Reasons for Benedict’s Speech

Sep 21st, 2006, in World, by

Some possible reasons for the references to Islam given within Pope Benedict’s speech.

Benedict, or Joseph Ratzinger, is a very intelligent, educated man and he doubt deliberately chose to raise the question of Islam’s connection to violence, the concept of jihad, in his recent speech in Germany, in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine leader:

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.

These are two possible reasons why he did it.

Christianity today is largely dead, except in America, and in developing countries such as Indonesia, but especially Africa, but such places don’t really matter. In Europe, the heartland of Catholic Christianity, the faith is, as I said, more or less dead and gone. Because it is dead, because Europeans have no faith in the next world to come, which creates faith in the world of now, they have lost the will to reproduce themselves, European fertility rates have plummeted to unsustainably low levels. Because their citizens refuse to have (enough) babies European governments are forced to seek labour elsewhere, so as to prop up the generous welfare states that exist in Europe with tax revenue, such as in the middle east and north Africa, and hence very many Muslim immigrants have entered Europe over the last few decades. There are now about 20 million Muslims in western Europe, growing all the time.

At another time in history a far less ordered influx of immigrants arrived in southern Europe, at the time of the long, drawn-out collapse of the Roman Empire, between around the 3rd century AD and the 5th century. These people were mostly “barbarians” or “pagans”, howling, screaming Germanic tribesmen who terrified the Romans and finished off their decaying empire. (The History of the Christian Church) Despite this catastrophe, despite the loss of its temporal power support, the Roman Catholic church managed to survive the loss, and hence the faith survived. It was able to do this because the church, eventually, managed to convert the barbarians to Christianity.

Hence Benedict’s reference to Islam and violence, and the suggestion that it is incompatible with reason and God’s love, from a Catholic perspective, may be an opening salvo in the battle to preserve Europe for the church and convert the immigrants. Spengler says:

The Regensburg address oversteps the bounds of dialogue and verges upon the missionary.

Benedict, while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was one of the few Catholic leaders to be unafraid of raising the subject of converting Muslims to Christianity (Issue for Cardinals: Islam as Rival or Partner in Talks).

Little of this has anything to do with Indonesia but a second possible reason for Benedict’s words does.

Benedict, as Robert Miller suggests, may be embarking on a project to engage the Muslim world on what to him would be much fairer terms than in the recent past and at present, terms that centre on the establishment of reciprocity in the relationship, specifically, suggesting that if European countries can offer religious freedom to Muslims then the Islamic world must be held to account for its intolerance towards Christians, and must address the plight of Christian minorities in Muslim countries. This issue does of course have some relevance to Indonesia.

In any case, these be interesting times.

21 Comments on “Reasons for Benedict’s Speech”

  1. mugsy says:

    What are the reasons? The Pope is all about reason. No debate.

  2. Tony says:

    The reason is that people are killing eachother in the name of their own God. And unfortunately Islam is on the radar screen these days, and as people living in Indonesia, we are very well aware of this. He suggested that one way to get out of the loop is to use reason to define God. Simple.

  3. Riccardo,

    You quote Q 9:5, without completing it. It actually continues with “… but if they repent…” (see below).

    More importantly, you do not provide the context of the verse. Back then the Muslims were attacked. And these verses explain how Muslims should respond.

    You know what: If you were born into a Muslim parents, chances are you would be a Muslim extremist 🙂

    Your comment above really tells it all. First, you insist interpreting religious text LITERALLY. Secondly, you SELECTIVELY CHOOSE only the piece of religious text that is accordance with your own conviction. And thirdly, you ignore the CONTEXT and the EVENTS surrounding the text.

    You may not realize this, but extremists usually look at religious texts like you do 🙂

    Having said that, you are absolutely right: Indonesian Muslims have huge problems. According to LSI survey a couple of months ago, about 10% people surveyed said that violance sometimes or always justified (margin errors 2-3%).

    The question is this: How much of this problem because of “seriuos doctrinal issue” in Islam? Are there other possible causes?

    Btw, here is other verses which may provide the context of Q 9:5

    Q 9:3
    And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve,

    Q 9:4
    Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).

