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8 days a weak

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 21, 2006

On September 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered the most controversial speech of his pontificate to date. You'd already noticed? Yes, I think maybe you had.

But as the Muslim world exploded in protests, maybe you were waiting...and waiting...and waiting... to see whether the US bishops would leap to the Pope's defense. So was I.

I was wondering: Would the US bishops agree that inter-religious dialouge can only be based on reason? Would they back the Holy Father's argument that the modern world is endangered both by an extreme form of religion that rejects all reason, and a secular form of reason that rejects all religion?

I kept wondering. On September 12 the US bishops' conference (USCCB) issued a statement on immigration. On September 15 there were new statements on stem-cell research, Darfur, and the treatment of prisoners. All interesting topics, no doubt. But what did the bishops think about the Pope's warnings on the "dehellenization" of Western culture?

Finally, on September 20-- 8 days after the Regensburg speech-- the USCCB president issued a statement. Bishop William Skylstand announced that the US bishops conference "enthusiastically supports the call for dialogue made by our Holy Father."

That's nice. But did you notice that this wasn't just another bland call to dialogue-- that this papal statement had a very distinct edge to it? Bishop Skylstad said:

Given the circumstances of the last week, it is clear that dialogue is essential between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue in which we respect, in the words of the Holy Father, ‘what is sacred for others.’

Aha. Then do you agree with the Pope that dialogue can be meaningful only if Islamic leaders renounce the use of violence?

In the United States, the bishops are participating in such a dialogue. We recognize, with Pope Benedict, that Catholics and Muslims `worship the one God.’

Uh-huh. Now are you saying that you agree with the Pope, and fully support the thrust of his speech?

Because of the events of the last five years, this dialogue is especially urgent so that Christians and Muslims are able to work together to promote ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity,’ as Pope Benedict has said.

No doubt. So then you would support the Pope's view on what conditions are required for meaningful dialogue?

We hope that the context of the talk which the Holy Father gave last week at the University of Regensburg in Germany, in which he described the right relationship between faith and reason, will be understood fully and correctly. That is, as the Holy Father said during his Angelus of Sunday, September 17, it is a talk ‘which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.’

Let me repeat the question.

It is this attitude of the Holy Father that deserves the world’s attention rather than the centuries-old words of another which express a point of view that we cannot deny existed but which no longer motivates the authentic Christian.

You didn't like the quote. OK, I've got that much. Now just one more time,...?

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