Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Pope comes to Ground Zero

According to the Daily Telegraph, when Pope Benedict XVI visits Ground Zero next week, he "will call for terrorists to convert to Christianity."

Tom Heneghan parses the actual text of Benedict's prayer. At issue is the phrase "turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred" which features in his speech, which while not explicitly calling for a conversion to a particular religion is certainly suggestive. Heneghan writes:

As we read it, the structure of the prayer strongly implies that Benedict is referring to terrorists abroad. ... It is not the first time Benedict has spoken about terrorists this way. In his first meeting as pope with Muslims, during the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, he brought up the issue right away and thanked the Muslim leaders present for denouncing Islamist terrorism. He then said, according to the official Vatican translation: “If together we can succeed in eliminating from hearts any trace of rancour, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we will turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress towards world peace.”

The Telegraph says that Benedict's planned prayer is likely to provoke outrage among some Islamists:

The prayer is likely to further incense the Muslim world, which has already attacked the Pope for publicly converting Magdi Allam, a journalist and one of Italy's most high-profile Muslims, at Easter.

Osama bin Laden accused the Pope of trying to provoke "a new crusade" against Islam.

Aref Ali Nayed, a leading scholar and proponent of peaceful relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Islam, said that there were "genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the Pope's advisers on Islam".

It is interesting to examine why exactly Benedict's planned speech is so provocative. From Osama's perspective, the site of the former World Trade Center is the scene of his greatest triumph. His monument of bones. Now Benedict plans to come to that very spot to utterly reject the ideology that brought the hijackers there.

In the days immediately after September 11 President Bush came to denounce the men who came that autumn day as renegades from the Religion of Peace. But Benedict's business is not with the men; but with the dark spirit behind them. And whether or not you believe in such things, Osama does. And bin Laden knows that Benedict will call to each of the hijackers by their name; not as an accuser but as shepherd looking for a long-long flock. He will bid them come forth into the light, for his staff is meant for wolves.

No insult is so great as the one that rings true. And even bin Laden may wonder whether there are more things on heaven and on earth than he has dreamed of.




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38 Comments:

Blogger NahnCee said...

So, then, he'll be denouncing Wahhabism, which is the foundation religion of Saudi Arabia ...

I hope he brings some cartoons along, too, as a Powerpoint demonstration of the various bullet-points he'll be making.

4/12/2008 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Manny C said...

I remember when a sign outside a central City protestant church in Sydney exclaimed that "Jesus loves Osama" (or something to that effect).

I had information from good source that this was a statement that even terrorists can repent and be forgiven by God. Which is theologically true. Of course, they would and should then be subject to the laws of the land.

The public outcry with regards to the sign was astounding.

The Pope is now preaching a message with the same theological basis at Ground Zero. He is now getting massive kudos from some of the same people that got upset about the Sydney church's sign.

Therefore it appears as though it is not the theological content that caused consternation. Rather it was the manner in which and to whom it was delivered: defiantly, assertive and directly to the jihadis. I have to admire the Pope.

4/12/2008 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Benedict XVI's Regensburg Lecture is an intellectual tour de force on Christian history, faith and reason, and most importantly - the intellectual vacuity of Islam.

It was not accidental that Benedict XVI used a quote from Manuel II Paleologos (ca. 1400) to make his point. Manuel II Paleologos, a Byznatine emperor in the 700th year of continuous warfare, wrote extensively about (and against) Islam. Incredibly, there are no comprehensive published works available about Manuel's treatises, although I suspect it likely that Vatican scholars are well down that road.

One thing that is known about Manuel's treatises is that he thought it useless to attempt to convert Muslims. Whether Benedict XVI shares that thought or not remains to be seen.

As Manuel was completing his last treatise a Venetian baby was being born. That baby would become the man who would become the engineer who, for money, would build the monstrous cannons that would knock down the walls of Constantinople.

Salute to Benedict XVI as the most public figure to speak the truth of Islam. A pox upon the modern Venetian engineers who don't see or see and don't care.

4/13/2008 03:27:00 AM  
Blogger Shan Sundaram said...

