New York — The New York Times reported that Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the University of Regensburg in Germany stating that “violence embodied in the Muslim idea of Jihad, or holy war, is contrary to reason and G-d’s Plan.” Ian Fisher, NY Times reporter, wrote “the speech seemed to reflect the Vatican’s struggle over how to confront Islam and terrorism, as the 79-year old Pope pursues what is often considered a more provocative, hard-nosed and skeptical approach to Islam than his predecessor, John Paul II…it distilled many of Benedict’s longstanding concerns, about…Islam and its relationship to violence, only he used language open to interpretations that could inflame Muslims.”
The New York Times wrote, “He began his speech, by quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel 11 Paleologus, in a conversation with a ‘learned Persian’ on Christianity and Islam — ‘and the truth of both.'”
“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 the sword by the faith he preached,” the pope quoted the emperor, in a speech to 1,500 students and faculty.
The Times continued, “He went on to say that violent conversion to Islam was contrary to reason and thus ‘contrary to God’s nature.'”
“Renzo Guolo, a professor of the sociology of religion at the University of Padua, who often writes about the church and Islam, said he was struck, by the suggestion of Islam as distant from reason.
‘This is maybe the strongest criticism because he doesn’t speak of fundamentalist Islam but of Islam generally,’ he said, ‘Not all Islam, thank God, is fundamentalist.'”
“Marco Politi, the Vatican expert for the Italian newspaper La Republica, said that ‘the text reveals his deep mistrust regarding the aggressive side of Islam.'”
“Once he became pope, Benedict’s new approach was apparent quickly: in his first trip outside Italy, he met with Muslim leaders in Cologne, Germany, and politely but clearly told them they had the responsibility to teach their children against terrorism, which he called ‘the darkness of a new barbarism.'”