Benedict XVI: Pope as Prophet

There is a warm spot in my heart for Sir Cecil Spring-Rice because he loved Theodore Roosevelt and disdained Woodrow Wilson.  He also wrote the hymn  “I Vow to Thee My Country” which some progressivists have forbidden their shrunken congregations to sing because it speaks of a real heaven, and a life of sacrifice. He said affectionately of Teddy: “You must always remember, the president is about six.”  In the instance of his subject, that bespoke an innocent exuberance which sometimes tottered on the brink of vainglory and romance, and later led to the disaster of the Bull Moose Party, but which also impelled the Rough Rider up San Juan Hill (Kettle Hill for pedants). That was a flourish of innocence, as distinct from naiveté.  For naiveté is to innocence what superstition is to faith, optimism to hope, and sentimentality to love.

In our day we have witnessed hearty public figures political and religious, fudging those distinctions and visiting mosques and bantering as though they were in a Kiwanis club.  As they do, Christians are being killed in foreign lands by the disciples of Mohammed, whom the politically cautious say has been misunderstood by his extreme devotees.  If that is so, we have yet to hear censure from the more moderate clients of that enigmatic figure who slaughtered many with his own sword.  Images of Christian infants cut in half and children beheaded in Iraq, show that Herod is alive, and those of us who wear crucifixes now can see pictures of young men being crucified, as warnings that the cross is not an ornament designed by Tiffany for debutantes.

No civilized human can react with anything but embarrassment when Nancy Pelosi says on CNN that she has been informed by the Qataris that Hamas is a “humanitarian agency.”  Her grotesque comment was made as Hamas was using human shields and citing lines from “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” At the same time, the cathedral in Mosul was being desecrated by the Islamic State and Yezidis were starving on a mountaintop as a moral descant to Pascal:  “Christ is in agony until the end of the world.”

Agony is not a topic for humor. His century’s master of the English language, P.G. Wodehouse, recognized as such by T.S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and Churchill, broadcast from his internment camp ambiguous jokes about the Nazi genocide. “Risus abundat in ore stultorum.”  Wodehouse was a gentle naïf, and, while distracted by golfing, he suffered under a lifelong cloud thereafter until he was decorated by his Queen who recognized that there was no malice in the man who never aged from six to manhood.  There are those on the public scene today who do not have his excuse of permanent childhood.

In 1933, an anti-Nazi rally was held in Madison Square Garden where that noble and underestimated Governor Al Smith declared in his rough voice and Lower East Side diction, reading from notes written in is own hand on three envelopes with no recourse to teleprompters: “This fact, however, remains: That up to the present moment, if we look at the record, the responsible head of the German Government has said nothing in denunciation of this conduct.”  More cultivated and less informed personalities like Lord Halifax, Geoffrey Dawson of the London Times and the 9th Duke of Manchester William Montague gathered at Cliveden, the country estate of the American expatriate Lady Astor, to mock those who said that Hitler meant what he said. The Irish journalist, Claud Cockburn, a Communist Party propagandist, may have caricatured their naiveté but dangerous it was, and it led to the pathetic incantations of Chamberlain who flaunted the term “appeasement” as a salutary policy, only to inherit the fate yet due to those in high places today who treat with presidents and governors, and then express “disappointment” that those presidents and governors had lied to them. History will record them uttering what Captain Renault sputtered in the fiction of film: “I am shocked. Shocked.”

On September 12, 2006 King Harald of Norway made available documents showing that the esteemed King Olaf V, as Crown Prince in the 1930s had urged his wiser father, King Haakon VII, to accommodate the Nazis.  Both eventually fled to London when reality checked in.  It was not a proud moment for the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sondenburg-Glucksburg, and a high price was exacted from all those who spouted what Chesterton called “easy speeches that comfort cruel men.”  The New York Times, always eager to let theory trump practice, just as it had let its Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty defend Stalin, published an assurance from its Berlin reporter, Frederick T. Birchall, smoothly saying that Hitler had commanded the Nazi storm troops “to put an immediate stop to acts of political terror, personal persecutions and interference with private business.” The result was, according to him, “a visible relaxation of political tension throughout Germany.”

That 1933 New York rally was succeeded in 1939 by another in the same arena, when 22,000 pro-Nazis, inspired by figures including the universal hero, Charles Lindbergh, whom the world thought could slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet, boasted that the enemy was not an enemy.  They spoke under a large picture of George Washington who, they said, was one of them because he was an Aryan.  A grave in Mount Vernon must have rattled, but ideology has no patience for fact.

Today, the weaker voices who place politics above prophecy and popularity above the people, may say as some Frenchmen in the 1930s, understandably weary of war, said as they looked the other way, “We will not die for Danzig.”  Bombs and shrapnel soon spelled out that Danzig was a cipher for all humanity.

If a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, a great prophet is not without honor save in the whole world.   Pope Benedict XVI bent under that mantle in 2006 when he spoke in Regensburg.   His only miscalculation was to assume that civilization might still be civil enough to respect reason.  Quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, himself a remnant of a decaying civilization which still distinguished good from evil, he considered how the Islamic notion of a divine power divorced from reason, whose absolute will is its own justification, could ransack the dignity of man.  He condemned no one, and spoke only for truth without which the votaries of unreason, for whom there is no moral structure other than the willfulness of amorality, and whose God is not bound by his own word, rain down destruction.

