ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome
Pope Expresses "Deep Respect" for Muslims
And Proposes a Positive and Self-critical Dialogue
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed his respect for Muslims and clarified that a recent address in Germany sought to propose a positive and self-critical dialogue among religions and between reason and Christians' faith.
The Pope again clarified the contents of his Sept. 12 address at the University of Regensburg -- which sparked violent reactions in some Muslim circles -- when he spoke today to 40,000 people gathered for the general audience.
Speaking in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father first clarified the context of that address: "a conference before a large auditorium of professors and students at the University of Regensburg, in which for many years I was professor."
"I had chosen as topic the question of the relationship between faith and reason," explained Benedict XVI who, deeply saddened, on Sunday had clarified his references to Islam.
"To introduce the auditorium to the dramatic and timely character of the argument," he said today, "I quoted some words of a Christian-Islamic dialogue of the 14th century, in which the Christian interlocutor, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, in an incomprehensively brusque way for us, presented to the Islamic interlocutor the problem of the relationship between religion and violence."
"Unfortunately, this quotation has given room to a misunderstanding," the Pope said. "For the careful reader of my text, it is clear that I did not wish at any time to make my own the negative words uttered by the medieval emperor in this dialogue and that its controversial content does not express my personal conviction."
The Holy Father told the general audience that his intention "was very different."
United to reason
"Based on what Manuel II affirms afterward in a very positive way, with very beautiful words, about rationality in the transmission of the faith, I wished to explain that religion is not united to violence, but to reason," the Pontiff explained.
"I wished to invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and to dialogue with all cultures and religions," he said. In fact, Benedict XVI reminded his audience that in other of his addresses in Germany -- for example, in the homily he delivered at a large outdoor Mass in Munich -- he emphasized "the importance of respecting what others consider sacred."
In this way, the Holy Father sought to make clear his "deep respect for the great religions, in particular for Muslims -- who 'adore the one God' and with whom we are engaged in "preserving and promoting together for all mankind social justice, moral values, peace and freedom."
Benedict XVI concluded hoping that "After the reactions of the first moment, my words at the University of Regensburg will represent an impulse and encouragement to a positive dialogue, including self-critical, both among religions, as well as between modern reason and Christians' faith."