The Pope Shouldn't Apologize For Criticizing Islam
Pope Benedict has criticized Islam for its belief in violence as an acceptable way of spreading the religion, generating a new round of vilification of the West from Islamic extremists who oppose freedom of speech. It's a repeat of sorts of the controversy earlier in the year about the Danish cartoons identifying Islam with violence.
The Pope, in my view, should not apologize for telling the truth. Nothing is to be gained by letting a view spread that fundamentalist Muslim conduct is acceptable in the Modern World.
A great deal of the criticicism of the Pope's remarks has come from Turkey, a country that has been backsliding from the secuiar policies of Ataturk and sinking back into primitive aspects of the Muslim faith. The Pope is scheduled to visit Turkey next month, but already the murder of several Catholic priests there had jeopardized the visit, and, for the Pope's safety, it probably now must be cancelled.
It is not going to be helpful to sweep the issue over barbarism emanating from Islamic extremists under the rug. It must be resisted with all the force at our disposal. There is nothing compatible between these forces and the West.
In the meantime, reform of Islamic beliefs that are outdated is essential. There is a way for this faith to live in the Modern World but only if it changes for the better. There are reformists in Islam. We must help them to be heard.
So for the Catholic Church to get cold feet and express regret for the Pope's remarks is not in order. As Henry Adams once said, "You can't use tact with a Congressman. You must take a stick and hit him in the snout." That goes for believers in barbaric fundamentalism as well. The Pope did a service. Now, he should be proud of it.