The response of some, who protested with violence, proved by that very violence the Regensburg hypothesis, if the Incarnate Christ whose word is truth, can be called a hypothesis.  Pope Benedict said:  “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul…. God is not pleased by blood—and not acting reasonably 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….”

Later, the distinguished Egyptian Jesuit scholar, Father Shamir Halil Shamir, wrote:  “Benedict XVI is probably one of the few figures to have profoundly understood the ambiguity in which contemporary Islam is being debated and its struggle to find a place in modern society. At the same time, he is proposing a way for Islam to work toward coexistence globally and with religions, based not on religious dialogue, but on dialogue between cultures and civilizations based on rationality and on a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion. This choice to wager on cultural dialogue explains his decision to absorb the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue into the larger Pontifical Council for Culture.”

The president of Argentina, the problematic Christina Kirchner, said that the Pope’s remarks were a “diatribe” and “dangerous for everyone.”  A supporter of Kirchner, the left-wing “investigative journalist” Horatio Verbitsky, adept as a conspiracy theorist, claimed in the journal “Pagina/24” that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, at that time archbishop of Buenos Aires, had distanced himself from the Regensburg address, and the cardinal’s spokesman, Father Guillermo Marco, was quoted in Newsweek Argentina as saying that Bergoglio was “unhappy” with what Pope Benedict had said.  The London Daily Telegraph made the same claim with nothing more substantial than the article in Newsweek Argentina.  It is the case that another Argentinian archbishop, Joaquin Pina, criticized the Regensburg thesis, four days after which the Holy See accepted his resignation, but he already was one year past retirement age.

These few years since have seen written in the suffering of distressed souls what Pope Benedict described calmly and charitably.  Such a short time can sharpen perceptions, and Pope Francis, whom we are assured is close to Benedict, has recently said from his humble abode:  “The news coming from Iraq leaves us with dismay and disbelief.” Consequently, the Holy See conceded that military action may be needed to stem the atrocities of the Islamic State of Iraq.  Only time will tell if that is a day late and a dollar short. Pythagoras’s belief that history repeats itself is a notion contrary to Christian progress, but all history attests that mistakes can repeat themselves, and the only way out of that fatal trap is to admit error and make amends. Both Benedict and Francis continue to grace the world with their obedience to the Logos.  Should the God of Love call Benedict first to his heavenly home where humility’s only advertisement is the peace which passes all understanding, may Francis or another successor of Peter, declare Benedict a Doctor of the Church.  Of one thing we may be certain:  like the bold prophet Jeremiah, the benign prophet Benedict will never say in this world or from the next, “I told you so.”  Reality has said that already by events more than words.

Fr. George W. Rutler

By

Fr. George W. Rutler is pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City. He is the author of many books including Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943 (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press) and Hints of Heaven (Sophia Institute Press). His latest books are He Spoke To Us (Ignatius, 2016) and The Stories of Hymns (EWTN Publishing, 2017).

  • mollysdad

    The contrast is not between God for whom violence is contrary to His nature and the Islamic notion of a divine power divorced from reason, whose absolute
    will is enforced on earth through violence. The true God rained down violent destruction on Sodom. He brought ten plagues on Egypt and drowned Pharaoh’s army in the Sea of Reeds.

    The true God does authorize the use of violence, but only to vindicate law and right according to His own reason.

    • Objectivetruth

      But He hung up His bow, making a promise with Noah never to destroy man again.

      Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is truly a prophet. And at Regensburg attempted to show the clear space between the Truth of Jesus Christ, and the falseness of Islam. God bless Benedict.

      • mollysdad

        He hung up His bow, making a promise with Noah never to destroy man again by means of a flood. He also swore at Rephidim to have war with Amalek from generation to generation. (Exodus 17).

      • John

        with WATER! The bow or rainbow is the symbol of that.

        • Objectivetruth

          I stand (partially) corrected.

      • JIm

        Amen.

    • JIm

      Yep…
      But as He did make those responses to human evil… I wonder and shudder at what lies ahead.

      • Idler

        Exactly. God can’t win. On the one hand, He is criticized for not preventing evil. When He does prevent evil, He is criticized for doing something.

    • fredx2

      The difference is that God did those things. Some Muslims believe they have the right to do those things. That was Benedicts point. No man has that right.

  • djc

    Wow.

    Thank you Fr. Rutler for speaking the truth.

    • JIm

      He does that… Speaks the truth… Wish he were the POTUS.

  • BillinJax

    Benedict XVI is our greatest living example of the truth
    that true knowledge and understanding is always clothed in true humility.

  • cloonfush

    Great job Father Rutler

  • voxcantor

    Father Rutler at his best. He too is suffering for the truth.

    • John Albertson

      Can you imagine what it must be like to be someone like Father Rutler in the neanderthal culture of the New York clerical bureaucracy? I can only think of Cardinal Newman’s difficulties. They say that Newman blushed at the slightest pun. Can you imagine if he had to endure Cardinal Dolan wearing funny hats and telling fat man jokes – even at the altar? Amazingly, Father Rutler seems to be cheerful and never complains (although he could do so in a style unmatched since Jonathan Swift.)