Can you link http://www.sundaram-art.com for your viewers to download and print free original painting of Pope Benedict. I am the artist shan sundaram

4/13/2008 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger Shan Sundaram said...

http://www.sundaram-art.com

for free pope paintings.

Shan, the artist

4/13/2008 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Shropshirelad said...

I am not a Catholic, or even a very religious person, but I have to say, between the Regensburg Lecture, the very public conversion of Allam, and now this proposed visit and prayer at Ground Zero, it is very hard not to be moved by Pope Benedict.

If this brave old man can shake the foundations of an etiolated agnostic like myself, what sort of wonders might his words work among the young and earnestly faithful in the wider world? I guess we'll find out.

Great post, Wretchard.

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.

4/13/2008 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

Pope Benedict is a holy warrior. Most major clerics are to one extent or another. Very often they are misunderstood.

nahncee - The words he stated *were* a denunciation of Wahhabism, you just missed it. He was inviting all (not just terrorists) into Catholicism but his text will probably not use the word Catholicism. Wahhabism is objectionable because it is so focused away from God's love that it becomes ok to fly airplanes into buildings. To call people to love is to call them away from Wahhabism.

By not mentioning the word, he is trying to maximize actual converts instead of triumphal feel-good feelings by people like you. And that's why he's quite unlikely to be bringing along either Powerpoint (spawn of Satan, that program), bullet points, or cartoons. Benedict's points will be his own and given in the Church's style.

manny c - Sometimes those you love need to be stopped before they condemn themselves further. This is a difficult area of love but ground that has been well trod by the theologians over the centuries. If you understand the christian context that love (in certain well defined, very limited contexts) may consist of a Barrett round making a permanent mess of Osama's head, why yes, Jesus loves Osama. Jesus would weep as the trigger is pulled even as he answers the sniper's prayer to guide his aim true.

Christian love is hard. I think we might agree with that.

What was missing from that Sidney church was their own Regensburg, their own contextualizing so that they would be understood properly. Then again, there are an awful lot of christians who don't look beyond the modern world's hippy dippy conception of smoochy kiss romatic love. In that case the opprobrium would have been deserved. I'm too far away from Australia to tell which is true.

4/13/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Peterboston: Benedict XVI's Regensburg Lecture is an intellectual tour de force on Christian history, faith and reason, and most importantly - the intellectual vacuity of Islam.

There's a whole mess of death fatwas coming the Pope's way, as soon as the Imans figure out what he wrote.

4/13/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wow, Lutas. YOu just come away from a SF cocktail party where you learned how to feel all socially superior to us bitter little people?

The cartoon comment was a joke, but it's been my lifelong experience that religious ranters never, ever, have a sense of humor.

If you want to get stereotypical about it.

4/13/2008 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

tm lutas

"Pope Benedict is a holy warrior."

Wahhabism is objectionable because it is so focused away from God's love that it becomes ok to fly airplanes into buildings. To call people to love is to call them away from Wahhabism.

By not mentioning the word, he is trying to maximize actual converts instead of triumphal feel-good feelings by people like you.

So tm the Pope is a what? A clandestine holy warrior who won't speak certain words because they might not convert a religion/philosophy that is already so immiscible to Christianity that in the history of mankind it has never, ever, been able to coexist peacefully? And never will.

tm, you need to understand that Islam is a philosophy of conquer or kill. When a philosophy can define ALL who do not believe in it as infidels that ultimately be put to the sword then you've got a problem mixing phrases such as "God's love" into the selling of your interpretation.
And calling them away from Whabbism is punishable by death so it doesn't seem to fit into the charity mode either.
It would appear you should take your Mulligan on this post and think re-do.

4/13/2008 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Isn't this Pope Benedict the guy who cracked down on Curran, Kung, Schillebeecx and others, when he was defending the faith as head of the rump office of the old inquisition?

4/13/2008 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Cohoe said...

" ... cracked down on Curran, Kung, Schillebeecx and others ... inquisition ..."

OMG! Were they badly burned? Scourged? Jailed?

Oh - the pope has the final word on doctrine (pretty much like the Supreme Court does), you mean, and these guys were told they couldn't teach false doctrine under the aegis of the Church.

Well it's shocking anyway! Just shocking!

Or someone's pushing bias instead of expressing unvarnished truth.

