There was a very interesting article about the Pope and Islam in yesterday's WSJ:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116442352231632531.html?mod=home_we_banner_left
Since the WSJ's site is subscription only, here is an excerpt from a blog:http://dogwooddell.blogspot.com/2006/11/pope-benedict-turkey.html
The Wall Street Journal's Weekend Edition had a front page article today on Pope Benedict XVI (subscription required). The reporters interviewed Robert Spaemann, a conservative German Catholic philosopher who has known Benedict for years, to discuss Benedict’s vision.
For Benedict, the modern age is defined by growing secularism in the West and the rise of religious fanaticism most everywhere else. In order to fulfill its mission, he believes, the Church needs to shun both forces. Benedict is "pessimistic about the compatibility of the Church and the modern world," says Mr. Spaemann.
Benedict preaches a renewal of the Church's fundamental teachings and rituals, and is considering expanding the use of the Latin Mass. Benedict's emphasis on tradition risks alienating a broad cross-section of Catholics who argue the Church needs to become more accessible to maintain its increasingly diverse flock. Only once the Church has reclaimed its own distinct identity, he says, can it mount an effective resistance against its chief foe, a "dictatorship of relativism."
The Pope is strongly concerned about the secular world and the world of Islam. At Regensburg, Pope Benedict made a bold position. Within in his speech, he made the controversial statement that upset the Islamic world, but he made a key observation. The reporters incorporated it in the article excerpt here:
True interreligious dialogue between Islam and Catholicism is blocked because of the two faiths' divergent interpretations of the role of reason. Catholicism views reason as integral to understanding and interpreting God; Islam, he argues, sees God as being beyond reason.
Father Fessio (Head of Ignatius Press) described Benedict's position on Islam in this way: "He's saying that if your view of God...is that he's so transcendent that he transcends all human categories, including rationality, well then you can justify the irrational, including violence, to spread religion, including terrorism."
On November 28th, Pope Benedict leaves for Turkey. This is a trip worth reading about on a daily basis. Thought the Wall Street Journal is a fine publication, I encourage one to follow John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter. He is the English speaking world's Vatican expert. In this article, Allen covers the challenges awaiting Benedict in Turkey.
and, from Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI_Islam_controversy
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: "For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Muslim R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry.
So, where do we fit into this continuum?