Pope V Islam

September 18, 2006

Our beloved pope Nazinger last week managed to offend close to one-eighth of the world’s population with an off-hand quote from the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologos, which basically claims that all Islam has ever done is evil.

Now, for a man who used to head the Holy Inquisition, this is a pretty daring statement to quote. I’ve read over a few of the choicest exerpts of the papal speech, and while he does make it quite clear he’s quoting, he’s also only really speaking in terms of Islam anyway. Not mentioning, say, the violent Christian reclaimation of Iberia, or the violent persecution of the Jews (best our ex-Nazi pope keeps quiet about that, mind). No, this is a quotation from a Byzatine Emperor, close to the final days of his Empire, who’s basically blaming Islam for the downfall, when he should really be looking at the hopeless inefficiency of the crumbling nation and the rising star of the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans, incidently, were among the most secular of all Islamic nations.

Why, exactly, did no-one tell the leader of the Catholic faith that perhaps this might upset a few of our Muslim brothers a bit? Did no one think to mention, “Oh, Benny, perhaps the current political climate doesn’t encourage such a carelessly-chosen quotation?”

Of course, I don’t sympathise particularly much with those Muslims who feel a dodering old Nazi in Rome reading a 600 year-old statement is a good reason to start blowing shit up either, but frankly this is the biggest foot-in-mouth the Vatican’s produced since JP2 said that condoms don’t protect from AIDS. If this is the man that the Catholic world looks to for guidance and protection, is it any wonder I’m an athiest?