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Published:September 24th, 2006 10:42 EST
Sorry for Being a Christian

Sorry for Being a Christian

By Krzys Wasilewski

There is no room for violence in any religion. No god, no prophet, no command can excuse the use of force against anyone, regardless his beliefs. That was, more or less, what Pope Benedict XVI meant when on 12 September he gave a lecture at the university of Regensburg in Germany last week.

On the next day, an Italian couple was murdered in Morocco and burning Christian churches lighted up the Iraqi sky.  What did the Pope say exactly? During a sentimental visit to his native Germany, Benedict delivered a chastening speech, in which he highlighted the modern world`s main problems that the Church must resolve. He called on Europe to abandon secularism and return to Christian roots. He asked governments to respect human rights. Finally, he reminded the rich to help the poor, the same old stuff that all faithfuls can hear every Sunday. But in this dozen-page long text, an inquisitive journalist found few words that, in his opinion, attacked Islam. These words were: Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. " These words were not Benedict`s own words. These words were a quotation of a 14th-century emperor. These words were in opposition to the official teaching of the Catholic Church. These words were brusque and unacceptable, what the pope made clear several times during the lecture and after. But news is news.

The pope has attacked Islam! " shouted all newspapers around the globe. Journalists jockeyed for the most touching portraits of shocked Muslims in Iran, Afghanistan and other peace-loving countries.

How could he say something like that? " asked left wing writers whose entire idea of church is narrowed to postcards of medieval cathedrals. Suddenly, these ardent pursuers of unfettered liberalism stood side by side with hard line religious radicals. They felt, as they always do, an urgent need of speaking up when one, law-abiding group (Muslims that is) is attacked by an aggressive conservative (the Pope). One could wonder where they were when vandals devastated Jewish graveyards in France and Germany; or when churches and synagogues were burnt down; or when Madonna crucified herself during one of her shows. All of these examples directly pitched into Christian faith. Nowhere in the world was a word uttered in defense of religious beliefs. If, let`s say, Madonna came up with another brilliant idea and decided to sing being tied to the crescent, she would soon be ostracized from all the media. One or two more offenses towards Christians is all right, they have gotten used to it. Try to publish a cartoon implying that some Muslims might have naughty thoughts; try to say that killing other people is the wrong thing. Our dear moralists just wait to churn out lofty essays about how aggressive Christians use poor Allah`s children.

Muslims did not waste time for words, however. An Italian couple living in Morocco was brutally murdered in response to an Israeli-led crusade to destroy Islam, " as it could be heard on the streets of the capital, Rabat. Catholics in Israel? Blessed are those who haven`t seen yet believed. In response to the Pope`s lecture, some unknown arsonists set fire to several churches in Iraq, none of which was of Catholic order. But who would bother about details? What matters is that the enemy has been identified: it is everyone who does not agree to follow the one and only true faith. The good old days when Pope John Paul II would invite Islamic leaders and everyone from cardinals to ayatollahs to Buddhists praised the need of a dialog among all main world religions are gone. Not because the new pope is prejudiced against non-Catholics or non-Christians. The truth is that behind flowery words about understanding and cooperation, there has never been an honest debate about the most important problems. Few people noticed that during that atmosphere of mutual understanding, the Twin Towers were destroyed and Christians were denied their basic rights not only in Pakistan or Iran, but also in Turkey which hopes to join the European Union. But the motto of the 1990s and early 2000s was: Let`s not anger our touchy Muslim friends whatever the price. "

Muslims around the world demand that Benedict XVI apologize for his/ not his controversial words. Religious leaders in Turkey have made it clear that unless the Pope expresses mea culpa, he may forget about visiting the country in November. In the nearby future Christians may have been told to apologize for Christmas (it`s against the teachings of the prophet), the Eastern (according to the Koran, the Resurrection did not happen) fact, they should be sorry for being Christians. How stupid of them!

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