Still, Benedict went about this noble business in a very imprudent way. The statement he quoted—that everything new Mohammed brought was “evil and inhuman”—is simply untrue and so obviously hurtful that it will prevent anything else the pope might say from getting a hearing. Given the predictable reactions in the Muslim world, it is patently counterproductive to try to make the legitimate point that Muslims have sometimes used violence to spread their faith by quoting, even without endorsing, the untrue and much more sweeping statement that everything peculiar to Islam is “evil and inhuman.” If Benedict wishes to call Muslims to account for wrongful acts, current and historical, committed by Muslims against Christians, well and good, but he ought not do so by grossly overstating the case in an obviously provocative way that he himself does not believe and then apologize in stages for having done so. ~Robert Miller, First Things

If the quote is so obviously untrue, why did Pope Benedict need to specifically repudiate it in the course of the speech?  Would he not assume that everyone could see that it was false?  If it is true–and I have reason to agree with this view–then why would Pope Benedict not have included it in his speech?  Even if Pope Benedict does not believe it to be true, and he has stated that he does not believe it to be true, it could still be true.  If it were true, but still hurtful, would we want to suppress it?  Here’s the thing: what did Muhammad introduce?  What was new to his religion?  It was the combination of a fierce monotheism mixed with the call to struggle violently on behalf of the one transcendent deity.  From a Christian perspective, how was Manuel II’s description of these things wrong and “simply untrue”?

Advertisement