Obviously, in today’s age Muslims have turned more violent and Christians have become less violent. Nevertheless, before you attempt to create interfaith dialogue, you should - especially when you claim to be a representative of Christ - remove the beam in your own eye before you address the mote in the eye of a brother. And this the current Pope has not done and neither did his predecessor. I am aware that the Catholic Church
has modified its outer behavior to become less violent, yet the underlying belief that caused violence in previous centuries has not been completely removed from the Church.
It is a simple fact that if you talk about interfaith dialogue while still maintaining the belief that your religion is superior, then you are acting as a hypocrite. The Catholic Church is still based on the following assumptions:
a… Christianity is the only way to salvation and all people who are not baptized will go to Hell.
b… The Catholic Church is the only true Christian church.
c… The Pope is the only true representative of Christ on Earth.
It is not my intention here to comment on the validity of these claims as I have done so before. Yet even a person who believes the claims are valid should be willing to admit that if you believe that your religion is the only true religion and that all people should be converted to it, you cannot at the same time honestly engage in interfaith dialogue. The real purpose of interfaith dialogue should be to foster understanding between religions that
can lead to mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. So as long as both the Catholic Church and Islamic leaders hold on to the belief that their religion is the only true one, there can be no meaningful interfaith dialogue. There can be no peaceful coexistence between groups who claim exclusivity and seek to convert everyone.
Take note that I am not hereby saying that interfaith dialogue is worthless. On the contrary, many of the people who are engaging in such dialogue have already let go of the belief in exclusivity and superiority. Therefore, such talks are essential for reducing the tension between religions. Nevertheless, unless people also address the topic of exclusivity, there is a very real limit to how far such dialogue can go.
So, in the case of Christians, there will be no real progress in interfaith dialogue until the Christian community is willing to openly and honestly address the issue of whether Christianity is the only true religion and whether all non-believers will “burn forever in hell.” Until that happens, I will consider that those who claim to be my followers are acting as hypocrites and refusing to remove the beam in their own eye. For I tell you that the belief that the outer religion of Christianity is the only road to salvation is the major beam in the eye of the worldwide Christian community.
So should the Pope apologize for using the quote?
A good question-as they say when they really have no answer.
I think the Pope should have had enough sense not to use the quote. Now that the act cannot be undone, one could say that apologizing would be an act of humility and an admission that he made a mistake. Yet for the Pope to admit that he made a mistake would be seen by many Catholics as undermining the
claim that he is the true representative of Christ and that the Catholic Church is the only true church. Thus, the Pope could reason that in order to maintain the integrity of his church, he should not apologize. I am not saying I agree with this, I am simply describing the temptation facing the Pope.
Objectively speaking, the Pope has no need to apologize as he has not caused any offense. It is Muslims who have chosen to take offense and it is a fact that Muslims are far too prone to take offense. Thus, apologizing could be seen as submitting to the obvious attempt from Muslim leaders to use the threat of violence to bully world opinion into remaining silent on the violent side of Islam.