One or the other

4/13/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Well, five or six hundred years ago, they might have been. Master Eckhart avoided the problem by dying on his own.:)

4/13/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Habu: When a philosophy can define ALL who do not believe in it as infidels that ultimately be put to the sword then you've got a problem mixing phrases such as "God's love" into the selling of your interpretation.

How is that worse than your call to nuke 'em?

4/13/2008 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Notice how The Chicago Sun Times characterizes the Rev. Wright comments as they slip them down the memory hole. This is Art Golab, staff reporter, writing:


While discussing “seven lessons the judge taught me,” Wright never mentioned church member Obama, who has rejected some of Wright’s comments, which included denunciations of America for its mistreatment of black people and claims that America’s promotion of terrorism abroad helped prompt the 9/11 attacks. But Wright did take the opportunity to bash some of the critics of his controversial statements, including Fox News personalities Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

Gee, if only we hadn't promoted terrorism. Put this way, don't we all owe Rev Wright an apology?

I can't wait for the CST editorial where they call the Pope Islamaphobic and an obvious hater (and the cause of the next terror attack).

4/13/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Anime girl,

"How is that worse than your call to nuke 'em?"


This question, in one variation or another, has already been asked here a thousand times and more. If you and Ashley can't understand the answer, you should not be posting here.

4/13/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

nahncee - John L Allen wrote "All The Pope's Men" in part because even american Catholics have little clue as to how the Vatican works much less the wider US society which is just simply clueless. Your comments were insulting and portrayed a breathtaking ignorance of how the Church actually works. And I'm out of touch? Get a grip nahncee.

habu - There's no clandestine about it. He's as gutsy as Sistani is and using pretty much the same toolset. Benedict was around for the apology for the Crusades (the sacking of Constantinople part) and he'd like us to do a bit better this time around. There's a lot more that he's worried about than the muslims, specifically twitchy Orthodox who don't want to pay for Western Church ambitions (again).

I'm an Eastern Catholic (Romanian Byzantine Catholic to be precise). We had to live with a muslim yoke on our necks for centuries and the cultural effects echo to this day. I see the 2nd and 3rd order effects mostly but walking into a Romanian church with arabic script on the entryway so the Ottomans will understand what is there brings you up short the first time you encounter it. I think I've got a pretty good idea of what Islam means when the rubber hits the road and you're a dhimmi Church because your generals simply can't stop them. It's woven into the very fabric of our priestly clothes (literally, episcopal garb is a modified version of Ottoman court functionary garb of a certain era).

In case you didn't get the memo, mass conversions are out, individual conversions are in. The Pope is not trying to convert every muslim through a decree by President Mubarak (as might have been attempted several hundred years prior) but enlarge the number of secret and public christians all across the "muslim" world until they hit critical mass and what was a muslim society becomes a christian one. The two approaches to conversion require different actions and Pope Benedict seems to be doing a fine job so far.

4/13/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/13/2008 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

Teresita-enea

Did you give up you old blogsite on lesbians?

Folks this is not a dig, she once had an up and running robust site dedicated to the daughters of Sappho.

As for nuking them. How would you know that is my position? Teresita would know that but this other cartoon character wouldn't ... the public wants the squatting picture back up too ..it's so you.
Oh yeah I forgot ... bite me.

4/13/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The Pope is certainly being brave. He's going to Ground Zero and calling on Jihadists to leave Jihad and become Christians. Wow.

That's certainly brave. Is he courting martyrdom? That was the traditional strategy of the Church, back in the day. The original Information Warfare Operations. Different from Islamic Martyrdom in that the individual does not kill anyone, rather refuses to renounce God.

You must give the Pope this. He's willing to put his life on the line for his Faith.

4/13/2008 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Your comments were insulting and portrayed a breathtaking ignorance of how the Church actually works.

This *is* the same Catholic Church as whose American arm is going bankrupt from paying out gazillions of dollars in claims against pedophiliac priests over a period of decades ... right? If that is how the Church really works, then why on earth should the rest of us be depending upon one elderly gentleman at the top of its hierarchy to save us?

4/13/2008 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Nahncee, I'll answer with another question. When was the last time a Pope was martyred for his faith? By a non-Christian?

