Despite a not-quite-full apology by Pope Benedict XVI, protests by offended Muslims continue around the world. If the Pope intended to highlight ambiguities or tensions within Islam around the issue of violence, then ironically, some of the protests and reactions by Muslims serve to confrim his point. A number of churches in Gaza have been burned, a nun was murdered in Somalia. And of course al Qaeda has weighed in with its customary vehemence. This New York Times article lists some of the reactions here. One cleric from Indonesia says this in tha article:
“The pope has apologized, and that’s enough, so let’s calm down,” said Hasyim Muzadi, head of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama. “If we remain furious, then the pope will be proved correct.”
The Pope may have a valid theological point about Islam’s position on violence (I don’t know nearly enough about Islam to judge this). The actions of Muslim extremists and terrorists certainly justify deep inquiry. Debate and dialog would probably be healthy. I don’t think the Pope wants a dialog with Islam though, otherwise he would have chosen his words much more diplomatically. He wants to put Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular, squarely in the Western camp.