Pope Benedict XVI in Bavaria  (September 2006)


On Mary the Patroness of Bavaria

"She Is and Remains the Handmaid of the Lord"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave in German today before reciting the midday Angelus at the end of Mass celebrated at the fairgrounds in Munich.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Before concluding our Eucharistic celebration with the solemn blessing, let us recollect ourselves by praying the Angelus.

In reflecting on the readings of the Mass, we have realized how necessary it is -- both for the lives of individuals and for a serene and peaceful coexistence with others -- to see God as the center of all there is and the center of our personal lives.

The supreme example of this attitude is Mary, Mother of the Lord. Throughout her earthly life, she was the woman who listened, the virgin whose heart was open toward God and toward others. The faithful have understood this since the earliest centuries of Christianity, and therefore in all their needs and trials they have confidently turned to her, imploring her help and her intercession with God.

As a witness to this, here in our Bavarian homeland there are hundreds of churches and shrines dedicated to Mary. They are places to which countless pilgrims come flocking throughout the year, to entrust themselves to her maternal love and concern.

Here in Munich, in the heart of the city, rises the Mariensaeule, before which, exactly 390 years ago, Bavaria was solemnly entrusted to the protection of the Mother of God. And yesterday, in this same place, I too implored once more the blessing of the "Patrona Bavariae" upon this city and upon this land.

And how can we not think in a special way of the shrine of Altoetting, where I will go tomorrow on pilgrimage? There I will have the joy of solemnly inaugurating the new adoration chapel which, precisely in that place, is an eloquent sign of Mary's role: She is and remains the handmaid of the Lord who never puts herself at the center, but wishes to guide us toward God, to teach us a way of life in which God is acknowledged as the center of all there is and the center of our personal lives.

To her let us now address our prayer.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Papal Homily at Munich's Fairgrounds
"Heal Our Hardness of Hearing for God's Presence"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered in German today during the Mass celebrated at Munich's fairgrounds Neue-Messe.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

First, I would like to offer all of you an affectionate greeting. I am happy to be among you once again and to celebrate Holy Mass with you. I am also happy to revisit familiar places which had a decisive influence on my life, shaping my thoughts and feelings: places where I learned how to believe and how to live. This is a time to say thanks to all those -- living and deceased -- who guided and accompanied me along the way. I thank God for this beautiful country and for all the persons who have made it truly my homeland.

We have just listened to the three biblical readings which the Church's liturgy has chosen for this Sunday. All three develop a double theme which is ultimately one, bringing out -- as circumstances dictate -- one or another of its aspects. All three readings speak of God as the center of all reality and the center of our personal life.

"Here is your God!" exclaims the prophet Isaiah (35:4). In their own way, the Letter of James and the Gospel passage say the very same thing. They want to lead us to God, to set us on the right path. But to speak of "God" is also to speak of society: of our shared responsibility for the triumph of justice and love in the world. This is powerfully expressed in the second reading, in which James, a close relative of Jesus, speaks to us.

He is addressing a community beginning to be marked by pride, since it included affluent and distinguished persons, and consequently the risk of indifference to the rights of the poor. The words of James give us a glimpse of Jesus, of that God who became man. Though he was of Davidic, and thus royal, stock, he became a simple man in the midst of simple men and women. He did not sit on a throne, but died in the ultimate poverty of the cross.

Love of neighbor, which is primarily a commitment to justice, is the touchstone for faith and love of God. James calls it "the royal law" (cf. 2:8), echoing the words which Jesus used so often: the reign of God, God's kingship. This does not refer to just any kingdom, coming at any time; it means that God must become the force shaping our lives and actions.

This is what we ask for when we pray: "Thy Kingdom come!" We are not asking for something off in the distance, something we may not even want to experience. Rather, we pray that God's will may here and now determine our own will, and that in this way God can reign in the world. We pray that justice and love may become the decisive forces affecting our world. A prayer like this is surely addressed first to God, but it is also unsettling for us. Really, is this what we want? Is this the direction in which we want our lives to move?

For James, "the royal law," the law of God's kingship, is also "the law of freedom": If we follow God in all that we think and do, then we draw closer together, we gain freedom and thus true fraternity is born. When Isaiah, in the first reading, speaks about God, he goes on to speak about salvation for the suffering, and when James speaks of the social order as a necessary _expression of our faith, he logically goes on to speak of God, whose children we are.

But now we must turn our attention to the Gospel, which speaks of Jesus' healing of a man born deaf and mute. Here too we encounter the two aspects of this one theme. Jesus is concerned for the suffering, for those pushed to the margins of society. He heals them and, by enabling them to live and work together, he brings them to equality and fraternity.

This obviously has something to say to all of us: Jesus points out the goal of all our activity. Yet the whole story has a deeper dimension, one which the fathers of the Church constantly brought out, one which particularly speaks to us today. The fathers were speaking to and about the men and women of their time. But their message also has new meaning for us modern men and women.

There is not only a physical deafness which largely cuts people off from social life; there is also a "hardness of hearing" where God is concerned, and this is something from which we particularly suffer in our own time. Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God -- there are too many different frequencies filling our ears. What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age.

Along with this hardness of hearing or outright deafness where God is concerned, we naturally lose our ability to speak with him and to him. And so we end up losing a decisive capacity for perception. We risk losing our inner senses. This weakening of our capacity for perception drastically and dangerously curtails the range of our relationship with reality. The horizon of our life is disturbingly foreshortened.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus put his fingers in the ears of the deaf-mute, touched the sick man's tongue with spittle and said "Ephphatha" -- "Be opened." The evangelist has preserved for us the original Aramaic word which Jesus spoke, and thus he brings us back to that very moment. What happened then was unique, but it does not belong to a distant past: Jesus continues to do the same thing anew, even today.

At our baptism he touched each of us and said "Ephphatha" -- "Be opened" -- thus enabling us to hear God's voice and to be able to talk to him. There is nothing magical about what takes place in the sacrament of baptism. Baptism opens up a path before us. It makes us part of the community of those who are able to hear and speak; it brings us into fellowship with Jesus himself, who alone has seen God and is thus able to speak of him (cf. John 1:18): Through faith, Jesus wants to share with us his seeing God, his hearing the Father and his conversation with him. The path upon which we set out at baptism is meant to be a process of increasing development, by which we grow in the life of communion with God, and acquire a different way of looking at man and creation.

The Gospel invites us to realize that we have a "deficit" in our capacity for perception -- initially, we do not notice this deficiency as such, since everything else seems so urgent and logical; since everything seems to proceed normally, even when we no longer have eyes and ears for God and we live without him. But it is true that everything goes on as usual when God no longer is a part of our lives and our world? Before raising any further questions, I would like to share some of my experience in meeting bishops from throughout the world.

The Catholic Church in Germany is outstanding for its social activities, for its readiness to help wherever help is needed. During their visits "ad limina," the bishops, most recently those of Africa, have always mentioned with gratitude the generosity of German Catholics and ask me to convey that gratitude. Just recently, the bishops of the Baltic countries told me about how German Catholics assisted them greatly in rebuilding their churches, which were badly in need of repair after decades of Communist rule.

Every now and then, however, some African bishop will say: "If I come to Germany and present social projects, suddenly every door opens. But if I come with a plan for evangelization, I meet with reservations." Clearly some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser importance.

Yet the experience of those bishops is that evangelization itself should be foremost, that the God of Jesus Christ must be known, believed in and loved, and that hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if -- for example -- AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes and the sick are to be given the loving care they need. Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable.

When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little. All too quickly the mechanisms of violence take over: The capacity to destroy and to kill becomes the dominant way to gain power -- a power which at some point should bring law, but which will never be able to do so.

Reconciliation, and a shared commitment to justice and love, recede into the distance. The criteria by which technology is placed at the service of law and love are no longer clear: Yet it is precisely on these criteria that everything depends: Criteria which are not only theories, but which enlighten the heart and thus set reason and action on the right path.

People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason, and one to be imposed on their cultures too. They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith, but in the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme moral criterion for the future of scientific research.

Dear friends, this cynicism is not the kind of tolerance and cultural openness that the world's peoples are looking for and that all of us want! The tolerance which we urgently need includes the fear of God -- respect for what others hold sacred. This respect for what others hold sacred demands that we ourselves learn once more the fear of God. This sense of respect can be reborn in the Western world only if faith in God is reborn, if God becomes once more present to us and in us.

We impose this faith upon no one. Such proselytism is contrary to Christianity. Faith can develop only in freedom. But we do appeal to the freedom of men and women to be open to God, to seek him, to hear his voice. As we gather here, let us here ask the Lord with all our hearts to speak anew his "Ephphatha," to heal our hardness of hearing for God's presence, activity and word, and to give us sight and hearing. Let us ask his help in rediscovering prayer, to which he invites us in the liturgy and whose essential formula he has given us in the Our Father.

The world needs God. We need God. But what God? In the first reading, the prophet tells a people suffering oppression that: "He will come with vengeance" (Isaiah 35:4). We can easily suppose how the people imagined that vengeance. But the prophet himself goes on to reveal what it really is: the healing goodness of God. The definitive explanation of the prophet's word is to be found in the one who died on the cross: in Jesus, the Son of God incarnate. His "vengeance" is the cross: a "no" to violence and a "love to the end." This is the God we need.

We do not fail to show respect for other religions and cultures, profound respect for their faith, when we proclaim clearly and uncompromisingly the God who counters violence with his own suffering; who in the face of the power of evil exalts his mercy, in order that evil may be limited and overcome. To him we now lift up our prayer, that he may remain with us and help us to be credible witnesses to himself. Amen!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Prayer at Column of the Virgin
"Bless Us, This City and This Country!"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the prayer Benedict XVI recited in German before the Mariensaeule (Column of the Virgin) in the Marienplatz, in which he entrusted Bavaria again to the Mother of God.

* * *

Holy Mother of the Lord!

Our ancestors, at a time of trouble, set up your statue here, in the very heart of Munich, and entrusted the city and country to your care. They wanted to meet you again and again along the paths of their daily life, and to learn from you the right way to live, to find God and to live in harmony.

They gave you a crown and a scepter, which at that time were symbols of dominion over the country, because they knew that power and dominion would then be in good hands -- in the hands of a Mother.

Your Son, just before his farewell to his disciples, said to them: "Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all" (Mark 10:43-44).

At the decisive hour in your own life, you said: "Here I am, the servant of the Lord" (Luke 1:38). You lived your whole life as service. And you continue to do so throughout history.

At Cana, you silently and discreetly interceded for the spouses, and so you continue to do. You take upon yourself people's needs and concerns, and you bring them before the Lord, before your Son. Your power is goodness. Your power is service.

Teach us -- great and small alike -- to carry out our responsibilities in the same way. Help us to find the strength to offer reconciliation and forgiveness. Help us to become patient and humble, but also free and courageous, just as you were at the hour of the cross.

In your arms you hold Jesus, the child who blesses, the child who is also the Lord of the world. By holding the child who blesses, you have yourself become a blessing.

Bless us, this city and this country! Show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb! Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict XVI's Homily at Vespers in Altoetting
"Let Us Love Being With the Lord"

ALTOETTING, Germany, SEPT. 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the celebration of Vespers today in Altoetting's Basilica of St. Anne, attended by religious and seminarians.

* * *

Dear Friends!

Here in Altoetting, in this grace-filled place, we have gathered seminarians preparing for the priesthood, priests, men and women religious and members of the Society for Spiritual Vocations in the Basilica of St. Anne, before the shrine to her daughter, the Mother of the Lord.

We have gathered here to consider our vocation to serve Jesus Christ and, under the watchful gaze of St. Anne, in whose home the greatest vocation in the history of salvation developed, to understand it better. Mary received her vocation from the lips of an angel. The angel does not enter our room visibly, but the Lord has a plan for each of us, he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to learn how to listen, to perceive his call, to be courageous and faithful in following him and, when all is said and done, to be found trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts given us.

We know that the Lord seeks laborers for his harvest. He himself said as much: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Matthew 9:37-38). That is why we are gathered here: to make this urgent request to the Lord of the harvest.

God's harvest is indeed great, and it needs laborers: In the so-called Third World -- in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia -- people are waiting for heralds to bring them the Gospel of peace, the good news of God who became man. But also in the so-called West, here among us in Germany, and in the vast lands of Russia it is true that a great harvest could be reaped. But there is a lack of people willing to become laborers for God's harvest.

Today it is as then, when the Lord was moved with pity for the crowds which seemed like sheep without a shepherd -- people who probably knew how to do many things, but found it hard to make sense of their lives.

Lord, look upon our troubled times, which need preachers of the Gospel, witnesses to you, persons who can point the way toward life in abundance! Look upon our world and feel pity once more! Look upon our world and send us laborers!

With this petition we knock on God's door; but with the same petition the Lord is also knocking on the doors of our own heart. Lord do you want me? Is it not perhaps too big for me? Am I too small for this? Do not be afraid, the angel said to Mary. Do not fear: I have called you by name, God says through the Prophet Isaiah (43:1) to us -- to each of us.

Where do we go, if we say yes to the Lord's call? The briefest description of the priestly mission -- and this is true in its own way for men and women religious too -- has been given to us by the Evangelist Mark. In his account of the call of the Twelve, he says: Jesus appointed twelve to be with him and to be sent out (3:14).

To be with Jesus and, being sent, to go out to meet people -- these two things belong together and together they are the heart of a vocation, of the priesthood. To be with him and to be sent out -- the two are inseparable. Only one who is with him comes to know him and can truly proclaim him. Anyone who has been with him cannot keep to himself what he has found; instead, he has to pass it on.

Such was the case with Andrew, who told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah (John 1:41). And the evangelist adds: He brought Simon to Jesus (John 1:42). St. Gregory the Great, in one of his homilies, once said that the angels, however far afield they go on their missions, always move in God. They remain always with him.

From this reflection on the angels, St. Gregory went on to think of bishops and priests: Wherever they go, they should always be with him. We know this from experience: Whenever priests, because of their many duties, allot less and less time to being with the Lord, they eventually lose, for all their often heroic activity, the inner strength that sustains them. Their activity becomes an empty activism.

To be with Christ -- how does this come about? Well, the first and most important thing for the priest is his daily Mass, always celebrated with deep interior participation. If we celebrate Mass truly as men of prayer, if we unite our words and our activities to the Word that precedes us and let them be shaped by the Eucharistic celebration, if in Communion we let ourselves truly be embraced by him and receive him -- then we are being with him.

The Liturgy of the Hours is another fundamental way of being with Christ: Here we pray as people conscious of our need to speak with God, while lifting up all those others who have neither the time nor the ability to pray in this way.

If our Eucharistic celebration and the Liturgy of the Hours are to remain meaningful, we need to devote ourselves constantly anew to the spiritual reading of sacred Scripture; not only to be able to decipher and explain words from the distant past, but to discover the word that the Lord is speaking to me, personally, here and now. Only in this way will we be capable of bringing the inspired Word to others as a contemporary and living Word of God.

Eucharistic adoration is an essential way of being with the Lord. Thanks to Bishop Schraml, Altoetting now has a new treasury. Where once the treasures of the past were kept, precious historical and religious items, there is now a place for the Church's true treasure: the permanent presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

In one of his parables the Lord speaks of a treasure hidden in the field; the man who finds it sells all he has in order to buy that field, because the hidden treasure is more valuable than anything else. The hidden treasure, the good greater than any other good, is the Kingdom of God -- it is Jesus himself, the Kingdom in person.

In the sacred Host, he is present, the true treasure, always waiting for us. Only by adoring this presence do we learn how to receive him properly -- we learn the reality of communion, we learn the Eucharistic celebration from the inside.

Here I would like to quote some fine lines of St. Edith Stein, co-patroness of Europe: The Lord is present in the tabernacle in his divinity and his humanity. He is not there for himself, but for us: For it is his joy to be with us. He knows that we, being as we are, need to have him personally near. As a result, anyone with normal thoughts and feelings will naturally be drawn to spend time with him, whenever possible and as much as possible ("Gesammelte Werke VII," 136ff.).

Let us love being with the Lord! There we can speak with him about everything. We can offer him our petitions, our concerns, our troubles. Our joys. Our gratitude, our disappointments, our needs and our aspirations. There we can also constantly ask him: Lord, send laborers into your harvest! Help me to be a good worker in your vineyard!

Here in this basilica, our thoughts turn to Mary, who lived her life fully with Jesus and consequently was, and continues to be, close to all men and women. The many votive plaques are a concrete sign of this. Let us think of Mary's holy mother, St. Anne, and with her let us also think of the importance of mothers and fathers, of grandmothers and grandfathers, and the importance of the family as an environment of life and prayer, where we learn to pray and where vocations are able to develop.

Here in Altoetting, we naturally think in a special way of good Brother Conrad. He renounced a great inheritance because he wanted to follow Jesus Christ unreservedly and to be completely with him. As the Lord recommended in the parable, he chose to take the lowest place, that of a humble lay-brother and porter. In his porter's lodge he was able to achieve exactly what St. Mark tells us about the Apostles: to stay with him, to be sent to others.

From his cell he could always look at the tabernacle and thus always stay with Christ. From this contemplation he learned the boundless goodness with which he treated the people who would knock at his door at all hours -- sometimes mischievously, in order to provoke him, at other times loudly and impatiently.

To all of them, by his sheer goodness and humanity, and without grand words, he gave a message more valuable than words alone. Let us pray to Brother St. Conrad; let us ask him to help us to keep our gaze fixed on the Lord, in order to bring God's love to the men and women of our time. Amen!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Homily at Mass at Altoetting
"Mary Leaves Everything to the Lord's Judgment"

ALTOETTING, Germany, SEPT. 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the Celebration of the Eucharist today at the Kapellplatz Altoetting.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In today's First Reading, Responsorial Psalm and Gospel, three times and in three different ways, we see Mary, the Mother of the Lord, as a woman of prayer. In the Book of Acts we find her in the midst of the community of the apostles gathered in the Upper Room, praying that the Lord, now ascended to the Father, will fulfill his promise: Within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (1:5).

Mary leads the nascent Church in prayer; she is, as it were in person, the Church at prayer. And thus, along with the great community of the saints and at their center, she stands even today before God interceding for us, asking her Son to send his Spirit once more upon the Church and to renew the face of the earth.

Our response to this reading is to sing with Mary the great hymn of praise which she raises after Elizabeth calls her blessed because of her faith. It is a prayer of thanksgiving, of joy in God, of blessing for his mighty works. The tenor of this hymn is clear from its very first words: My soul magnifies -- makes great -- the Lord. Making the Lord great means giving him a place in the world, in our lives, and letting him enter into our time and our activity: Ultimately this is the essence of true prayer. Where God is made great, men and women are not made small: There too men and women become great and the world is filled with light.

In the Gospel passage, Mary makes a request of her Son on behalf of some friends in need. At first sight, this could appear to be an entirely human conversation between a Mother and her Son and it is indeed a dialogue rich in humanity. Yet Mary does not speak to Jesus as if he were a mere man on whose ability and helpfulness she can count. She entrusts a human need to his power -- to a power which is more than skill and human ability.

In this dialogue with Jesus, we actually see her as a Mother who asks, one who intercedes. As we listen to this Gospel passage, it is worth going a little deeper, not only to understand Jesus and Mary better, but also to learn from Mary the right way to pray. Mary does not really ask something of Jesus: She simply says to him: They have no wine (John 2:3).

Weddings in the Holy Land were celebrated for a whole week; the entire town took part, and consequently much wine was consumed. Now the wedding couple find themselves in trouble, and Mary simply says this to Jesus. She doesn't tell Jesus what to do. She doesn't ask for anything in particular, and she certainly doesn't ask him to perform a miracle to make wine. She simply hands the matter over to Jesus and leaves him to decide what to do.

In the straightforward words of the Mother of Jesus, then, we can see two things: on the one hand her affectionate concern for people, that maternal affection which makes her aware of the problems of others. We see her heartfelt goodness and her willingness to help. This is the Mother that generations of people have come here to Altoetting to visit. To her we entrust our cares, our needs and our troubles. Her maternal readiness to help, in which we trust, appears here for the first time in the holy Scriptures.

But in addition to this first aspect, with which we are all familiar, there is another, which we could easily overlook: Mary leaves everything to the Lord's judgment. At Nazareth she gave over her will, immersing it in the will of God: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word (Luke 1:38). And this continues to be her fundamental attitude.

This is how she teaches us to pray: not by seeking to affirm our own will and our own desires before God, but by letting him decide what he wants to do. From Mary we learn graciousness and readiness to help, but we also learn humility and generosity in accepting God's will, in the confident conviction that whatever he says in response will be best for us.

If all this helps us to understand Mary's attitude and her words, we still find it hard to understand Jesus' answer. In the first place, we don't like the way he addresses her: Woman. Why doesn't he say: Mother? But this title really expresses Mary's place in salvation history. It points to the future, to the hour of the crucifixion, when Jesus will say to her: Woman, behold your son -- Son, behold your mother (cf. John 19:26-27). It anticipates the hour when he will make the woman, his Mother, the Mother of all his disciples.

On the other hand, the title Woman recalls the account of the creation of Eve: Adam, surrounded by creation in all its magnificence, experiences loneliness as a human being. Then Eve is created, and in her Adam finds the companion whom he longed for; and he gives her the name woman. In the Gospel of John, then, Mary represents the new, the definitive woman, the companion of the Redeemer, our Mother: The name, which seemed so lacking in affection, actually expresses the grandeur of Mary's mission.