    Q 9:5
    Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    Q 9:6
    And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not.

    Q 9:7
    How can there be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters save those with whom ye made a treaty at the Inviolable Place of Worship? So long as they are true to you, be true to them. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty.

  4. Riccardo says:

    “…while moderates who cannot disavow the terms of the koran prefer more evasive interpretations…”

    It’s not for you and I to argue, Prasyad. The onus is on intelligent, moderate Muslims like yourself, to convince the extremists in your own backyard. To condemn just as loudly, the murder of old nuns. To demonstrate in the streets and call for an end to genocide among Sudan (Darfur) Muslims. To stand up to Hezbollah and call them what they are: rogue murderers. To say “stop” to IRAN’s backward-thinking belligerence. There’s no sense telling me, I have no intention of killing Muslim children in front of the Aussie Embassy or at the Marriott or in Bali, but they do.

    YOU have to demand that your own brothers behave in a rational manner, or someday Islam be wiped out — it is that simple. 5 billion people Vs. 1.4 billion Muslims. Islamists are outmanned, outgunned and outsmarted. Islamists have succeeded in enraging atheists, agnostics, socialists, Jews, Protestants (9/11), Buddhists (statues in Afgan), Hindus (see India or Bali) and recently a billion Catholics.

    The huge majority of people of this world are very tired of it and there will be ugly consequences to pay unless the moderates talk some sense into their extremist brothers.

  5. On that, I agree with you: The onus is on moderate Muslims.

    My point is simply this: falsely painting an ugly picture of Islam (like some remarks in the Pope’s speech, or your quote on the so called Sword Verse) does not help moderate Muslims.

  6. Hassan says:


    “To stand up to Hezbollah and call them what they are: rogue murderers. To say “stop” to IRAN’s backward-thinking belligerence”

    so you practically wanted to pit Muslims against Muslims? you wanted Muslims to fulfill the west’s agendas? sudan, iran, and hezbollah are issues that the west had always wanted to take care. now you want us to do your dirty work??

    i’d say you were just playing the old strategy of divide and conquer. dream on, it won’t work.

    sudan is a domestic issue, like aceh. and we all know why the u.s. was so insistant on meddling with the sudan affair. darfur had a large oil reserve. the u.s. won’t want to get their hands dirty on matters without oil involved in them.

    I don’t know what’s wrong with iran’s right to harness nuclear power peacefully, and hezbollah’s plight in defending Lebanon from Israeli aggressions. the kidnappings? you do know how many Palestinians and Arabs from other countries that Israel kidnapped and detained without trials every day, now don’t you?

    I have to give you credit for trying to sound convincing with such weak arguments.

  7. Tony says:

    Bosnia, Kosovo were domestic issues. US meddled. No genocide.
    Rwanda was a domestic issue, US did not meddle. Genocide
    Darfur is a domestic issue. ??????
    Genocidal Hezbollah and Iran are not domestic issues, unfortunately as Libanese and IsraelI have experienced. Hezbollah was not defending Lebanon, it was defending itself after having attacked Israel and Lebanon’s people have payed the highest price. As to the Palestinians being kidnapped, that is a domestic issue, isn’t it? What has this to do with Lebanon? If you declare war you pay the consequences.
    I do not get your point.
    Probably Ricardo doesn’t want to pit Muslims against Muslims, just wants you to be less selective, see things not trough ideological lenses and use “logos” instead.
    There is no false or true picture of Islam. Islam is what the people makes of it, as there wouldn’t be any Islam (as any other ideology, religion, science etc.) without people. Good people makes good out of Islam, evil people makes evil out of Islam

  8. Ismail says:

    Rasyad Hi, I don’t think you are aware of the magnitude of the threat Islam constitutes. I am sure you are working on the fringe, you desperately want to present Islam in the best possible light ….. but I am sorry this attempt will not endure, please answer the question honestly – was Islam not advanced by violence and death, I am very versed in the Islamic traditions, the verses you quoted can hardly present a different view of Islam as a religion of peace.

    you took out a few verses that tries to portray millitant Islam as acceptable under some circumstances even this is hardly defensible because I know for a fact that prophet attacked with any provocation worthy of death yes his evil can not be explained away as Muslim scholar often try to do.

