By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Monday, September 18, 2006


It was another disappointment but perhaps no longer a surprise. Pope Benedict claims he was merely quoting the words of another (Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire) to make his point about the incompatibility of the notion of God with violence.Read news coverage here with links to the Pope's lecture

Yet it is very difficult to understand why the Pope in making his point, chose to only mention (and focus only on) Islam, let alone, omit the Catholic Church in any historical mention about the use of violence in the propagation of faith.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Pope is not alone in even assuming that other religions and their institutions, such as Islam, exist in the self-same monolithic sense as most in the Catholic hierarchy assume Catholicism to exist.

In fact, much unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Islam across the world has many faces, many leaders, and there is actually room for divergent views and practices. United by the Koran, Muslims nonetheless, are free from a singular, all powerful clergy, and "Pope."

Ironic perhaps is that in many ways, dialogue (that is in its classic sense, a conversation, and exchange of views) is much more possible within Islam, than it is with Catholicism, given the immutability of Papal dogma and Church canon even at this day and age. It also largely depends where you happen to be practising your faith. Here in the Philippines, the Muslims have declared a fatwa supporting reproductive health policy and practice. The Catholic hierarchy continues to pressure politicians into blocking such policy.

True, Islamic fundamentalism exists just as Christian fundamentalism abounds and and in many ways are raging fires fed by all forms of social injustice, crooked politics and politicians, and yes, by careless utterances by leaders of other faiths.

In making his referrences to the Byzantine Emperor's words, it is hard to imagine that the Pope was being careless simply because he is such a learned man and presumably a scholar of history. Be that as it may, we take heed from the Turkish protesters who perhaps hit upon the simple truth:"Easy to be the Pope. Harder to be the human." [Banner by protesters at Ankara, Turkey over Pope Benedict's statements against Islam]

More links on the topic:

University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts

Pope Says Anti-Islam Quotes Not his Own Views on Reuters, 20 September 2006

Pope's upcoming visit to Turkey complicated with anti-Islam remarks on Pravda 20 September 2006


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