Yet we like even less the other part of Jesus' answer to Mary at Cana: Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour has not yet come (John 2:4). We want to object: You have a lot to do with her! It was Mary who gave you flesh and blood, who gave you your body, and not only your body: With the yes which rose from the depths of her heart she bore you in her womb and with a mother's love she gave you life and introduced you to the community of the people of Israel.

If this is our response to Jesus, then we are already well along the way toward understanding his answer. Because all this should remind us that in holy Scripture we find a parallelism between Mary's dialogue with the Archangel Gabriel, where she says: Let it be with me according to your word (Luke 1:38), and the passage of the Letter to the Hebrews which cites the words of Psalm 40 about the dialogue between Father and Son -- the dialogue which results in the Incarnation. The Eternal Son says to the Father: Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me. ... See, I have come to do your will, O God (Hebrews 10:5-7; cf. Psalm 40:6-8).

The yes of the Son: I have come to do your will, and the yes of Mary: Let it be with me according to your word -- this double yes becomes a single yes, and thus the Word becomes flesh in Mary. In this double yes the obedience of the Son is embodied, and Mary gives him that body. Woman, what have I to do with you? Ultimately, what each has to do with the other is found in this double yes which resulted in the Incarnation.

It is to this point of profound unity that the Lord is referring. Here, in this common yes to the will of the Father, an answer is found. We too need to progress toward this point; and there we will find the answer to our questions.

If we take this as our starting point, we can also understand the second part of Jesus' answer: My hour has not yet come. Jesus never acts completely alone, and never for the sake of pleasing others. The Father is always the starting point of his actions, and this is what unites him to Mary, because she wished to make her request in this same unity of will with the Father.

And so, surprisingly, after hearing Jesus' answer, which apparently refuses her request, she can simply say to the servants: Do whatever he tells you (John 2:5). Jesus is not a wonder-worker, he does not play games with his power in what is, after all, a private affair. He gives a sign, in which he proclaims his hour, the hour of the wedding feast, the hour of union between God and man.

He does not merely make wine, but transforms the human wedding feast into an image of the divine wedding feast, to which the Father invites us through the Son and in which he gives us every good thing. The wedding feast becomes an image of the Cross, where God showed his love to the end, giving himself in his Son in flesh and blood -- in the Son who instituted the sacrament in which he gives himself to us for all time. Thus a human problem is solved in a way that is truly divine and the initial request is superabundantly granted. Jesus' hour has not yet arrived, but in the sign of the water changed into wine, in the sign of the festive gift, he even now anticipates that hour.

Jesus' definitive hour will be his return at the end of time. Yet he continually anticipates this hour in the Eucharist, in which, even now, he always comes to us. And he does this ever anew through the intercession of his Mother, through the intercession of the Church, which cries out to him in the Eucharistic prayers: Come, Lord Jesus!

In the Canon of the Mass, the Church constantly prays for this hour to be anticipated, asking that he may come even now and be given to us. And so we want to let ourselves be guided by Mary, by the Mother of Graces of Altoetting, by the Mother of all the faithful, toward the hour of Jesus.

Let us ask him for the gift of a deeper knowledge and understanding of him. And may our reception of him not be reduced to the moment of communion alone. Jesus remains present in the sacred Host and he awaits us constantly. Here in Altoetting, the adoration of the Lord in the Eucharist has found a new location in the old treasury. Mary and Jesus go together.

Through Mary we want to continue our converse with the Lord and to learn how to receive him better. Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us toward Jesus -- ever anew! Amen!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pontiff's Homily to First Communicants and Others
"Drink Directly From the Source of Life"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered on Sunday evening in the cathedral in Munich, during the celebration of Vespers attended by first communicants, young families, and pastoral and liturgical collaborators of the Church.

* * *

Dear First Communicants!
Dear Parents and Teachers!

The reading we have just heard is from the final book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation. The seer is helped to lift his eyes upward, toward heaven, and forward, toward the future. But in doing so, he speaks to us about earth, about the present, about our lives.

In the course of our lives, all of us are on a journey, we are traveling toward the future. Naturally, we want to find the right road: to find true life, and not a dead end or a desert. We don't want to end up saying: I took the wrong road, my life is a failure, it went wrong. We want to find joy in life; we want, in the words of Jesus, "to have life in abundance."

But let us listen to the seer of the Book of Revelation. What is he saying? He is talking about a reconciled world. A world in which people "of every nation, race, people and tongue" (7:9) have come together in joy. How can this happen? What road do we take to get there?

First and most important: these people are living with God; God himself has "sheltered them in his tent" (cf. 7:15), as the reading says. What do we mean by "God's tent"? Where is it found? How do we get there?

The seer might be alluding to the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, where we read: "The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us" (1:14). God is not far from us, he is not somewhere out in the universe, somewhere that none of us can go. He has pitched his tent among us: In Jesus he became one of us, flesh and blood just like us. This is his "tent."

And in the Ascension, he did not go somewhere far away from us. His tent, he himself in his Body, remains among us and is one of us. We can call him by name and speak at ease with him. He listens to us and, if we are attentive, we can also hear him speaking back.

Let me repeat: In Jesus, it is God who "camps" in our midst. But let me also repeat: Where does this happen? Our reading gives us two answers to this question. It says that the men and women at peace "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14).

To us this sounds very strange. In his cryptic language, the seer is speaking about baptism. His words about "the blood of the Lamb" allude to Jesus' love, which he continued to show even up to his violent death.

This love, both divine and human, is the bath into which he plunges us at baptism -- the bath with which he washes us, cleansing us so that we can be fit for God and capable of living in his company. The act of baptism, however, is just a beginning. By walking with Jesus, in faith and in our life in union with him, his love touches us, purifies us and enlightens us.

For the ancient world, white was the color of light. The white robes mean that in faith we become light, we set aside darkness, falsehood and every sort of evil, and we become people of light, fit for God.

The baptismal gown, like your first-Communion robes, is meant to remind us of this, and to tell us: by living as one with Jesus and the community of believers, the Church, you have become a person of light, a person of truth and goodness -- a person radiant with goodness, the goodness of God himself.

The second answer to the question: "Where do we find Jesus?" is also given by the seer in cryptic language. He tells us that the Lamb leads the great multitude of people from every culture and nation to the sources of living water.

Without water, there is no life. People who lived near the desert knew this well, and so springs of water became for them the symbol par excellence of life. The Lamb, Jesus, leads men and women to the sources of life. Among these sources of life are the sacred Scriptures, in which God speaks to us and teaches us the right way to live.

The true source is Jesus himself, in whom God gives us his very self. He does this above all in holy Communion. There we can, as it were, drink directly from the source of life: He comes to us and makes each of us one with him. We can see how true this is: Through the Eucharist, the sacrament of communion, a community is formed which spills over all borders and embraces all languages -- the universal Church, in which God speaks to us and lives among us. This is how we should receive holy Communion: seeing it as an encounter with Jesus, an encounter with God himself, who leads us to the sources of true life.

Dear parents! I ask you to help your children to grow in faith, I ask you to accompany them on their journey toward holy Communion, on their journey toward Jesus and with Jesus. Please, go with your children to Church and take part in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration! You will see that this is not time lost; rather, it is the very thing that can keep your family truly united and centered.

Sunday becomes more beautiful, the whole week becomes more beautiful, when you go to Sunday Mass together. And please, pray together at home too: at meals and before going to bed. Prayer does not only bring us nearer to God but also nearer to one another. It is a powerful source of peace and joy. Family life becomes more joyful and expansive whenever God is there and his closeness is experienced in prayer.

Dear catechists and teachers! I urge you to keep alive in the schools the search for God, for that God who in Jesus Christ has made himself visible to us. I know that in our pluralistic world it is no easy thing in schools to bring up the subject of faith.

But it is hardly enough for our children and young people to learn technical knowledge and skills alone, and not the criteria that give knowledge and skill their direction and meaning. Encourage your students not only to raise questions about particular things, but also to ask about the why and the wherefore of life as a whole. Help them to realize that any answers that do not finally lead to God are insufficient.

Dear priests and all who assist in parishes! I urge you to do everything possible to make the parish a "spiritual community" for people -- a great family where we also experience the even greater family of the universal Church, and learn through the liturgy, catechesis and all the events of parish life to walk together on the way of true life.

These three places of education -- the family, the school and the parish -- go together, and they help us to find the way that leads to the sources of life, toward "life in abundance." Amen!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Papal Address at Munich's Mariensaeule
"A Beast of Burden"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday at Munich's Mariensaeule (Virgin's Column), during which he once again entrusted Bavaria to the Mother of God.

* * *

Lady Chancellor and Mr. Minister President,
Dear Lord Cardinals,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters:

It is particularly moving for me to be in this most beautiful square again at the foot of the Mariensaeule, a place that, as has just been mentioned, on two other occasions has witnessed decisive changes for my life.

Here, as mentioned, almost 30 years ago, the faithful welcomed me with joy and I placed in the Virgin's hands the journey I was to undertake, as the step from a university chair to the service of archbishop of Munich and Freising was an enormous leap.

Only with this protection and with the evident love of the inhabitants of Munich and Bavaria did I dare to assume that ministry, succeeding Cardinal Döpfner. Then, in 1982, I bid farewell here. Present was the archbishop of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Hamer, who would later be cardinal, and I said to him: "The inhabitants of Munich are like the Neapolitans, they want to touch the archbishop, they love him."

He was impressed to see here, in Munich, so much cordialness, to be able to know the Bavarian heart in this place, in which I, once again, entrusted myself to the Virgin.

I thank the distinguished and dear Mr. Minister President for the cordial welcome addressed to me in the name of the government and the Bavarian people. My heartfelt thanks also to my beloved successor, the pastor of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the Lord Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, for the warm words with which he has greeted me.

I greet the Lady Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, and all the political, civil and military authorities who wished to take part in this meeting of welcome and prayer.

I would like to offer a special greeting to the priests, especially those whom I worked with in my home diocese of Munich and Freising, as priest and bishop.

But I would like to greet all my fellow countrymen, gathered in this square with great cordialness and gratitude. I thank you for your warm Bavarian welcome and I thank you, as I already did at the airport, for the service of all those who cooperated in the preparation of this visit and who now are doing everything possible so that all will go well.

Allow me on this occasion to again express a thought that, in my brief memoirs, I developed in the context of my appointment as archbishop of Munich and Freising. I had to become successor of St. Corbinian and I did so.

From my childhood I was fascinated by his legend, according to which, a bear had mangled the saint's horse during his trip across the Alps. Corbinian reprimanded it severely and, as punishment, put all his baggage on its back all the way to Rome. So the bear, weighed down with the saint's burden, had to walk to Rome and only then did Corbinian set him free.

In 1977, when I had to face the difficult decision whether or not to accept my appointment as archbishop of Munich and Freising, which would have taken me away from my accustomed university activity, leading me to new tasks and new responsibilities, I reflected much.

Then I remembered that bear and the interpretation of verses 22 and 23 of Psalm 73, which St. Augustine developed, in a situation very similar to mine in the context of his priestly and episcopal ordination, and which he would later express in his sermons on the Psalms.

In this psalm, the psalmist wonders why it frequently goes well for the wicked of this world and why it goes so badly for many good persons. Then, the psalmist says: I was foolish and did not understand, standing before you like a brute beast, but then I entered the sanctuary and understood that precisely in difficulties I was very close to you and you were always with me.

With love, Augustine often took up this psalm and, seeing in the _expression "I was like a brute beast in your presence" ("iumentum" in Latin) in reference to the beasts of burden that were then used in North Africa to plough the earth, identified himself with that "iumentum," as a beast of burden of God, identified with it as some one who is under the weight of his burden, the "sarcina episcopalis" [episcopal ministry].

He had chosen the life of a scholar and, as he says later, God called him to be a "beast of burden," a good ox drawing the plow in God's field, which does the hard work entrusted to it. But then he acknowledges: Just as the beast of burden is very close to the farmer, working under his guidance, so I am also very close to God, as this way I serve him directly for the building of his Kingdom, for the building of the Church.

With the background of this thought of the bishop of Hippo, St. Corbinian's bear always encourages me again to carry out my service with joy and confidence -- 30 years ago and also today, in my new task -- saying day after day "yes" to God: I have become for you a beast of burden, but as such "I am always with you" (Psalm 73:23). St. Corbinian's bear was set free in Rome. In my case, the "Owner" decided otherwise. And so I find myself again at the foot of the Mariensaeule, imploring the intercession and blessing of the Mother of God, not only for the city of Munich and for my beloved Bavaria, but for the universal Church and for all people of good will.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict XVI's Homily at Mass in Regensburg
"What Does It Mean to Have Faith?"

REGENSBURG, Germany, SEPT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during the Mass celebrated in the Islinger Feld park near Regensburg, attended by some 250,000 people.

* * *

"Those who believe are never alone." This is the theme of these days. Here we can see how true it is. Faith brings us together and gives us a reason to celebrate. It gives us joy in God, joy in his creation, joy in being together.

I realize that this celebration required much time and effort to prepare. By reading newspaper accounts, I had some idea of how many people gave their time and energy to do such a fine job of readying this esplanade.

Thanks to them, we have the cross here on the hill as a sign of God's peace in the world; the access roads have been cleared; security and good order have been ensured; housing has been provided, and so much more. I could not have imagined -- and even now I am only beginning to imagine -- how much work, down to the smallest details, was needed for us to meet here today.

For all this I can only say, in a word: "Heartfelt thanks!" May the Lord repay you for everything you have done, and may the joy which we can now experience as a result of your preparations return a hundredfold to each of you!

I was very moved when I heard how many people, especially from the vocational schools of Weiden and Hamburg, and how many firms and individuals, men and women, helped to make my house and my garden a little more beautiful. I am a bit taken aback by all this goodness, and once again I can only offer an inadequate "thank you!" for all your efforts. You have not done all this for just one person; you have done it in a spirit of solidarity in faith, inspired by love of the Lord and his Church. All this is a sign of true humanity, born of our experience of the love of Jesus Christ.

We are gathered for a celebration of faith. But the question immediately arises: What do we actually believe? What does it mean to have faith? Is it still something possible in the modern world?

When we look at the great "Summae" of theology compiled in the Middle Ages, or we think of the number of books written each day for or against faith, we might lose heart and think that it is all too complicated. In the end, we can no longer see the forest for the trees. True enough: Faith's vision embraces heaven and earth; past, present and future; eternity -- and so it can never be fully exhausted.

And yet, deep down, it is quite simple. The Lord tells us so when he says to the Father: "you have revealed these things to the simple -- to those able to see with their hearts" (cf. Matthew 11:25). The Church, for her part, has given us a little "Summa" in which everything essential is expressed. It is the so-called Apostles' Creed, which is usually divided into 12 articles, corresponding to the Twelve Apostles.

It speaks of God, the creator and source of all that is, of Christ and his work of salvation, and it culminates in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting. In its basic structure, the creed is composed of only three main sections, and as we see from its history, it is merely an expansion of the formula for baptism which the risen Lord entrusted to his disciples for all time when he told them: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

Once we realize this, two things become clear. First, faith is simple. We believe in God -- in God, who is the Beginning and End of human life. We believe in a God who enters into a relationship with us human beings, who is our origin and future. Consequently, faith is, always and inseparably, hope: the certainty that we have a future and will not end up as nothing. And faith is love, since God's love is "contagious."

A second thing also becomes clear: The creed is not a collection of propositions; it is not a theory. It is anchored in the event of baptism -- a genuine encounter between God and man. In the mystery of baptism, God stoops to meet us; he comes close to us and brings us in turn closer to each other.

Baptism means that Jesus Christ adopts us as his brothers and sisters, welcoming us as sons and daughters into God's own family. He thus makes us one great family in the universal communion of the Church. Truly, those who believe are never alone. God comes to meet us. Let us go out to meet God and so meet one another! To the extent we can, let us make sure that none of God's children ever feels alone!

We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part. But is such a thing still possible today? Is it reasonable? From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary. And if this were so, he would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success -- inevitably it would become clear: Something is missing from the equation!

When God is subtracted, something doesn't add up for man, the world, the whole vast universe. So we end up with two alternatives. What came first? Creative Reason, the Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason.

The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally meaningless. As Christians, we say: "I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth" -- I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason. With this faith we have no reason to hide, no fear of ending up in a dead end. We rejoice that we can know God! And we try to let others see the reasonableness of our faith, as St. Peter bids us do in his First Letter (cf. 3:15)!

We believe in God. This is what the main sections of the creed affirm, especially the first section. But another question now follows: in what God? Certainly we believe in the God who is Creator Spirit, creative Reason, the source of everything that exists, including ourselves.

The second section of the creed tells us more. This creative Reason is Goodness, it is Love. It has a face. God does not leave us groping in the dark. He has shown himself to us as a man. In his greatness he has let himself become small. "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," Jesus says (John 14:9). God has taken on a human face. He has loved us even to the point of letting himself be nailed to the cross for our sake, in order to bring the sufferings of mankind to the very heart of God.

Today, when we have learned to recognize the pathologies and the life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason, and the ways that God's image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism, it is important to state clearly the God in whom we believe, and to proclaim confidently that this God has a human face. Only this can free us from being afraid of God -- which is ultimately at the root of modern atheism. Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life.

Only by looking to Jesus Christ does our joy in God come to fulfillment and become redeemed joy. During this solemn Eucharistic celebration, let us look to the Lord and ask him to give us the immense joy which he promised to his disciples (cf. John 16:24)!

The second section of the creed ends by speaking of the last judgment and the third section by speaking of the resurrection of the dead. Judgment -- doesn't this word also make us afraid? On the other hand, doesn't everyone want to see justice eventually rendered to all those who were unjustly condemned, to all those who suffered in life, who died after lives full of pain? Don't we want the outrageous injustice and suffering which we see in human history to be finally undone, so that in the end everyone will find happiness, and everything will be shown to have meaning?

This triumph of justice, this joining together of the many fragments of history which seem meaningless and giving them their place in a bigger picture in which truth and love prevail: This is what is meant by the concept of universal judgment. Faith is not meant to instill fear; Rather it is meant -- surely -- to call us to accountability. We are not meant to waste our lives, misuse them, or spend them selfishly.

In the face of injustice we must not remain indifferent and thus end up as silent collaborators or outright accomplices. We need to recognize our mission in history and to strive to carry it out. What is needed is not fear, but responsibility -- responsibility and concern for our own salvation, and for the salvation of the whole world. But when responsibility and concern tend to bring on fear, then we should remember the words of St. John: "My little ones, I am writing this to keep you from sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one" (1 John 2:1). "No matter what our hearts may charge us with -- God is greater than our hearts and all is known to him" (ibid., 3:20).

Today we celebrate the feast of the "Most Holy Name of Mary." To all those women who bear that name -- my own mother and my sister were among them -- I offer my heartfelt good wishes for their feast day. Mary, the Mother of the Lord, has received from the faithful the title of Advocate, for she is our advocate before God.

And this is how we see her, from the wedding-feast of Cana onward: as a woman who is kindly, filled with maternal concern and love, a woman who is attentive to the needs of others and, out of desire to help them, brings those needs before the Lord.

In today's Gospel we have heard how the Lord gave Mary as a Mother to the beloved disciple and, in him, to all of us. In every age, Christians have received with gratitude this legacy of Jesus, and, in their recourse to his Mother, they have always found the security and confident hope which gives them joy in God. May we too receive Mary as the lodestar guiding our lives, introducing us into the great family of God! Truly, those who believe are never alone. Amen!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Papal Address at University of Regensburg
"Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization"

REGENSBURG, Germany, SEPT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered to scientists at the University of Regensburg, where he was a professor and vice rector from 1969 to 1971.

This is the version the Pope read, adding some allusions of the moment, which he hopes to publish in the future, complete with footnotes. Hence, the present text was considered provisional.

The final and corrected version of this lecture is set out below, at the end of this page.


* * *

Faith, Reason and the University
Memories and Reflections

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to stand and give a lecture at this university podium once again. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. This was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties.

Once a semester there was a "dies academicus," when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of "universitas": The reality that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason -- this reality became a lived experience.

The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the "universitas scientiarum," even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: It had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: This, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by professor Theodore Khoury (Muenster) of part of the dialogue carried on -- perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara -- by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.

It was probably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than the responses of the learned Persian. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Koran, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship of the "three Laws": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran.

In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "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."

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry.

As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the 'logos.'"

This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word -- a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance.

The vision of St. Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) -- this vision can be interpreted as a "distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between biblical faith and Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and declares simply that he is, already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates' attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am."

This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Psalm 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature.

Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria -- the Septuagint -- is more than a simple (and in that sense perhaps less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: It is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of Revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which ultimately led to the claim that we can only know God's "voluntas ordinata." Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done.

This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions.

As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language (cf. Lateran IV).

God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Ephesians 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is logos. Consequently, Christian worship is "logic latreía" -- worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Romans 12:1).

This inner rapprochement between biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history -- it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: This convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a de-Hellenization of Christianity -- a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the program of de-Hellenization: Although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.