      • BillinJax

        Amen A few of my favorite lines….

        …the cross is not an ornament designed by
        Tiffany for debutantes.

        ….but ideology has no patience for fact.

        Today, the weaker voices (who) place politics
        above prophecy and popularity above the people.

        His only miscalculation was to assume that
        civilization might still be civil enough to respect reason.

        • JIm

          Pearls before swine, yet again… But ya hav ta try anyway… Right ???

        • DE-173

          “His only miscalculation was to assume that
          civilization might still be civil enough to respect reason.”
          Or reality. There are many, many things that require eyes and ears for which “res ipsa loquitar” the average contemporary pharisee insists are mere constructs of the individual.

      • JIm

        As it is said in the USMC: “By your military left; abso-friggen-lutely!!!” (P.G. 13 version used)

      • John O’Neill

        Dolan is so typical of the Irish mafia which has done so much damage to the American Catholic Church; for them it is all about the politics and the drinking and the joking.

  • franthie

    The increasing threat of Islam has been clearly understood in recent decades by most of us. Back in the 30s Belloc wrote about what might happen were Islam to awake from its torpidity. Pope Benedict bravely stuck his neck out but, in this matter, he was hardly ‘prophetic’.

  • NormChouinard

    “Quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, himself a remnant of a decaying civilization which still distinguished good from evil, he considered how the Islamic notion of a divine power divorced from reason, whose absolute will is its own justification, could ransack the dignity of man.”

    Fr. Barron makes this point (the incongruity in reason of violence and coercion in service of evangelization) as well at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWvmhptZa1o&list=UUcMjLgeWNwqL2LBGS-iPb1A

    Good complimentary piece to Fr. Rutler’s fine piece here.

  • Fred

    Excellent article Father, not what I suspected based on the title but spot on. I know fanthie pointed out that this “hardly prophetic”, I would argue prophetic for our times because sometimes we have short memories and are not good students of history so need reminders. God bless.

  • Marcelus

    While the article speaks truth ion some aspects, leaves out intentionaly? the fact that Pope Benedict apologized for his words to thhe Muslim. I mean , is there a reason why you need to cover your eyes with one hand ?? Coming from a priest. It’s in the line of the first Kirkpatrick article on the same issue.

    ANd then the comments on Argentina, read Francis….

    “On 17 September, before his regular weekly Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI stated the following:

    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”

    “which do not in any way express my personal thought….”

    Clear enough.

    So I think , that to pretend BXVI was some sort of crusader where the rest are weak is innocent ? to say the least…

    Consecuenses:

    The Pope was actually citing a quotation from Manuel II’s writings, not expressing his views. Despite this, demonstrations in the muslim world took place as if the comment, the ‘offending’ judgement on Islam, was from the Pope himself. No distinction seems to have been drawn in the criticism trumpeted in these demonstrations as Tariq Ramadan (see above) implies. Some protests reflected a level of hysteria quite out of proportion to the text of the Pope’s lecture. Security was discreetly stepped up around and inside the Vatican City, because of concerns about the possibility of acts of violence.[85] Thousands of people took part in many protests.[86]

    At least five churches were attacked by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank city of Nablus, firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of the city’s Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. A group called the Lions of Monotheism claimed responsibility and said they the attacks were carried out to protest the pope’s speech[87]

    Later that day, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus’ Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them afire. They also opened fire on the buildings, striking both with bullets. In Gaza City, terrorists opened fire from a car at a Greek Orthodox church, striking the facade. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday, causing minor damage. There were no claims of responsibility for the last three attacks.[88][89]

    Several organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and the Mujahideen Shura Council threatened in a joint statement: “you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere. … We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the jizya tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (being killed by) the sword. … God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the Mujahideen.”[21][90]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI_and_Islam

    CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy — Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was “deeply sorry” about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that didn’t reflect his personal opinion.

    “These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought,” Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.

    The pope sparked the controversy when, in a speech Tuesday to university professors during a pilgrimage to his native Germany, he cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder, as “evil and inhuman.”

    “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,” the pope said Sunday.

    Then the “alleged ” commments, and particularly from Verbistki, former Montonero guerrilla oficcer , as a reliable source…. It shows poor knowledge of Sothamerican issues and recent history. sadly.

    “A supporter of Kirchner, the left-wing “investigative journalist” Horatio Verbitsky, adept as a conspiracy theorist, claimed in the journal “Pagina/24″ that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, at that time archbishop of Buenos Aires, had distanced himself from the Regensburg address, and the cardinal’s spokesman, Father Guillermo Marco, was quoted in Newsweek Argentina as saying that Bergoglio was “unhappy” with what Pope Benedict had said. The London Daily Telegraph made the same claim with nothing more substantial than the article in Newsweek Argentina”

    Clearly there is no need to bash the Pope by means of looking for misquoted commnents or whaterver comes in handy.

    Understandably, the Father has his heart set on Benedict, and that is not questionable at all.

    • Objectivetruth

      Pope Benedict never apologized for what he said. He only apologized if what he said at Regensburg offended anyone. But he stuck to what he said, which was the Truth.

      • Marcelus

        ‘”which do not in any way express my personal thought….

        Same kind of explaining that Francis needs often is required ibn this case oh order to justify.

