Friday, September 15, 2006

Pope Stirring Muslim Anger

Pope Benedict XVI citing a quotation about the "inhuman and evil " nature of Islam has triggered angry reactions from Muslims around the world. By knowingly quoting the words of an emperor openly hateful of Islam, he implicitly expresses his papal attitude towards it. It's true that there are Muslim religious leaders who vehemently attack non-Muslim values, but they never go as far as criticising Jesus Christ. As Christianity is for loving thy neighbour as thou love thyself, the Pope should have given examples on how religions should live side by side. As a moral authority he just opened the gate for deeper divisions between Islam and Christianity, which will be exploited by fanatics on both sides.

His cited quotation about Prophet Muhammad is much worse than the cartoons published by a Danish newspaper. This can be excused for exercising freedom of expression. But the Pope as a moral authority should weigh all his words. Anything he says is seen as a testimony to prove the validity of an idea. Had he used quotations from the Bible, he wouldn't have caused such a stir.

People in high authority should be careful about their words even when talking in private. Tony Blair and George Bush forgot their microphone on during G8 Summit. Their comment on Hezbollah was heard. This caused uproar in some circles. The same applies to the Pope. He should be more careful about what he says, whether lecturing or heading a congregation. He is a public figure. Anything he says or does carries weight. As the old saying goes, the walls have ears.

The Pope needn't be controversial or equivocal to make his words open to different interpretations. It’s true that the Catholic Church is losing much of its influence in the West because of secularism. He can revive Catholicism in the West but not through bigotry.

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