(By Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com) – Religious scholars and clerics across the Middle East are raging
about Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on Islam, which he made during a
speech in Germany this week. Some are demanding that the pope apologize
to the world’s Muslims.

This is the
latest of a series of rows over non-Muslims’ views on Islam, although
previous arguments have involved less prominent individuals than the
head of the Roman Catholic Church, whom Catholics see as the direct
spiritual descendant of the Apostle Peter – and whom some regard as
God’s representative on earth.

From the Egyptian
Brotherhood in Egypt to Islamist clerics in the Gulf, from shari’a
judges in Lebanon to top religious figures in Turkey, senior Muslims
have criticized the pope’s speech at the University of Regensburg in
Bavaria on Tuesday.

Some have called
on Muslim governments to sever ties with the Holy See and to expel
Vatican representatives from their countries. A scheduled papal tour to
Turkey in November also is drawing flak.

It’s not clear
whether critics who have slammed the pope have read the full transcript
of his 3,700-word address, but what they have seen or heard is enough.

Pope Benedict cited a 14th century discussion on Islam and Christianity
between a learned Persian and the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II

He quoted the
emperor as saying to the Persian, “Show me just what Mohammed brought
that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman,
such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

The pope told his
academic audience that Emperor Manuel II had then explained why
spreading faith through violence was unreasonable, that “violence is
incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”

He also quoted
the emperor as saying, “Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the
ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and
threats … To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong
arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person
with death …”

In his scholarly discourse, the pope said Manuel II had argued that it was “unreasonable” to spread faith through violence.

Benedict spoke at
some length about God being “reasonable.” Quoting the verse from John’s
gospel in which John writes “In the beginning was the Word,” he noted
that the Greek word for “Word” – logos – also means “reason.”

“John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God,” the pope said.

He concluded by saying that Christians invited “our partners in the dialogue of cultures” to reason.

The translation of the full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery, has been made available by the Vatican.

A Vatican
spokesman said Thursday the pope wanted to “cultivate an attitude of
respect and dialogue toward other religions and cultures – obviously
toward Islam too”

“What is at the
pope’s heart is a clear and radical refusal of the religious motivation
of violence,” said spokesman Federico Lombardi.

Among those
condemning the pope’s words about violence and Islam were the head of
the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization based in numerous Arab
countries which gave birth to the Hamas terrorist group in the
Palestinian territories.

The pope also was
criticized by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born scholar based in
Qatar and regarded as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qaradawi has come under fire for praising Palestinian suicide bombers
and for calling on Muslims to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Qaradawi was
quoted as telling al-Jazeera television that the pope should “apologize
to the Muslim nation for insulting its religion, its prophet and its

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.


1.  Who is Pope Benedict XVI?

2.  What is the source for the quotes the Pope used in his speech in Germany this week that angered Muslims? 

3. a) What quote in the Pope’s speech has caused an outcry among Muslim leaders?
Which two Muslim leaders were specifically mentioned in the article as
condemning the Pope’s words about violence and Islam?  Be specific.

4.  How have some Muslim religious leaders called on Muslim governments to respond to the Pope’s remarks?

5.  a) Should Muslim leaders call for an apology from the Pope without reading his speech in its entirety? Explain your answer. 
b) Is their anger reasonable?  Explain your answer.

6.  What else did the Pope quote the emperor as saying in paragraph 9 of the article?

7.  Based on his conclusion and comments from a Vatican spokesman, what appears to be the point of the Pope’s speech?

8. OPTIONAL:  Read Pope Benedict’s speech, here (The offending quote is from the 3rd paragraph, but to understand the Pope’s point fully, the entire speech should be read.)
Did he insult Islam?  Explain your answer.

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