Faith and Policy
Pope's comments test interfaith dialogue
In a Sept. 12 homily in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who criticized the Prophet Mohammed. He has apologized for reading the statements, "which do not in any way express my personal thought." The following are reactions from Michigan's religious community:
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Michigan chapter: Pope Benedict XVI's comments are extremely disappointing. It appeared that he was affirming the negative and historically incorrect statements of the 14th century emperor concerning Prophet Muhammad.
The pope wields influence that is unequaled among world religious leaders; hence, he should be extremely sensitive that his comments not trigger his followers to distance themselves from Muslims in a unhealthy manner.
Sadly, those who wish to divide the Christian and Muslim worlds will use his comments in conjunction with the heinous, un-Islamic vandalism of churches in the West Bank and proclamations of terrorists in Iraq against the pope as fuel for their concept of the "clash of civilizations."
It is my hope Metro Detroit's Muslim community will be able to maintain its close relationship with the Archdiocese of Detroit and use this opportunity to increase dialogue and education.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, Islamic House of Wisdom and Faith and Policy columnist: How would the pope feel if an Islamic scholar blamed the prince of peace, Jesus Christ, for the Crusades or the horrible crimes of the Inquisition? The pope's unfortunate remarks insulting Islam deeply damaged the image of Catholicism worldwide.
The part of the pope's speech about Prophet Mohammad was inaccurate, offensive and inflammatory. Islam is message of reason, responsibility, peace and justice. Currently the Muslims are the main victims of war and terrorism. It would have been appropriate for the pope to frankly apologize for his harmful words instead of merely regretting the indignation of Muslims.
We remain committed to the Muslim-Christian dialogues. We in Michigan are blessed with wisdom and leadership of Cardinal Adam Maida who has been a great source of unity and cooperation between our two faithful communities for a long time.
Cardinal Adam Maida, Archdiocese of Detroit: The Vatican has issued a clarification for those who might have been concerned or confused by Pope Benedict's remarks in Germany. Here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, we have built a solid foundation and we remain committed to dialogue and collaboration with Christians, Muslims and Jews.