Cardinal Bertone on Islamic Reaction to Pope's Address
"The Church Regards With Esteem Also the Muslims"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2006 ( Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
statement released Saturday by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary
of state, on the Islamic reaction to the
discourse Benedict XVI gave Tuesday at the University of Regensburg.
* * *
Given the reaction in Muslim quarters to certain passages of the Holy Father's
address at the University of Regensburg, and the clarifications and explanations
already presented through the director of the Holy See press office, I would
like to add the following:
-- The position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed
by the conciliar document "Nostra Aetate": "The Church regards with esteem
also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself;
merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken
to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable
decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in
linking itself, submitted to God.
"Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere him as a prophet.
They also honor Mary, his virgin mother; at times they even call on her with
devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render
their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally,
they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving
and fasting" (no. 3).
-- The Pope's option in favor of interreligious and intercultural dialogue
is equally unequivocal. In his meeting with representatives of Muslim communities
in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 20, 2005, he said that such dialogue between
Christians and Muslims "cannot be reduced to an optional extra," adding:
"The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each
-- As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which
he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does
he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way. He simply used it as a
means to undertake -- in an academic context, and as is evident from a complete
and attentive reading of the text -- certain reflections on the theme of
the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude
with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence,
from whatever side it may come.
On this point, it is worth recalling what Benedict XVI himself recently affirmed
in his commemorative message for the 20th anniversary of the Interreligious
Meeting of Prayer for Peace, initiated by his predecessor John Paul II at
Assisi in October 1986: " ... demonstrations of violence cannot be attributed
to religion as such but to the cultural limitations with which it is lived
and develops in time. ... In fact, attestations of the close bond that exists
between the relationship with God and the ethics of love are recorded in
all great religious traditions."
-- The Holy Father thus sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address
could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful,
and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to
his intentions. Indeed it was he who, before the religious fervor of Muslim
believers, warned secularized Western culture to guard against "the contempt
for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise
-- In reiterating his respect and esteem for those who profess Islam, he
hopes they will be helped to understand the correct meaning of his words
so that, quickly surmounting this present uneasy moment, witness to the "Creator
of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men" may be reinforced, and collaboration
may intensify "to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social
justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" ("Nostra Aetate,"
[Original text: Italian translation issued by the Holy See]