instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When in doubt, Venn it

As a boot-licking Vatican toady, I disagree with those who say Pope Benedict XVI intended the furor caused by his quoting Emperor Manuel II Paleologus.

Some who say he intended it think it was wrong of him, and disparage him for it. We boot-licking Vatican toadies are categorically opposed to disparaging the Pope.

Others who say he intended it think it was right of him, and praise him for it. I can't see how to square this interpretation with his subsequent comments in a way that doesn't amount to him lying after the fact, and at the very least completely changing his mind from last year.

It seems to me that what Pope Benedict described in his speech (and elsewhere) is a situation like this:

Faith alone  religious violence
Reason alone  diminution of man
Faith and Reason  peaceful human flourishing

What message is the Pope sending?
A. "Dear Secularists, Let us gang up on Islam before they slit both our throats."

B. "Dear Muslims, Let us gang up on the secularists before they corrupt the whole world."

C. "To Whom It May Concern, Don't leave home without both Faith and Reason."

D. Both A and B.

E. None of the above.
My answer is, of course, C.

If the Pope is as smart as everybody who says he intended the furor says he is, then he will know better than to think he can obtain an ally in either Islam or Secularism by pointing out the faults of the other.

And though I have not religiously read every word that has fallen from his pen, none of his words I have read make me think he's keen to start a fight against either Islam or Secularism.

It seems to me that the challenges Pope Benedict issues are not martial, but intellectual. "Do you embrace Reason without Faith? Then you will be no more able to comprehend other cultures in the world than to comprehend what is in your own heart. Do you embrace Faith without Reason? Then there is nothing your co-religionists may not do in the name of your religion, including repudiate whatever you do." This is a challenge that holds true for everyone, Christians included.