The past three days have seen some very interesting events transpiring at the Vatican. The Grand Mufti of Bosnia and his entourage of 29 other Muslims are meeting with a French Catholic Cardinal and his team of 29 supporters.
The topic of the meetings for the first two days is the love of God and loving one's neighbor. Benedict XVI addressed the group today.
The purpose of the meetings is to establish dialogue so that, as much as possible, future misunderstanding and conflict can be avoided. Muslims worldwide exploded into a frenzy of rage and protest over a remark the pope made in a speach two years ago; that much of the violence in the (religious) world was the work of Muslims.
The second round of rage, tire burning, flag burning, and effigy's ablaze was ignited by a Danish cartoonist who caricaturized Mohammad in an unflattering way.
Evidently there are a lot of short-tempered, short-fused people of religion who are also long on revenge. After the death of
Mohamed (A.D. 632) there was disagreement as to his successor. Someone(s) picked the wrong name, from the wrong family, from the wrong side of the debate and Islam was split. There has been violence ever since.
Never, never, ever use the word c-r-u-s-a-d-e in the presence of a Muslim. (I'm spelling the word rather than say it straight out loud). Rome sent thousands of men to their death to battle Mohammad and his followers. They were promised eternal life if they joined the fight. Untold numbers were slaughtered on both sides of this war between religions. (It seems odd to even put such words to page).
Anyway, 'what we have here is a failure to communicate.' So if the Catholics and Muslims have killed each other over the centuries, and if the Sunni's and Shi'ites are blowing up each other still, then how high is the hope that two ancient enemies will suddenly come to agreement and simply agree to love their neighbor.
There is more on the agenda. Benedict wants an agreement that Catholics can build cathedrals and churches in lands where they are not now welcome; exempla gratia, Saudi Arabia. His reasoning--and it makes perfect sense--goes like this, except it's in German: " The world lets you guys build your mosques where ever you want. How come we can't build a church where we want?"
The pope is hoping to get reciprocity out of this and I'm thinking, in English: "Don't hold out hope, pope."
One fascinating facet on all this remains; each of these religions is not just a religion: each is a religiopolitical behemoth (1.3 billion Muslims, 1 billion Catholics) and each aspires to ultimately hold the reigns of power in the world and over the world. In the past each has been the biggest and toughest in their own neighborhood and there is every reason to believe that aspirations have not changed. Incidentally, have you noticed lately how the neighborhood is changing?
Oh Lord; what is a poor Protestant to do?
Stay tuned to world events. The Answer is on the way.
God Bless. e.c.