De-Hellenization first emerges in connection with the fundamental postulates of the Reformation in the 16th century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system.

The principle of "sola scriptura," on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this program forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

The liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of de-Hellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this program was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue. I will not repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of de-Hellenization. Harnack's central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of Hellenization: This simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favor of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message.

The fundamental goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ's divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament restored to theology its place within the university: Theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university.

Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant's "Critiques," but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology.

On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: This basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature's capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity.

A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

We shall return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be "scientific" would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: It is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by "science" and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective.

The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective "conscience" becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of de-Hellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures.

The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed.

True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: We are all grateful for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which reflects one of the basic tenets of Christianity.

The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them.

We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.

A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based.

Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought -- to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding.

Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being -- but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss."

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur -- this is the program with which a theology grounded in biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.

"Not to act reasonably (with logos) is contrary to the nature of God," said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Papal Address at Basilica in Regensburg
"Solemn Sacred Music an Important Means of Participation in Worship"

REGENSBURG, Germany, SEPT. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Old Chapel ("Alte Kapelle"), of which his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, was director. During the visit, the Pope blessed the new organ.

* * *

This venerable house of God, the Basilica of "Our Lady of the Old Chapel," has been splendidly refurbished and today receives a new organ, which will now be blessed and solemnly dedicated to its proper aim: the glorification of God and the strengthening of faith.

An important contribution to the renewal of sacred music in the 19th century was made by a canon of this collegiate church, Carl Joseph Proske. Gregorian chant and classic choral polyphony were integrated into the liturgy. The attention given to liturgical sacred music in the "Old Chapel" was so significant that it reached far beyond the confines of the region, making Regensburg a center for the reform of sacred music, and its influence has continued to the present time.

In the constitution on sacred liturgy of the Second Vatican Council ("Sacrosanctum Concilium"), it is emphasized that the "combination of sacred music and words … forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy" (No. 112). This means that music and song are more than an embellishment of worship; they are themselves part of the liturgical action.

Solemn sacred music, with choir, organ, orchestra and the singing of the people, is not an addition of sorts that frames the liturgy and makes it more pleasing, but an important means of active participation in worship. The organ has always been considered, and rightly so, the king of musical instruments, because it takes up all the sounds of creation and gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments. By transcending the merely human sphere, as all music of quality does, it evokes the divine.

The organ's great range of timbre, from "piano" through to a thundering "fortissimo," makes it an instrument superior to all others. It is capable of echoing and expressing all the experiences of human life. The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.

Psalm 150 speaks of trumpets and flutes, of harps and zithers, cymbals and drums; all these musical instruments are called to contribute to the praise of the triune God. In an organ, the many pipes and voices must form a unity. If here or there something becomes blocked, if one pipe is out of tune, this may at first be perceptible only to a trained ear. But if more pipes are out of tune, dissonance ensues and the result is unbearable.

Also, the pipes of this organ are exposed to variations of temperature and subject to wear. Now, this is an image of our community. Just as in an organ an expert hand must constantly bring disharmony back to consonance, so we in the Church, in the variety of our gifts and charisms, always need to find anew, through our communion in faith, harmony in the praise of God and in fraternal love. The more we allow ourselves, through the liturgy, to be transformed in Christ, the more we will be capable of transforming the world, radiating Christ's goodness, his mercy and his love for others.

The great composers, each in his own way, ultimately sought to glorify God by their music. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote above the title of many of his musical compositions the letters S.D.G., "Soli Deo Gloria" -- to God alone be glory. Anton Bruckner also prefaced his compositions with the words: "Dem lieben Gott gewidmet" -- dedicated to the good God. May all those who enter this splendid basilica, experiencing the magnificence of its architecture and its liturgy, enriched by solemn song and the harmony of this new organ, be brought to the joy of faith.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Address at Ecumenical Meeting
"We Must Become One"

REGENSBURG, Germany, SEPT. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday during the ecumenical celebration of Vespers in the cathedral of Regensburg. The meeting was attended by representatives of the various churches and ecclesial communities of Bavaria, in particular, representatives of the Lutheran and Orthodox churches.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

We are gathered here -- Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants -- to sing together the evening praise of God. At the heart of this liturgy are the Psalms, in which the Old and the New Covenant come together and our prayer is joined to the Israel which believes and lives in hope. This is an hour of gratitude for the fact that we can pray together in this way and, by turning to the Lord, at the same time grow in unity among ourselves.

Among those gathered for this evening's Vespers, I would like first to greet warmly the representatives of the Orthodox Church. I have always considered it a special gift of God's Providence that, as a professor at Bonn, I was able to come to know and to love the Orthodox Church, personally as it were, through two young archimandrites, Stylianos Harkianakis and Damaskinos Papandreou, both of whom later became metropolitans.

At Regensburg, thanks to the initiative of Bishop Graber, further meetings occurred: during the symposia on the "Spindlhof" and with scholarship students who had studied here. I am happy indeed to recognize some familiar faces and to renew earlier friendships.

In a few days time, at Belgrade, the theological dialogue will resume on the fundamental theme of "koinonia" in the two aspects which the First Letter of John indicates to us at the very beginning of its first chapter. Our "koinonia" is above all communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit; it is communion with the triune God, made possible by the Lord through his incarnation and the outpouring of the Spirit.

This communion with God creates in turn "koinonia" among people, as a participation in the faith of the apostles, and therefore as a communion in faith -- a communion which is "embodied" in the Eucharist and, transcending all boundaries, builds up the one Church (cf. 1 John 1:3).

I hope and pray that these discussions will be fruitful and that the communion with the living God which unites us, like our own communion in the faith transmitted by the apostles, will grow in depth and maturity toward that full unity, whereby the world can recognize that Jesus Christ is truly the One sent from God, the Son of God, the Savior of the world (cf. John 17:21). "So that the world may believe," we must become one: The seriousness of this commitment must spur on our dialogue.

I also extend warm greetings to our friends of the various traditions stemming from the Reformation. Here too many memories arise in my heart: memories of friends in the Jäger-Stählin circle, who have already passed away, and these memories are mixed with gratitude for our present meetings.

Obviously, I think in particular of the demanding efforts to reach a consensus on justification. I recall all the stages of that process up, to the memorable meeting with the late Bishop Hanselmann here in Regensburg -- a meeting that contributed decisively to the achievement of the conclusion. I am pleased to see that in the meantime the World Methodist Council has adhered to the Declaration.

The agreement on justification remains an important task, one not yet fully complete: In theology justification is an essential theme, but in the life of the faithful today -- it seems to me -- it is only dimly present. Because of the dramatic events of our time, the theme of mutual forgiveness is felt with increased urgency, yet there is little perception of our fundamental need of God's forgiveness, of our justification by him.

Our modern consciousness in general is no longer aware of the fact that we stand as debtors before God and that sin is a reality which can be overcome only by God's initiative. Behind this weakening of the theme of justification and of the forgiveness of sins is ultimately a weakening of our relation with God. In this sense, our first task will perhaps be to rediscover in a new way the living God present in our lives.

Let us now hear what St. John was saying to us a moment ago in the biblical reading. I wish to stress three statements present in this complex and rich text. The central theme of the whole letter appears in verse 15: "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." Once again John spells out, as he had done before in verses 2 and 3 of Chapter 4, the profession of faith, the "confessio," which ultimately distinguishes us as Christians: faith in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God who has come in the flesh.

"No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known"; so we read at the end of the prologue of the Fourth Gospel (John 1:18). We know who God is through Jesus Christ, the only one who is God. It is through him that we come into contact with God. In this time of interreligious encounters we are easily tempted to attenuate somewhat this central confession or indeed even to hide it. But by doing this we do not do a service to encounter or dialogue. We only make God less accessible to others and to ourselves.

It is important that we bring to the conversation not fragments, but the whole image of God. To be able to do so, our personal communion with Christ and our love of him must grow and deepen. In this common confession, and in this common task, there is no division between us. And we pray that this shared foundation will grow ever stronger.

And so we have arrived at the second point which I would like to consider. This is found in verse 14, where we read: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world."

The central word in this sentence is we bear witness, we are witnesses. The Profession of Faith must become witness. The root word "martyr" brings to mind the fact that a witness of Jesus Christ must affirm by his whole existence, in life and death, the testimony he gives. The author of the Letter says of himself: "We have seen" (cf. 1:1).

Because he has seen, he can be a witness. This presupposes that we also -- succeeding generations -- are capable of seeing, and can bear witness as people who have seen. Let us pray to the Lord that we may see! Let us help one another to develop this capacity, so that we can assist the people of our time to see, so that they in turn, through the world fashioned by themselves, will discover God!

Across all the historical barriers may they perceive Jesus anew, the Son sent by God, in whom we see the Father. In verse 9 it is written that God has sent his Son into the world so that we might have life. Is it not the case today that only through an encounter with Jesus Christ can life become really life? To be a witness of Jesus Christ means above all to bear witness to a certain way of living.

In a world full of confusion we must again bear witness to the standards that make life truly life. This important task, common to all Christians, must be faced with determination. It is the responsibility of Christians, now, to make visible the standards that indicate a just life, which have been clarified for us in Jesus Christ. He has taken up into his life all the words of Scripture: "Listen to him" (Mark 9:7).

And so we come to the third word, of our text (1 John 4:9), which I wish to stress: "agape" -- love. This is the keyword of the whole letter and particularly of the passage which we have heard. Agape does not mean something sentimental or something grandiose; it is something totally sober and realistic. I attempted to explain something of this in my encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est."

Agape (love) is really the synthesis of the Law and the prophets. In love everything is "fulfilled"; but this everything must daily be "filled out." In verse 16 of our text we find the marvelous phrase: "We know and believe the love God has for us." Yes, man can believe in love. Let us bear witness to our faith in such a way that it shines forth as the power of love, "so that the world may believe" (John 17:21). Amen!

[Translation released by the Holy See; adapted]

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Prepared Text for Clergy of Freising
"It Is All About Being With Christ"

FREISING, Germany, SEPT. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI prepared, but did not deliver -- as he preferred to give a spontaneous reflection -- to the priests and deacons whom he met with this morning in the cathedral of Freising.

* * *

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood!
Dear Permanent Deacons!

This is my last meeting before taking leave of my beloved Bavaria, and I am pleased that it is taking place with you, the priests and permanent deacons, the living and chosen stones of the Church. I express my fraternal greetings to Cardinal Friedrich Wetter and my heartfelt gratitude for his warm words interpreting the sentiments of all present.

When I look around this magnificent cathedral of Freising, so many memories come back to me of the years when my journey to the priesthood and the exercise of my ministry were linked to this place. And when I think of the generations of believers who, from the time of the first missionaries, have given to this country its distinctively Christian character and transmitted to us the treasure of the faith, a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving rises up to God from my heart.

Throughout its history, the "Lord of the harvest" has never allowed this land to be deprived of laborers, those ministers of the word and the altar through whom he wished to guide and nourish our ancestors along the paths of time toward their heavenly homeland. Today, dear brothers, it is our turn to carry out this work, and I am pleased to be with you as the Bishop of Rome, affectionately urging you not to grow weary, but to pursue with confidence the ministry entrusted to you.

We have just listened to the biblical reading taken from the ninth chapter of Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 9:35-38). Here we can see expressed an inner attitude of Jesus that is very important for us. This attitude actually marks his entire public life. It is expressed in an agricultural image.

With the eyes of his heart, Jesus sees in the people gathered around him the "harvest" of God the Father, ready for reaping. And the harvest is abundant: "the harvest is plentiful," he says (v. 37; cf. Luke 10:2). In the Gospel according to John, we find the same image in the fourth chapter, where, after his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus says to his disciples: "Lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest" (v. 35).

Christ sees the world as "God's field" (cf. Matthew 13:38-43), in which a rich harvest is growing and there is need of reapers. Something similar is to be found also in Mark's Gospel (4:26-29). The fundamental approach of Jesus emerging from these different sayings is one of optimism, based on confidence in the power of the Father, the "Lord of the harvest" (Matthew 9:38).

Jesus' confidence becomes for us a source of hope, since he is capable of looking beyond the veil of appearances to the mysterious yet irresistible workings of the Father. The seed of the Word of God always bears fruit. And so the harvest of God is growing, even when to merely human eyes, this does not seem to be the case.

A priest's life and the real nature of his vocation and ministry are contained in the worldview revealed to us by Jesus. This same worldview moved the Lord to go from village to village, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing the sick (cf. Matthew 9:35). Like the sower of the parable, he sowed the seed with apparently reckless generosity, and part of it has fallen on the road, on rocky soil, or among thorns (cf. Matthew 13:3-8).

Underlying this generosity is a confidence in the power of the Father to change rocky or thorny ground into fertile soil. Each priest must let himself be filled with the same confidence in the power of grace, since he himself was a piece of ground needing to be cleared by the divine sower so that the seed could take root and ripen into a mature and fully-grown response, the response of "Here I am" which we made at our ordination and renew each day in communion with Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist.

By his progressive assimilation to the sentiments of the Teacher, the priest will come to share in his confident approach. By entering more and more deeply into Jesus' own way of seeing things, he learns to see all around him as the "harvest of God," ready to be gathered into the granaries of heaven (cf. Matthew 13:30). Grace will be active through him and consequently he will help to elicit sincere and generous responses to God's call.

Nevertheless, we must always keep in mind the words of our biblical text: It is the "Lord of the harvest" who "sends" laborers into his harvest. Jesus did not give his disciples the task of calling other volunteers or organizing promotional campaigns aimed at gathering new members; he told them to "pray" to God. What does this mean? Should our vocational work limit itself to prayer? Obviously not.

"Pray to the Lord of the harvest" means something more profound: Only by remaining in intimate communion with the Lord of the harvest, by living immersed as it were in his "heart" full of love and compassion for humanity, can we bring other laborers to share in the work of the Kingdom of God. Ours is not a mind-set of numbers and efficiency, but one of gratuity and self-giving. It is that of the grain of wheat which bears fruit precisely when it falls to the ground and dies.

The laborers in God's harvest are those who follow in the footsteps of Christ. This requires self-detachment and being fully "attuned" to his will. This task is not easy, for it goes against a "force of gravity" deep within us, leading us to become self-centered. We can only overcome this force if we undertake an Easter journey of death and resurrection.

On this journey Christ has not only gone before us, but he accompanies us, indeed he comes toward us, as once he went toward Simon Peter as Peter began to sink while attempting to walk to Jesus on the waters (cf. Matthew 14:28-31). As long as Peter returned Jesus' gaze, he was able to walk on the troubled waters of the Sea of Galilee, remaining so to speak within the gravitational field of his grace. Yet once he turned his eyes away from him, he became conscious of the violence of the wind, he took fright and began to sink.

Jesus then made him sense the power of his saving hand, as if anticipating what was to be the final and definitive "saving" of the apostle: his "resurrection" after the "sinking" of the denial. Through this Easter journey, the disciple becomes a true witness of the Lord.

And what is the task of a witness? In what does his service consist? St. Augustine tried to explain the essence of the ordained minister's task by means of two definitions which have become classic. He described the minister above all as "servus Christi" (cf. Sermo Guelf. 9:4; Ep. 130; Ep. 228:2, etc.).

Now, the term "servant" implies a concept of relation: To be a servant is to be in relation to a master. To describe the priest as "servus Christi" is to emphasize that his life has an essential "relational connotation": With every fiber of his being he is in relation to Christ. This takes nothing away from his relation to the community, indeed it provides the foundation for it: Precisely as "Christ's servant" he is "in his name, servant of his servants" (title of Ep. 217 to Vitale; cf. also De pecc. mer. et rem. III; Ep. 130; Sermo Guelf. 32:3, etc.).

By virtue of the sacramental character received at ordination, he belongs to Christ and shares his unreserved dedication to the "body" of the Church. This ontological aspect of the priestly ministry, which reaches to the very being of the individual concerned, creates in him the presuppositions of a radical form of service unimaginable in the secular sphere.

The other definition of the ordained minister to which Augustine frequently returns is "vox Christi." He develops his reflection on this topic by meditating on the figure of John the Baptist (cf. Serm. 288; 293:3; Serm. Dolbeau 3, etc.). The Precursor of Jesus defines himself as a simple "voice" sent to proclaim Christ who is the "Word"; likewise the minister, according to Augustine, has the task of being "vox Verbi" (cf. Serm. 46:30-32), "praedicator Verbi" (cf. Serm. 71:13/22), "Verbi prolator" (cf. En. in Ps. 134:1; Serm 23:1, etc.).

It is an idea that recurs frequently in Augustine; it brings out once more the "relational connotation" of the minister: As the "voice" he stands in relation to the "Word" who is Christ. The greatness and the humility of the ordained ministry are here revealed. Like St. John the Baptist, the priest and the deacon are merely the precursors, the servants of the Word. It is not they who are at the center, but Christ, whose "voice" they must be with their whole existence.

It is from this reflection that the answer emerges to a question that no responsible pastor of souls can fail to ask himself, especially in the current situation of an increasing shortage of priests: how to preserve interior unity amid the often frenetic activity of ministry?

The way toward a solution to this problem lies in intimate communion with Christ, whose food was to do the will of the Father (cf. John 4:34). It is important that the ontological relationship with Christ, given at ordination, should come to life in his consciousness and consequently in his actions: All the things I do, I do in communion with him. It is in doing them that I am united with him.

However diverse and even, seen from outside, mutually opposed my activities may be, they are unified at the level of underlying motivation: It is all about being with Christ, acting as an instrument in communion with him. From this emerges a new vision of priestly asceticism. This is not to be placed alongside pastoral activity as an extra burden, another task which further weighs down upon my day.

In the action itself I learn self-mastery, I learn to give my life with serenity; in disappointment and in failure I learn renunciation, I learn to accept sorrow, I learn detachment from myself. In the joy of success I learn gratitude. In administering the sacraments I receive them interiorly myself.... This asceticism of service, service itself as the true asceticism of my life, is undoubtedly a most important motive that nevertheless requires a constant interior reinterpretation of action based upon being.

Even if the priest seeks to live out his service as asceticism and his sacramental activity as personal encounter with Christ, he will still need moments to catch his breath, so that this inner directedness can become real and effective. Jesus himself, when his disciples returned from their first missionary journey, said to them: "Come away, to a lonely place, and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31).

Generous self-giving for others is impossible without discipline and constant recovery of true faith-filled interiority. The effectiveness of pastoral action depends, ultimately, upon prayer; otherwise, service becomes empty activism.

Therefore the time spent in direct encounter with God in prayer can rightly be described as the pastoral priority par excellence: It is the soul's breath, without which the priest necessarily remains "breathless," deprived of the "oxygen" of optimism and joy, which he needs if he is to allow himself to be sent, day by day, as a worker into the Lord's harvest. Amen!

[Translation of German original issued by the Holy See; adapted]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict XVI's Farewell to Bavaria
Suggests Application of "Laborem Exercens"

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's address at the farewell ceremony held at Munich's international airport.

* * *

Mr. Minister President,
Distinguished Government Leaders and Public Authorities,
Dear Cardinals and Brothers in the Episcopate,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

As I leave Bavaria for Rome, I would like to say to you here present, and through you to all the citizens of my native land, a word of cordial greeting and of heartfelt thanks. I was deeply moved by the enthusiasm and fervent devotion of the faithful who gathered to listen to the Word of God and to join in prayer.

I was able to see how many people in Bavaria still today are endeavoring to journey in communion with their bishops along the paths of God and to testify to their faith in today's secularized world. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the organizers, everything took place in an orderly and peaceful way. And so my first word, in this farewell, must be one of thanks.

I turn first to you, Mr. Minister President, with gratitude for the kind words which you have spoken in the name of all. I thank the other civil and ecclesiastical authorities gathered here, especially those who contributed to the success of this visit, which enabled me to meet so many people from this region which still has a special place in my heart. These have been busy days, when I relived many past events which have left a mark on my life.

Everywhere I was received with an attention and care which touched me deeply. I can only imagine the challenges, concerns and the work involved in organizing this stay in Bavaria: Many people had a part to play, both those from the Church, regional and state agencies, and the many people who volunteered their time. To all of you I offer heartfelt thanks and the assurance of a special remembrance in my prayers.

I came to Germany to bring once more to my fellow-citizens the eternal truths of the Gospel and to confirm believers in their fidelity to Christ, the Son of God, who became man for the salvation of the world. I am convinced, in faith, that in Christ, in his word, we find the way not only to eternal happiness, but also to the building of a humane future even now, here below.

Impelled by this conviction, the Church, led by the Spirit, has constantly looked to the Word of God so as to be able to respond to new historical challenges. She did so in a special way with regard to the problems arising from the so-called worker question, beginning particularly in the second half of the 19th century.

I mention this here, because today, September 14, marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of the encyclical "Laborem Exercens," in which the great Pope John Paul II called work "a fundamental dimension of man's existence on earth" (No. 4), and insisted that "the primary basis of the value of work is man himself" (No. 6). Work, he observed, is therefore "something good for man," because with it "man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but also achieves fulfillment as a human being, and, in a certain sense, becomes more human" (No. 9).

On the basis of this profound intuition, the Pope offered in his encyclical some guidelines which are still helpful today. That text was not lacking in prophetic value, and I would like to recommend it to the people of my native land. I am certain that its concrete application would prove very beneficial in Germany's present situation.

And now, as I take leave of my beloved homeland, I entrust the present and future of Bavaria and of Germany to the intercession of all those saints who lived in German territory, faithfully serving Christ and experiencing in their lives the truth expressed in the words which have been like a leitmotif during the various parts of my visit: "Those who believe are never alone."

This too was surely the experience of the composer of the traditional hymn of the Bavarian people. In his words, which are also a prayer, I would like to leave behind my own prayer for my homeland: "God be with you, land of the Bavarian people, German soil, my native land! Upon your vast borders may his hand rest in blessing! May he watch over your countryside and cities, and keep for you the colors of his white and blue sky!"

To everyone I offer a hearty "Auf Wiedersehen"!

[Translation of German original issued by the Holy See; adapted]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Assessing Benedict XVI's Trip
Interview With Father F. Lombardi, Vatican Spokesman

MUNICH, Germany, SEPT. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's trip to his native Bavaria turned out to fulfill his hopes, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reflected on the highlights of the papal trip that ended today.

Q: How did this trip turn out?

Father Lombardi: I think this trip turned out in the best possible way, and it has responded perfectly both to the Pope's hopes as well as to those of the local Church and the people of Bavaria.

The atmosphere of welcome was wonderful and the warmth grew with the passing of the days, as happens on all the Pope's trips. Benedict XVI was very pleased, at times even intensely moved. The fact that he delivered the homily of the last meeting in the Freising cathedral altogether spontaneously shows that also for him it was a joy that grew.

Q: Also on this trip Benedict XVI did not dedicate himself to saying "no." "Faith is not a heap of prohibitions, it is a positive option," he said.

Father Lombardi: Yes, indeed. It has been an extremely encouraging message, especially for the local Church, which lives at a time when society is in the process of secularization and, consequently, the proclamation of the faith is not easy.

Encouragement is what the Pope has given priests, deacons, all pastoral agents [and] believers, making its active and lively presence seen in today's society. This has been a very, very important point.

Several people of the local Church have told me these days that it will have great effectiveness for the future. In fact, the theme itself of the trip, "Those Who Believe Are Never Alone," sought to go precisely in this direction: to show the beauty and richness of communion of faith, communion with God above all, but also with the whole community of believers, and the possibility of dialogue, service, enrichment for the whole community which comes from lively faith.

Q: The Pope has again spoken of reason and of the reasonable character of faith against all fundamentalism and irrationalism, both religious as well as cultural. The faith, he said, proposes an authentic Enlightenment.

Father Lombardi: Yes, it seems that with time it is becoming one of the guiding themes of this pontificate, of Benedict XVI's teaching.

The harmonious relationship between faith and reason is like the foundation of the service that faith can give to human civilization at this time, but also in general. Faith and reason enrich one another mutually.

We have seen that in some passages of his addresses the Pope expressed that faith must be freed from its corruptions, to have a correct idea of God. In this connection, reason has an active part to play within the realm of faith, it helps very much.

At the same time, faith prevents reason from limiting itself in its interests, objectives [and] field of action, impoverishing itself and becoming incapable of guiding humanity in the great questions of always and the great ethical problem of today.

Q: What do you think of the ecumenical significance of this trip?

Father Lombardi: The trip had a particularly important ecumenical moment: Vespers in Regensburg's Cathedral. However, the whole trip has had an ecumenical significance, as it has concentrated much on faith in God.

In what God? In the God of Jesus Christ, the God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who is love.

These are absolutely common foundations of the Christian faith. Benedict XVI's proclamation, therefore, has been to a very large extent a proclamation that can be totally shared by the Christian churches and confessions.

Q: Finally, what remains in the Pope's heart from this trip to Bavaria?

Father Lombardi: I think that for the Pope the great joy remains of having drawn strength and drive from his roots of faith; great encouragement for the local Church and, for the German Church and culture, a great contribution of reflection. A reflection that can be extended to the whole of European culture on the importance of correct dialogue between faith and reason for the good of modern society and, if one takes into account the world in general, on the possibility of dialogue with other cultures, as the Pope underlined, which experience the religious dimension as something profoundly important and can enter into dialogue with us in a much more fruitful way if we live a culture that respects the religious dimension, fully respecting the person and human culture.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Benedict's Bavaria   16 September.          Robert Mickens  (The Tablet)

Like his predecessor's first papal visit to Poland, Benedict XVI's return home excited huge enthusiasm among his fellow countrymen. It was billed in part as a sentimental journey but the visit will be remembered as the event when he argued eloquently for God's place in a rational world

Pope Benedict XVI has returned to his Catholic Bavarian homeland, but the 9 to 14 September visit to six cities and hamlets was much more than a mere walk down memory lane. The 79-year-old Benedict used his first visit back home since becoming Bishop of Rome as a pulpit to preach two related themes that have begun to define his pontificate: first, that God must be given a central place in every human endeavour, beginning with family life and extending even into the realm of scientific research; and second, that the Catholic Church must be more attentive to its inner life of prayer in order to better undergird its vast array of social projects and other activities.

The hundreds of thousands of people who turned out for the variety of papal events eagerly cheered the Pope. The affectionate welcome was especially notable given that, up until just a couple of years ago, the former Herr Kardinal could have hardly expected more than "polite" greetings from most people during his annual visits. But then he was still the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, a job he assumed after nearly five difficult years as Archbishop of Munich. But judging by this past week, it seemed that those days have long been forgotten.

"People really love him," said Notker Wolf OSB, the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation. The Bavarian monk, who is now based in Rome, was a commentator for the regional German television station that provided round-the-clock coverage of the papal visit. The abbot said that the Pope had won people over with his message. "He is just preaching the love of God. He is saying, ‘Listen, God is different from what you think.' For us in Germany, God has been the bookkeeper, writing down all your sins ... And that is just the opposite from what the Pope is bringing us now. He removed the fear. He speaks of another God - who liberates us and loves us ..."

"The world needs God. We need God!" Benedict XVI told a crowd in Munich last Sunday at what was his first Mass in Bavaria as Pope. At the outdoor liturgy at a former airfield, he said that the Western world had become too reliant on empirical sciences and deaf to the voice of God. Even Catholics, he noted, were sometimes afflicted with this "hardness of hearing". "People in Africa and Asia", he said, "are frightened by a form of rationality that totally excludes God from the human vision, as if this were the highest form of reason, and one to be imposed on their cultures, too." He said they were not "threatened" by Christianity, but by the West's "contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise in freedom". The Pope said, "The tolerance we urgently need includes the fear of God - respect for what others hold sacred." He then took that same message to a slightly different level later the same afternoon when he returned to the cathedral where he was archbishop from 1977 to 1982. At a vespers service that included several hundred children who recently made their First Communion, the Pope told the parents to go to church with their little ones and to pray at home, "at meals and before going to bed". He told them that it would bring their families closer together and provide a "powerful source of peace and joy".

Pope Benedict left Munich on 11 September and went to the small town of Altötting some 100 kilometres away, the home of a Marian shrine that he visited often as a child and continued to go to right up to his election as Pope. There he presided at Mass in a public square and delivered what even the director of the Holy See press office - Fr Federico Lombardi SJ - called a "very spiritual" message. Reporters were eager to see whether the Pope would make any special comments on the day when many leaders and communities around the world were commemorating the fifth anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks. While one of the petitions at the Mass remembered the victims of 2001 tragedy, the Pope stuck to preaching on the Wedding Feast of Cana, telling worshippers that they should pray to Jesus just as the Virgin Mary did: "She doesn't ask for anything in particular, and she certainly doesn't ask him to perform a miracle," he said. "She simply hands the matter over to Jesus and leaves him to decide what to do." The message seemed clear enough: the Church's job - as Church - is to pray.

Later in the afternoon the Pope prayed for religious vocation, telling seminarians and members of men's and women's religious orders that people all over the world were "waiting for heralds to bring them the Gospel of peace and the good news of God who became man". He mentioned the various continents, but singled out only two countries: "In the so-called West, here among us in Germany, and in the vast lands of Russia it is true that a great harvest could be reaped." Mentioning predominantly Orthodox Russia seemed more than coincidental in light of the resumption next week in Belgrade of a long-stalled Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue.

Pope Benedict then made a brief stop at Marktl am Inn, the town where he was born and lived for the first two years of his life. Joined by his older brother, Mgr Georg Ratzinger, he prayed before the font in the church of St Oswald where he was baptised. Then the brothers and the papal entourage were flown by helicopter to the city of Regensburg, the seat of the diocese of the same name, where they retired to rooms at the Major Seminary. The city has a special place for the two Ratzingers. Though they were both ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, each has a house in the Regensburg area. The elder Ratzinger long directed the cathedral's boys choir and the Pope went to what was then its fledgling university in 1971 as professor and vice-rector. It was clear by the elated expression on his face while he was driven among the waving crowds into the heart of the old city that Pope Benedict was truly feeling "at home".

The people of Regensburg gave him perhaps the warmest welcome of his visit during the five-day Bavarian tour. Upwards of 250,000 of them came to an outdoor Mass on Tuesday morning, where the Pope elaborated on his earlier messages and said God could not be "taken out of the equation" of human life. "From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary," he said. "When God is subtracted, something doesn't add up for man, the world, the whole vast universe," he continued, and then rejected, as contrary to faith, the "chance result of evolution".

But he said there were also "pathologies and the life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason" and said "hatred and fanaticism" could destroy God's image. The Pope said it was important for Christians to "state clearly the God in whom we believe, and to proclaim confidently that this God has a human face". But he also said that faith called us to accountability. "In the face of injustice we must not remain indifferent and thus end up as silent collaborators or outright accomplices."

Later, in what was easily his most weighty speech, Pope Benedict delivered a public lecture to professors and academics at the University of Regensburg. He offered what he defined as a "critique of modern reason" painted "with broad strokes". His basic point was that a gradual de-Hellenisation of Christian faith, still in progress, had reduced faith to something unreasonable. "This ... has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age," the Pope insisted. "The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application," he continued. And he repeated that the West would continue to have difficulties with other cultures as long as it marginalised religious faith. "A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures," he warned.

After pronouncing those heavy words, Pope Benedict held an ecumenical prayer service. Then the next day he and his brother, Georg, spent the day virtually alone, lunching at the elder sibling's home behind the Regensburg Cathedral and then having dinner at the Pope's home in the neighbouring suburb of Pentling. They visited the graves of their parents and sister in between. The Wednesday alone was the most "private" part of a celebrated home visit unlike any that Joseph Ratzinger has ever had.

"I don't think he ever imagined that he would be so loved," said Abbot Wolf. "The more you love people, the more they love you," he said. And Pope Benedict XVI is aware of this. That's why he has made it his mission to help other people know how much God loves them.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


DECLARATION CONCERNING POPE'S REGENSBURG ADDRESS

 

VATICAN CITY, SEP 15, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration to journalists concerning the interpretation of certain passages of the address delivered by the Holy Father at the University of Regensburg on September 12.

 

  "Concerning the reaction of Muslim leaders to certain passages of the Holy Father's address at the University of Regensburg, it should be noted that what the Holy Father has to heart - and which emerges from an attentive reading of the text - is a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence.

 

  "It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas on the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful.

 

  "Quite the contrary, what emerges clearly from the Holy Father's discourses is a warning, addressed to Western culture, to avoid 'the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom.' A just consideration of the religious dimension is, in fact, an essential premise for fruitful dialogue with the great cultures and religions of the world. And indeed, in concluding his address in Regensburg, Benedict XVI affirmed how 'the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.'

 

  "What is clear then, is the Holy Father's desire to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, including, of course, Islam."


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope Struck a Cord With Muslims, Says Expert
Despite Some Harsh Reactions

ROME, SEPT. 15, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's words regarding Islam resonated with millions of Muslims worldwide who reject the justification of violence in the name of religion, said an expert in Islam.

Father Justo Lacunza, until recently rector of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of Rome, explained today on Vatican Radio, why, nonetheless, certain Muslim circles reacted harshly to the discourse the Pope gave Tuesday at the University of Regensburg.

"In this the Pope has done no more than take up again the sentiment and desire of millions of Muslims who in one way or another, say: 'Violence and Islam cannot be related,'" Father Lacunza said.

He said that many Muslims say: "We are Muslims and we want to be Muslim believers in today's world and against those who use religion to strike at others with violence. Religion cannot be the foundation of a conflict, a war, or any other kind of violence."

The Muslim world reacted so violently to the words of the Pope, said the priest, for two reasons: "The first is that the Islamic world and Muslims are very sensitive to those who speak of Islam, in particular, when they do not belong to the Muslim faith.

"The second reason is that the Pontiff touched on a very, very delicate point, which is that of violence and war."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Angelus address: Apology to Muslims
"An Invitation to Frank and Sincere Dialogue" (September 17, '06)
Pope's Islamic stumble baffles the experts

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before reciting the midday Angelus with crowds at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The pastoral visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives toward an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today.

I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this pastoral visit. As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday's general audience.

At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.

Yesterday, the cardinal secretary of state published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

[Translation issued by the Holy See]

Now, before reciting the Marian prayer, I wish to reflect on two recent and important liturgical feasts: the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated on Sept. 14, and the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, celebrated the day after. These two liturgical celebrations summarize in a visual manner the image of the Crucifixion, which represents the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, according to the description of the Evangelist John, the only Apostle who stayed with Jesus at the hour of his death.

But, what does it mean to "exalt" the Cross? Is it not, perhaps, scandalous to venerate an offensive gibbet? The Apostle Paul says: "We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23). Christians, however, do not exalt any cross, but that cross which Jesus sanctified with his sacrifice, fruit and testimony of immense love.

Christ, on the cross, shed all his blood to free humanity from the slavery of sin and death. For this reason, the cross was transformed from a sign of malediction to a sign of blessing, from a symbol of death to a symbol par excellence of the love that is able to overcome hatred and violence and that generates immortal life. "O Crux, ave spes unica! O cross, our only hope," sings the liturgy.

The evangelist writes: At the foot of the Cross was Mary (cf. John 19:25-27). Her sorrow is one with that of her son. It is a sorrow full of faith and love. On Calvary the Virgin participated in the salvific power of Christ's sorrow, uniting her "fiat" with that of her son.

Dear brothers and sisters: Spiritually united to Our Lady of Sorrows, let us also renew our "yes" to God, who chose the way of the cross to save us. It is a great mystery which still takes place until the end of the world and that also calls for our cooperation. May Mary help us to pick up our cross every day and to follow Jesus faithfully on the path of obedience, sacrifice and love.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After praying the Angelus the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus, and I thank you for your prayers during my pastoral visit to Bavaria. May your stay here in Castel Gandolfo and Rome be a time of spiritual enrichment, marked by the readiness to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the grace and peace of Christ the Lord!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Wednesday's Audience (September 20, 2006)

Evaluation of Trip to Bavaria
"My Deep Respect for the Great Religions, in Particular for Muslims"


VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to evaluate his Sept. 9-14 trip to Bavaria.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today I wish to recall again different moments of the pastoral trip that the Lord allowed me to undertake last week to Bavaria. On sharing with you the emotions and sentiments felt when returning to those dearly beloved places, I feel the need first of all to thank God for having made possible this second visit to Germany and, for the first time, to Bavaria, my native land.

I also sincerely thank all those who worked with dedication and patience -- pastors, priests, pastoral agents, public authorities, organizers, security forces and volunteers -- so that each one of the events would unfold in the best possible way. As I said on my arrival at the Munich airport on Saturday, September 9, the purpose of the trip, remembering all those who contributed to form my personality, was to reaffirm and confirm, as Successor of the Apostle Peter, the close bonds that unite the See of Rome with the Church in Germany.

Therefore, the trip was not simply a "return" to the past, but also a providential opportunity to look to the future with hope. "Those who believe are never alone": The motto of the visit was meant to be an invitation to reflect on every baptized person's membership in the one Church of Christ, within which one is never alone, but in constant communion with God and all brothers.

The first stage was the city of Munich, known as "the metropolis with a heart" ("Weltstadt mit Herz"). In its historical center is the "Marienplatz," Mary's Square, in which arises the "Mariensaeule," the Virgin's Column, at the summit of which is the golden bronze statue of Mary.

I wished to begin my stay with the homage to the Patroness of Bavaria, as for me it has a highly significant value: In that square and before that Marian image, I was welcomed as archbishop some 30 years ago and I began my episcopal mission with a prayer to Mary; I returned there at the end of my mandate, before leaving for Rome. This time I wished to place myself once again at the foot of the "Mariensaeule" to implore the intercession and blessing of the Mother of God, not only for the city of Munich and for Bavaria, but for the whole Church and the entire world.

The following day, Sunday, I celebrated the Eucharist in the esplanade of the "Neue Messe" (New Fair) of Munich, among the faithful gathered in great numbers from different parts: Allowing myself to be guided by the Gospel passage of the day, I reminded everyone that especially today there is suffering from a certain "deafness" to God. We Christians have the task of proclaiming and witnessing to all, in a secularized world, the message of hope that faith offers us: In Jesus crucified, God, merciful Father, calls us to be his children and to overcome every form of hatred and violence in order to contribute to the definitive triumph of love.

"Make Us Strong in the Faith" was the motto of the meeting on Sunday afternoon with the first-Communion children and their young families, with the catechists and the other pastoral agents and persons who collaborate in the evangelization of the Diocese of Munich. Together, we celebrated Vespers in the historic cathedral, known as "Our Lady's Cathedral," where the relics of St. Benno are kept, patron of the city, in which I was ordained bishop in 1977.

I reminded the little ones and adults that God is not far from us, in some unreachable place of the universe; on the contrary, in Jesus, he came to establish a relationship of friendship with each one of us. Thanks to the constant commitment of its members, every Christian community and, in particular, the parish, is called to become a great family, able to advance united on the path of true life.

The day of Monday, September 11, was dedicated in large part to the visit to Altoetting, in the Diocese of Passau. This small city is known as the "heart of Bavaria" ("Herz Bayerns"), and there is kept the "Black Virgin," venerated in the "Gnadenkapelle" (Chapel of Graces), the object of numerous pilgrimages from Germany and nations of Central Europe.

In the vicinity is the Capuchin monastery of St. Anne, where St. Konrad Birndorfer lived, canonized by my venerated predecessor, Pope Pius XI, in the year 1934. With the numerous faithful present at the holy Mass, celebrated in the square next to the shrine, we reflected together on Mary's role in the work of salvation to learn from her helpful kindness, humility and the generous acceptance of the divine will.

Mary leads us to Jesus: This truth was even more visible, at the end of the divine Sacrifice, with the procession in which with the statue of the Virgin we went to the chapel of Eucharistic adoration ("Anbetungskapelle"), inaugurated on this occasion. The day closed with solemn Marian Vespers in the Basilica of St. Anne of Altoetting, with the presence of religious of Bavaria, together with members of the Work for Vocations.

The following day, Tuesday, in Regensburg, a diocese established by St. Boniface in 739 and which has St. Wolfgang as its patron, three important meetings took place. In the morning, holy Mass at the Islinger Feld, in which, taking up again the theme of the pastoral visit, "Those who believe are never alone," we reflected on the content of the symbol of faith. God, who is Father, wills to gather through Christ the whole of humanity in one single family, the Church. For this reason, those who believe are never alone: Those who believe need not be afraid of coming to a dead end.

Then, in the afternoon, I was in the cathedral of Regensburg, known also for its choir of "white voices," the "Domspatzen" (sparrows of the cathedral), who take pride in their 1,000 years of activity and which, for 30 years, was directed by my brother, Georg. The ecumenical celebration of Vespers took place there, in which numerous representatives of different Churches and ecclesial communities in Bavaria and members of the Ecumenical Commission of the German episcopal conference participated. It was a providential occasion to pray together to accelerate full unity among all Christ's disciples and to confirm the duty to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ without attenuation, but in a total and clear manner, above all in our behavior of sincere love.

It was an especially beautiful experience for me that day to deliver a conference before a large auditorium of professors and students at the University of Regensburg, in which for many years I was professor. With joy I was able to meet once again with the university world which, during a long period of my life, was my spiritual homeland.

I had chosen as topic the question of the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce the auditorium to the dramatic and timely character of the argument, I quoted some words of a Christian-Islamic dialogue of the 14th century, in which the Christian interlocutor, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, in an incomprehensibly brusque way for us, presented to the Islamic interlocutor the problem of the relationship between religion and violence.

Unfortunately, this quotation has given room to a misunderstanding. For the careful reader of my text it is clear that I did not wish at any time to make my own the negative words uttered by the medieval emperor in this dialogue and that its controversial content does not express my personal conviction. My intention was very different: Based on what Manuel II affirms afterward in a very positive way, with very beautiful words, about rationality in the transmission of the faith, I wished to explain that religion is not united to violence, but to reason.

The topic of my conference -- responding to the mission of the university -- was therefore the relationship between faith and reason: I wished to invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and to dialogue with all cultures and religions. I hope that on different occasions of my visit, as for example in Munich, where I underlined the importance of respecting what others consider sacred, my deep respect for the great religions, in particular for Muslims -- who 'adore the one God' and with whom we are engaged in "preserving and promoting together for all mankind social justice, moral values, peace and freedom" ("Nostra Aetate," No. 3) -- emerged clearly.

Therefore, I trust that, after the reactions of the first moment, my words at the University of Regensburg will represent an impulse and encouragement to a positive dialogue, including self-critical, both among religions, as well as between modern reason and Christians' faith.

In the morning of the following day, September 13, in the "Alte Kapelle" ("Old Chapel") of Regensburg, in which the miraculous image of Mary is kept, painted according to local tradition by the Evangelist Luke, I presided over a brief liturgy on the occasion of the blessing of the new organ.

Making use of the structure of this musical instrument, made up of many pipes of different dimension, but all well harmonized among themselves, I reminded those present of the need for all the various ministries, gifts and charisms in the ecclesial community to contribute, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to the formation of a unique harmony in praise of the Lord and in love for brothers.

The last stage, Thursday, September 14, was the city of Freising. I feel particularly linked to it, as I was ordained priest there precisely in its cathedral, dedicated to Mary Most Holy and St. Corbinian, the evangelizer of Bavaria. And precisely in the cathedral the last programmed ceremony was held, the meeting with priests and permanent deacons.

Reliving the emotions of my priestly ordination, I reminded those present of the duty to collaborate with the Lord to awaken new vocations that place themselves as the service of the "harvest," which also today is "plentiful," and I exhorted them to cultivate the interior life as pastoral priority so as not to lose contact with Christ, source of joy in the daily exertion of the ministry.

In the farewell ceremony, when once again thanking all those who had cooperated in the realization of the visit, I again confirmed its main purpose: to propose again to my fellow countrymen the eternal truths of the Gospel and to confirm believers in adherence to Christ, Son of God incarnated, dead and risen for us.

May Mary, Mother of the Church, help us to open our hearts and minds to the One who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:16). I have prayed for this and that is why I invite you all, dear brothers and sisters, to continue praying and I thank you for the affection with which you support me in my daily pastoral ministry. Thank you all.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Today I wish to share some recollections of my pastoral visit to Bavaria. More than a journey to my roots, it was an opportunity to look forward with hope.

Under the motto "Those who believe are never alone," I invited all to reflect on the baptized person's membership in the Church where, never alone, one is in constant communion with God and others.

In Munich's central square, I implored the Virgin's blessing upon the whole world. The following day I spoke of a certain difficulty in hearing God in a secular world which needs so much the Gospel's message of hope.

At Altoetting we reflected on Mary's generosity in accepting God's will, recalling how she guides us towards Jesus.

Returning to the theme of the visit, I noted in Regensburg that the Father wishes to gather all humanity into one family, the Church. Here, at the university where for many years I had taught, I spoke on the relationship between faith and reason. I included a quotation on the relationship between religion and violence. This quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding.

In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor. I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together.

I hope that my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who "worship the one God" and with whom we "promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity" ("Nostra Aetate," 3), is clear.

Let us continue the dialogue both between religions and between modern reason and the Christian faith!

I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present today. In particular, I greet the members of the Society of Missionaries of Africa and the pilgrims from Samoa. Upon you all, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cardinal Bertone on Islamic Reaction to Pope's Address
"The Church Regards With Esteem Also the Muslims"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the statement released Saturday by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, on the Islamic reaction to the discourse Benedict XVI gave Tuesday at the University of Regensburg.

* * *

Given the reaction in Muslim quarters to certain passages of the Holy Father's address at the University of Regensburg, and the clarifications and explanations already presented through the director of the Holy See press office, I would like to add the following:

-- The position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed by the conciliar document "Nostra Aetate": "The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

"Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, his virgin mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting" (no. 3).

-- The Pope's option in favor of interreligious and intercultural dialogue is equally unequivocal. In his meeting with representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 20, 2005, he said that such dialogue between Christians and Muslims "cannot be reduced to an optional extra," adding: "The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity."

-- As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way. He simply used it as a means to undertake -- in an academic context, and as is evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text -- certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come.

On this point, it is worth recalling what Benedict XVI himself recently affirmed in his commemorative message for the 20th anniversary of the Interreligious Meeting of Prayer for Peace, initiated by his predecessor John Paul II at Assisi in October 1986: " ... demonstrations of violence cannot be attributed to religion as such but to the cultural limitations with which it is lived and develops in time. ... In fact, attestations of the close bond that exists between the relationship with God and the ethics of love are recorded in all great religious traditions."

-- The Holy Father thus sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful, and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions. Indeed it was he who, before the religious fervor of Muslim believers, warned secularized Western culture to guard against "the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom."

-- In reiterating his respect and esteem for those who profess Islam, he hopes they will be helped to understand the correct meaning of his words so that, quickly surmounting this present uneasy moment, witness to the "Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men" may be reinforced, and collaboration may intensify "to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" ("Nostra Aetate," no. 3).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Comments Published in Arabic
In L'Osservatore Romano

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano surprised its readers by publishing in Arabic the message that a saddened Benedict XVI gave to clarify his words on Islam.

The Sept. 18-19 Italian daily edition reproduces in Arabic the clarification the Pope gave Sunday regarding his Sept. 12 comments on Islam. The text appears on the front page.

During his weekly Angelus address the Holy Father said: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims."

"These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought," the Pope stated.

The Pontiff pointed to the statement published Saturday by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to clarify "the true meaning of my words."

Benedict XVI said that he hopes "that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect."

Cardinal Bertone, who assumed the position of Vatican secretary of state last Friday, mobilized apostolic nuncios worldwide, especially those living in Muslim countries, to explain to civil and religious authorities the meaning of the Pope's words.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEED FOR TRUE DIALOGUE BETWEEN MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS

 VATICAN CITY, SEP 20, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, participated in a meeting organized by Walter Veltroni, mayor of the city of Rome. The meeting was also attended by Sami Salem, imam of the Rome mosque, and by the city's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni.

  "At this difficult moment," said the cardinal, "our presence here aims to be an invitation to authentic dialogue among those who believe in the one God. The alternative route to terrorism and violence is dialogue, and this involves the recognition of differences."

  After recalling the invitation launched last Sunday by Benedict XVI "to frank and sincere dialogue with great mutual respect," the cardinal highlighted how "the need for dialogue between cultures and religions is becoming ever more deeply felt and, for this reason, the pontifical council joyfully welcomes today's initiative."

  The meeting also served to present a new magazine, "Conoscersi e convivere," the first edition of which will come out in January 2007.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cardinal Thanks Muslims Who Accepted Clarification

ROME, SEPT. 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue thanked Muslims who have accepted Benedict XVI's clarification of his address at the University of Regensburg.

Cardinal Paul Poupard's gratitude resonated in the Campidoglio, Rome's town hall, during today's ceremony to launch an interreligious journal entitled Know One Another to Live Together.

"In this very difficult moment," the cardinal said, "we cannot fail to remember the invitation to dialogue launched by the Pope as a vital need on which our future depends."

"In these headquarters I thank all those who have received positively the final words of the Pope in Sunday's Angelus and we reaffirm our mutual respect," he added.

The meeting ended with a handshake between the cardinal and Sami Salem, the imam of Rome's mosque, and Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Italian Prelates Speak Up for Pope
Show of Solidarity After Flap Over Mention of Islam

ROME, SEPT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of controversy over Benedict XVI's mention of Islam in a university lecture, Italy's bishops expressed support for the Pope and deplored the campaign of criticisms against him.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar of Rome, voiced that support Monday during the opening session of the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops' conference.

The cardinal vicar warmly greeted the Holy Father, recalling that on his recent apostolic visit to Bavaria the German Pope witnessed "with extraordinary depth of reflection and with persuasive gentleness, faith in that God in whom man, his reason and freedom find their higher and authentic fulfillment."

Cardinal Ruini, president of the bishops' conference, continued: "In the splendid lesson at the University of Regensburg not only was he able to propose but to argue the truth, validity and timeliness of Christianity across a great theological fresco, at once historical and philosophical, capable of having the essential nexus emerge between human reason and faith in God who is 'Logos,' showing that this nexus is not confined to the past but opens great perspectives today to our desire to know and live a full and free life."

Distress

The cardinal underlined that this lesson, together with the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" and Benedict XVI's address to the Roman Curia last Dec. 22, offer "the essential coordinates of the Pope's message which must be meditated and assimilated in depth, now in the context of the national ecclesial congress that awaits us in Verona."

In regard to intolerant reactions to Benedict XVI's address in Regensburg, Cardinal Ruini said that there was "surprise and distress" that "some affirmations made in it were mistaken to the point of being interpreted as an offense against the Islamic religion and of leading to intimidating acts and indescribable threats -- perhaps even to providing the pretext for the abominable killing of Sister Leonella Sgobarti in Mogadishu."

The Pope, in fact, was proposing the fostering of "a true dialogue of cultures and religions, a dialogue of which we are in such urgent need," as stated in the papal address itself, and as the Vatican secretary of state specified in a statement last Saturday.

"Insofar as the Italian bishops are concerned," Cardinal Ruini, 75, said, "we express to the Pope our total closeness and solidarity and intensify our prayer for him, for the Church, for our religious liberty, for dialogue and friendship among religions and peoples."

He added: "We deplore instead those interpretations, which are not lacking also in our country, which attribute to the Holy Father responsibilities which he absolutely does not have or errors he has not committed and which tend to attack his person and his ministry."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Parliamentarians Get Copy of Pope's Speech

STRASBOURG, France, SEPT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The vice president of the European Parliament has sent 732 Euro-deputies the text of Benedict XVI's address at the University of Regensburg.

In a statement, Mario Mauro said that with today's initiative, it is hoped that "future manipulations will be avoided and that the European Parliament will assume a clear position in favor of freedom of speech."

The Holy Father's address Sept. 12 prompted widespread criticism in the Muslim world.

"In his address," Mauro noted, "the Pope did no more than invite to dialogue, an address that evidently has been misunderstood and manipulated by a part of the Muslim world and part of the media, which have not understood the authentic thought of the Pope."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cardinal Martino on Pope's Speeches in Bavaria
"Polemical Target: The Self-limitation of Western Reason"

ROME, SEPT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has written an in-depth article on Benedict XVI's recent speeches in Bavaria.

The cardinal's article appears in the Sept. 25 edition of L'Osservatore Romano. Here, ZENIT is reprinting a translation of that article, done by the Cardinal Van Thuân International Observatory for the Social Doctrine of the Church.

* * *

The "Quaestio de Veritate," Christianity and Other Religions
The Speeches Delivered by Benedict XVI During His Trip to Bavaria

By Cardinal Raffaele Martino

Many of the statements made by the Pope in the course of his journey to Bavaria, from the 9th to the 14th of September, concerned truth, starting from a question that is often present in the speeches and homilies of the Pontiff: Can Christianity still be considered reasonable in the eyes of today's man? We believe in God, "is it reasonable?" he asked himself during the homily at Islinger Feld on the morning of September 12. In fact, the West seems to suffer from a "hardness of hearing" and what is said about God "strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age," he said on Sunday, September 10, during the holy Mass at the outdoor site of the Neue Messe in Munich.

According to Benedict XVI, the clarification of the relationship between Christianity and truth, and therefore between Christianity and reason, is important first of all for the re-evangelization of the Western world and is also equally important for establishing a relationship between all religions based on dialogue and tolerance. These aspects must be addressed separately, even though they are connected.

Christianity is the faith in Creative Reason, not Unreason. At Islinger Feld, the Pope asked himself -- "What came first?" -- and provided the two possible answers: "Creative Reason, the Creator Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason." However, this second answer is illogical because then our reason would be only a casual product of evolution, therefore the product of an irrational process. Christian faith, concludes the Pope, believes "that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason."

The same concept is reiterated in the "Lectio magistralis" at the University of Regensburg: "Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature."

The polemical target of these statements by the Holy Father is the self-limitation of Western reason. Christianity does no longer seem reasonable to the Western man because he has adopted a reductive, positivistic idea of reason that accepts as true only what is mathematical and empirical. The Pope described and exposed the limits of this type of rationality in his lecture at the meeting with the representatives of science at the University of Regensburg.

If "only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific" in the West today, then we understand where that "hardness of hearing" where God is concerned comes from. Western positivistic reason drastically curtails the range of our relationship with reality and is incapable of opening itself to the rationality of faith, which requires a metaphysical drive. In the Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg, in fact, the Pope stressed the need of "broadening our concept of reason."

This is crucial also for the dialogue between religions because positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it claim to be universally valid and therefore capable of dominating the entire planet through technological development. But, in this way, they prevent a genuine dialogue of cultures and religions. They lead to a "cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme criterion for the future of scientific research"; these were the words pronounced by the Pope in Munich [at] the Neue Messe on September 10.

When he condemned the "mockery of the sacred," the Pope was not just referring to the mockery of Christianity, but to the mockery of any religion. "The tolerance which we urgently need," added Benedict XVI on that occasion, "includes the fear of God -- respect for what others hold sacred." In this way, the Pope criticizes the arrogance of a Western reason that has been reduced to technology and reaffirms the importance of tolerance and dialogue based on mutual respect between religions.

In fact, still at the University of Regensburg, the Holy Father said that "the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine [exclusion that is caused by positivistic reason] from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures."

In Munich, on September 10, the Pope expressed the same concept: "People in Africa and Asia admire, indeed, the scientific and technical prowess of the West, but they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision." And [he] concluded: "They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith, but in the contempt for God."

When we reaffirm the relationship between Christianity and truth, then, this not only does not prevent dialogue with other religions, but opens a deeper dialogue because, citing an excerpt from a book written by the present Pontiff when he was still cardinal, "If truth is offered, this means a leading out of alienation and thus out of the state of division; it means the vision of a common standard that does no violence to any culture but that guides each one to its own heart, because each exists ultimately as an expectation of truth" [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions," Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2004, p. 66].

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


At U.N. Council, Prelate Explains Papal Address
Says Speech Must Be Read in Its Totality

GENEVA, SEPT. 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's comments at the University of Regensburg were intended to confirm the rejection of violence in the name of God, a papal representative told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer to the U.N. office in Geneva, dedicated the whole of his intervention today to the papal address of Sept. 12 at the University of Regensburg, and expressed his doubts about some disproportionate reactions.

The papal address must be "framed in an appropriate perspective, in a spirit of peaceful and constructive dialogue," said the prelate as reported by Vatican Radio's news service.

He said that Benedict XVI, "acknowledging the positive aspects of modernity," wishes "to enlarge the horizon of reason so that it will include the dimension of religion and, from here, begin a universal dialogue based on reason."

In this way, added Archbishop Tomasi, it is possible to defend the humanistic value of religious cultures, including Islam.

"Incompatible"

In regard to the Pope's quotation taken from a medieval Byzantine emperor, he confirmed that the Holy Father only wished to underline that "violence is always unreasonable" and "incompatible with God's nature."

And this "is valid for all believers, including Christians and Muslims," Archbishop Tomasi stated.

In fact, the Bishop of Rome confirmed personally on Sunday that the quotation about Islam "in no way expresses his personal thoughts."

That is why, recommended Archbishop Tomasi, the Pope's address "must be read in its totality."

It is amazing, the archbishop noted, "that the demonstrations began even before the address was translated into a language understood by the people who went out to demonstrate."

These demonstrations, he said, were based "only on misleading headlines in the media," which must "assume its responsibility."

The path that must be undertaken, concluded the archbishop, calls for "greater knowledge of other creeds and cultures" and he appealed for "genuine dialogue and a future of peace."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's Statement on Islam
"A Radical Rejection of Any Religious Motivation for Violence"

LONDON, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, has asked to be read at all Masses in his diocese Sept. 16-17.

* * *

Benedict XVI, in a lecture widely reported, was essentially appealing for a dialogue of cultures based on faith and reason. It is quite clear to me that Benedict XVI has no intention of offending the sensibilities of our Muslim brothers and sisters. The Holy Father himself has expressed his sorrow if any passage in his speech sounded offensive to Muslim believers. What clearly emerges from his lecture is a radical rejection of any religious motivation for violence.

For our part we will continue to develop good relations with the Muslim community in our country based on mutual respect and a common desire for justice and peace in our world. I myself will be standing alongside Muslim and Jewish leaders outside Downing Street this Sunday in a common witness to urge governments to do everything in their power to avert further death and destruction in Darfur in the Sudan . Please remember this intention in your prayers. Also pray for our fruitful interreligious dialogue and cooperation in the future.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Archbishop of Westminster

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict "deeply sorry" for Muslim outrage but violence continues


Pope Benedict told pilgrims yesterday that he is "deeply sorry" for the reaction to his quoted remarks of a medieval ruler who criticised Islam but violence continues with the killing of an Italian nun in Somalia and the firebombing of several churches in the Middle East.

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," the Pope told pilgrims yesterday at his Castelgandolfo summer residence, according to a Reuters report.

"These, in fact, were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought," the Pontiff said.

"I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect."

The comments, part of his regular Sunday Angelus blessing, came at his first public appearance since making the comments on Tuesday.

New Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, had earlier announced on Saturday that the Pope was sorry Muslims had been offended and that his comments had been misconstrued.

In Iran, theological schools closed on Sunday in protest at the Pope. Etemade Melli newspaper reported that senior clerics demanded an immediate apology. The English-language Tehran Times called his remarks "code words for the start of a new crusade".

Morocco withdrew its ambassador to the Vatican on Saturday, calling the Pope's remarks "offensive", while Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called on the Vatican to "take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake."

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the country's main Shiite political bodies, had also called for the Pope to apologise "clearly and honestly".

Iran, Indonesia call for calm

However, former Iranian President Khatami and current Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Susilo endeavoured to calm the situation, warning against jumping to conclusions about the meaning of the Pope's remarks in which he quoted criticism of Muhammad by 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus.

The emperor had said everything Muhammad brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

"I hope that the reports in this regard are misinterpreted as such remarks [as reported in the press] are usually made by uninformed and fanatic people but my impression of the Pope was rather an educated and patient man," Khatami said after his return to Tehran from a two-week visit to the United States, according to AsiaNews.

Speaking from Havana, Cuba, Indonesian President Yudhoyono said that "Indonesian Muslims should have wisdom, patience, and self-restraint to address this sensitive issue. ... We need them so that harmony among people is not at stake".

Protests and violence continue

However, protests and violence continue in some parts of the Muslim world. Some 200 Iranian clerics and seminary students gathered on Sunday in Qom, 135 kilometres south of the capital Tehran, to protest against what they called the Pope's anti-Islamic remarks.

In protest against the Pope's remarks, the country's clergy seminary centre said all seminaries throughout the country would be closed on Sunday.

In the West Bank two churches suffered damages when stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at them.

In Somalia, gunmen shot and killed an Italian nun at a children's hospital in Mogadishu on Sunday in an attack that drew immediate speculation of links to Muslim anger over the Pope's recent remarks on Islam.

A nun from the Missionaries order identified her as sister Leonella Sgorbati, born in 1940, in Piacenza in northern Italy.

The Catholic nun's bodyguard also died in the latest attack apparently aimed at foreign personnel in volatile Somalia.

The bodyguard died instantly, but the nun was rushed into an operating theatre at the hospital after the shooting.

"After serious injuries, she died in the hospital treatment room," doctor Ali Mohamed Hassan told Reuters. "She was shot three times in the back."

A high-level Islamist source told Reuters the attack may well be linked to the controversy over Pope Benedict's recent remarks about holy wars, which have been taken by many Muslims as an attempt to portray their religion as innately violent.

On Friday, a prominent hardline Mogadishu cleric called for Muslims to "hunt down" and kill the Pontiff for his remarks.

"Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim," Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin told worshippers at a mosque in southern Mogadishu.

"We call on all Islamic communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the Pope," he said, according to a Swissinfo report.

Muslim reaction in Australia

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Sunday Herald Sun< reports that a spokesman for the Islamic Council of Victoria says that the Vatican's friendly ties with Islam could be at risk under Pope Benedict XVI.

Islamic Council spokesman Waleed Aly said: "I just hope this isn't an indication that there's going to be a worsening of relations between the Muslim world and the Vatican.

"One of the things Muslims appreciated about Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was the incredible amount of work he put into interfaith relations, particularly with Muslims."

But Mr Aly said the Australian reaction to the Pope's comments had been slight.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Pope's appeal for dialogue backfires

An angry crowd derides the Pope after prayers at a mosque in Cairo.

Melanie McDonagh    September 17, 2006

THERE is such a thing as being too clever by half. Pope Benedict is a case in point. He is a former academic and last week he addressed a university gathering in Germany.

In this congenial environment, he delivered a nuanced address on the subject of faith and reason, snappily titled Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenisation. The gist is that belief in God is entirely consistent with human reason and the Greek spirit of philosophical inquiry. By using the reason God gave us, we become, in a way, more like him. If the Pope had stuck to quoting Plato to illustrate his point, he wouldn't now be in the position of, as the British Muslim News put it, alienating a billion Muslims.

His mistake was to cite a series of dialogues between a learned 14th-century Byzantine emperor and a scholarly Persian Muslim about the truth of their respective religions, probably written while Constantinople was being besieged by the Turks.

Emperor Manuel II Paleologus referred during the dialogues to the Koran's teachings about spreading the faith by the sword. And this, said the emperor, could not come from God because violence was the opposite of reason, and God cannot act contrary to reason.

What interested the Pope was the emperor's insistence that God's nature meant that he cannot act irrationally. Pope Benedict quoted verbatim from the emperor's words: "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."

