The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine July-August 2008 s

Ecumenical and inter-religious developments in the search for a modern apologetic


To Iranian Shi’ite representatives -see below.

“Faith and Reason are the two things that the world needs today more than any other time and it is our duty to provide this need for society.” April 30th 2008

To U.S. representatives of other religions, Washington D.C.:

“The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family … We are living in an age when these questions are too often marginalised. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart.

Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue.” April 17th 2008


The American Catholic writer George Weigel has suggested that Pope Benedict’s Regensburg speech may prove to be his ponitificate’s defining moment, comparing it to Pope John Paul II’s June 1979 visit to Poland.

Consider the possibility that his ’June 1979’ has already happened and that, just as in the real June 1979, most observers missed it … In June 1979 a pope challenged the ideological orthodoxy of a sclerotic communist system in Poland and the rest of the Warsaw Pact; in September 2006 a pope challenged the shopworn conventions of inter-religious dialogue ... and may have set in motion a process of intellectual and spiritual awakening that could help resolve the centuries-old question of whether Islam and pluralism can co-exist, and in such a way as to safeguard the religious freedom on all ... The Pope’s courageous exercise in truth-telling at Regensburg has already begun to reshape the debate within Islam and between Islam and ‘the rest’.”

As we have noted in this column over the last year, other commentators and reactions have given us reason to think a similar assessment may eventually be made of the Regensburg address with regard to the foundations of secular rationalism. 18th April

The Corriere della Sera assistant editor Magdi Allam, whose controversial Easter Vigil baptism by the Pope we reported upon in the May edition of this column, has stated that “the person who influenced me more than any other in determining my conversion to Catholicism was certainly the Pope, Benedict XVI, in indicating that the indissoluble union of faith and reason is fundamental to authentic religion.” The prominent ex-Muslim went on to say that the Pope “has put himself above the fray; that is to say he has put faith and reason before other diplomatic and political considerations.” 11th April


The Canadian Human Rights Commission has been investigating the publication of Catholic teaching concerning homosexuality by Catholic Insight as possibly “homophobic”.

Cases such as these have received little publicity until the prominent newsweekly Macleans Magazine was recently taken to the British Columbian Human Rights Commission by the Canadian Islamic Congress accused by them of “flagrant Islamophobia”. The main giving of offence was the publication of an extract of Mark Steyn’s book America Alone two years ago. This included a quotation of a Norwegian Imam suggesting that Muslims are “breeding like mosquitos”. Steyn was emphasising the fact that Muslim birth rates in numerous countries are significantly higher than that of non-Muslims.

The Islamic suit against the alleged fostering of hate came after Macleans refused to give in to a demand to make space for a reply, save in the letters’ column, where a lively debate had already ensued. Maclean’s said they would “rather go bankrupt”. The Province, June 2008

RECENT INITIATIVES highlighted on Sandro Magisters website www.chiesa

At the end of April Cardinal Tauran and other Vatican representatives had two days of discussion on Faith and Reason with top representatives of Shi’ite Islam from Tehran.

Their conclusions affirmed that:

- Faith and Reason do not contradict each other and are intrinsically non-violent.
- Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or passage present in their respective holy Book. A holistic understanding as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them.

Further meetings are planned.

Among numerous non-Catholic constructive responses to last Year’s Islamic Open Letter “A Common Word” the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and Russia, Alexy II, has suggested that future dialogue be “on the doctrinal level, on important questions like God, Man and the world ... and (on the practical level) on the defence of the role of religion in social life, the opposition of xenophobia and intolerance (and) the promotion of common initiatives for peace”

Top of the agenda for an October conference in Hungary for Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders in Europe will be “the role of religions in secular society” and relations between Christians and Muslims.

Faith Magazine

July - August 2008