The Power of Faith

The Belmont Club posts, here, on two events central to the controversy about the Pope’s remarks.

First, he quotes an ABC News report:

Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that didn’t reflect his personal opinion. "These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought," Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.

Second, he quotes a Reuters report on the death of a nun:

Gunmen shot and killed an Italian nun at a children’s hospital in Mogadishu on Sunday in an attack that drew immediate speculation of links to Muslim anger over the Pope’s recent remarks on Islam. The Catholic nun’s bodyguard also died in the latest attack apparently aimed at foreign personnel in volatile Somalia.

The assassinations were a blow to Mogadishu’s new Islamist rulers’ attempt to prove they have pacified one of the world’s most lawless cities since chasing out warlords in June. The bodyguard died instantly, but the nun was rushed into an operating theatre at the hospital after the shooting.

"After serious injuries, she died in the hospital treatment room," doctor Ali Mohamed Hassan told Reuters. "She was shot three times in the back."

In his commentary following the dispatches, Wretchard makes the following observations:

Neither the Pope nor the Italian sister would probably care to start an argument with Islam, despite everything that’s happened. After all the Pope had just made a point about the inadmissibility of violence in resolving matters of faith. And the Italian nun died in the line of a duty fully understanding that being killed was an occupational hazard in certain Islamic countries. Whatever the Islamic world may think, there is very little prospect of the Catholic Church calling for another Crusade. It’s a simple fact that most Christians won’t do that, as Christians.

The emphasis on the last two sentences is mine.  He goes on to say:

But it would be untrue to say the recent controversy over the Islamic world’s reaction to the Pope’s remarks have no effect. Just as the public will probably read the Pope’s sorrow for the reaction to his remarks as being sorry for his remarks — that is, as an apology– much of the simple public will probably regard the apology as as the product of a bullying Islamic world as abetted by the liberal establishment, of which the nun’s recent death is an example. And while such sentiments are unlikely to manifest themselves in any large shift in the political proportions of Western countries, it will have the effect of hardening the attitudes of those who suspect they are being sold down the river by the liberals and the left. Not by any great measure, but by some small increment. Added on to the context of train bombings, airline scares and the ceaseless belligerence of militant Islamic preachers in the West, it will make unctuous remarks at how carelessly and insensitively the Pope has treated Islam just that much more nauseating. The New York Times for example says "Because the world listens carefully to the words of any pope, Benedict XVI needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology for his hurtful speech." The NYT may be playing to an audience, but not since the phrase "let them eat cake" has there been such an unwitting example of contempt for those outside the charmed circle. We have learned less from Pope Benedict’s words then we have discovered from the reaction to them.

Let’s go back to the sentences I emphasized, which may have been written to provide a lead for the second paragraph.

Whatever the Islamic world may think, there is very little prospect of the Catholic Church calling for another Crusade. It’s a simple fact that most Christians won’t do that, as Christians.

Wretchard is saying that the Catholic Church, the basis for all modern Christianity, and the source for much of what we consider to be the values of our Western Civilization, has, in these modern times, become an institution that can and will defend itself only in the arena of ideas. In other words, it has forsaken any obligation to physically protect its believers from the belligerence of non-believers.  Not only that, but the state of Faith today is such, he observes, that even if a call to arms was made, the "Faithful" would not heed the Pope’s call.

But the position of the Catholic Church and its flock is no different from the rest of the branches of Christianity. There will be no call to arms in defense of their Faith.  No one will be asked, or allowed, to sacrifice their lives or their possessions in the name of their Faith.  In the post modern world, Faith is not a central tenet in our existence.

Islam, on the other hand, requires a true commitment of faith from its adherents.  To a true believer, and there are many, being asked to sacrifice in the furtherance of their Faith is a natural, and honorable, request.

If we are engaged in a world struggle for domination, confronted by an enemy whose Faith is the driving raison d’etre, and for whom sacrifice is given without hesitation, what will sustain us through the war? Capitalism, Secularism, Selfishness? Will Faith ultimately be the saving Grace that we turn to to prevail in this struggle of Will?

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