On Sept. 12, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech calling for a “dialogue of cultures,” but perhaps that quote was lost among the hubbub of the words spoken by the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel.
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new,” the emperor said in an ancient dialogue quoted by the pontiff, “and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
A man of Benedict’s religious and political power should be more aware of the weight of his words when repeating speech that gives off an ethnocentric impression, regardless if it is used solely as a quote.
Across the globe, some Muslims retaliated with the burning churches, and Iraqis burned the pope in effigy.
Should people fear a violent reaction every time a negative opinion of any religion is expressed? No. Is that the reality of the world today? Yes.
The pope did not apologize for using the emperor’s quote but rather’ he apologized for certain individuals’ angry reaction to the words quoted on Sept. 12.
Instead of offering half-hearted apologies, Pope Benedict XVI should explain why he used that particular quote in the first place and the message he was attempting to convey by invoking it in his speech.