How many times after I made an utterance I wished I had not spoken quite so quickly and wanted to bite my tongue out. Too late.
The utterance was frequently a quick sound bite and often off-the-cuff and unrehearsed. I don’t think that particular rubric applies to the Pope’s remarks. They happened in a formal lecture and were I think considered and made with deliberation.
There were times too when I did make prepared and considered statements but on reflection afterwards came to the conclusion that I could have made the same point but perhaps less stridently, in a less up-your-nose kind of way. I forgot on those occasions that you were likely to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
It seems to me that his Holiness might have made whatever point he sought to make less provocatively and given the heightened tensions already abroad — what with controversies over cartoons, the wearing of veils, etc. — all, especially high profile people, require the wisdom of a Solomon not to exacerbate already fraught situations.
It seems too from the Pope’s pointed apology–not for the offending quotation but for the reaction it provoked–that we will require some fence-mending. I take my hat off to him for venturing as it were into the lion’s den by visiting Turkey.
Of course all leaders, religious and otherwise, would want to urge their counterparts to tackle [interfaith tensions]. BUT and this is an important caveat,Christians should not be hoity-toity as if speaking from an exalted superior position. We should be suitably humble knowing certain facts about the adherents of our faith.
We should be hanging our heads in shame for the bloody wars of religion that have been waged in the name of the Prince of Peace; we should speak as those whose faith has produced those who were responsible for the Holocaust, who supported apartheid enthusiastically as consonant with the Christian scriptures, as those who have as fellow Christians the Ku Klux Klan, and those who have spewed forth so much homophobic hate, and those who thought God would be pleased if they killed doctors who performed abortions, who were driven by a religious zeal to let off the bombs of Oklahoma, who had a Christian President approve the use of weapons of mass destruction on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, remembering that it is Christians responsible for the atrocities in Northern Ireland and who were responsible for the genocide in Rwanda.
Yes they should speak with profound humility knowing that it is not the faith that is responsible but the faithful…that there are good Muslims as there are good Christians and there are Christians who are violent terrorists as there are Muslims who are violent terrorists; that no faith sanctions violence, cruelty, abuse of others etc. Rather, that all faiths propagate love, compassion, gentleness and caring.