Friday, September 15, 2006

Read the speech please....

The Pope is apparently being condemned by Muslims accross the globe for a speech he made during his recent visit to Germany. In it, he is quoted as saying "Show me just what Mohammed 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". Indeed, at least one news source on Tuesday reported that "Departing from his prepared text, the pope added two reminders to his audience that he was quoting, an indication he was aware of the sensitivity of the comment."

The comments about Islam and violence make up a relatively small part of the Pontiff's speech, but funnily enough it appears to have generated the most response - almost as if that's what the speech was about, when it was in fact about more than that. The speech is typical of the current Pope - thoughtful, academic and sometimes slightly obscure. Not that it's exactly new for people to focus on one part of a papal statement and present the whole as defined by the part - the Irish media reports on Veritatis Splendor by John Paul II made it sound as if the document was about contraception - it wasn't.

A friend on IRC informs me that a number of people defended President Ahmadinejad's infamous quote about wiping Israel off the map on the grounds he was in fact quoting another source. He made some remark about seeing the same people leap to the Pope's defence, but he wasn't "holding my breath".

I'd like to say I'm surprised at the fact that a papal "soundbite" has been ripped out of context, but I'm not. I'd like to say I'm surprised at the total overreaction of some members of the Islamic community, but I'm not.

Archbishop Cranmer who can always be relied on to have some comment in this kind of situation sums things up rather well.

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