    Just open Islam for proper scrutiny and it will die, the evil contained cannot be summarised. It cover 1400 years.

    Islam is a religion of peace?
    Did Islam bring peace to Kashmir, Somalia, Sudan or Bali?
    Did Islam bring peace to Chechnya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, or Thailand?

  9. Hassan says:

    tony: “genocidal hezbollah and iran” that’s a lot of hawgwash. tell me, who had killed more innocents, hezbollah or Israel?? who had killed more innocents and waged more wars, iran or the u.s.?? lastly, please tell all of us what the word “genocidal” meant. if it is synonimous with mass murder and ethnic cleansing, would that word be more appropriate to describe the Israel and the u.s., rather than hezbollah and iran??

    maybe it is people like you who have to look at things in it’s proper perspective.

    Ismail: Just open Christianity for proper scrutiny and it will die (or maybe it is dying), the evil contained cannot be summarised. It cover 2006 years.

    you haven’t answered my question, who had committed more violence in the last millenia? the crusades? slavery? imperialism? world wars? holocaust? hiroshima? vietnam? afghan? Iraq? were they Muslims?

    violence is not exclusive to Islam. any efforts to point fingers to other religion will result in fingers pointed right back at you.

  10. Riccardo says:

    Hi hasssn, you said this to me:

    i’d say you were just playing the old strategy of divide and conquer. dream on, it won’t work.

    I have to give you credit for trying to sound convincing with such weak arguments.

    No, your dead wrong on both counts, I’m not playing any strategy and I’m not trying to convince anybody with arguments. So here it is, so you don’t have to guess or wonder what I AM doing:

    Here is the elementary school/sound-bite version since the above parts were too difficult for you.
    –5 billion civilized people in this world are disgusted with iSlam.
    –iSlam is outmanned, outgunned & outsmarted.
    –if iSlamists continue like this, the entire religion will be wiped out.

    Story time is over now Hassan go have some nice fat back bacon complemented by a fine Bordeaux — mmmm yummie.

  11. Rockstar says:

    Guys, guys..

    why are we fighting over something that is so not worth to be fighting for?
    it’s always the same things in every discussion.. Christian this Christian that.. Islam this and Islam that.
    It’s an endless mocking and a waste of time for what? a piece of pride?

    Who the heck is pope anyway? He’s no God, he’s just a mere human.. I don’t even give a damn of what he said. In my previous reply, I stated that Jesus Himself, my personal saviour, has been mocked and insulted everyday, 24/7, around the globe.. from a stupid joke to a totally nasty insult.. you name it.

    I’m hurt, yes I am sir. But I’m not gonna let my self be enslaved for that. It’s their right. For me, I will get on with my life and let God be the judge. That’s my principle.

    They don’t have to apologize to me, they don’t. They don’t owe me an apology, they owe Him big time.

  12. You rocked, Rockstar! This whole circus is really just a waste of time 🙂

  13. Tony says:

    Hassan, someone who says:
    “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world wide.”
    Speech at a graduation ceremony in w:Haret Hreik, w:Beirut (October 22, 2002).

    is genocidal in his intents to me

  14. Patung,

    Why did you delete Riccardo’s first comment (September 21st, 2006 at 9:33 am) which I then commented on? (You replaced it with a link to a Times’ article by William Rees-Mogg). It makes my comment somewhat irrelevant. Did Riccardo ask you to, or what?

    I think you should’ve not done that since readers may mistakenly think that my comment is irrelevant.

    I happened to save the page, so here is Riccardo’s original comment

    By the way, it seems that Riccardo copy-pasted some of the paragraphs in the Times

    Are you, Riccardo, William Rees-Mogg ? If you are not, it’s a no-no, Riccardo 🙂 We call it plagiarism.

  15. David says:

    I deleted it because it was just copied from that article by Rees-Mogg, as you noticed. People can still read it by visiting the Times. By the way I prefer it if you don’t use tinyurls, I like to see where the link is going without having to click it. I know why you use them, but it’s not necessary.

