Saturday, May. 30, 2009

Bridge Civilizations

For the second time in his papacy, Benedict will visit a mosque, meeting Muslim leaders at the Al-Hussein bin Talal Mosque in Amman on Saturday. Like with the visit he made in November 2006 to Istanbul's Blue Mosque, the Pope hopes his presence will help heal wounds left by the best-remembered discourse of his papacy: a lecture at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12, 2006, in which he linked Islamic theology with its recent struggles with violence in its ranks. But this time, more than merely his presence at the mosque may be required to convince some that he holds moderate views. The Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has demanded that Benedict apologize for the Regensburg discourse. At the same time, there are some in the West who would like the Pope to return to the lingering topic of violence and faith with the more blunt approach he used in the famous speech. Perhaps real progress could be made in getting the different "civilizations" to step back from any looming clash if Benedict — with the help of that missing editor — could find a way to do both.

See pictures of Pope Benedict's style.