The relationship between faith and reason—this was the focus of the lecture of Pope Benedict XVI on 12 September 2006 at the University of Regensburg. The Holy Father has always loved the academe, considering that he is himself an eminent scholar. His kindness and humility are only matched by his knowledge and wisdom. Learning and prudence—these can be said as the human attributes that best describe the person of Pope Benedict XVI.
The substance of his lecture is a threefold truth: First, faith and reason are compatible. Second, faith illumines reason functions. Third, reason affirms faith acts. In other words, just as God has the disposition to make himself known to man, man on the other hand has the capacity to know God.
The Holy Father cited the Surah 2,256 that reads: “There is no compulsion in religion.” In plain words, the Pope himself subscribes to the truth brought forward by Mohammed that mere force cannot make man have faith. Man should not only see the rationality of the faith but also freely accept it. Otherwise, man would not have genuine faith. Violence or force has no place in the interaction between God and Man. In the same way, force or violence cannot make man really believe in God.
As to the alleged attack, insult or offense made by the Pope against the Muslim religion, this is not only a gross falsity but also a bad joke. It anything at all, the allegation is instead a shameless attack, insult or offense to the Pope. Benedict XVI would be the last person on earth that could speak ill of the Muslim religion.
Sometime in 1391, there was the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus who in his dialogue with a Persian scholar said: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword, the faith he preached.” It was definitely not Benedict XVI who said this. The truth is that the Pope countered this errant pronouncement by the said Emperor by citing precisely that according to Mohammad himself “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Surah 2,256).
Where is the attack, insult or offense?
16 September 2006