Pope: I was misunderstood about Islam, may my words become an opportunity for dialogue
At the general audience, Benedict XVI said that at Regensburg, while tackling the topic of faith and reason, he had maintained that "not religion and violence but religion and reason go together". It was a call "to dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) The quotation made by Benedict XVI in the "lecture" at the University of Regensburg, "lent itself to possible misunderstanding". "For the careful reader, however, it emerges clearly that I did not want to make my own in any way the negative words pronounced by the medieval emperor." That speech tackled the theme of "faith and reason", maintaining that "not religion and violence but religion and reason go together" and aimed to "invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and all religions", as should have emerged "clearly", considering the overall trip to Germany. A crowd of 40,000 people present at today's general audience greeted with long and warm applause the pope's words about his trip to Germany, and especially about the speech he gave in Regensburg.
It was a profound reflection, as he did last Sunday before the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI reiterated the substance of what he had already said: everything took place in an athenaeum, and hence in language that would be employed for a university lecture. In the text of the address, there is a note that the pope intended to add footnotes. Further, the controversial phrase was a quote referring to Muhammad "in a way that is incomprehensible and brusque for us" and which served to "introduce the drama and actuality of the topic." The pope said that "in no way did I wish to make my own the negative words of the emperor", that he has "profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who worship the one God and with whom we promote peace, liberty, social justice."
Benedict XVI also expressed the hope that "after the initial reaction", his words may "constitute a push towards positive, even self-critical, dialogue between religions and between modern reason and Christian faith."
Looking back at the stages of his visit to Germany, Benedict XVI said: "A particularly beautiful experience for me on that day was to give a speech before a large audience of professors and students of the University of Regensburg, where I taught as a professor for many years. With joy, I was able to meet once again the university world which, for a long period of my life, was my spiritual homeland. As a topic, I chose the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce the audience to the drama and actuality of the topic, I cited some words of a Christian-Islamic dialogue from the XIV century, with which the Christian interlocutor, the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologos in a way that is incomprehensible and brusque for us presented to the Islamic interlocutor the problem of the relationship between religion and violence. This quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding. For the careful reader, however, it emerges clearly that I did not want to make my own in any way the negative words pronounced by the medieval emperor in this dialogue and their controversial content did not express my personal conviction. My intention was rather different: starting out from that Manuel II said later in a positive way, using a very beautiful word, about how reason should guide in the transmission of faith, I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together. The theme of my conference in response to the University mission was the relationship between faith and reason: I wanted to invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and all religions. I hope that on several occasions of my visit for example, in Munich, when I underlined how important it is to respect what is sacred to others my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who 'worship the one God' and with whom we 'promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity' (Nostra Aetate, 3), is clear."
The pope added: "I trust that after the initial reaction, my words at the University of Regensburg can constitute an impulse and encouragement toward positive, even self-critical dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith."