Benedict XVI—On God And The Prophet

To bank the firestorm ignited by
his address in Regensburg, Germany, Pope Benedict XVI
declared himself "deeply sorry" for the effect
his remarks have had on the Muslim world. The words of
the Byzantine emperor he quoted, Benedict explained,
were "from a Medieval text which do not in any way
express my personal thoughts."

The pope`s subject was the
"profound harmony"
of Biblical truth and Greek
thought. No conflict exists, he argued, between true
faith and right reason. Contending violence is the
antithesis of reason, he cited the "erudite Byzantine

Manuel II Paleologus
during a siege of

, between A.D. 1394 and 1402.

Benedict`s words merit being put
into context.

would like to discuss one point—itself rather marginal
to the dialogue as a whole—which … can serve as the
starting point for my reflections on this issue.

the seventh conversation … the emperor touches on the
theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that
surah 2, 256 (of the Quran) reads, `There is no
compulsion in religion.`

"According to the experts, this is one of the suras of
the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and
under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the
instructions developed later and recorded in the Quran
concerning holy war. …

emperor) addresses his interlocutor with a startling
brusqueness on the central question about the
relationship between religion and violence … saying,
`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
[Papal Address at University of
Regensburg "Three
Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization

The explosion followed. For it was
reported that Pope Benedict had endorsed the view that
the only innovations the Prophet made to the
monotheistic faiths were "evil and inhuman." The
pope did not say this, and has denied that he believes

Yet the issues he raised, that true
faith and right reason are never in conflict, that force
is intolerable in advancing God`s word, merit discussion
in light of history, and the present. 

How did the Christians conquer the
Roman Empire, after 300 years of persecution? By living
the Gospel, preaching the Word and dying for the
faith—martyrdom. But Islam came out of the desert to
conquer the Holy Land, North Africa and Spain in a
single century, by the sword. Islam is a fighting faith.
Wrote J.M. Roberts in

The History of Europe

"Islam from the start has been a religion of

In 1095, Urban II preached the
First Crusade to end the abuse of Christian pilgrims and
recapture the Holy City and Holy Sepulcher. Moslems view
these Crusades as Christian wars of aggression. Yet the
martial means the

Crusaders used to recapture Jerusalem
were the same
as those the Caliph Umar had used to conquer the Holy

Until our time, Western man did not

apologize for the Crusades
. Gen. Eisenhower even
titled his war memoir

Crusade in Europe.

For centuries, European Christians
fought the Islamic world. In 1492, Muslims were forcibly
expelled from Spain by

Ferdinand and Isabella.
In the early 16th century,
Suleiman the Magnificent invaded the Balkans, defeated
the Hungarians at Mohács and besieged

. The Balkan wars of Suleiman bear little
resemblance to the Christian crusades of

Dr. Billy Graham.
In 1571, the

fleets of the Ottoman Turks
were destroyed at

by a fleet organized by Pius V.

In the 19th century, the

Ottoman Turks
began their long retreat from the
Balkans. At the end of the First World War,

Kemal Ataturk
abolished the caliphate, put the
caliph on the Orient Express, severed the ties between
mosque and state, and made Turkey a secular state.

In our own time, however, the
issues Pope Benedict addressed—the harmony between faith
and reason, and the disharmony between force and
faith—have re-arisen.

In Afghanistan this year,

a Christian convert was threatened with beheading

for apostasy. Most imams and Afghans seemed to approve.

, Nigeria and Sudan, Muslims are at war
with Christians, in the Middle East with

, in

with Russians, in


, in

Thailand with Buddhists
. Other issues are involved,
but faith seems ever present as a prime motivator of

In the West, men and women convert
to Islam and imams preach and proselytize. In Islamic
nations, conversion to Christianity can mean death, as
can preaching and proselytizing. Do Muslim faithful
believe it is legitimate to use state power to impose
sharia or maintain religious orthodoxy, as

Henry VIII


In the West, a militant secularism
has seized state power and the de-Christianization of
America is well advanced. In the East, we had best
recognize that the rage, militancy and intolerance so
often on display are the unmistakable marks of a rising,
not a dying, faith.



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
readers; his book

State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

can be ordered from