And this remark, which the Pope described as "rather marginal to the dialogue itself", was what almost every prominent Muslim has seized on. It wasn't so much that the remarks were lost in translation from the German — it was the quotation marks.

The fact that the Pope cited the adjectives "evil and inhuman" was taken as evidence that he agreed with them.

As a British Muslim youth organisation, the Ramadhan Foundation, said crossly: "If the Pope wanted to attack Islam he should have been brave enough to say it personally without quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor."

In fact, the Pope was out to attack something different — the contemporary, secular idea that faith is simply a matter of personal opinion. If he's having a go at anything, it's not Islam, it's the notion that religion is incompatible with independent thought.

The reaction from the Islamic world hasn't been what you might call measured. Admittedly, it was easy to take the Pope's remarks out of context, given that it takes a bit of effort to track down his address in full, or indeed to understand it. But not impossible — yet few have made the effort.

The speech itself suggested that the Pope understood that there are nuances to the Islamic idea of jihad. He cites an early verse in the Koran that "there is no compulsion in religion". And in respect of the verses that exhort Muslims to take up arms for the faith he notes that there are differences between Muhammad's treatment of Christians and Jews, and of pagans.

If you're looking for a real critique of Islam in the speech, there is one in the text. The Pope suggests that the Islamic idea of God is so transcendent that he cannot be seen in terms of human reason. He cites one medieval Islamic scholar who says that God is entirely remote from our rational categories.

This may not sound like much to get worked up about, but Benedict sees this as the opposite of the Christian way of looking at faith and reason.

As for the Pope's notional Islamophobia, he's had rather a good record until now in terms of the issues that agitate Muslims. He was sympathetic to their reaction to the Danish cartoons, and he opposed the conflict in Lebanon and the war in Iraq.

The irony of this row is that it is the opposite of what the Pope was trying to achieve. Benedict ended his speech by hoping for a new dialogue between the sciences, religions and cultures "which is so urgently needed today".

It looks, from this miserable episode, as if you can only have a conversation that deals — however remotely — with Islam on Muslim terms. Not much of a dialogue, then.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Papal Address to Muslim Leaders and Diplomats
"Lessons of the Past Must Help Us to Seek Paths of Reconciliation"



CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, to leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See.

* * *

Dear Cardinal Poupard,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Muslim Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this gathering that I wanted to arrange in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world. I thank Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the words that he has just addressed to me, and I thank all of you for responding to my invitation.

The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known. I have already had occasion to dwell upon them in the course of the past week. In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves wholeheartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians (cf. Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, April 25, 2005).

As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, Aug. 20, 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together.

Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life. Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction.

Indeed, "although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves toward sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

The lessons of the past must therefore help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful cooperation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favor peace and agreement between peoples" (No. 5).

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Dear friends, I pray with my whole heart that the merciful God will guide our steps along the paths of an ever more authentic mutual understanding. At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his blessings, together with the communities that you represent!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cardinal's Address to Pope at Meeting With Muslims
"To Work Toward a New Symbiosis of Faith and Reason"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Cardinal Paul Poupard delivered to Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo today, when receiving leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See.

* * *

Address of gratitude to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

By Cardinal Paul Poupard,
President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
and the Pontifical Council for Culture

Monday, Sept. 25

Most Holy Father,

In the name of all the participants in this meeting, I have the honor and the privilege to express to you our deep gratitude for these precious moments which you have given us to share with Your Holiness at this particularly significant time.

The highly qualified representatives of the nations who surround me, with the members of the Islamic Consulta in Italy, and the representatives of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, witness, by their presence, to the continued relevance of the message which -- at the beginning of your pontificate -- you addressed to the representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne "at these particularly difficult times in our history": "There is plenty of scope for us to act together and feel united in the service of fundamental moral values" in mutual respect and reciprocal understanding.

And, speaking with conviction, you added: "Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. … Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends."

The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue, over which you have asked me to preside, for their part make their contribution, by joining their efforts with all the people of good will, of whom you have before you a significant representation this morning.

"Res nostra agitur" [Our issue is being dealt with], used to say the ancient Romans. And the Romans of today have reaffirmed these words in the last few days at the Capitol, the common home of this age-old city of meetings. Together we have a past to make our own, and a future to prepare, by sharing, according to our respective references to Abraham, our faith in the One God and our respect toward the human person, created in his image and likeness.

Gathering together the fertile heritage of your predecessor Pope John Paul II of venerated memory, messenger of God and pilgrim of peace across the nations, you call us all, at the dawn of this new millennium, to work toward a new symbiosis of faith and reason in a trusting and peaceful dialogue between religions and cultures which have within them, at the very heart of their differences, the testimony of the human person's specific openness to the highest mystery, the mystery of God.

Most Holy Father, through this meeting we are happy to testify that your message of love and peace has been heard and we pray to God who is merciful and full of compassion to help us, in the respect for our differences, to put that message into practice.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict stands firm despite calls to "retract or redress"


Representatives of Islamic states in New York for a United Nations meeting have called upon the Pope to either retract or make redress for his controversial Regenburg remarks but the Holy See representative said it is the duty of everyone to sideline extremists.

The Vancouver Sun reports that Vatican State President, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo told the UN that people with political influence should be doing all they can to ensure extremists are sidelined.

He also re-explained what the Vatican says Benedict XVI had meant when he quoted a medieval Christian emperor who equated Islam with violence.

"It falls to all interested parties - to civil society as well as to states to promote religious freedom and a sane, social tolerance that will disarm extremists even before they can begin to corrupt others with their hatred of life and liberty," Cardinal Lajolo told the assembly.

It emerged on Wednesday that foreign ministers of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference had agreed on a communique calling on the Vatican to "retract or redress" the terms used by the Pope in his 12 September speech at the University of Regensberg in Bavaria, Germany.

The ministers had met on the sidelines of the annual summit on Monday night the same day the Pope welcomed at his summer residence ambassadors from some 22 Muslim countries that have diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

At the unprecedented gathering, the Pope said dialogue between Christians and Muslims was vital to achieving peace and stability.

"A sincere dialogue necessarily entails self-critical analysis of the relationship of our traditions to those social, political and economic structures prone to become agents of violence and injustice," Cardinal Lajolo told delegates to the UN.

Lajolo referred to the Pope's speech after suggesting the US should have moved more quickly to have the UN Security Council call a halt to the Israeli offensive in Lebanon.

"The Pope - as is known - expressed sadness that some passages in his academic address could have lent themselves to misinterpretation," said the Cardinal.

"His real intention was to explain that 'not religion and violence, but religion and reason go together.'"

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

German Bishops Urge Muslims to Respect Religious Liberty
Describe Criticisms of Papal Address as Unjust

BERLIN, OCT. 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The German bishops described as unjust the interpretation that many Muslims made of a fragment of Benedict XVI's address at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12.

In a message published last Thursday at the end of their plenary assembly, the prelates rejected outright the attitude of those who continue to fuel the controversy, "persevering in the presentation of accusations, demands and even threats."

"The Catholic Church and all people who, in Germany and throughout the world, respect and defend freedom of speech, will never allow themselves to be intimidated," they asserted.

The prelates manifested unanimously their hope that Muslim authorities worldwide will refrain from contributing in any way to "exacerbate the situation again," because "any ambiguity leads only to discord and must be avoided."

In this context, the prelates have noted with concern the harassment and attacks that Christian minorities have suffered in some Muslim countries and above all the murder of a woman religious in Somalia.

At the same time, the bishops said they considered it a given that representatives of Islam are opposed, in unequivocal terms, to any legitimization of violence and any manipulation of religions for political ends.

The Catholic bishops acknowledged that in the course of history Christian churches have known the temptation to use violence -- and many times fallen for it.

Because of this experience, a dialogue is more necessary than ever between Christianity and Islam "which might serve both sides to purify the memory and give credit to the common testimony of religions for peace and against violence," they continued.

Reciprocity

In addition, the bishops reminded that, thanks to the German Constitution, Muslims living in the country enjoy religious freedom.

They manifested the desire that in Muslim countries religious freedom likewise be respected.

"We implore the Muslim organizations in Germany to commit themselves effectively for this respect of freedom of religion in the native countries of Muslims living among us," wrote the prelates.

After stating that "to insult or profane religious faith is an abuse of freedom," the German prelates explained that there is a very fragile balance between the right to freedom of speech and the right to have one's religious convictions respected.

The bishops concluded by referring to another address of Benedict XVI, dated Aug. 20, 2005, to Muslims on the occasion of World Youth Day in Cologne: "Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims … is in fact a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

God as Logos, Allah as Will
Father James Schall on Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The "unreasoned" reaction to Benedict XVI's recent speech at the University of Regensburg has proved that his point needed much attention, says a U.S. scholar.

Jesuit Father James Schall, professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, is author of "The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking" (ISI Books).

He shared with ZENIT why he thinks the Regensburg lecture was liberating and imperative, and how the reaction to it highlighted the modern disconnect between faith and reason.

Q: At Regensburg, Benedict XVI highlighted the Christian understanding of God as Logos. How does the idea of God as Logos differ from an Islamic conception of God?

Father Schall: The Holy Father posed the fundamental question that lies behind all the discussion about war and terror. If God is Logos, it means that a norm of reason follows from what God is. Things are, because they have natures and are intended to be the way they are because God is what he is: He has his own inner order.

If God is not Logos but "Will," as most Muslim thinkers hold Allah to be, it means that, for them, Logos places a "limit" on Allah. He cannot do everything because he cannot do both evil and good. He cannot do contradictories.

Thus, if we want to "worship" Allah, it means we must be able to make what is evil good or what is good evil. That is, we can do whatever is said to be the "will" of Allah, even if it means doing violence as if it were "reasonable."

Otherwise, we would "limit" the "power" of Allah. This is what the Pope meant about making violence "reasonable." This different conception of the Godhead constitutes the essential difference between Christianity and Islam, both in their concept of worship and of science.

Q: Your newest book is entitled, "The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking." In what way is the life of the mind a participation in the Logos of God?

Father Schall: Aquinas says that truth is the "conformity of the mind with reality." This means that a reality exists that we do not ourselves make. It is a reality that cannot be "otherwise" by our own will. It also means that God established what is, not we ourselves.

Thus, if we are to know the "truth," which is what makes us "free," it means that we know what God created, is what it is. We rejoice to know the truth that we did not make. The wonder of what is, elates us.

If Allah is pure will, then anything that is, can be the opposite of what it is, so that nothing really is what it is. It can always be otherwise.

Q: Is Benedict XVI's discussion of "faith and reason" different from John Paul II's encyclical "Fides et Ratio"?

Father Schall: I am not aware of much difference. "Fides et Ratio," as I tried to show in my book, "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy," is itself a defense of philosophy. But it recognizes that faith is also a guide to philosophy. Not all philosophies reach the reality that is.

Both Pontiffs are concerned that faith directs itself to reason and that reason is a reality that is not invented by the human mind. We did not fabricate the mind we have that thinks. We are to use it. We invent neither it nor reality.

Both Popes hold philosophy to be possible and available to every person. But they also recognize that some philosophies cannot defend either faith or reality. This is the problem with the "voluntarism" of classical Islamist philosophy. This same philosophy exists in the West, as Benedict indicated.

Indeed, the Regensburg lecture was directed as much at the West as at Islam on this score. Those who justify abortion follow the exact same philosophical position that the Pope saw in the medieval Muslim thinker from Cordova.

Q: Benedict XVI argued that the synthesis of Hellenistic and Hebrew thought is present as early as the Old Testament wisdom books, but reaches its fullest _expression in the Gospel of John. Why is this position important for the Church in what Benedict XVI calls the "dialogue of cultures"?

Father Schall: The fact that Benedict referred to a "dialogue of cultures" shows that he had more than the West and Islam in mind; China and India are also in his scope. The Pope is clear that the command to Paul to go to Macedonia was itself providential.

Indeed, like John Paul II's trip to Poland, Benedict's visit to Regensburg is providential. Both aimed at the crucial problem of our time. We forget that the papacy is not just another human power, though it is also human. It is uncanny how the contemporary world, to its own surprise, continually finds itself watching the papacy.

The Pope says that reason is now also an element of faith. He does not mean that it ceases to be reason. That is why he, as a Pope, gave a "lecture," whose only public claim was its own intrinsic reasonableness. Of its very nature, a lecture demands not passion but reason to grasp what it says.

When within days after the lecture, storms swelled all through the Islamic world, with lots of objections in the West -- including in Catholic circles -- it was clear that Benedict's address was not read for what it said.

It was not translated immediately into Arabic in leading Muslim papers. Most read only snippets in the West. The spirit of an academic lecture, to present the truth of what is, was violated.

The Muslim world, I suspect, is beginning to have second thoughts about its unrestricted reaction to this address. Its actual reaction did not prove the Pope was "insensitive" or "insulting." Rather it proved that his point needed much attention, just as he intended.

Q: Benedict XVI's speech was also a criticism of the Western world; it should have found many receptive ears among Muslims. Yet, the speech has been widely criticized and denounced, proving the point the Pope was trying to make about reason for the dialogue of cultures. Does this spell doom for Benedict XVI's project?

Father Schall: My own opinion is that Benedict was not surprised by these reactions. Indeed, I suspect it is precisely this unreasoned reaction that has made his point so clearly that no sane mind can deny it. It was a point that had to be made.

It could not have been made by the politicians, who in fact did not make it even when they needed it. Politicians talked about "terrorists," as if a more fundamental theological problem was not at issue. Until this deeper issue was spelled out, which is what the Regensburg lecture was about, we were doomed.

This address is probably one of the most liberating addresses ever given by a Pope or anyone else. As its import sinks in, those who were unwilling to consider what it was about will find themselves either embarrassed -- if they are honest -- or more violent, if they refuse the challenge of reason.

Make no mistake about it: This address illuminated, more than anything that we know, the problems with a modernity based on an explicit or implicit voluntarism that postulated that we could change the world, our nature, our God according to our own wills.

Q: The Western media have often taken Benedict XVI's words out of context and stoked the flames of Islamic aggression. How does the cultural dominance and hostility to the Church by the mass media affect its ability to participate in the dialogue of cultures?

Father Schall: There can be no "dialogue" about anything until the basic principles of reason are granted both in theory and practice. Chesterton remarked on the fact that those who begin to attack the Church for this or that reason, mostly end up attacking it for any reason.

What is behind the attack on reason or the refusal to admit that God is Logos is already a suspicion that the Church is right about intellect and its conditions. We have no guarantee that reason will freely be accepted.

Von Balthasar said that we are warned that we are sent among wolves. We are naive to think that Christ was wrong when he warned us that the world would hate us for upholding Logos and the order of things it implies.

But Benedict is right. He has put the citizens of world on notice that they are also accountable for how they use or do not use their reason. No one else could have done this. The fact is, the world has wildly underestimated Benedict XVI precisely because it would not see the ability he displays in getting to the heart of intellectual things.

In the end, all of this is about "the life of the mind." Both reason and faith tell us so.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spanish bishop says dialogue not possible with extremists


Two European bishops have drawn a line in the sand over Muslim reaction to Pope Benedict's controversial Regensburg remarks with a Spanish bishop saying it is not possible to dialogue with the "most belligerent strain of extreme Islam".

Writing in the Mainz Archdiocesan weekly newspaper, Cardinal Karl Lehmann (pictured), head of the German Catholic Bishops Conference, said demands and threats from Muslim critics, based on a misinterpretation of the Pope's recent comment about Islam, must cease if fruitful dialogue is to be reinitiated, Catholic News Agency reports.

Accusing Muslim critics of mounting a campaign against the Pope following a 26 September call issued by the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference for Pope Benedict to retract his Regensburg statement, the Cardinal writes that "these open or hidden threats have to stop."

"Obviously we have to start at square one because we're not talking here about important contents of a necessary dialogue, but about the fundamental requirements for one to succeed," the Cardinal wrote.

"There is freedom of religion and speech in our civilisation. The Pope can also be criticised. But there are elementary rules that apply for factual and fair contacts with each other and with clear statements," he wrote.

"One cannot constantly repeat completely unfounded misunderstandings when the texts are so clear," the Cardinal added.

A week ago, the German Catholic Bishops Conference also issued a statement saying that "the Catholic Church and many people in our country and around the world, who respect and defend the right of free speech, will not be bullied".

In a further sign that European bishops are hardening their positions, Bishop Jesus Sanz of Huesca and Jaca, Spain, wrote in a pastoral letter this week that it is not possible to dialogue "with the most belligerent strain of extreme Islam - nor similarly with any terrorist group - much less establish any accord".

Bishop Sanz argued that "alliances between some heterogeneous civilisations are impossible, and the best-case scenario is only that there will be mutual respect, but nothing more".

The Spanish bishop noted that the Pope's intention was "to encourage us to soar with those two wings of faith and reason; to soar above our past errors or our present narrow-mindedness".

"The Pope has only said what any good, sensible person who loves freedom and truth would say," Bishop Sanz emphasised.

"That religion and violence do not mix, but religion and reason do", because "faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit is lifted toward the contemplation of the truth".

"However, when faith becomes irrational or reason arrogantly closes itself to the mysterious, "violence in name of a false faith becomes possible, making God an accomplice of every kind of barbarism, or making the ideology of race or nation the pretext for every kind of political, economic or cultural totalitarianism. Such examples abound," he said.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

John Allen’s interview with Cardinal Avery Dulles, October 2, 2006

On Oct. 2, I sat down with Dulles, still going strong at 88, in his office at Fordham University in the Bronx.

Back in 1971, Dulles published a unique survey titled A History of Apologetics (revised in 2005). It reviews medieval Christian writing on Islam, which often doesn't make for very edifying reading. Most apologists were fairly crude in their critique, deriding the way Islam had "spread by the sword" and even lampooning Mohammed's multiple wives or his earthy description of the afterlife. The title of one essay by Torquemada says it all: "Against the Principal Errors of the Miscreant Mohammed."

Yet in the same breath, this apologetic tradition can also exude a surprising sophistication.

Nicholas of Cusa, for example, produced "Sifting the Koran" in the 15th century, which argues that the Koran may profitably be used as an introduction to the gospel, and praises the human and religious virtues of Muslims. Peter the Venerable wrote in the 12th century that in addressing Muslims, Christians should proceed "not as our people often do, by arms, but by words; not by force, but by reason; not in hatred, but in love."

Dulles expressed the central error of the apologetic effort this way: "Western theologians were viewing the Muslim faith through Western eyes, and failing to meet it as a living religion."

The following are excerpts from my interview with Dulles.

* * *

Aside from the controversy over the remarks on Islam, what did you make of the Regensburg lecture?

I thought it was a very impressive address. The pope went amazingly far in laying out the principles of tolerance. It seems to me that he's read a lot of de Tocqueville, that he likes the American system on these matters and is trying to apply it to Europe. The idea is that there's a generic Christianity which is part of the culture. It's not enforced by the government, but it has social influence because it's the dominant popular religion, while still allowing for diversity. One finds this sort of generic Biblical religion in the founding documents of the United States. All this made the old European struggles to have either a Protestant or a Catholic government unnecessary, because it doesn't make so much difference who the ruler is. There is no automatic "transfer" from the state to the society of an official creed, but the basic Jewish and Christian values of Biblical religion form the bedrock of the culture. I think the Holy Father likes this model, which was expressed in the decree on religious freedom at the Second Vatican Council.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Islam a great religion, says Benedict in corrected Regensburg text


Recognising the "understandable indignation" aroused by his Regensburg lecture last month, Pope Benedict has released a corrected version in which he now explicitly acknowledges his respect for the Koran as the Holy Book of a "great religion".

The BBC reports that the Pope expresses his respect for Islam in new footnotes to his lecture and also corrects the actual text of his lecture.

In his lecture exploring the relationship between faith, reason and violence, the Pope had quoted a 14th Century Byzantine Christian emperor, Emperero Manuel II Paleologos who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought only "evil and inhuman" things.

The emperor's words Pope Benedict quoted were: "Show me just what Muhammad [sic] 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."

During his original delivery, Benedict had said "I quote" twice to stress the words were not his and added that violence was "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul".

However, this was not sufficient to prevent strong offence being taken in the Muslim world.

In the new version of his text, Pope Benedict makes it clearer that he finds the "brusqueness" of the emperor's words "unacceptable".

In the footnote, the Pontiff acknowledges that in the Muslim world the quotation was unfortunately taken as his personal view, arousing "understandable indignation".

In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation," the Pope writes in the new footnote.

"I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur'an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion. In quoting the text of the Emperor Manuel II, I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason. On this point I am in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic," the Pope added.

He also now qualifies Manuel's comments as being of "startling brusqueness" that we now "find unacceptable"

The Pope has already expressed his regret over the misunderstanding on several occasions.


