Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day with the Holy Father - II

I wanted to quote the Pope's reflections on his historic visit to Turkey from his Christmas Address to the Curia, (selections from which I shared below):

Turkey and Islam:
The visit to Turkey gave me the chance to show publicly my respect for the Islamic religion a respect that the Second Vatican Council (cfr Nostra Aetate,3) indicated as obligatory.

I wish at this time to express once more my gratitude to the Turkish authorities and to the Turkish people who welcomed me with great hospitality and offered me unforgettable days of encounter.

In the dialog that we must intensify with Islam, we must bear in mind that the Muslim world now finds itself facing a task of great urgency that is very similar to that which was imposed on Christianity at the time of the Enlightenment, and to which the Second Vatican Council ultimately proposed concrete solutions for the Catholic Church.

It has to do with the attitude that the community of the faithful must take towards the convictions and demands created by the Enlightenment. On the one hand, it must oppose the dictatorship of positivistic reason which excludes God from the public life of the community and from public order altogether, thus depriving man of his specific criteria [for self-evaluation].

On the other hand, it is necessary to welcome the true gains of the Enlightenment - human rights, and especially, the freedom of faith and its exercise, recognizing in them elements that are essential for the authenticity of any religion.

As in the Christian community, there has been a continuing search for the right positions for the faith to take about Enlightenment concepts - a search which will never really conclude definitevely - the Islamic world, too, with its own tradition, faces the great task of finding the right answers.
So much for the Islamophobe -- respect for Islam is obligatory and required of all Catholics. [Aside: it's annoying how the more BJP/Sangh Parivar oriented family members and friends chuckle, "Hey, your Pope is like Narendra Modi!" All based on an interpretation of Regensburg that boils everything down to, "The Pope hates Muslims." Umm. Yeah, right. And comparing him with Narendra Modi? Boy, where do I start?] But note too, just how incisicive his thoughts are -- what Islam is facing is akin to what Christianity faced two hundred years ago. And he acknowledges, the good humanist that he is, that the Enlightenment did bring a lot of good!

1 comment:

assiniboine said...

Perhaps there are also affinities with a slightly earlier epoch in Christianity as well, namely the parallels between Wahabism (a rather new phenonemon, after all, at least now that has begun spreading so rapidly outside the Arabian peninsula where it began: from its taking control of Mecca and the organisation of the Hajj in 1924 to the more recent urgent proselysing in Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere) and English and American Puritanism and its Continental cousins. (An obvious parallel which only occurs to people when they consider, as a party of Indian and Bangladeshi Christmas revellers did last week when I found myself somewhat unwillingly cast in the role of guru, vis-a-vis the question of why Christmas is so non-religious in its observance in the general community. Well, children, you see, Christmas was abolished by the Protestant reformers, and when the Victorians ceased to regard it as an abomination, it had to be re-invented.