Church reinstates Islamic department

Tensions are running high between the Islamic world and the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI. In order to avoid further alienation, and to improve relations between the two faiths, the Pope has re-instated the Vatican’s Islam department, according to The move means everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, since he will now have a little more perspective as to the sensibilities¬Ě and grievances of the fragile and easily offended Islamic faith.

Although I do applaud the move for its sheer strategic purposes, I can’t help but feel the department itself is a testament to the need to placate a faith that has become dangerously reactive. It seems these days that everyone is walking on eggshells, lest we invoke the ire and anger of the Muslim world. The realities of such actions are clear and obvious; many fundamentalists are not afraid to resort to extreme violence at any provocation, and as such the Vatican has re-instated the one department that has the power to directly advise the Pope on the matter (probably reminding him that the two faiths have been at each others throats for a long time, and quoting any manuscripts from past eras is bound to contain anti-Muslim rhetoric).

Why can religions make the privileged claim that their philosophies and beliefs are beyond questioning and reproach? Why are we all muzzled or browbeaten when any word of protest is uttered? Are religions really that frightened of opposition? You would think their own aspirations to being the ultimate and universal truth would make them immune from the cries of others. Why should they care what we think if they alone hold a privileged place in heaven?

On the other hand, the Pope should be the last person to throw rocks, considering he lives in the world’s biggest glass house. Perhaps he has recognized that the last thing the fractured and continually waning power of his institution needs is a long drawn out religious fight. In either case, let us hope the department can keep Ratzinger from putting his holy foot in his saintly mouth.

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