        There is another line where he calls the qran a sacred book but wel…

        I mean I don’t expect CM writers, much less posters, to love pope Francis but continuoulsy looking for indirect ways to hit on him is sad. And coming from a priest even sadder. Bashing his ‘boss’.Quoting people he’s not remotely familiar with, words not proven true attributed to Bergoglio.

        • Objectivetruth

          And…..as I said……he never apologized for WHAT HE SAID IN THE ADDRESS: quoting Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus!! He had ZERO regret for quoting Paleologus!
          His only regret is how people Reacted to a “few passages” of his address. But he did not redact a single word of the address.
          Clear?

          So what is your point? How am “indirectly” taking a shot at Pope Francis?

          • DE-173

            OT & RC, check Marcelus’ comment history. Most instructive.

            9 days ago.

            “Check out Frz.’s site, Crisis magazine, and other many other examples of Pope bashing sites and you are sure to find Francis haters. Directly or indirectly ..

            I just don’t get it,. you are free, like him or not, to hit on PF,
            So much hatred in disguise towards PF!!The only leader of YOUR Church.

            It often goes by these lines: Oh I miss Benedict, anfd who let this Francis Guy in??

            Sad sad sad that so called catholics would go on competing on who bashes Francis best.”

            • Objectivetruth

              Thanks, DE.

              • DE-173

                No problem.

                • Objectivetruth

                  Also, DE…

                  I’m a big fan of the USS Eldridge story and the “Philadelphia Experiment.” (Not the b-league kitchy 80’s sci if movie, but the real 1943 story.) Fascinating.

                  • Objectivetruth

                    And “degaussing” is what we all try to do when posting on Crisis!

                  • DE-173

                    If you thought the ’84 movie was bad, you should have seen the 2012 version.

            • Marcelus

              So? the point being? This Gestapo like attitude …there are lots of other comments of mine here. Been aroundfor a while,. I believe this was posted somewhere else, but still, I find exactly that reaction when for instance, commenting on anything that CM publishes. And the fact still stands that CM , like it or not, constantly looks for ways to bash the head, and the ONLy head the the same Church the claim to belong to. This article here shows exactly that. BXVI. saying : ‘which do not in any way express my personal thought.’ and in the context pretending to interpret thatas anything different , then I don’t know what that is.

              Problem is there the attitude seems to be exactly that among traditionalists, at least the ones I’ve run into this sites. But well,

              • DE-173

                You are a hypocrite. You make the nebulous complaint that others complain about Francis, but offer complaint after complaint about Benedict.

                As for a “Gestapo like attitude”, that’s a complain wholly without merit, except for the individual who exhibits a rather pronounced streak of Argentinian nationalism into the discussion.

                • Marcelus

                  I’ve answered above. No need to insult.

                  They are not complaints against BXVI, it’s just comments he has ALSO made or things he has writtten.

                  CM writters, maybe gthey are not part of the staff, i do not know how it works DO BASH the Pope. Let alone a few posters.

                  I could list a few articles on that, directly or not. They first Kirkpatrick piece on EG’s point about Islam. check it out. He then went on to publish on the same issue, but correcting.

                  W. Oddie is another writter who, I guess just got tired of hitting ont he Pope, so much he run a great piece , his last I believe, on the future synod, withh a totally different position, prasing PF for his position on Doctrine (as if there were any other way). So much that posters made claims “Dr. Oddie, what happened?? last month you were tired of this Pope and now this?”

                  You say:

                  “streak of Argentinian nationalism into the discussion.”

                  I say:

                  What for? what would it add? we are nobody in world concert. I don’t understand where you see nationalism in my comments.

                  Good luck

                  • DE-173

                    That wasn’t an insult. It was an accurate assessment, based on your commentary.

                    • Marcelus

                      ok. you’d make an excellent lawyer then. good luck.

                    • DE-173

                      Now that was an insult. Pot. Kettle. Black.

            • Marcelus

              Dec 1, 2006 — ISTANBUL (Reuters) – “Pope Benedict ended a sensitive, fence-mending visit to Turkey on Friday amid praise for visiting Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque and praying there facing toward Mecca like Muslims.… The Pope’s dreaded visit was concluded with a wonderful surprise,’ wrote daily Aksam on its front page. In Sultan Ahmet Mosque, he turned toward Mecca and prayed like Muslims,…”

              Benedict XVI, Address, Dec. 22, 2006: “My visit to Turkey afforded me the opportunity to show also publicly my respect for the Islamic Religion,a respect, moreover, which the Second Vatican Council (declaration Nostra Aetate #3) pointed out to us as an attitude that is only right

              Benedict XVI, General Audience, Dec. 6, 2006: “In the area of interreligious dialogue, divine Providence granted me, almost at the end of my Journey, an unscheduled Visit which proved rather important: my Visit to Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque. Pausing for a few minutes of recollection in that place of prayer, I addressed the one Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Merciful Father of all humanity.”

              Benedict XVI, Truth and Tolerance, 2004, p. 204: “In Hinduism (which is actually a collective name for a whole multitude of religions) there are some marvelous elements but there are also negative aspects: involvement with the caste system; suttee [self immolation] for widows, which developed from beginnings that were merely symbolic; offshoots of the cult of the goddess Sakti – all these might be mentioned to give just a little idea. Yet even Islam, with all the greatness it represents, is always in danger of losing balance, letting violence have a place and letting religion slide away into mere outward observance and ritualism.”

