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Five years later: the importance of the Regensburg address

September 12, 2011

Five years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI delivered his memorable address to an academic audience in Regensburg. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute explains why that address still deserves attention.

The Regensburg address is remember today primarily because of the outraged reaction among Muslims. That result, Gregg notes, shows “most Western intellectuals’ sheer ineptness when writing about religion.”

It is true, Gregg continues, that the Pope “shattered the inconsequential niceties that had hitherto typified most Catholic-Muslim discussions,” and demanded a more substantive inter-faith dialogue. But that is not the only lesson of the Pope’s speech, Gregg adds. The Pontiff posed a serious challenge to the West as well: a challenge that has not yet been answered:

Regensburg asked the West to look itself in the mirror and consider whether some of its inner demons reflected the fact that it, like the Islamic world, was undergoing an inner crisis: one which was reducing Christian faith to subjective opinion, natural reason to the merely measurable, and love to sentimental humanitarianism. The West, Benedict suggested, was in the process of a closing of its own mind.


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