------------------------------------------------

FINAL AND CORRECTED VERSION OF THE LECTURE OF THE HOLY FATHER

Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg
Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Faith, Reason and the University
Memories and Reflections
                                                                              

Your Eminences, Your Magnificences, Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the university and to be able once again to give a lecture at this podium. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. That was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas - something that you too, Magnificent Rector, just mentioned - the experience, in other words, of the fact that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason - this reality became a lived experience. The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.[1] It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor.[2] The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (dialexis - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, 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.”[3] The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (sun logo) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".[4]

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.[5] The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.[6] Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.[7]

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the logos". This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, sun logo, with logos. Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) - this vision can be interpreted as a "distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and simply asserts being, "I am", already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates' attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy.[8] Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am". This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria - the Septuagint - is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity.[9] A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the claim that we can only know God's voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazm and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul - "logike latreia", worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).[10]

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history - it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the programme of dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.[11]

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue,[12] and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack's central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack's goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ's divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant's "Critiques", but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature's capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield decisive certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be "scientific" would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: if science as a whole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by "science", so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective "conscience" becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was an initial inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not simply false, but it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is - as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector - the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically falsifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss".[13] The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

---------------------------------

[1] Of the total number of 26 conversations (dialexis – Khoury translates this as “controversy”) in the dialogue (“Entretien”), T. Khoury published the 7th “controversy” with footnotes and an extensive introduction on the origin of the text, on the manuscript tradition and on the structure of the dialogue, together with brief summaries of the “controversies” not included in the edition;  the Greek text is accompanied by a French translation:  “Manuel II Paléologue, Entretiens avec un Musulman.  7e Controverse”,  Sources Chrétiennes n. 115, Paris 1966.  In the meantime, Karl Förstel published in Corpus Islamico-Christianum (Series Graeca  ed. A. T. Khoury and R. Glei) an edition of the text in Greek and German with commentary:  “Manuel II. Palaiologus, Dialoge mit einem Muslim”, 3 vols., Würzburg-Altenberge 1993-1996.  As early as 1966, E. Trapp had published the Greek text with an introduction as vol. II of Wiener byzantinische Studien.  I shall be quoting from Khoury’s edition.

[2] On the origin and redaction of the dialogue, cf. Khoury, pp. 22-29;  extensive comments in this regard can also be found in the editions of Förstel and Trapp.

[3] Controversy VII, 2 c:  Khoury, pp. 142-143;  Förstel, vol. I, VII. Dialog 1.5, pp. 240-241.  In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation.  I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur’an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion.  In quoting the text of the Emperor Manuel II, I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason.  On this point I am in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic.

[4] Controversy VII, 3 b–c:  Khoury, pp. 144-145;  Förstel vol. I, VII. Dialog 1.6, pp. 240-243.

[5] It was purely for the sake of this statement that I quoted the dialogue between Manuel and his Persian interlocutor.  In this statement the theme of my subsequent reflections emerges.

[6] Cf. Khoury, p. 144, n. 1.

[7] R. Arnaldez, Grammaire et théologie chez Ibn Hazm de Cordoue, Paris 1956, p. 13;  cf. Khoury, p. 144.  The fact that comparable positions exist in the theology of the late Middle Ages will appear later in my discourse.

[8] Regarding the widely discussed interpretation of the episode of the burning bush, I refer to my book Introduction to Christianity, London 1969, pp. 77-93  (originally published in German as Einführung in das Christentum, Munich 1968;  N.B. the pages quoted refer to the entire chapter entitled “The Biblical Belief in God”).  I think that my statements in that book, despite later developments in the discussion, remain valid today.

[9] Cf. A. Schenker, “L’Écriture sainte subsiste en plusieurs formes canoniques simultanées”, in L’Interpretazione della Bibbia nella Chiesa.  Atti del Simposio promosso dalla Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, Vatican City 2001, pp. 178-186.

[10] On this matter I expressed myself in greater detail in my book The Spirit of the Liturgy, San Francisco 2000, pp. 44-50.

[11] Of the vast literature on the theme of dehellenization, I would like to mention above all:  A. Grillmeier, “Hellenisierung-Judaisierung des Christentums als Deuteprinzipien der Geschichte des kirchlichen Dogmas”, in idem, Mit ihm und in ihm.  Christologische Forschungen und Perspektiven,  Freiburg 1975, pp. 423-488.

[12] Newly published with commentary by Heino Sonnemans (ed.):  Joseph Ratzinger-Benedikt XVI, Der Gott des Glaubens und der Gott der Philosophen.  Ein Beitrag zum Problem der theologia naturalis, Johannes-Verlag Leutesdorf, 2nd revised edition, 2005.

[13] Cf. 90 c-d.  For this text, cf. also R. Guardini, Der Tod des Sokrates, 5th edition, Mainz-Paderborn 1987, pp. 218-221.

  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Muslim scholars engage Benedict in dialogue

Thirty-eight Muslim scholars from around the world have delivered an open letter to Pope Benedict pointing out errors in his Regensburg speech last month but expressing appreciation for the Pontiff's clarifying comments and expression of regret over the misunderstandings of his text.

Aljazeera reports that the signatories to the open letter delivered on Sunday to the papal nuncio in Jordan said: "we must point out some errors in the way you (the pope) mentioned Islam as a counterpoint to the proper use of reason, as well as some mistakes in the assertions you put forward in support of your arguments".

The scholars' letter also focused on perceptions of forced conversion, jihad versus holy war and the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

But those who signed the letter, including the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Russia, Kosovo, Oman and Istanbul, also said they appreciated the pope's personal expression of sorrow over his citing of anti-Islamic quotes by a 14th-century Byzantine emperor.

The scholars also said that by following the Koranic precept of debating 'in the fairest way," they hoped to reach out so as to increase mutual understanding, reestablish trust, calm the situation for the sake of peace and preserve Muslim dignity.

Islamica magazine, which published the letter on its website, said since signatories of all eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam, including a woman scholar, are repesented in the letter it "is unique in the history of interfaith relations."

Mohammed Samiullah Khan, manging editor of the magazine, said: "It was unprecedented that all these scholars came together.

"It took time, of course, to work out the text and get the right response. It obviously couldn't happen overnight. But we think it addresses the pope's speech in a very constructive way.

"The initiative was taken by the scholars themselves, there was a large group of scholars who felt a correct response needed to be made and collectively they formulated the letter. It must be emphasised that this was a collaborative effort."

The letter points out that "holy war", referred to in the speech, is a term that does not exist in Islamic languages.

It says it should be emphasised that Jihad means struggle, and specifically struggle in the ways of God. This struggle may take many forms, and although this includes the use of force, it does not necessarily mean war.

With regard to perceptions of "forced conversion", the scholars say that the argument that Muslims are commanded to spread their faith "by the sword", or that Islam was largely spread "by the sword", does not hold up to scrutiny.

It points out that while as a political entity Islam was spread partly as a result of conquest, the greater part of its expansion came as a result of preaching and missionary activity. Moreover, Islamic teaching did not prescribe that conquered populations be forced or coerced into converting.

The Age adds that the letter also acknowledged that some Muslims used violence "in favour of utopian dreams", but said this went against Islamic teaching and specifically condemned the murder of the Italian nun in Somalia.

The scholars also chided Benedict for basing his view of Islam on books by two Catholic writers, saying Christians and Muslims should "consider the actual voices of those we are dialoguing with, and not merely those of our own persuasion".

It would be better to say cruelty, brutality and aggression were against God's will, they argued, adding that the Islamic concept of jihad also condemned these scourges.

In his speech the pope cited the emperor's assertion that "anything new" brought by the Prophet was "evil and inhuman," such as the alleged command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

The scholars state that what the emperor failed to realise, aside from the argument above that no such command exixted anyway in Islam, "is that the Prophet never claimed to be bringing anything fundamentally new and that according to Islamic belief, all the true prophets, preached the same truth to different peoples at different times."

The laws may be different, says the letter, but the truth is unchanging.

However, the signatories said that they appreciated the pope's assurance that the words of the emperor cited did not reflect his personal opinion.

"We haven't had any response from the Vatican yet ... they have to make their own deliberations and then respond to the letter in due course, the important thing is that a constructive dialogue has been started," a spokesman added.

In another report, however, Aljazeera says that 500 people attended a memorial service on Thursday for Iraqi Orthodox priest, Fr Amer Iskender, after his decapitated body was found in an industrial area of the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday.

The relatives of a Christian priest who was kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq have said that his Muslim captors had demanded his church condemn the pope's recent comments about Islam and pay a US$350,000 ransom.

"He was a good man and we all shed tears for him ... He was a man of peace," said Eman Saaur, a 45-year-old schoolteacher who said she attended Iskender's church regularly.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Full text of Italian senate resolution on Benedict and Islam
Posted on Oct 14, 2006 03:50am CST.

This is the full text of the Italian Senate Resolution of Oct. 12 concerning Pope Benedict XVI’s Sept. 12 comments on Islam, which passed 208-8, with the support of all the major parties of both the center-left government and the center-right opposition. According to Vatican sources, it is the first time that the Italian legislature, in a near-unanimous act, has given its support to a public declaration of a pope.

GIVEN THAT:

On Sept. 12, at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an academic lecture dedicated to the theme of the relationship between reason and faith, in the course of which the Pope cited a passage from a dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a learned Persian on the relationship between Christianity and Islam;

Defamatory intentions toward Islam were attributed to the Pope based on an absolutely inappropriate political reading of the lecture, while a complete reading of the text demonstrates in unequivocal fashion the sincere desire of Benedict XVI for dialogue between cultures and religions;

Repeated efforts at meeting with representatives of the Islamic religion undertaken by Benedict XVI in the days after the Regensburg lecture cannot but confirm the will of the Pope to promote inter-religious dialogue;

ALSO CONSIDERING THAT:

The Italian Parliament is committed to making every effort so that its own acts will be explicitly oriented towards maximum respect for all faiths and all opinions, and in contrast to every form of violence;

Towards the end of discouraging the prospect of a clash between cultures, or between cultural and religious identities, which is a possible and dramatic outcome of the spiritual and cultural crises of our time, the Italian Parliament is committed as a priority to combating every form of intolerance and fanaticism;

THE GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKES:

To express to Pope Benedict XVI the full solidarity of Italy following the unjust attacks and unacceptable threats that were directed at his person and against the institutions of the Catholic Church, and following the violence directed at individual faithful and at communities;

To continue in a policy of prevention and caution, undertaken with efficiency by the forces of the Italian police, in order to safeguard the security of the person of the Pope and the places of cult on national territory, as well as to guarantee the safety of citizens;

To make itself a promoter, in the context of the European Union as well as the international organizations in which Italy participates, of initiatives designed to reaffirm the principles of religious liberty and respect of civil rights, to favor dialogue among peoples and inter-religious dialogue, which constitute an integral part of the common traditions of Europe;

To work among European states, and within the EU, to strengthen the front of solidarity against the exhortations to violence of the exponents of radical Islam – which are also expressed against other religious confessions – as well as against the baseless diffidence manifested by certain governments;

To give continuity to Italian foreign policy and to reinforce it, with particular reference to cooperation and economic relations, to affirmation of the right to religious freedom and to freedom of speech, against every form of persecution, and in a context of reciprocity. “Religious freedom” is understood to mean the freedom to practice one’s own faith, to change it, or not to have one.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Theologian Analyzes Regensburg Reaction
Fueled by Previous East-West Tensions

SALAMANCA, Spain, NOV. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The violent reactions following Benedict XVI's Regensburg address were fueled by an atmosphere of tension that already existed, says a professor at the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

Theologian Olegario González de Cardedal attributes the Muslim response to the Sept. 12 address to tensions "between an East, which feels exploited, and a West, which feels challenged by Islam."

González, at his university Monday, said that some underlying problems leading to tension include the low birthrate in Europe, "which makes it dependent on immigration" from Muslim countries.

Another contributing factor is "Europe's loss of confidence in the religious and moral values that have sustained it, basing itself now only on a formal democracy." He also cited "the silence of culture and society in the face of these situations, the fear of speaking out."

González gave as an example that Europe "cried out for freedom of _expression in the case of the cartoons" that mocked Mohammed and Islam in general, yet "virtually no one came out in the Pope's defense at first."

The theologian said that Westerners expect several things from Muslims, including that they grow "in the historicity of the truth and the faith."

He added that the West would also like to see Islam "recognize the rights, liberties and dignity of the person, overcome violence and terrorism, and communicate the faith in freedom, without the need of dictatorships."

Additionally, González said that the Muslim world challenges the West in many areas, such as "the return to the religious dimension of human existence and the public presence of God."

Other challenges, he said, include "coherence of the whole of existence in the face of the fragmentation we experience in our society; the importance of prayer in daily life; the reaffirmation of fasting in our society of plenty; contribution to others through alms; and a return to the origin, to the foundational dimension, which is what the pilgrimage to Mecca means."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Soul of the West | An interview with Fr. James V. Schall, S.J |
by Justin Murray | November 9, 2006

Recently, in the course of doing some research he was doing for the Harvard Political Review, Justin Murray, an undergraduate student at Harvard, sent Fr. James V. Schall, a regular contributor to IgnatiusInsight.com, a series of questions about the impact of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12, 2006, Regensburg Lecture. That interview is being published here by kind permission of Mr. Murray and Fr. Schall.

Murray: One of the remarkable facts about the media's response to Pope Benedict's Regensburg Lecture is its exclusive focus on the comments pertaining to Islam and its lack of interest in reporting his comments about western secularism. What would you say is the main proposal that Pope Benedict was making to the Western world in his Regensburg Lecture and in other scholarly and public words?

Fr. Schall: In good part, the western media's reaction was conditioned by the response in the Arab world, which almost preempted any other sort of comment. I am wont to compare Benedict's Regensburg Lecture to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Commencement Lecture of 1978. Both are penetrating essays initially addressed to what is currently the major ideological problem. Both ultimately direct themselves to the condition of soul in the West. Indeed, every Harvard graduate should be given a personal copy of each of these profound lectures as graduation presents. Nothing will prepare them better to understand the nature of our time.

But I do think that the initial concern with Islam is a concern we all must have--just what is Islam? And what is going on its world that seems so clearly to be reverting to the aggressive form that the world experienced after the eighth century, something that came very close to conquering all of Europe several times after it did conquer much of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

However, I do not think, at their philosophic roots, the two cultures--modern secularism and Islam--are much different. This is what Benedict implies in his citation from Ibn Hazn concerning voluntarism, that is, the view that there is no obligatory order of reason that is not itself a product of man, in the case of modernity, or of Allah, in the case of Islam.

Murray: What do you suspect Pope Benedict hoped to achieve by referring to the discussion between the Byzantine Emperor and his Persian interlocutor? What is Pope Benedict's vision for dialogue with Muslims, and what are the merits of his vision?

Fr. Schall: This reference was very precise. It was bravely asked. It served to pose a question almost everyone is asking: "Can religion sanction violence?" By placing it in this historic context, during a period when Constantinople itself was under siege from Muslim forces, the Pope wanted to remind us that our current problem was not formulated in this manner for the first time in our tradition. It is one that has been asked again and again for over some twelve centuries.

The fact is that it is very difficult to get a straight answer to this question. Rioting over asking the question itself is no answer. And if the answer is, "Yes, theologically and religiously, it is against Muslim religion," then why do we have so little objection to religious-based violence that constantly comes from Islamic roots in our time? It is a fair concern. If these are difficult questions, I fail to see why. I think the Pope wanted to use a very simple method that we find in the Gorgias, namely, do not give us long and convoluted answers, but simply "Yes" or "No" to these basic questions: "Is violence legitimate to use to expand religion?" and "If not, do you oppose its use?"

Ever since 9/11, I have in fact sought to defend those Muslims who did the damage and those who carry on constant attacks against the charge that some Western ideology like fascism explains what they think they are doing. They claim and have claimed to be motivated by religious reasons. I am willing to take those who claim this belief at their word. When I see the approving actions in many parts of the Muslim world at the "success" of, say, 9/11, I can only think that not a few in this world likewise approve of this means. They seem to do so on religious grounds. I am no expert on the Koran, but I have seen enough to recognize that a case can be made that violence is supported by passages and scholars.

Not recognizing this religious source of violence has been the tactical error of President Bush and Mr. Blair. I note both the reluctance within Islam itself to condemn the violence and the fact that the few Muslims who do publicly condemn are found in Western countries where they are protected by our laws. I do not state this in any polemical fashion. It just seems like an obvious fact.

The Pope was stating something every one of us has said to ourselves a hundred times. Google has hundreds of similar inquiries from all over the world. "Is or is not violence sanctioned by religion?" If so, fine; if not, fine, but be consistent in the answers. I am sure the Pope would be perfectly delighted to know that a) violence was not sanctioned in Islam and b) that those who say it is not sanctioned will work to stop it. The question would never come up if the answers to these two questions were clear. Certainly, though not all, many Muslims do seem to hold: "Yes, 1) the religion does sanction violence and 2) no, we do not have to stop it."

Murray: What is the current status of dialogue between Christians and Muslims?"

Fr. Schall: I have become a bit leery of the noble word "dialogue." It comes from the great Platonic tradition and is a most delicate affair in any context. But often it is rooted in a skepticism that maintains that no truth is possible. Indeed, any claim to truth is "fascist" and dangerous. [Editor's note: See Fr. Schall's IgnatiusInsight.com article, "Dialogue Is Never Enough"]

Islam has no central authority. It has a system of "scholars," but there are many stands within Islam itself that emphasize different sides of what they find in the Koran. Not all scholars agree with each other. It is difficult to know with whom one would "officially" dialogue, even though the Vatican dicasteries and various academic endeavors going on all over the place seek to do so. One does not see the same initiatives coming from within the Islamic world. If there is one academic growth industry these days in the West, it is Islamic studies.

It seems to me that it is of great significance that this endeavor of Benedict was an academic lecture. I must say there are very few places, even within academia, in which such "lectures" can take place where such truths can be spoken about. And if we have to worry about riots in the street just for mentioning the problem, serious issues about intellectual integrity arise. Indeed, it seems to many people that these violent reactions even to state the issue are designed to curb any real discussion. I find the so-called "hate-laws" in not a few western states to be, in practice, little more than a capitulation to this pressure. We have to keep open the possibility of speaking of these issues.

Benedict did, however, join the tradition of John Paul II and argue that there must be a safe place where we can speak and hopefully resolve real dangers before they reach violent proportions. The first battles are in the mind. It has long been our tradition from Plato and Aristotle, that we must pursue the theoretic order beyond politics. Our culture has been one that has at least seen the need to have institutions that could pursue these questions, however well or ill they actually did so.

If any thing, to any fair-minded person, I think, the reaction to Benedict's lecture proved that his concern that this issue would not be broached was well taken. There is little willingness or place for any dialogue at this level. Not a few think that such is the inner mood within Islam that it is both bootless and dangerous even to try and that Benedict was wrong to bring the issue up. I suspect Benedict figured that the issue must be brought up now. The peoples in the West have bee very slow and reluctant to see there is any problem but one of politics. This must change, even for the sake of politics.

Murray: Although the Catholic Church has an identifiable leader to look towards as it engages other religions in dialogues, Muslims (and other religious groups) have less clear centers of authority. What are the channels in which future dialogue can and should occur?

Fr. Schall: I have already touched on this. It does make one wonder whether the Church, contrary to popular belief, was not well founded after all. It has been amazing in recent decades the degree to which the papacy has been present on the world scene, whether we like it or not. But for all its lack of authority, at times Islam seem startlingly unified. Many talk of restoring the caliphate, of continuing on its world mission to have all subject to Allah as a praise of him.

Probably, what Benedict is doing is the best that can be hoped for. In effect, his visit to Turkey and his efforts to speak in Muslim universities--I have seen references to an initiative to speak in Cairo--bring out the very problem. What is the understanding that must take place to have this dialogue? I think the emphasis on reason is the right path. But then there is the controverted question of the status of reason both in Islam and in the West, not to mention in the Church. Does anyone really hold that there is such a thing as "reason," that the world manifests it, that it is the basis of human nature and not subject to our own making or remaking? Benedict pointed this problem out by his brilliant exegesis of the Western mind in his lecture.

Someone in the National Review orbit, I forget who it was, the day after the violent reactions to the Regensburg Lecture set in, remarked that what the Pope should do immediately is to call a conference in the Vatican of Christian and Muslim leaders to put on the table the simple question: "Does or does not religion support violence to extend its domains?" Then, after this debate in Rome, the same debate should take place in Mecca, Cairo, Tehran, and other centers of Islam with guaranteed free and open presentation of arguments and all the publicity needed. The man who suggested this did not think it could happen, but it did bring out the point of the Pope's lecture. I found it interesting that the Regensburg Lecture was not translated into Arabic by its own press before the reaction. And evidently, the initial English translation was not the best.

Murray: One interesting feature of the response to Benedict's lecture in the West is that it often criticizes the Pope for denigrating Islam (and thereby undermining Christian-Muslim dialogue) even as it denigrates Christianity and religious faith more generally. The harmony of civilization to the future will depend not only on dialogue between Christians and Muslims, but also between Christians and secularists in the West and between secularism and Muslims. What are the prospects for these latter sorts of dialogue?

Fr. Schall: I have enough political realism in my soul to think we should still walk softly and carry a big stick on all fronts. The hope of "dialogue" resolving everything sometimes strikes me as utopian from which nothing but something worse can ensue.

That being said, we might as well include the Chinese, the Hindus, and others who also are experiencing problems with Islam, besides the problems we already confront from other sources, including the residues of Marxism. I actually think the Pope had all these issues in mind in this Regensburg Lecture. This is really the import of his discussion of the relation between Greek philosophy and revelation.