              Benedict XVI, Catechesis, August 24, 2005: “This year is also the 40th anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which has ushered in a new season of dialogue and spiritual solidarity between Jews and Christians, as well as esteem for the other great religious traditions. Islam occupies a special place among them.”

              enedict XVI, Address, Sept. 25, 2006: “I would 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-Catholic dialogue: ‘The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent… 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 you represent!

              Benedict XVI, General Audience, Dec. 6, 2006: “I thus had the favorable opportunity to renew my sentiments of esteem for the Muslims and for the Islamic civilizations.”

              Benedict XVI, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, 2002, p. 273: “… Islam, too, has inherited from Israel and the Christians the same God…”

              Finally:

              Benedict XVI, speech apologizing for his comments on Islam, Sept. 2006: “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 sentenceBenedict XVI, speech apologizing for his comments on Islam, Sept. 2006: “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.”

              “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.”

              Clear enough?

              THe worst kind of blind man they say, is the one that refuses to see.

              • Idler

                What exactly did Pope Benedict say or do that was contrary to the Catholic faith? The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. To show respect for other religions is nothing other than simple charity. It’s amazing that the Church is called intolerant when it is the Church that “invented” tolerance. And, now Catholics, who think they are more Catholic than the Pope, criticize him for being tolerant.

                When I go my Asian friend’s house, I take off my shoes when I enter his house because that is his custom. That does not constitute anything on my part except simple courtesy and to show respect towards his customs.

                The purpose of the Pope’s speech was not to offend anybody but to start a dialogue based on reason. So, if the Pope offended anybody, then he is sorry for having done so. It is not for me to decide if I offend you, but for you to decide if I have offended you. And, it I have offended you, that was not my intention, and I am sorry.

                Does saying sorry somehow mitigate what the Pope was trying to say?

                • Marcelus

                  Nothing. Could never question Benedict. Just saying the article was partial in terms of his whole dealing of the islamic issue. On worshiping the same God.. we may have an issue there. But that’s another story. Good luck

              • DE-173

                Fine. IF you think these statements are offensive or errant, tell us where they have been contradicted by Francis.

                • Marcelus

                  My friend, you still do not seem to undestand what I’m getting at: I’m not hitting on BXVI !!! If you keep calling me things like hypocrite and so, it’s just not fair, but it may just prove the point that I addressed in the post of mine you kindly “discovered and posted” Just saying that the whole story is not being told. Period. They run an article saying BVXI held such and such position on Islam inhis lecture on Paleologue, that caused some turmoil? furthermore, the writer, a good priest, curiously ‘picks’ of all the reactions it caused, which it did, the “alleged” reaction from Crdl Bergoglio, as if nobody else within the catholic world reacted for or against it. And all of that based on unfounded alleged non representative sources, not even the name of the paper in question is real. Verbistky commenting on Bergoglio?? if it ever happened, since this man has KILLED in the past (need to read some Argentina history basically to post on these issues if they wish to quote) is like Al Bagdadi commenting on Francis or Benedict to put it simple.

                  THere is no contradiction between PF and PB at all, in fact , much to the dislike of certain circles, they are far too close, and meet and mutually consult. This is known because PF has mentioned it many times in letters that become public and I’ve heard it from his own mouth during interviews and more. Different styles, of course, and a few years younger.One has the strengh the other lacks

                  When Francis was Crdl, I remember he quoted PB more than often in homilies and videos and writtings he did. Some are still around in youtube for you to see.

                  you say:

                  “Fine. IF you think these statements are offensive or errant, tell us where they have been contradicted by Francis.”

                  Nowhere. not saying they are offensive, just saying PB has a “wider”position when itcomes to Islam other than the one depicted here. The man who said “What has Mahoma brought of new?” is the same man who called the green book ” a sacred book”. That is it,

                  To end it, all Pöpes I suppose, have made such statements contradicting past positions or commments, not only BXVI

                  Do not forget, St. JP2 was the first Pope to enter a mosque, kissed the Qran in public and said that unfortunate phrase “God protect islam”

          • Marcelus

            Which do not in any way express my personal thought….

            read what I wrote, Not talking about you, talking about the priest deliverately looking for the ‘alleged’ to Benedict’s Islam comment, of Crdl Bergoglio incidentally….

            • Objectivetruth

              In all seriousness….

              Is English not your first language? Your postings contain many grammatical errors.

              • Marcelus

                No Objective, and I am sorry for that. I’m sure they do have LOTS-. I”m from Argentina, but believe me, I speak much better than I write. I try to type fast and the results I guess are there to be seen. And no personal offense meant by my comments. Just trying to make a point.
                And I speak Spanish and some French too.

                • Objectivetruth

                  Look…..I love the Argentinian Pope, as much as I love the German Pope, as much as I loved the Polish Pope, etc.

                  All good.

                  And I love your Argentinia Malbec wine, especially with a good cut of beef!

                  Pax

                  • Marcelus

                    They say the Malbec and the beef are the best in the world down here. Good luck.

                    • Objectivetruth

                      Would love to visit someday.

      • Marcelus

        “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,”

    • RufusChoate

      Being prudential to protect innocent life is not backtracking but clarifying.

