Monday, September 18, 2006

The Pope's Apology

It is not unusual for someone to come up to me after one of my talks at a progressive organization and say something like, "I can't believe you became a minister. I have no regard for religion. Religion has only been used to hurt people in the world." It happened again after my talk last week at the Center for American Progress.

I'm thinking about that comment again after just finishing reading about the Pope's extraordinary apology for comments he made about Islam last week and the ensuing violence that has resulted in churches being burned in the middle east and the slaying of a nun in Somalia. My first thought was to quote Shakespeare, "a pox on both their houses."

The Pope was wrong in quoting an anti-Islamic medieval text and has apologized for using the quote. (Don't they have someone who vets his speeches before he gives them??) The violence in response is wrong. It is just the latest chapter in religious intolerance and hatred springing from religous beliefs.

What I usually tell the person who tells me that they detest what religion has done to the world is that I agree with them. And then I tell them that that faith and religion have also brought hope and healing to the world through history to the world as well. But, right now, the image of the dead nun shown on the Today Show is hurting my heart. I am reminded of Meister Eckhardt's quote, "When will people stop believing in a god that makes them sad?"


Anonymous said...

Sorry -- it's WRONG to quote a relevant medieval text in the course of a historical lecture? That's like saying it is wrong to mention the Dred Scott decision in a history of America.

Besides, isn't there something about freedom of speech worth defending? I should think your experience makes it obvious that if you say nothing that offends, you say nothing.

Anonymous said...

Your analogy would only be relevent if the person referencing a remark about the Dred Scott Decision failed to explain how the quotation was racist, or how he disagreed with the quotation.

The pope gave no indication that he disagreed with the sentiment he quoted --- that Mohammed brought forth nothing but violence.

The pope was right to apologize. As a world spiritual leader, one would hope he is aware of his ability to calm or inflame.