VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Wednesday that his use of medieval quotes portraying a violent Islam did not reflect his views and were misunderstood, but he did not give the clear apology still demanded by many Muslims.
The leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, whose speech last week has provoked al Qaeda groups to declare war on the Church, Iraqis to burn the Pope's effigy and Turks to petition for his arrest, said he had not meant to cause offence.
Personally, he has certainly said more about it, than I would have. But to his credit, he has tried to meet them halfway in this and not totally caved into extremist pressure. And although I am not sure that he had intended to cause such a stir, he has (at very least) catalyzed this response, unknowingly. At the most, he said this with the specific intention of fronting out the forces that he spoke of, when he made the "so-called" offensive quote. Either way, the outcome is the outcome.
But I would submit that any other religion in the world, would make their arguments against such a statement and then would move on. There would be no violent reactions, such as we have seen in the Muslim world, over this. The reason? The teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and the rest are not based on the foundational principle of violence (or the threat of violence), as a means to communicate a message.
Evangelism by the sword is not the way to state one's case. When you convert (to anything) under a threat of force, that conversion is at very least suspect. It cannot be taken as a true conversion. True conversions are from (and of) the heart (which is the soul and spirit of a human being). Violent conversions serve no other purpose than to subjugate an individual, a conversion that occurs freely and willingly liberates the individual.
True conversions create an opportunity for enlightenment. They do not cloud, they do not darken, and they do not confuse. They are a revealing experience, and do not obscure understanding. But the most important thing to consider in all of this is: True conversions do not create robots.
When one sees the resurgence of basic fundmentalism in Islam, one has to notice the return to violent principles to advance their agenda. These principles are propagated by people that have been utterly brainwashed into submitting their whole being into a cause that cannot sell their ideas, any other way.
Muslims that disagree with this return to fundamentalism had better start reforming things and counteracting these people that want to bind mankind's souls and spirits. They need to speak out more clearly. They must be seen and heard, rather than hidden. But, as of yet there have only been a handful and they have yet to reach a level where they will be noticed.
Now, would be as good of a time as any, to start this process.