Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Pressure Is On

While the animated discussions about the Pope's remarks were still going on, word came that he was back-pedaling and issuing an apology to the Muslims of the world. There was an initial statement from Benedict and then an official communiqué from the Vatican, but now it seems he has apologized a second time - once is not enough?

Once is too much. He should have kept the momentum going. He is one of the few leaders in the world who has the power and influence to change the way people think about this most violent of ideologies.

I do not have the complete Italian texts of the first statement and the communiqué. However, the administrator of France-Echos, in a long article, lashed out against what he perceives as biased translations. Here are just a few excerpts:

...despite the misinformation of the dhimmis from the French media, not only B16 didn't express regrets or excuses or denials, but he didn't even utter the word "sorry", that was twice attributed to him.

...In Italian, from the balcony of Castel Gandolfo this morning, Benedict XVI said: "In questo momento desidero solo aggiungere che sono vivamente rammaricato per le reaszioni suscitate da un breve passo del mio discorso all'Università di Ratisbona, ritenuto offensivo per la sensibilità dei credenti musulmani mentre si trattava di una citazione di un testo medioevale che non esprime in nessun modo il mio pensiero personale..."

My translation: At this moment I only wish to add that I am extremely (or keenly) sorry for the reactions aroused by a brief passage in my speech at the University of Ratisbon, taken as offensive by the sensitivities of Muslim believers, while (in fact) it was a quotation from a medieval text that does not express in any way my own personal thinking.

I have used the word "sorry" despite what France-Echos says. But note that he was sorry for the reactions. He doesn't really apologize overtly to the Muslims. He points out that what they are reading as his opinion is actually someone else's.

France-Echos then goes on to the official communiqué, again, in Italian:

..."Benedetto XVI è vivamente dispiaciuto che alcuni passi del suo discorso abbiano potuto suonare come offensivi della sensibilità dei credenti musulmani che siano stati interpretati in modo del tutto non corrispondente alle sue intenzioni".

My translation: Benedict XVI is extremely displeased that certain passages in his speech have sounded like offensive (words) to the sensitivities of Muslim believers (and) have been interpreted in a manner not at all consistent with his intentions."

France-Echos objects strongly to the French media using the words "extremely sorry", and even "absolutely sorry" to translate "vivamente dispiaciuto" and points out that if the Pope had been truly sorry, there were other words he could have used.

Whatever the Pope meant, the truth is that he has issued something approximating an apology, even if it is expressed more in terms of his own displeasure at the misunderstanding.

According to Bloomberg News, a second "apology" has been offered by the Pope.

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Pope Benedict XVI apologized in person today for causing offense to Muslims with a university lecture last week implicitly linking Islam to violence.

``I am truly sorry for the reactions caused by a brief passage of my speech,'' the pope said from his Castel Gandolfo summer retreat in Italy. ``These were quotations from a medieval text that do not express in any way my personal opinion.''

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which led demonstrations last week against the pope's remarks, called the apology a ``good step'' while urging the pontiff to make a further statement to clarify his personal view of Islam.

The apology is the second for the pope in two days after a statement was released yesterday through the Vatican in which the pope reiterated his respect for Islam and said he was sorry his speech had been interpreted in a way he hadn't intended.

Late yesterday the Italian interior ministry asked police chiefs to raise the level of national security after Islamist groups threatened to attack the pope, the Vatican and Rome, in statements on the Internet, Agence France-Presse said today.

In Somalia, where there have been protests at the pope's speech, gunmen shot and killed an Italian nun today at a hospital in the capital Mogadishu, AFP said, citing witnesses. There was no clear motive for the attack, AFP said.

No clear motive for the attack? Read the whole article here:

In addition to the above information, Time informs us that Benedict may have to cancel his trip to Turkey. (Isn't it just as well?)

Friday, Sep. 15, 2006
The First Casualty of the Pope's Islam Speech

Pope Benedict XIV's controversial comments about Islam have already ignited a firestorm of criticism in the Muslim world, but it may end up costing the Vatican more than just its reputation. A top Catholic Church official inside Turkey says the polemics following Benedict XVI's comments about Islam may cause the cancellation of his November visit to the majority Muslim country, which is nevertheless governed on secular principles.

"At this point, I don't know if the trip will happen," Mons. Luigi Padovese, the Vicar Apostolic in Anatolia, the Church's representative for what amounts to the eastern half of Turkey, told TIME. "There are leading politicians, members of the ruling parties, a top minister and others who have expressed a negative opinion on the visit." Padovese blamed the outcry on voices in the Turkish press whom he described as "nationalist, Islamist and anti-Christian," and said the Pope's intention was not to offend anyone. "I don't know if anyone even read the Pope's discourse," Padovese said. "These elements tossed out the bait, and others took it."

The sharpest rebuke inside Turkey came from Salih Kapusuz, the deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development, or AK Party, who said that Benedict would go down in history "in the same category as leaders such as (Benito) Mussolini and (Adolf) Hitler." He told the state-owned Anatolia news agency that Benedict's comments were a deliberate attempt to "revive the mentality of the Crusades: He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages." He added that Benedict "is a poor thing that has not benefitted from the spirit of reform in the Christian world..."

Read the whole article here.


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