  16. Riccardo says:

    I’ve been looking into all this and confronted my brother-in-law, who often uses my computer, and he explained how he indeed copied part of an article he liked, “because it was so good”, he said. So I to told him you gotta attribute stuff and use your own name, or nick, next time.. but he said “oh no, you don’t understand, I’m Chinese-Indonesian, they don’t allow us to criticize them…”

    I did kinda understand, but it is incumbent on me to apologize to all of you here.

  17. OK. No problem.

    Btw, I posted a comment with a long URL a while ago, and the comment was corrupted.


  18. Hassan says:

    Riccardo: for someone who were trying to educate others, you seemed to need more education yourself. and please, all of us are well educated, we don’t need more education, specially on the topic of hatred. wasn’t it hatred you were trying to spread??

    you were dead wrong on any of your arguments.
    -5 billion civilized people in this world are disgusted with Islam.
    you know, I don’t think so. first of all, have you ever done some sort of survey to back up your comment?? and lastly, if those 5 billion did hate Islam, Islam would have disappeared right now, but yet it still exists..

    -Islam is outmanned, outgunned & outsmarted
    you forgot that we have the Lord of the universe still letting us exist and thrive. even if the whole universe conspired together, they would not be able to fight God’s (Allah’s) will. remember the word Allah is God in Arabic.

    -if Islamists continue like this, the entire religion will be wiped out.
    if Islamist meant the al qaeda sorts, maybe they will be destroyed, but not Islam the religion. the world cannot commit a genocide on 1,5 billion people.


    tony: that someone’s oppinion does not necessarily reflect the intention of the entire Iranian people or country.

    compare that intent you mentioned with the genocide that Israel is currently doing in Palestine every single day. are you blind to that??

  19. Riccardo says:

    Fascinating Hassan nobody is interested in your theological fantasies, but I did think it was funny when you wrote: “all of us are well educated, we don’t need more education”

    I have this great book of famous quotes, and these seem particularly aimed at you and your ilk.


    The wisest mind has something yet to learn.
    – George Santayana

    The highest result of education is tolerance.
    – Helen Keller

    Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that they are not idiots.
    – Karl Kraus

    It is not from reason that justice springs, but goodness is born of wisdom.
    – Maurice Maeterlinck

    “I’m still learning, you know. At 80, I feel there is a lot I don’t know.” –
    — Lena Horne

    Education is a progressive discovery of your own ignorance.
    – Will Durant

    Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.
    – Socrates

    For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?
    – Maria Montessori

    It is impossible to withhold education from the receptive mind, as it is impossible to force it upon the unreasoning.
    – Agnes Repplier

    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    – Aristotle

    Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
    — William Butler Yeats

    He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.
    – George Bernard Shaw

    I am not young enough to know everything.
    – Oscar Wilde

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
    – Bertrand Russell

  20. Hassan says:

    ricardo: ahh, but we do need education, just not from a bigot like you. we do not need someone to teach us about hatred, as I said wasn’t it hatred that you were trying to spread??

    FYI Muslims are required to educate themselves from childhood until death, so your quotations are nothing new.

    these are not theological in nature:
    -5 billion civilized people in this world are disgusted with Islam.
    you know, I don’t think so. first of all, have you ever done some sort of survey to back up your comment?? and lastly, if those 5 billion did hate Islam, Islam would have disappeared right now, but yet it still exists..

    maybe you were delusional when you said 5 billion civilized people in this world are disgusted with Islam, where is your scientific source to back up your claim??

    -if Islamists continue like this, the entire religion will be wiped out.
    if Islamist meant the al qaeda sorts, maybe they will be destroyed, but not Islam the religion. the world cannot commit a genocide on 1,5 billion people.

    where is the theology in that??

    -Islam is outmanned, outgunned & outsmarted
    how come Islam is still the world’s fastest growing religion if any of your delusional arguments are true? including the “5 billion civilized people in this world are disgusted with Islam” argument.

    you know Riccardo, you ARE trying to sound convincing with such weak arguments. admit it.

Comment on “Reasons for Benedict’s Speech”.

RSS feed

Copyright Indonesia Matters 2006-20
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact