Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Benedict the Brave #2

From Asia News Italy:

“A particularly beautiful experience for me on that day was to give a speech before a large audience of professors and students of the University of Regensburg, where I taught as a professor for many years. With joy, I was able to meet once again the university world which, for a long period of my life, was my spiritual homeland. As a topic, I chose the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce the audience to the drama and actuality of the topic, I cited some words of a Christian-Islamic dialogue from the XIV century, with which the Christian interlocutor, the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologos – in a way that is incomprehensible and brusque for us – presented to the Islamic interlocutor the problem of the relationship between religion and violence. This quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding. For the careful reader, however, it emerges clearly that I did not want to make my own in any way the negative words pronounced by the medieval emperor in this dialogue and their controversial content did not express my personal conviction. My intention was rather different: starting out from that Manuel II said later in a positive way, using a very beautiful word, about how reason should guide in the transmission of faith, I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together. The theme of my conference – in response to the University mission – was the relationship between faith and reason: I wanted to invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and all religions. I hope that on several occasions of my visit – for example, in Munich, when I underlined how important it is to respect what is sacred to others – my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who ‘worship the one God’ and with whom we ‘promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity’ (Nostra Aetate, 3), is clear.”