      • Marcelus

        “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,”Let’s not be intentionally bind

  • RufusChoate

    A fine article but the truly astonishing nature of such Prophecy is that it is even required in the 21st century. 14 Centuries of the same practice of Islam is meaningless because we live in an age of willful madness and denial of reality based on a deeper and more profound hatred of Christianity than of any evil arrayed against Christianity.

  • Colorado Tim

    Fr. Rutler, living in Colorado I seldom get to hear you speak, it is refreshing to read your writings. Sadly, who is now in power who has ears to hear? Whether anyone wanted to die for Danzig, in the end many did and in this case many shall die before this scourge of war is swept away.

  • JIm

    I read this without knowing who wrote it. At the finish, I thought to myself: “Wow, this is really good. Right on target…. And full of that “stuff” called the truth that’s supposed to set us all free… It’s as good, or even better, as something written by Father George….” Father, once again you have outdone yourself… Thanks from us all for doing that.

  • Tony

    Brilliant article, Father.

    A sad state of affairs, when we vainly hope from our leaders not what is prescient or provident, but a simple observation of what is and what has long been.

  • 1Indioviejo1

    I am happy to see that Pope Benedict XVI Regensburgs address is ever present among thoughtful people. Fr. Rutler renews the vitality the Pope’s words maintain, and now even the Argentinian Pope understands a bit about the problem. I just can’t understand the game the Vatican plays with Islam. If any institution on Earth understand Islam better than the Catholic Church, I would like to know it.

    • Marcelus

      The argentinian Pope, that’s how you call Peter.

    • I suspectacular the Lutherans are closer to Islam than we are. Or any little Sola scriptura sect. For Islam is a people of the book, and their violent history against their own extreme pacifists shows it.

      • TedHewlett

        A groundless suspicion, and an uncharitable statement, isn’t it, to compare fellow-Christians to Islamists when the context is the extremism of the latter. And classifying both as people of the book as though being devoted to the Bible is equivalent to being devoted to the Koran? Surely this is unexpected from anyone claiming to be a Christian.

        • Given the reality of history and what went on during the wars of reformation between 1500-1790, this is exactly what we are seeing in Islam today. ISIS and Al quida are even Puritans in their theology.

          • TedHewlett

            I believe there were at least two sides fighting in the religious wars of the period you mention. I am a Protestant Evangelical (not a Lutheran, incidentally) who has had wonderful fellowship with the Roman Catholics I work with on social issues, and who is quite ready to recognize that Catholics as well as Protestants have been the victims of persecution. So it is disappointing to see someone not only perpetuating a one-sided view of history but using that version of history as a club to batter fellow-Christians. I do not question your sincerity, but would ask you to consider the effects of your statements.

            • Heresy leads to violence for the orthodox as well as the heretic, I agree. The traditional majority has the right to protect itself from a violent minority, as Fr. Robert Barron wrote in his Utopia _The Dawn of All_. But is not the original problem the heresy? Without the heresy, there would be no split to begin with.

              Islam is heretical from a Catholic point of view- but internal to the theology of Islam, there is no orthodoxy, and the splits started very early indeed. That some of these splits should become violent, and others intensely pacifistic, comes from the subjective nature of sola scriptura interpretation itself.

              In the last 300 years, a few schools have Islam have noticed the problem with this, and have attempted a reform. Should we be surprised that reform takes a violent form, after our own experience with reformation?

              • John Albertson

                Robert Barron? That was Msgr Robert Hugh Benson.

  • “If that is so, we have yet to hear censure from the more moderate clients of that enigmatic figure who slaughtered many with his own sword.”

    I keep hearing this. It makes me wonder if the author knows about google. Or the fact that Islam is as diverse as Christianity- and includes not only Sunni and Shia who have censured such groups, but also Sufi and Ahmaidya (which one would expect from their theology).

    Having said that, the Pope was right too. The chaotic theology of a god that isn’t reasonable and is not bound to his own promises, lends itself to this confusion.

    • John Albertson

      Is that the best they can do? Issue “censure?” Such “censures” indicate competition between the sects, not disagreement on the ultimate goals of Islam. Once “moderate Muslims” become 51% of a population, their moderation ceases. Meanwhile it is happening on a micro-scale in various US neighborhoods. For example, the raucous demonstrations this month in Brooklyn, NY calling for violence, not to mention demands for Shariah law in parts of Europe.

      In a Friday sermon delivered in New York on August 8, 2014, activist
      Rami Kawas, who according to his Facebook page is youth director at The
      Muslim American Society’s Brooklyn and Staten Island Subchapter, called
      for American Muslims to boycott companies that support Zionism. He
      enumerated Coca-Cola, Nestle, and the French company Danone, and said:
      “We will fight every corrupt leader and every corrupt government until
      the lands of the world are free.” The sermon was posted on the Internet.
      – See more at:
      http://pamelageller.com/2014/08/video-new-york-mosque-leader-commands-muslims-jihad-friday-prayer.html/#sthash.8SlHksYM.dpuf

