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Pope goes, pop, apologizes

Pope Benedict XVI makes nasty remark in speech, apologizes cravenly afterwards.

September 18, 2006

Not that he had much of a choice, really. This is not a scholarly world where everyone debates questions of faith intelligently that we live in. He must have really been caught unawares; and a Pope who is used to hardcore theological debates has shown that his knowledge of realpolitic is zilch.

The personal apology of the Pope went thus: "I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect." 

The speech and the subsequent apology by Vatican, and the Pope, after protests and occasional violence by Muslims across the world, show up the Pope as a stupid diplomat, we think. He is definitly out of touch with the times. A Pope who doesn't know the consequences of his word is undoubtedly an embarrassment.

And it is not over, really. The Muslim world had mixed responses to the papal apology, and some say that this is still not enough. I am sure that if the Pope agrees to convert and anoint himself the new Caliph, they would still be cribbing.

Please note, this does not mean that the Pope has no right to make such remarks or quote forgotten Byzantine emperors, who probably had just received some serious kick in the rear from Muslim armies. 

But let us not forget - the Pope is not Muslim. He is Catholic, and no one has the right to say that he should respect other religions or their founders. In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to dislike, or even hate, founders of other religions from the bottoms of our heart. As long as we don't go around killing or threatening and making life miserable for followers of other religions. Respect is by choice. It would be great if Christians and the Pope respect Prophet Mohammed, and Ayatollahs and Muslims respect the Shankaracharyas, and the ascetic Hindu monks respect Saint Paul. However, there is no such requirement. 

You are free to hate. Just don't act on it. Tolerance does not mean that everyone has to love everyone else and sleep in the same bed singing lullabies to each other in Arabic and Latin. Not stealing his bed and nightwear is tolerance enough. Anything more is better, not a mandatory requirement.

If you look at the Pope's comments and find them offensive, the right thing to do, obviously, is to contradict them. Prove that the emperor was wrong, give examples of the great and definitely human things that Prophet Mohammed did, and leave it at that. Shooting hapless nuns and burning down churches which don't belong to the catholic church is idiotic. Pretty much in the same category as the goons who went killing stingrays after Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray dart.

The Pope is idiotic too - he should have really looked to entering into a private dialog with Muslim scholars if he had a few problems with Islam. Oh, scan the room for bugs and ban mobile phones, and ensure the theological discussion and debate doesn't get out of the room. 

There is another great option for Muslims and their leaders too. If you truly believe that islam is great and Prophet Mohammed did bring something good to this world, why are you bothered at the ramblings of an infidel? Laugh at him. I am sure it would be great if some reporter asks Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Shia leader, what he thought of the Pope's comments, and Sistani burst out laughing, clutching his stomach.

The point is - you can't make me respect you. The best you can do is to make me fear you. If you are wimpy enough to be happy with it, be happy.

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