"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, '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.'"
This is the quote that so outraged the Muslim world. As I consider all of the controversy surrounding the Pope's quoting from a 14th century document I find at least a couple of things interesting.
While I am no admirer of this Pope or any Pope the quote he offered in his speech is an accurate reflection of the Islamic faith. I think it is has been sufficiently documented in many places that the Koran encourages Jihad and the killing of all infidels, infidels being defined as any one who does not adhere to the Islamic faith. I don't think it can be reasonably asserted that Muhammad did not "spread by the sword the faith he preached." The possibility that many Muslims do not espouse that form of Islam does not detract from the millions that do. I think that the number that don't espouse that brand of Islam is vastly over rated. It was telling for me that right after the tragedy of 9/11 every Muslim or group of Muslims I saw interviewed concerning the events of that day could not bring themselves to unequivocally condemn the behavior of the "extremist". They inevitably turned the conversation to Israel/Zionists and the West.
The Pope is right on this one. He had the courage to say it. The politicians will not. The diplomats will not. The talking heads will not. The Pope did. His apology was like so many I have heard in the past. He was sorry for the Muslim response to his comments. He was apologizing for how they responded not for what he said. I think since then he has taken an even more ecumenical attitude toward the comments he made and the Muslim people he offended.
Another really interesting thing is that he cited a quote about Islam being advanced by violence and the Muslims were outraged by the comments and are calling for the assassination of the Pope. They are in fact proving the validity of the comment they are so outraged over. The Pope, having questioned an aspect of their religion, is now a candidate for the sword. The irony is instructive. They are ready to implement the sword in the defense of their religion because they are outraged that some one would say that they implement the sword in the defense and propagation of their religion. Go figure???
Another interesting thing about this whole controversy is for the Pope to quote from a 14th century document condemning the use of the sword in the propagation of one's faith is the "pot calling the kettle black".
Does the word "inquisition" mean anything to you. The Catholic church systematically plundered, tortured, and executed millions of people during the Dark Ages for the simple crime of heresy. Heresy was anything that dissented from the Catholic position. No religious organization has used the sword more effectively than the Catholic church to spread its religion. If the Pope was to apologize he should apologize for the millions of innocent people his church has deprived of life and liberty through the ages.
I know the Catholic church waves off the accusation because of the method they employed to execute dissenters. The "heretic" would be brought before the office of the Inquisitor and judged and condemned. The condemned "heretic" was then turned over to the civil authorities for execution. In this manner they could claim they were free from bloodguiltiness. They didn't execute anyone the civil authorities did. Yea, they did or else!
Conclusion: The Pope is right, Islam has from the beginning been in the business of spreading their faith by the sword. The Pope should apologize for all the carnage the Catholic Church has unleashed on innocent people because they dared to see things differently. He need not apologize to the Muslims but to the religious dissenters of the Dark Ages among whom were many of my spiritual ancestors.