4/13/2008 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

whiskey - let me be clear. If the Pope does what we're hoping he'll do I will have a great deal of admiration for him. Thus far, however, the couple of times he has spoken up he has ended up groveling and apologizing all over the place. And I'm afraid that's what will happen again.

And, unlike the Muslims' Mohammad, he *is* just a fallible human being so it's best if we remember that the Church he leads is also fallible, and can use all the help it can get from the rest of us in a showdown at high noon with the mad muslims.

(I'm not sure what your question is meant to demonstrate, but didn't some Muslim jihadist take a shot at a pope 20 years or so ago, about the same time another Muslim jihadist murdered Bobby Kennedy?)

4/13/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

"Christian love is hard."

So is Muslim love, apparently. Harder perhaps.

There's a hypocrisy in preaching both love-of-the-enemy, and self-defense. I can't wrap my brain around the concept of loving the men who flew those planes into the WTC. It is a perversion. That love is being translated directly into the ridiculous ROEs that get our soldiers killed. I have no use for it. If the Pope loves Obama, then damn both of them.

4/13/2008 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/04/re-pope-comes-to-ground-zero.html

4/13/2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

The prayer, as released by the Vatican on Thursday:

"O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain.

"We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here -- the heroic first-responders: our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001.

"We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness.

"Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope. We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering. God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.

"Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred. God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.

"Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all."


It seems to me there are two ways of interpreting the Popes message in the passage, one for those whose reaction to the deed on 9/11 fills their hearts and minds with hatred, an understandable entreaty for people who have suffered so horribly.
The other for those whose hate filled hearts and minds were so consumed that they could contemplate an act such as that on 9/11.
The wording in sensitive to the victims of the act and their families. It does not call for us to forgive or view with compassion the lives or actions of the hijackers, or any terrorist, but instead asks for guidance for the "people of the many different faiths and traditions" in confronting such events as we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy.

If anyone should choose to be insulted by this prayer, then we can assume the prayer is meant most especially for them.

4/14/2008 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

If the Pope does what we're hoping he'll do I will have a great deal of admiration for him. Thus far, however, the couple of times he has spoken up he has ended up groveling and apologizing all over the place. And I'm afraid that's what will happen again.

I have yet to have it proven that what the pope did was groveling and apologizing for his remarks. I did however, read it in certain blogs that some MSM and some not so MSM felt that was what he did. I attribute that thinking to the same mentality that claims Iran defeated the Iraqi army in Basra, or some such nonsense.

A review of his actual remarks after the fact are in fact quite different from any form of contrition I am aware of.

4/14/2008 05:02:00 AM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

"If the Pope loves Obama, then damn both of them."

I can't believe I did that. I've been arguing election politics too much. Strike Obama and insert Osama, and no, I don't think the two are in any way the same. Damn.

4/14/2008 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

If anyone should choose to be insulted by this prayer, then we can assume the prayer is meant most especially for them.

I am not insulted by it, but I have no use for this sentence...

"Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred."

...if it is intended to apply to those who carry a righteous hatred for the people who perpetrated that attack. I hate them and I will continue to hate them. It would be unjust to feel any other way.

4/14/2008 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wade, the Arabs and the Muslim media to a man agreed that he grovelled and apologized. Frankly, I didn't pay enough attention on those instances to parse his preaching on whether or not the Arabs got it right, but I *did* notice that he said something one day and then spent the next weeks after that backpedaling and explaining himself.

If this time he *does* say that Islam is evil and terrorists should convert away from it I hope he lets his words stand once the riots and threats begin.

4/14/2008 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Cohoe said...

Remember the bully/jokster who deliberately steps on someone's toe and then immediately apologizes as though it were a mistake? I don't know if this is what the Pope is doing, but it's possible. Meanwhile, the toe hurts, the suggestive message gets through.

The Pope did say what he said in his Regensburg lecture. Saying as an afterword that he didn't mean to hurt feelings doesn't vacate the message. An Idea stands apart from its speaker. It has a life of its own.

Raid, retreat, raid, retreat ... it's a legitimate form of warfare that is often successful. It's called geurilla warfare, or asymetric warfare.