      In a Friday sermon delivered in New York on August 8, 2014, activist
      Rami Kawas, who according to his Facebook page is youth director at The
      Muslim American Society’s Brooklyn and Staten Island Subchapter, called
      for American Muslims to boycott companies that support Zionism. He
      enumerated Coca-Cola, Nestle, and the French company Danone, and said:
      “We will fight every corrupt leader and every corrupt government until
      the lands of the world are free.” The sermon was posted on the Internet.
      – See more at:
      http://pamelageller.com/2014/08/video-new-york-mosque-leader-commands-muslims-jihad-friday-prayer.html/#sthash.8SlHksYM.dpuf

      In a Friday sermon delivered in New York on August 8, 2014, activist
      Rami Kawas, who according to his Facebook page is youth director at The
      Muslim American Society’s Brooklyn and Staten Island Subchapter, called
      for American Muslims to boycott companies that support Zionism. He
      enumerated Coca-Cola, Nestle, and the French company Danone, and said:
      “We will fight every corrupt leader and every corrupt government until
      the lands of the world are free.” The sermon was posted on the Internet.
      – See more at:
      http://pamelageller.com/2014/08/video-new-york-mosque-leader-commands-muslims-jihad-friday-prayer.html/#sthash.8SlHksYM.dpuf

      • No, it is not the best they can do. The best they can do, the best any of us can do in this situation, is love in the face of hate, good in the face of evil, and peace in the face of war. That is what Christ teaches us, to love our enemy, pray for their conversion of heart, and to offer our very lives as martyrs, like James Foley did.

    • John Albertson

      Head of German Bishops: I know ISIS is not Islam, but I don’t hear Islamists denouncing
      them.

      … more

      Poll: 92% of Saudis believe that Islamic State ‘conforms to the values of Islam and
      Islamic law’

      … more

  • James

    If Benedict would have canned Bergolio when he spoke up against this publicly seven years ago, the Church would be far better off today. Sadly, this did not happen.

    • John Albertson

      It would seem from the article that the comments attributed to Archbishop Bergoglio may have been inaccurate (unless Father Rutler was being too kind. ) At least we can give the archbishop the benefit of the doubt, especially since now that he is pope he seems to be recognizing the truth of what Pope Benedict said.

      • Marcelus

        Unfortunately and I believe and hope, not on purpose , the Father was quoting sources such as this man Verbistsky, a former Montonero guerilla officer in the 70’s, and murderer of many.His opinion (verbistsky”s) is worth nothing here. and, he did not get the name of the source correctly , it’s “pagina 12” not pagina 24:

        “A supporter of Kirchner, the left-wing “investigative journalist” Horatio Verbitsky, adept as a conspiracy theorist, claimed in the journal “Pagina/24″ that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, at that time archbishop of Buenos Aires, had distanced himself from the Regensburg address, and the cardinal’s spokesman”

        • John Albertson

          I looked at various journals including the London Daily Telegraph and they report the same as in this essay – and Father Rutler does say the source may have been unreliable. But at the time few doubted that Bergoglio disapproved of Regensburg and he it was said that he boycotted the following synod in Rome in protest, if sources are to be believed. But whether or not there is substance to that, what about Archbishop Joaquin Pina who gave every indication that he and Bergoglio agreed?

          • Marcelus

            Highly unreliable…Not even the name of the leftwing paper Pagina 12 is correct as quoted-

            Bishop Pïña, not Archbishop, passed away in 2013, was a “colourful” figure to put it simple-. Bishop of Misiones, a northeastern Argentine province,was by 2006,retired,and dedicated to politics, In fact by mid 2006 he led a coalition win won the election that in a word, banned the then Kirchnerist governor’s attempt at perpetual reelection. I’ve no idea where the Fr. picked that comment for I could not find it , but, as I said, by that time he was almost retired, fully into politics and ‘outside’ of church life.

            There are and were many bishops in Argentina…

            Reason he left the church is because he went into politics

            http://www.lanacion.com.ar/871500-monsenor-joaquin-pina-el-personaje-del-ano

            Funny thing is, the article says that ” the Leftwing Kirchrner government claims that due to their pressure on the Vatican, retirement for thre bishop was finally granted” (He was running against a leftwing Kirchner governor in Misiones). and bellow says that “in reality it was a move by Crdl Bergoglio to stop the left (Kirchner) from perpetuating itself in power in Misiones”

            So….

            We can keep going at names and surely you are bound to find someone who said something and so on..

            look .. my point is, respectfully, that the Benedict who spoke at Regensburg is the same who called the green book a ” sacred book” and all the rest of the things he has written and said in favour of Islam.

            And , it’s only human.. at different timesin our lives , our line of thought may change , nothing more.

            So to highlight the line of the article, if you want to believe, Benedict was in a way , a crusader against islam, there is no need to go look for “alleged” comments from Francis or spiteful terrorists turned “journalist2? It is up to the reader to believe it or not. And he was one of the greatest Popes ever!

          • fredx2

            I seriously doubt that Bergoglio boycotted the synod for that reason. People make up a lot of these things.

    • Marcelus

      charitable catholic way of putting it. Is that the Pope of the Holy Catholic Church your are talking about?

  • Rev. Fr. Butler, thank you for this article. God bless you and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and God bless Pope Francis.

