Friday, July 22, 2005

Pope Doesn't See a "Clash of Civilizations"-Zenit News

Zenit News Agency reports on the Pope's statement here. While vacationing in the Alps, the Pope entertained questions from a journalist on the July 7th London bombing. Here's an excerpt of what he said:
Benedict XVI described the July 7 terrorist attacks in London as "irrational," and clarified that they are not indicative of a "clash of civilizations."

The Pope expressed these thoughts Wednesday afternoon, when he returned from an outing to the Alpine chalet in Les Combes, where he is vacationing. He made his comments before today's new rounds of attacks in London.

The Holy Father greeted awaiting journalists and replied to a question about the attacks in the British capital.

"Terrorism is irrational," he said. "There is no clash of civilizations, but small groups of fanatics."

In this context, "the dialogue between religions which have Abraham as a Father is important," he said. "We must ask God to reinforce this will and hope that it will be much stronger than violence."
As is often the case when the Holy Father interviews journalists, Pope Benedict XVI offers his prudential judgement on a particular situation, not a definition of doctrine. Catholics may exercise their own prudential judgement and come to a different conclusion. However, I find the Pope's argument sound. Less than one percent of Muslims living in the UK participate in Al Qaeda. If one projects that number on Muslims worldwide, then it's clear there's no civilizational conflict. One percent of a people does not a civilization make.

Those fanatics do want to instigate a war between Islam and the West. Osama Bin Laden has stated so clearly on many occasions. It does not help thse situation if Westerners begin to echo his rhetoric. However, I find I'm troubled by one factor in particular. I'm troubled by the deafening silence from Muslims that live in the West.

It's one thing for muslims in religious or secular dictatorships to speak out against Al Qaeda. Many muslims in those countries have the freedom only to condemn Israel and the West. Thus, many express adoration at Osama Bin Laden. Some definately support his vision. Others may vent their frustration at their own governments' repression of them by voicing solidarity with equally repressed and enraged countrymen. They raise up Osama Bin Laden as a man that can bring about change, however misguided such a hope may be. While I abhor the rhetoric and open support of a mass murderer, I'm not that surprised given the conditions of many Arab and Muslim states.

When Muslims live in the West, however, the situation changes dramatically. Western European Countries and the United States have traditions and even laws that gurantee freedom of expression. Muslims no longer need to keep silent about the corruption and abuse of their home governments. Unless they fear for the safety of families left behind, they have no reason to support the jihadists. They have no reason to continue damning Israel and the United States. Unless, of course, they truly believe that America is the Great Satan.

The silence of many prominent religious authorities based in the West troubles me. Where is their condemnatin of the murder of innocents? Where are the fatwas against the murderers that plan and execute this bloody business? Where's the outrage?

The lack of condemnation calls into question where many muslims stand. This only encourages the polarization and opposition that Osama Bin Ladan and the islamo-fascists like him want. If all people of goodwill, Muslim and non-muslim alike, do not come to clear understandings of one another, then the terrorists may succeed in instigating their war between civilizations. We must not allow that tragedy to unfold.