Pope All Out of Bubblegum

Pope Urban Benedict XVI has caused quite a stir in a number of ways recently.

First, of course, the headline news, which is getting this kind of headline play in the media:
Pope enjoys private time after slamming Islam
Benedict blunder shows he has failed to master media machine
Both from AFP, of course.

Multiple links to the seething response are here.

The cause is this statement:
The pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th-century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"
Nothing could be plainer nor more true.

It's as true now as it was then.

Well of course the apologists are out in force, saying he couldn't have really meant anything by it. This was a scripted speech, however, and
The Rev. Robert Taft, a specialist in Islamic affairs at Rome's Pontifical Oriental Institute, said it was unlikely the pope miscalculated how some Muslims would receive his speech.

"The message he is sending is very, very clear," Taft said. "Violence in the name of faith is never acceptable in any religion and that (the pope) considers it his duty to challenge Islam and anyone else on this."
Yet, to protest suggestions that islam might be intolerant and violent, muslims are acting out violently the world over:
[German PM Merkel said:] "What Benedict XVI was expressing was his absolute rejection without compromise of any use of violence in the name of religion."

Most Muslims did not see things the same way.

In Gaza City, four small makeshift bombs exploded near the oldest Christian church...
Oh, the irony:
ANKARA, Turkey - A Turkish lawmaker said Pope Benedict XVI would go down in history "in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini" for remarks he made about Islam. Meanwhile, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican's ambassador to express regret over the remarks.

But anger still swept across the Muslim world, with Pakistan's parliament unanimously adopting a resolution condemning the pope for making what it called "derogatory" comments about Islam, and seeking an apology from him.

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.
Funny how they never show this kind of outrage at the real and daily atrocities committed in the name of islam.

Actually it's not funny at all; it's perfectly understandable, because jihad terrorism is a central tenet of islam.

But wait, there's more!
In the backlash, some of the more subtle — yet potentially far-reaching — references have been overshadowed.

The speech suggested deep dismay over the current conditions of Christians in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world, said John Voll, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington.

"This reflects the intention of Pope Benedict to distinguish himself from his predecessor on his approach to interfaith dialogue," said Voll. "And by this, it means more reciprocity."

Voll said the pope may increasingly instruct Vatican envoys to stress issues of forced conversions of Christians and limits on Christian rights and worship.
Also irritating to them, no doubt, was Benedict XVI referring to Constantinople by its rightful name in his speech, rather than as istanbul.

Looking at the text of the speech, I am also struck at how the Pope also knows about the so-called "peaceful" verses are abrogated!
The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war.
Whenever any islam apologist quotes such verses, they are either ignorant, or are deliberately practicing taqiyya -- the "noble" art of lying in order to deceive the infidel about islam. Because such verses, in all schools of islamic jurisprudence, are abrogated, null, and void.

But then there was the news from behind the scenes.

The Pope is shaking up the top offices of the Vatican hierarchy:
(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 15 - Pope Benedict's remodelling of the Vatican hierarchy neared its completion on Friday as a new secretary of state took office and a 'foreign minister' was appointed.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 71, until recently the archbishop of Genoa, took over the mantle of secretary of state from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 79, at a simple ceremony held at the pope's summer residence outside Rome.

Benedict thanked Cardinal Sodano for his 15 years of service and referred to his "sadness" at seeing him step down. [oh, that's rich, with what is revealed below! -- ed.] The prelate will keep his role as dean of the college of cardinals and continue to work with several Vatican departments.

Cardinal Bertone, who worked as the pope's deputy at the Vatican doctrinal department for eight years, now becomes the second most powerful person in the Vatican after Benedict himself.

He will be in charge of all the political and diplomatic activities of the Holy See.
But the other appointment announced on Friday was also crucial for the Vatican's role in world affairs .

It saw 54-year-old Monsignor Dominque Mamberti, apostolic nuncio in Sudan and Eritrea, tapped for the post which is similar to that of foreign minister in a national government.
Given current tensions between the Islamic world and the West, Mamberti's experience in several countries with large Muslim populations may have been one of the reasons for his appointment.
This is huge, because Sodano had been a thorn in Benedict's . See this article from just 6 months ago for all the backstabbing and controversy:
Step by step, with a few well-aimed decisions, Benedict XVI has already expunged two of the bastions in the curia that were opposed to him: the Congregation for the Liturgy, with the appointment as secretary of an archbishop of Sri Lanka in his trust, Albert M. Ranjith Patabendige Don, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, with Fitzgerald’s dismissal as president.
Fitzgerald was too touchy-feely with islam, it seems:
Benedict XVI has also brought about a correction of the previous Vatican line in regard to Islam. In removing archbishop Fitzgerald from the curia, the pope has said the last word on the symposia that he loved to organize with Muslim leaders like sheikh Yussef-Al-Qaradwi or the heads of Al-Azhar, who signed ceremonious appeals for peace with the Vatican and then, the next day, inflamed the crowds by exalting holy war and the suicide terrorists.
But back to Sodano:
And now everyone in the curia is waiting – or fearing – for the next blow to fall against the secretariat of state, with the retirement on account of age of its senior office holder, cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Sodano, 78 years old, from Isola d’Asti in Piedmont, seems to have no intention of leaving.
But now he's out.

Aus mit!

Not a moment too soon:
Among the new cardinals chosen by the pope, there are personalities who constitute a living contradiction of the ecclesiastical geopolitics dear to the secretary of state.

For example, Sodano has always pursued a very submissive policy with China, in agreement with the most pro-Chinese of the cardinals in the curia, Roger Etchegaray of France, the author of a book on this subject that is almost utterly silent on the oppression of which Christians are the victims in that country.

Sodano once said that, in order to establish diplomatic relations with China, he was ready to move the Vatican nunciature from Taipei to Beijing “not tomorrow, but this very evening.” This statement provoked great irritation among the persecuted Chinese Catholics, and in particular with the combative bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, according to whom religious liberty should come before any sort of diplomatic accommodation.
The change of course desired by Benedict XVI also draws the Church closer to Israel. Sodano was a great admirer of Yasser Arafat, and is a supporter of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who is ardently pro-Palestinian. But pope Ratzinger immediately flanked Sabbah with a more moderate auxiliary who will succeed him in two years, Fouad Twal of Jordan, previously the archbishop of Tunis. And is planning to appoint as the bishop of the Hebrew Christians who live in the state of Israel the present custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is viewed very favorably by the Israeli authorities.
Not just Sodano's politics, but his morals are also in question. Can anyone doubt his being the second in command at the Vatican was a huge part of the sexual abuse candals with this revelation?
With him [Sodano] gone, also gone will be a barrier to a decision on the fate of the powerful founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, with whom Sodano is very close. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has completed a thoroughly detailed preliminary investigation of the accusations against Maciel – sexual abuse of his seminarians and violation of the sacrament of confession.

Last Good Friday, shortly before he was elected pope, Ratzinger indicated this sort of “filth” as one of the evils that must be eliminated from the Church.
Yep, sure looks like the Pope is all out of bubblegum.