively reality, which retains a grassroots presence among people of every age and condition.”

    For Benedict XVI, Italy’s uniqueness is not residual, but the forerunner of the Christian rebirth of the West, for which he hopes intensely. He assigned a very demanding project to Italian Catholics. “If we are able to do this,” he said, “the Church in Italy will render a great service not only to this nation, but also to Europe and to the world.”

    But in the meantime, broad sections of the apparatus of this same Italian Church are looking at Benedict XVI’s program with fear and amazement. . . .

    For context, see also A Church of the People or a Church of the Elite? Verona’s Dilemma, by Sandro Magister. Oct. 13, 2006; and Pope Benedict's address "On the Occasion of the Fourth National Ecclesial Convention" Oct. 19, 2006.

  • "B16 On The 12", by Jimmy Akin:
    Pope Benedict recently completed a series of audiences on the Twelve apostles. I thought these were particularly interesting and well done. He covers what we know about them, what is speculated about them, what their writings contain, and what their example says to us today.

    Now that the whole series is finished, I thought I'd provide links to the audiences so that you can read through them as a group if you wish. . . .

  • "It is unfortunate," says Teresa Polk (Blog by the Sea), "that, amid the tumult of the past couple of weeks, the important messages of the Holy Father's week in München have prompted less reflection than otherwise might have been the case. After yesterday's meeting with envoys from Muslim countries, now that the controversy seems to be passing, I want to do a series of posts that reflect back on some of the addresses other than the lecture at Regensburg." A very fruitful project and well worth reading:

  • Rumors abound that Pope Benedict XVI has signed a universal indult allowing celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal (i.e., the Tridentine rite) by any priest in the Church. Click the link for a roundup by the American Papist of news and reactions from St. Blog's parish; also Amy Welborn's "Old/Classical/Tridentine Mass/Rite Roundup" (Open Book Oct. 19, 2006).

    In Liturgical Reform, Latin, LeFebvrists, and the French and U.S. Bishops (Blog by the Sea Oct. 29, 2006), Teresa Polk takes a look at "the potential wider use of the Latin Tridentine Mass as well as concern over the new Institute of the Good Shepherd, which was organized in September for Le Febvrists returning to the Catholic Church."

    Teófilo (Vivificat Oct. 31, 2006) examines The prospects of the Tridentine Mass in the light of the impending new indult, and its potential as an aid for reunion with Eastern Orthodoxy (as asserted both by Archbishop Raymond Burke and Bishop Fernando Rifan of Brazil (Teófilo disagrees).

    According to Fr. Z (What Does Prayer Really Say), an expansion of the Tridentine Mass "would be the right thing to do."

    Responding to concerns, Rorate Caeli asks: Can the existence of two rites fracture unity? -- Drawing from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks at the Conference on the Tenth Anniversary of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, the answer is no. (Stay tuned to Rorate Caeli for regular, substantial coverage of this issue).

    Also of relevance: Ignatius Insight's republication of How Should We Worship?, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's preface to The Organic Development of the Liturgy, by Alcuin Reid, O.S.B. Appended to the article is an excellent compilation of resources on the subject.

  • Intellectual Charity: On Benedict XVI and the Canadian Bishops, by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. Ignatius Insight Oct. 2, 2006 -- a substantial explication of Pope Benedict's Ad Limina message to the Canadian Bishops:
    One has to say that Benedict XVI chooses his targets very carefully. This time, in what might be an otherwise little noted short lecture, he speaks to the Canadian bishops from Ontario. They will, I hope, long ponder the notion of intellectual charity and its relation to their own polity and academic heritage. As in Regensburg, this address can and will, hopefully, be read by many. Its thesis is that religious minds also have to think correctly. It is an act of charity, as I think Aquinas said, to teach, or even to point out, the truth to another. This pointing out is where we begin, now at the University of Regensburg, now in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo to about twenty bishops from Ontario in Canada.
  • The Story of Joseph Ratzinger 1969-1977: "It seemed the end of the line. And instead ...", by Gianni Valente. 30 Giorni [30 Days] August 2006:
    Former students tell of Ratzinger’s last period of teaching at the recently opened Bavarian University. Surrounded by the respect of the students and the affection of colleagues, the professor of Dogmatic Theology believed he had achieved an ideal situation. But Paul VI was to upset his plans.
  • Coming soon from Ignatius Press: The Way of Love: Reflections on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est :
    In response to Benedict XVI's first encyclical, the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies and Marriage and Family reflects, together with the Holy Father, on love. From the very beginning, the fundamental work of the Institute has been pursuing a deeper understanding of God's plan for marriage and family. In these twenty-five years various generations of students and professors, following the legacy of John Paul II, have been able to discover and communicate the beauty of the vocation for which all men have been created: the call to love. ' Twenty-six professors from the Institute's various sessions express what in their understanding are the main themes of the document, approaching the topics raised by the Holy Father with different theological and philosophical perspectives; by so doing they have highlighted the significance and fecundity of the lines of thought suggested by the Pope. This book is offered as a path towards a fuller understanding of the profundity and richness of the love with which God fills us and wants us to communicate in our turn.

  • Pope Warns Theologians to Not Seek Applause ( Oct. 6, 2006):
    A theologian prostitutes himself when he subjects himself to the "dictatorship of common opinions," Benedict XVI told members of the International Theological Commission. [...]

    "To speak to meet with applause, to speak oriented to what men want to hear, to speak obeying the dictatorship of common opinions, is considered a sort of prostitution of the word and of the soul," said the Holy Father quoting the First Letter of St. Peter.