An apology or, perhaps better, soothing words does not necessarily mean cowardice. It could mean maximally disarming the enemy so it can be done again. Saddam played this game, jerking around the international inspectors. I don't think he died like a coward, evil though he was.

So we have Regensburg, then the Easter baptism, then the ground zero message.

I have often thought that the real solution to the 'religion of peace' problem is to convert the Muzzies.

Look at it as a race between the Christians and the atheists to see who's best at it.

The Pope can't fight like the US Army. As Stalin asked, "How many divisions does the pope have?"

I watch his interesting actions non judgementally.

4/14/2008 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

For the Pope to summon the faithful to pray for the terrorists' repentance and conversion to Christianity is a grand insult to Islam. And the clerics of Allah know it, which is why they are in a tizzy over this. Bravo, Joseph Ratzinger! Tactically, this is just too sweet.

Those who truly do not understand the nature of Islam and its scriptures will completely miss the import of the Pope's words, on this visit and at his Regensburg address two years ago.

4/14/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

"...if it is intended to apply to those who carry a righteous hatred for the people who perpetrated that attack. I hate them and I will continue to hate them. It would be unjust to feel any other way.

You delve here into the realm of forgiveness. I do not know if it is in the power of any survivor to forgive this act. By my understanding any notion of forgiveness is now between the dead and the creator.

As for the living; anger, disgust hatred and sadness, are part of morning. An appeal to ease the suffering of the survivors should not be confused with any request for forgiveness. Forgiveness for the hijackers is just not an option. It is out of our hands.

I don't know if Catholic Theology would agree with that sentiment, but I believe it should.

4/14/2008 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

NahnCee,

The Arabs and the Muslim media to a man agreed to what fit their script.

4/14/2008 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

By my understanding any notion of forgiveness is now between the dead and the creator.

I'm fine with that. I don't believe in a creator, but I'm fine with that.

As for the living; anger, disgust hatred and sadness, are part of morning.

Sure, but the emotions aren't simply to be gotten over. If they are directed at a natural event, like an earthquake, tornado, etc, then it makes sense to tell the survivors that they just have to work through the emotion. Their expectation of reasonableness and justice is an error when directed at impersonal nature. This was an act of war, however, and those expectations are justified when directed at other men. Our anger, hatred and outrage should serve to galvanize us into decisive action against the enemy. Instead, our leaders have tried to disipate the passions that were aroused, as if they are afraid of the demands that we would make on them if we held onto our anger and gave vent to it. They are afraid to wage the kind of war that the attack demanded, so they prattle about "religion of peace" and "moderate muslims." They send our men off to slog it out in a war of attrition with one arm tied behind their backs, instead of laying waste to the civilization that has been at war with us for the past 30 years.

An appeal to ease the suffering of the survivors should not be confused with any request for forgiveness.

Forgiveness will not come until after we have achieved victory-- which is to say justice-- and have altered the basis of understanding between the West and the Middle East. The longer victory is delayed, the more there will be to forgive, and the longer it will take to forgive.

4/14/2008 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Blogger Ardsgaine said...

...,the emotions aren't simply to be gotten over.

I did not, nor is there written in the prayer language which stoops to tell folks to "get over it".

It does however, serve to remind us of the need, even some seven years after the event, for " light and guidance as we confront such terrible events..

And then the prayer takes a Private Ryan-esque twist, "Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all."

"Forgiveness will not come until after we have achieved victory-- which is to say justice-- and have altered the basis of understanding between the West and the Middle East. The longer victory is delayed, the more there will be to forgive, and the longer it will take to forgive.

It is not for me to say, however I think the majority of our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq would disagree with you there. especially those who have paid the price with blood. There are simply not enough bullets to achieve "justice" in the way you seek. But a just peace can be had, and the basis of understanding between east and west is forever being changed, using the current ROE and COIN.

From another time another tragedy, but still timely,

"So look up ahead at times to come, despair is not for us. We have a world and more to see, while this remains behind." Col. Nick Rowe

4/14/2008 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger joannis said...

osama, meet torquemada. nobody's tougher than good ole Torq. nobody.

4/15/2008 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

First John Paul, then Benedict. If I had to guess, I'd say God is really watching out for the Catholic Church these days.

4/15/2008 01:35:00 AM  

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