  • Catholic pilgrim

    I am forever in debt to Pope Benedict (Ratzinger). First: his “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy made me understand the Centrality of Christ Jesus in a way that nothing else had. Second: His introvert personality. His ability to be such a force for goodness & renewal in the Church of Christ while being an Introvert was such an encouragement & role model to me as a fellow introvert Christian. I love Pope Francis & all Christian extroverts (I surely love them all), but Papa Ratzinger holds a special place in my heart.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      In a way Pope Benedict showed me that you can be an introvert & still love God to a great capacity as well as fellow neighbors. Christianity needs people with both extrovert & introvert personalities, not just extroverts.

    • Koufax

      Great post! God Bless Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. As an introvert, I too love how Pope Benedict carried himself during His Pontificate. I also love how Pope Francis is preaching the Truth as well in his own unique way.

  • Amatorem Veritatis

    Just wondering…do you think the Eminent Archbishop of New York ever reads the Reverend Rutler? And do you think he has the awareness of self to see a faint but familiar image in Fr. Rutler’s critique of those who value process (dialogue) over principle? Yeah…probably not…never mind.

  • DE-173

    “There is a warm spot in my heart for Sir Cecil Springer-Rice because he loved Theodore Roosevelt and disdained Woodrow Wilson.”

    This is the only sentence in this essay I don’t understand.

  • John Albertson

    I am not sure what this means, either, but I think it might mean that Roosevelt was a genius who wore his brilliance lightly on his shoulders – he settled the Russo-Japanese war,conflicts in Morocco, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, had great taste
    in re-designing coinage and decorating the White House, was both
    patrician and populist, a big trust buster, war hero, and gave us the
    Panama Canal and National Parks, and wrote 35 very good books, But he was loved simply because he was so loveable. He said “There are no hyphenated-Americans,…only
    Americans.” And the Americans loved the New York cowboy who could laugh
    at himself. Wilson was at the opposite pole. He was the first president with a Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins, but he was no genius. He was a narrow-minded and pompous Calvinist who thought he could reform the world by his superior idealism, and gave
    us the Sedition Act which clamped down on civil freedoms. He was a blatant anti-black racist and pro Ku Klux Klan. He won a second term with the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War”and within a month got us into World War I. His anti-Catholic bias was
    evident in his restructuring of European boundaries at the Versailles
    Conference. Roosevelt could do silly things but he was a not a snob. Wilson did some good things but he did them as a condescending snob. I think this is what Springer-Rice thought.

    • DE-173

      Roosevelt was a craven statist and an egomaniac. I have seen quotes attributing anti-Catholicism to him , and may very well have started the Spanish American war. The Hepburn Act of 1906 which he championed may have very well led to the Panic of 1907. It certainly starved the railroads of capital, which led to their inability to respond to the increased traffic of World War I, and nationalization and “the railroad problem”.

      He may not have been the condescending snob Wilson was, but he was certainly not worthy of adulation.

      And TR did not give us National Parks. Yesterday, August 25, was the 98th anniversary of the passage of the National Park Service Organic Act.

      • John Albertson

        Some points well taken – especially on Wilson. Teddy was not perfect – and also was not a very good ex-President (although a zillion times better than Carter) – as he tried to upstage Taft. Of course he could not have “started” the Spanish American War but he certainly became a protagonist – largely motivated by the social conditions in Cuba – and, unlike many armchair interventionists, he put his life on the line in battle (vid Margaret Leech”In the Days of McKinley.”) He did designate as national parks the first five “conserved” territories designated as such, and signed the Antiquities Act, giving us the historic landmarks commission.

        For religion, he appointed so many Catholics to federal jobs that Protestant agencies complained (he also gave the Indian Commission to a Catholic). He was a friend of the archbishops of New York and Philadelphia, and called Cardinal Gibbons”the greatest living American.” He helped to pay for the construction of St. Dominic’s Church in
        Oyster Bay. In his house is displayed a papal blessing. In his study, places of honor are given to engravings of John Fisher and Thomas More. In 1910, a requested audience with Pius X was cancelled when the Pope instructed him not to meet with the small Methodist community in Rome. TR regretted the opportunity but cheerfully dismissed the incident as “an elegant row.”

  • James Humphrey

    Pope Benedict XVI a great gift to the Church what a brilliant humble man.

  • The_Monk

    Islam was originally, and correctly, categorized as a heresy. And so it is to this day.

    Recall the last three verses of the Book of Revelation, Chapter 22:
    “18 For I testify to every one that hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book. 20 He that gives testimony of these things, says: Surely, I come quickly: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

    The Quran adds and subtracts copiously from both Old and New Testament. We must be very wary in our dealings with Islamists….

  • Joseph Kalwinski

    Wonderful article, Father. Thank you.

  • Randall Ward

    “a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion”; I do not understand this statement coming from a man of God.

  • Long-Skirts

    In 1990, Lefebvre was convicted in a French court and
    sentenced to pay a fine of 5,000 francs when he stated that, as a result of
    Muslim immigration into Europe, “it is your wives, your daughters, your
    children who will be kidnapped and dragged off to a certain kind of places as
    they exist in Casablanca”.

    “And he said: Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own
    country.” Luke 4:24 (Douay-Rheims Bible)

  • tom

    We’re in another 1000 year war with Islam and the former Western Civilization believes in nothing. So, we’ll surrender within 50 years.

  • veritasetgratia

    How we miss Pope Benedict!

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