Saturday, September 30, 2006
I would like to thank Michael, the day after his onomastico, for making available the entire text of Professor David Nirenberg’s “Paleologus and Us.”
I cannot disagree with Nirenberg’s statement that Pope Benedict made a declaration of ongoing and universal Catholic teaching, and that this is “exactly what we should expect from the vicar of St. Peter.” Actually, the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, and he is the successor of Peter even though the term “vicar of St. Peter” had been used earlier in the Church’s history. But, to borrow from Thomas More, the title used does not detract from the Pope’s authority. But I digress from my principal remarks.
Nirenberg’s assertion that the Pope’s “lecture was a polemic posing as a dialogue” misses a major point of what I earlier identified as three major themes in the Regensburg address. [See my posting of September 13.] The first concerned freedom, and since he was addressing an academic audience, I chose in my earlier posting to concentrate on academic freedom. But, the Pope’s quotation from the Koran “there is no compulsion in religion” also speaks of religious freedom. This is something that Professor Nirenberg does not address. I think this is an important theme that we will hear about time and again during Benedict’s pontificate.
In this regard, Cardinal Bertone, the new Secretary of State, emphasized the importance of religious freedom and conscience in his address delivered yesterday to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. The Pope himself previously addressed these matters of liberty of religion and conscience and how they relate to the search for truth—God’s truth—in his January 9, 2006 address to the same diplomatic corps. Unfortunately, Professor Nirenberg did not comment on this vital aspect of the Regensburg address. Instead, he leaves us with the inaccurate and tired depiction of Benedict as the “the Rottweiler” pursuing a “dogged defense of doctrine” that he advanced as a cardinal but now doing so baring “his teeth as pope.” The professor’s canine references do little to explain what Benedict is about and what he said on September 12, and that is a doggone shame. RJA sj