Triumph or capitulation?

Triumph or capitulation?

A comment made by Fr. Martin Fox on the previous entry about Pope Benedict at Turkey’s Blue Mosque is worth bringing out and putting at the top of the page:

Seems to me this is an event that acquires most of its meaning from the lens through which one views it.

If you view it through a fearful/defensive/paranoid lens (surf the blogosphere, you’ll find plenty of examples), it is capitulation, “political correctness,” fake nicey-nice, syncretism, etc.

If you view it through the lens of confident trust in the Holy Spirit and in the ability of our very able pope, it is considered, deliberate, courteous, astute.

If you view it through the lens of ultimate triumph, it is victorious, prophetic.

If the latter is less clear, consider—wasn’t there a question some time back about an Imam visiting a Christian cathedral, and how awful that was? Well, which is it: is a leader of a religion coming to the turf of another a sign of strength or of weakness?

Seems to me the very fact a priest entered a mosque represents an invasion of Christian sanctity-— Christ himself has entered, in persona Christi capitis; in fact, not merely a priest, but a bishop, a successor to the Apostles; and not any successor, but Peter’s successor!

Now, some won’t be happy unless he came tossing holy water around and making the sign of the cross. But I would say the pope’s very person—as bishop and as successor to Peter—is vastly more significant in bringing Christ into that mosque.

Of course the Muslim triumphalists think they’ve won something, but they believe in Islamic eschatology, whereas we know the truth. Why should we see things through their lens?

I would add that we should consider everything that this Pope has written and said about such interreligious events in the past, especially the peace summits at Assisi and his criticisms of acts that might be considered syncretistic. Considering all that he has said and written, should we assume that he has simply capitulated to Muslims? I saw one RadTrad writer who criticized the Pope for crossing his arms while in the mosque since “everyone knows” that this is the Muslim prayer position called “the posture of tranquility.” This is a prejudicial interpretation. How about giving him the benefit of the doubt and examining the whole context of who he is and what he has said before? Can one never cross one’s arms in the presence of Muslims lest it be interpreted as a Muslim prayer? The parsing of every gesture and action has reached ludicrous proportions.

The fact is that no one but the Pope knows what he intended and unless you’re a mind reader, you have no way of knowing. What prayer did he pray as he stood there in silence, holding his pectoral cross? My guess is that “Allah” didn’t figure into it, but that’s just my supposition based on what I know of the man. And consider that! The Holy Father, Christ’s Vicar on Earth, walked into the most important mosque in Turkey carrying a cross and gave witness to Christ’s sacrifice.

But as Father Fox said, to see it in those terms would require some people to give up their “woe is me, we’re all doomed” attitude about the Church and the world.

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  • If you watch the video, the entire time he had his arms crossed he had his hand on his cross.  He prayed both longer and seemed to be in deeper prayer than the iman, which some Muslims noted and saw in that that not only is the Holy Father not a Muslim but he is in fact holy and close to God.