    The theologian needs a form of "chastity," which implies "not to be subjected to such standards, not to seek applause, but to seek obedience to the truth," the Pontiff said.

    Benedict XVI continued: "And I believe this is the fundamental virtue of the theologian, this discipline, even hard, of obedience to the truth, which makes us collaborators of the truth, a mouth of truth, so that we will not speak in this river of words of today, but that we are really purified and chaste through obedience to the truth, so that truth may speak in us."

  • On October 17th, the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published Benedict XVI's calendar for the remainder of 2006, which includes two trips -- one in Italy and one to Turkey (Nov. 28, to Friday, Dec. 1) -- and a full Christmas agenda.

    Speaking on the Holy Father's intentions for his trip to Turkey, Bishop Luigi Padovese asserted the Pope's focus on dialogue:

    "The Pope is not coming to missionize, as the Turkish press claims, but to speak with Muslims, the Turkish government, and obviously with Catholics, but especially with Orthodox Christians."
    On November 2nd, Police detained a man who fired shots into the air outside the Italian consulate yesterday in protest against the Pope's impending visit (Source: The Herald Nov. 3, 2006):
    The suspect later told a reporter he wanted to murder the Pope.

    "I don't want him here, if he was here now I would strangle him with my bare hands," said Ibrahim Ak, 26.

    "I fired the shots for God," Ak said as he sat handcuffed inside a police van. "God willing, he will not come. If he comes, he will see what will happen to him."

    Turkish online paper Zaman reports that Benedict will get "Bush-Like" Protection on his visit:
    Strict security measures will be taken during Pope Benedict XVI’s official visit to Turkey scheduled for November 28 to December 1, 2006.

    The Security General Directorate, in cooperation with the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and the Gendarmerie, is working on security plans in an effort to prevent any provocations or even assassination attempts against the Pope.

    Preparing us for the coming trip with his column, Benedict’s gamble with Islam National Catholic Reporter Oct. 12, 2006:
    Pope Benedict XVI heads to Turkey next month, his first visit to a majority Muslim state. Of all the question marks surrounding the trip, perhaps the most consequential is this: Which Benedict will show up?

    Will it be the Benedict of Regensburg, challenging his Muslim hosts to embrace rationality, hence to renounce violence and to respect religious freedom? Or will it be the post-Regensburg Benedict, seemingly determined to project a "kinder, gentler" face to Islam, missing no opportunity to send signals of reconciliation?

    Can he, in some fashion, be both?

    Please pray for our Holy Father this November.

On a Lighter Note . . .

  • Does the BBC enjoy being so far behind the fact curve? asks Edward N. Peters (), taking on a manifestation of the media's anti-Catholic hysteria:
    Apparently the BBC thinks that if the Vatican publishes a document in 2001, (which the Catholic press reported on in early 2002), but the BBC only notices it five years later, the document must have been a deep dark Vatican secret till then. Quick, what's British English for "Get real"?

    Britain's Evening Standard reports that the BBC just aired a "Panorama" story about how Pope Benedict XVI, as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, sent a "secret Vatican edict" to bishops around the world (right, like that's a group that could keep a secret if it tried), an edict so secret "that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times", which ordered a massive cover-up of clergy sexual misconduct. . . .

  • "More than two and a half million people have met Benedict XVI in Rome or at Castel Gandolfo since the beginning of the year," reports AsiaNews (Nov. 1, 2006):
    According to statistics of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, which organizes the audiences, the number of faithful who have met the pope in the first 10 months of the year was exactly 2,674,820.

    Specifically, 938,500 took part in the Wednesday general audiences; 349,120 took part in particular audiences; 502,200 were present at liturgical celebrations, which took place in Rome. Meanwhile, 885,000 listened to the Angelus in Rome and Castel Gandolfo.

  • Italian journalist praised Benedict XVI for having made the Church "the greatest bulwark of reason" (Catholic News Agency Oct. 27, 2006):
    In an article published by the Spanish daily “La Razon,” Messori said the “intellectual prestige” of Benedict XVI, “which was not lacking in his predecessors,” seems to be the unique characteristic of the current Pontificate.

    Messori said that the idea of Pope “as professor” seems to prevail in the minds of the people. This is evident during each of his public appearances in which “the masses of the faithful” do not come to get emotionally charged up, “but rather to learn, almost to attend the lecture of a wise and at the same time generous professor, who breaks down and offers his knowledge to those who do not have it.”

    Vittorio Messori is known for the first publication of a book-length interview with a pope (Crossing the Threshhold of Hope, 1994, with John Paul II), as well as a book-length interview with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (The Ratzinger Report, 1985).

  • The Vatican mission at UN headquarters in New York is organizing a conference on Pope Benedict's critique of contemporary relativism, to be held Nov. 20, 2006. The event, co-sponsored by Ignatius Press and the Path to Peace Foundation, will include presentations by George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Marcello Pera, a member of the Italian senate. (Catholic World News Nov. 2, 2006).

    On a related note, here is a positive review Fr. John Jay Hughes of Without Roots: Europe, Islam and the West -- and from the National Catholic Reporter, no less. Thank God for small miracles.

Special Recognition and Personal Thanks to two bloggers for their daily and/or regular coverage of Pope Benedict XVI, and which I made particular use of in compiling this roundup: The Papa Ratzi Post (Michael S. Rose); Argent by the Tiber.

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