Incidentally, many have had a good time with the term "Greek philosophy." Almost every great and nutty idea that the human mind could conjure was already found somewhere in classic Greek mind. The Pope has a very precise notion of reason, something that can best found best in John Paul II's Fides et Ratio. There is such a thing as recta ratio, on which everything else depends, including our ability to grasp revelation, be it Muslim, Hebrew, or Christian. This does not make reason itself a kind of human power to decide what God might have to tell us. It does allow us to inquire on a frank basis whether "religion approves of violence," the central question that the Regensburg Lecture brought up. The subsequent dissertation on reason in the Lecture was meant to provide a basis whereby we might answer this question. If we cannot answer it, then indeed, as far as I can judge, violence is "reasonable," since reason has no objective meaning, as all voluntarists never tire of telling us.

Western "scientific" reason, as the Pope indicated, since it allows only one sort of reason, cannot defend the proposition that reason should be defended. If reason is merely historical or multicultural, then we can have no real reason to say that "violence is not reasonable" in this or that culture.

Murray: Since I am writing an article for a political review, I am primarily concerned (for the purposes of my present project) with exploring the political consequences of religious dialogue. What are the political stakes of building understanding between Christianity, secularism and Islam? To what extent is it possible to build such understanding? Is it possible to construct a political future for the West that respects the concerns of Christians, Muslims, and secularists alike, or is some form of non-negotiable conflict inevitable?

Fr. Schall: Again, what is most remarkable in our time is the rise again of an aggressive Islam with its ambitions, at least from some of its quarters, of world conquest. At the end of the cold war, who could have suspected it, except perhaps someone like Belloc, who, much earlier, did suspect it? What we are witnessing is the inability of the secular western mind, and the religious mind that imitates it, to comprehend a centuries-long religious purpose about what ought to be.

Many think Islam can be "tamed" by western secularism. Many in Islam think that this very secularism is the basis of its own attraction to increasing numbers of souls in the West. We are beginning to see conversions to Islam in the West, something that may begin to increase dramatically. Your dream of a pious and peaceful co-existence of such systems is all very good but does not really face the inner power of those movements when they want to establish the Kingdom of God in this world. I would include China itself in this latter category.

Christianity cannot look on a world so divided as something to be called "ideal."
Moreover, secular ideologies themselves are aggressive and seek to establish a public order in their image, when they have not already done so. One of the services of Benedict's lecture was that it called attention to the fact that the presuppositions of political peace must somehow be first met in the theoretic order. Political living rightly cannot avoid the problem of thinking rightly. And thinking rightly has something to with the desire to know the truth. This desire means too that we cannot avoid the questions of the truth found in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, secularism, and the other faiths. We cannot avoid the falsity found in them either.

You ask: "Is some form of non-negotiable conflict unavoidable?' It may not be. It is possible to establish a world coercive system of several sorts, hopefully only for a time. But it is the essence of political prudence to prevent this from happening. The history of the twentieth century should not be lost in the twenty-first, namely, that some things are worth fighting for. If free men allow such systems that deny freedom and truth to take over, they cannot claim that their failures are virtuous simply because no one was willing to fight for anything."

Murray: There are considerable disputes about the accuracy of the Pope's statements about Islam. Can you comment upon this? Are the differences concerning the relationship between faith and reason (and the legitimacy of violence in the service of religion) in Islam and Christianity as such as his address seems to suggest? If the differences between Christians and Muslims are as fundamental as he suggests, is it possible to resolve these differences, or, at any rate, to live peacefully in spite of the differences? If the differences are overstated, how can we go about undermining inter-religious stereotypes so as to promote understanding and respect?

Schall: Remember, the purpose of the Regensburg lecture was to pose the question in its most radical form: "Is it true that Islam holds violence to be a religious act to spread its faith?" Simply asking that question, especially in the light of history and contemporary events, is not a crime. If the answer is, "Islam does not hold this," the Pope would be delighted. We would all be delighted, except, presumably, those within Islam who hold this violence is legitimate. What Benedict wants to hear and why he so formulated the question in a Muslim context, was that negative answer was correct.

But if the answer is affirmative, as not a few Muslim thinkers and politicians, ancient and modern, have indeed thought and frankly told us so, then the Pope must speculate on what is the philosophic reason for this view? This is why he mentions the voluntarist intellectual tradition within Islam (and the West). This is one possible explanation of it. That is, if Allah is pure will and that will is not bound by anything but itself, there is no "reason" why it could not make wrong right and right wrong.

Now, is there such a tradition within Islam? Is there not also a tradition that is rather more Aristotelian? The Pope knows his philosophic history. He is seeking to give a basis whereby Islam itself may agree that this violence is either "unreasonable" or against the will of Allah. If it cannot do that, however it is done, then this inability is what we need to know for our own protection.

But if Muslim thinkers do think that violence of this sort is unreasonable, then, as the Pope intimates, they too can bravely confront the violence within their own borders and souls. We can help them, but we too must attend to our own souls. After all, the proposition that "violence is always unreasonable" is not accepted in many a Western debate--abortion, for instance. It is in this latter sense that the whole lecture had a unified intent, an intellectual coherence. The systematic pursuit of the initial premise turned out to be analysis of the whole of modern civilization and its roots.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address Hailed

REGENSBURG, Germany, December 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's lecture at Regensburg has been chosen "Address of the Year" in the German language.

The decision was made by the Seminar der Allgemeine Rhetorik, the renowned School of General Rhetoric of the University of Tuebingen.

According to this honour, one of the most prestigious prizes in the German language, the Sept. 12 address "is magisterially constructed in its direct composition" and multileveled.

The school defended the "courage and determination with which the Pope produced his address, without the disposition to please and be accommodating, which often passes as dialogue."

Many news media, taking out of context a quotation of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, presented the address as a condemnation of Islam.

The jury, however, insisted that the address was "in reality about the relationship between reason and faith and affirmation of the Christian conviction that to act according to reason corresponds to the very nature of God."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scholar Notes Positive Response to Regensburg Speech
Says There Is Need for Reflection on Islamic-Christian Dialogue

ROME, JAN. 30, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's Regensburg address has also had soothing effects, says Father Maurice Borrmans, an authority on Islam.

"The address has led Muslim intellectuals to draw lines of renewal in Muslim theology," Father Borrmans said.

Father Borrmans, of the Missionaries of Africa, is author of the book "Guidelines for Dialogue between Christians and Muslims," and until recently, the editor of the journal "Islamochristiana," of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies.

On Thursday, Father Borrmans attended a meeting at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies on reactions to Benedict XVI's lecture in Regensburg.

Four reactions

The priest considers as significant four responses to the Regensburg lecture.

The first is the open letter of the ulemas and muftis of the Al-al-Bayt Foundation of Amman, on Oct. 15.

The second is the commentary of Libyan Muslim intellectual Aref Alas Nayed.

The third is the personal reflection of the director of the Lebanese review Ijtihad.

The fourth is the open letter of the co-chairman of the Islamic-Christian Research Group, Hmida Ennaifer.

According to Father Borrmans, these four responses underline the need for a serious and scientific in-depth reflection on some essential aspects for Islamic-Christian dialogue.

He explained: "The lessons that must be drawn from this misunderstanding are many. One is that the theologian who became Pope saw how his address took on a universal dimension.

"Not only the Pope, but all religious leaders, today cannot think only of their 'own' faithful but of all sensibilities, also those of nonbelievers."

With his "successful trip to Turkey" and with the dialogue undertaken with Islam, "the Holy Father has brought the misunderstanding of Regensburg to its correct dimension," Father Borrmans added.

Cultural sensibilities

Father Borrmans explained that the Regensburg address was directed "to colleagues and former students and was not setting out a global plan for all the religions of the world."

"The quotation about Manuel Paleologo made some think that it was an international address, but the Pope did what we professors do, he mentioned a quotation from one of the latest books he had read on the subject," the priest continued.

Father Borrmans stated that today "cultural sensibilities are very different" and he mentioned the case of the caricatures of Mohammed. "A Parisian joke is not the same as an Iraqi or Iranian joke."

"Our task as theologians and philosophers is to form journalists, professors and preachers: Each one has his responsibility," he added.

Father Borrmans continued: "We see emerging from this address that theological research has the exigencies of reason: Faith is not irrational, and this is what the Pope wished to teach, having as a background the West's positivism.

"I repeat: the Pope was thinking of Christian Europe which is forgetting its roots; he was not thinking of a worldwide intercultural scene."

According to Father Borrmans, "An urgent need exists to take up dialogue again and address the dignity of man, the meaning of history, and the sacredness of creation."

The priest, who has also been a professor in North Africa and the Persian Gulf, counseled "prudence, wisdom and patience" in dialogue, and stressed that the discourse on the reasonableness of the faith is crucial.

He said he also hopes there will be "many studies of comparative mysticism because, when all is said and done, what is important is the experience of God."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(In this Angelus Address the Pope refers to his address at Regensburg)

On the Faith-Reason Synthesis
"A Precious Patrimony for Western Civilization" (January 28, 2007)

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The liturgical calendar remembers today St. Tomas Aquinas, great doctor of the Church. With his charism of philosopher and theologian, he offers a valid model of harmony between reason and faith, dimensions of the human spirit, which are fully realized when they meet and dialogue.

According to the thought of St. Thomas, human reason, to say it as such, "breathes," that is, it moves on a wide, open horizon in which it can experience the best of itself. Nonetheless, when man limits himself to think only of material and experimental objects, he closes himself to the questions of life, about himself and about God, impoverishing himself.

The relationship between faith and reason is a serious challenge for the present prevailing culture in the Western world, and it is precisely for this reason that our beloved John Paul II wrote an encyclical, which was entitled precisely "Fides et Ratio" -- "Faith and Reason." I also took up this argument recently, in the address to the University of Regensburg.

In reality, the modern development of the sciences brings countless positive effects, which must always be acknowledged. At the same time, however, it must be admitted that the tendency to consider true only that which can be experienced constitutes a limitation for human reason and produces a terrible schizophrenia, evident to all, because of which rationalism and materialism, and hypertechnology and unbridled instincts, coexist.

It is urgent, therefore, to rediscover in a new way human rationality open to the light of the divine 'Logos' and to its perfect revelation that is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man. When Christian faith is authentic it does not mortify freedom or human reason; then, why should faith and reason be afraid of one another, if on meeting one another and dialoguing they can express themselves in the best way?

Faith implies reason and perfects it, and reason, illuminated by faith, finds the strength to rise to knowledge of God and of spiritual realities. Human reason loses nothing when it is open to the contents of faith; what is more, the latter calls for its free and conscious adherence.

With an amply extended wisdom, St. Thomas Aquinas established a prolific confrontation with the Arabic and Jewish thought of his time, in such a way that he is considered as an always-present teacher of dialogue with other cultures and religious. He knew to introduce this Christian synthesis between reason and faith that represents a precious patrimony for Western civilization, to which recourse can be taken also today to dialogue effectively with the great cultural and religious traditions of the East and South of the world.

Let us pray so that Christians, especially those in the academic and cultural realm, are more able to express the reasonable character of their faith and to witness to it with a dialogue inspired by love. We ask this gift of our Lord through the intercession of St. Thomas Aquinas, and above all Mary, Seat of Wisdom.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope made an appeal for peace in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip]

In recent days, violence has again bloodied Lebanon. It is unacceptable that this path is undertaken to defend one's political reasons. I feel immense sadness for this beloved population. I know that many Lebanese feel the temptation to abandon all hope and feel themselves disoriented by all that is happening.

I make mine the firm words pronounced by His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir to denounce these fratricidal confrontations. Together with him and the other religious leaders, I invoke the help of God so that all Lebanese without distinction might be able and willing to work together to make of their homeland an authentic common home, surmounting those egoistic attitudes that prevent them from being truly dedicated to their country. (cf. "A Hope for Lebanon," 94, apostolic exhortation of Pope John Paul II). To the Christians of Lebanon, I repeat my exhortation to be promoters of a genuine dialogue between the different communities, and I invoke over all the protection of Our Lady of Lebanon.

I also desire, that violence in the Gaza Strip end as soon as possible. I wish to express my spiritual closeness to the entire population and assure them of my prayers so that the will might prevail in all to work together for the common good, undertaking peaceful paths to overcome differences and tensions.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Regensburg revisited   8 September 2007

Norman Russell
   
Benedict XVI's address in Germany on faith, rationality and Islam sparked a crisis. A year on, closer analysis of the lecture reveals how the furore was caused, and why there is common ground between Christian and Islamic thinking, particularly on the challenge of relativism in Europe today

It was on 12 September last year that Benedict XVI gave his Regensburg lecture, in which he provoked Muslim fury by quoting the Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, as saying (in the lecture's official English translation): "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."

The Pope remarked at the time on the "startling brusqueness" of Manuel's statement, "a brusqueness", he said, "that we find unacceptable", but the media pounced on the phrase and gleefully reported that Benedict had denounced the Qur'an as "evil and inhuman".

The next day official protests poured into the Vatican. In many Muslim countries there were violent demonstrations against the Catholic Church. The Pope was burnt in effigy. In Somalia an Italian nun was murdered.

Benedict moved quickly to counter the impression his remarks had made. Immediately after the protests he issued a disclaimer regretting that in the Muslim world the quotation had been taken as an expression of his own opinion. The sentence, he said, "does not express my personal view of the Qur'an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion". He explained that he had quoted Manuel's statement - but without endorsing his polemic - simply to support the argument of his lecture on the relationship between faith and reason.

What went wrong? How did the Pope come to expose himself to such vilification? To answer that we need to look at the genesis of the lecture. At the end of the summer Benedict was preparing for his second journey to his homeland as Pope. A personal highlight was to be a visit to his old university at Regensburg, where he had taught for many years. For his address he decided to revisit the theme of the inaugural lecture he had given at Bonn in 1959 at the debut of his university career. That lecture had been on the relationship between faith and reason.

For the Regensburg address he wanted to explore the conditions under which theology could participate in today's intellectual debates. These conditions are diminished if what we regard as rational is limited to what is mathematically true or empirically falsifiable. Theology should not just be about the history of ideas; it should be able to inquire more broadly into the rationality of faith. It is this inquiry, says Benedict, that can contribute to "that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today".

I am told that while he was writing his lecture, Benedict had on his desk a pile of papers from a seminar on Islam by some of his former students (which he had not been able to attend) together with the volume in the Sources Chrétiennes series that contains Manuel Palaeologus' seventh dialogue. It was these materials that suggested the use of Manuel as an historical example of dialogue between cultures and religions. And because Benedict was going to be speaking to his former colleagues at his old university, he did not think it necessary to send his text to the appropriate Vatican department for review, as had been the practice under John Paul II.

The lecture that was given at Regensburg thus combined arguments in which Benedict has long had academic expertise with historical material which was relatively unfamiliar to him and had not been vetted. The text he was quoting from, in fact, is known only to a handful of Byzantinists. It is an account, written in Greek, of a series of discussions held in Ankara in the winter of 1390-91 between Manuel Palaeologus (shortly before he became emperor) and an unnamed Muslim scholar described as a muderris, or professor of law.

The discussions were held at the request of the professor, who wanted to hear what Manuel had to say on a variety of philosophical and theological topics ranging from the relationship between faith and reason to the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the Eucharist. They were conducted at a high intellectual level and later Manuel prepared a written account for his brother, who was governor of the Peloponnese, to lift his spirits by showing him how a Christian could hold his own in debate with an unbeliever.

The seventh dialogue, from which the Pope took his quotation, turns on the question of whether Islam is inherently violent. Manuel, after forcefully stating his opinion that it is, goes on to say that faith born in the soul must be supported by reason; it cannot be propagated by violence and threats. At this point the Pope (led astray perhaps by the over-copious Sources Chrétiennes commentary) contrasts Manuel's view with that of an eleventh-century scholar from Andalusia called Ibn Hazm, who denied that God was bound by human notions of rationality.

Ibn Hazm in fact has no relevance to Manuel's debate. Islamic philosophical theology did not form a monolithic tradition. From the earliest years there was a tension between those who held that God was bound by universal moral law, and could therefore act only with justice and wisdom, and those who held that it was the will of God alone which defined what was right and wrong. Ibn Hazm favoured the latter opinion. Manuel's interlocutor belonged to the opposite tradition. Indeed at the beginning of the discussions he proposed that they should be conducted on purely rational grounds without appealing to Biblical or Qur'anic proof texts.

In the passage from which the Pope takes his quotation, the Muslim professor agrees with Manuel (and with Benedict) on the incompatibility of violence and faith. The reason why Islam had spread so successfully, he claims, was because the Muslim faith was more rational than the Christian. Christian morality, with its requirement that you should love your enemy, made unrealistic demands on the believer. Islam, by contrast, set standards that were actually attainable. In other words, in the competition for believers, Islam was more successful than Christianity because it offered a more practical way of salvation.

The professor was right, but only up to a point. Islam spread initially as a result of the astonishingly rapid Arab conquest of Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia in the early seventh century, but was not imposed on the indigenous populations by force. It was not until after the Crusades that the Middle East was fully Islamicised. And even then, large Christian communities survived, living unmolested under their ecclesiastical leaders as long as they paid the non-Muslim poll tax.

The situation in Anatolia (roughly present-day Turkey) was very different. For a long time the frontier between the Eastern Christian empire and the Muslim world had been stabilised along the Taurus mountains in south-east Anatolia. Then from the end of the eleventh century, Turkish fighters (ghazis) began to press hard on the Byzantines, taking over regions of Anatolia piecemeal until by the end of the fourteenth century the empire was reduced to the city of Constantinople and a few territories in the Balkans and southern Greece.

Three hundred years of almost continuous warfare inflicted immense hardship on the Christian population. Deportations and massacres were not uncommon. Those who survived, demoralised and bereft of civil or ecclesiastical leadership, went over to Islam in large numbers. Conditions for Christians improved only after 1453, when the Ottoman sultans finally established peace and stability in Anatolia and their Christian subjects were once again brought under the ecclesiastical leadership of Constantinople.

Manuel's remarks must be seen in this context. He was not, as it happens, in Ankara of his own volition. His father, John V Palaeologus, had accepted vassalage to the Turks in 1373 as the only practical way of preserving the empire. Manuel had to serve as the sultan's ally when summoned, and in 1390 experienced the bitter humiliation of helping Sultan Bayazid reduce the last free Greek community in western Anatolia, the city of Philadelphia. In the winter of 1390-91 he was a hostage at Bayazid's court, which gave him ample, if unwanted, leisure for his discussions with the professor. His letters written at the time reveal his anguish at the sight of destroyed cities whose original name was not even known to their new masters.

In the circumstances Manuel's remarks about the "inferiority" (a better translation of the Greek word cheiron than "evil") and "inhumanity" of the Qur'an in relation to the Old and New Testaments can hardly be called "startling". Nor is it surprising, in view of the anxieties Benedict had already expressed about Arab terrorism, that these remarks should have attracted his attention.

In July 2005, when Benedict was asked during a visit to northern Italy's Aosta valley whether Islam could be considered a religion of peace, his reply was non-committal. The following month, on his first apostolic visit to Germany, he devoted an entire address to the subject. Speaking in Cologne to a gathering of representatives of Muslim communities, he expressed his confidence that his audience rejected any connection between Islam and terrorism. If a climate of mutual trust could be created, he saw no reason why Christians and Muslims, faced with "the darkness of a new barbarism", should not "act together in the service of fundamental moral values".

The new barbarism the Pope fears is not primarily the barbarism threatened by terrorism. It is the growing moral relativism of postmodern Europe. In the Regensburg lecture he spoke about the importance of the Church's Greek philosophical heritage and deplored the argument that the synthesis between the early Church and Hellenism was an initial inculturation no longer to be considered binding - in other words, that the Church's original expression of faith was a cultural product of its time and could therefore be remodelled to bring it into line with modern ideas.

Islam is equally an heir to the Greek philosophical tradition. Its scholastic theology (kalam) is deeply indebted to Plato and Aristotle and indeed strongly influenced the development of medieval Latin thought. This shared intellectual background, as Manuel's early dialogues suggest, offers the possibility of fruitful dialogue along philosophical lines.

Does this help us specifically with theological dialogue? In his Christmas 2006 address to the Roman Curia, Benedict spoke of "a dialogue to be intensified with Islam". This is now taking place through the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which, although previously merged with the Pontifical Council for Culture, was restored earlier this year to independent status - an incidental benefit of the Regensburg lecture.

Benedict is aware of the great theological differences between Christianity and Islam, even when similar theological terms are used. He has spoken, for example, of the different ways in which we understand revelation. For Muslims the Qur'an is the unmediated word of God, not simply the message of the Prophet. It "descended" on Muhammad from God and is therefore not susceptible to interpretation in the same way as the Christian Bible. Clarifications of this kind are important for the removal of mutual misunderstanding.

Some Muslims are suspicious of theological dialogue, but there are many, especially in Europe, who see its potential benefits in much the same way as Benedict does. Nobody expects rapid results. In the past theological debate was often conducted in a polemical spirit that simply increased hostility. But when dialogue is approached as a process of understanding our theological differences, it need not divide us. Rather, it may point the way to a shared witness against today's liberal relativism. In furthering such a process Manuel's neglected later dialogues on specifically doctrinal matters could well repay study.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------