The first headline this morning on CNN:
Muslim fury at pope jihad comments
"Oh no," was the first thought that came to my head. "Not again!"
So the pope believes (wrongly) that Islam was spread by the sword and by violence.
I hope the hordes of illiterate, oppressed and unemployed Muslims in the developing world do not take the decision to prove him wrong by burning down embassies, churches or businesses. It seems every time there is an opportunity to put a foot in our mouth, the Muslims in the uneducated East will oblige.
First - the Pope is wrong. If Islam was really enforced on the colonies, then all of India, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Armenia, Sudan, Egypt etc. would all have been Muslims. The Coptic church survived thousand years of Muslim rule. The Ottomans never interfered with the local churches. The Mughals in India did not convert hordes of Hindus and Brahmins into Muslims.
And Indonesia would never have become Muslim either. No Muslim army landed in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore.
Second, and this I find troubling, is why the Pope made those statements. It's one thing if he believes it. It's also negligible if it's a slip up; but if he deliberately made those statements to provoke a certain reaction, then he is guilty of a serious charge. He wants a clash of civilizations - that's very easy to get in today's polarized world.
I had hoped the Catholic church was going to move into the twenty first century. Yet, one of the first statements I recall from this pope was that Turkey shouldn't be allowed into the European Union as this would dilute Europe's "Christian" heritage. The Pope also wanted situations of Christians in the Muslim world to improve (I would like to know how his current statements would help them). On one hand the Pope leads a fight for the rights of this minority and on the other hand the Pope leads the fight against same sex marriage and gay rights. And now, he reads a 14th century criticism of Islam in discussion of the present century (as if there was a shortage of criticism from this century). One has to question - why?
UPDATE: (11.15 am) I am in NYC so it will be hard to have the updates of this sitation but I will try.
In India, taking strong exception to the remarks, Congress party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said: "The Pope should have spoken with more wisdom. He is not merely the head of a religion, he is also the head of a state (Vatican)."
The (Hindu nationalist) BJP's reaction was stronger. "The pope should immediately clarify his position and if he has actually made the remarks he should apologise," senior party leader Mukthar Abbas Naqvi said. [link]
In a gross overreaction a Turkish lawmaker compared the Pope to Hitler.
In an alarming development, Reuters reported an explosion at a Gaza church, meanwhile BBC showed pictures of Sunni and Shia muslims marching in India, burning effigies of the Pope, while Pakistan deployed forces to guard Catholic churches.
BBC has a variety of "important" people in the Muslim "community" who have decided to take offense.
Again, one has to wonder at the Pope - why? Did any Muslim leader criticize your faith, your religion or you that you suddenly decide to be Pope Urban II (or XIVI or whatever).