Sunday, December 03, 2006

Assessing Turkey

Dom has some great thoughts on analyzing the Pope's trip to Turkey here. Among them:

[W]e 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.

Indeed. If you don't know Benedict's position on syncretism I'd like to see what rock you've been living under the last 30 or so years. His written train of thought is more voluminous and thorough than just about anyone you'll find with things so deep to say. I'm sure there are those who are irate he did not whip out a stashed bottle of oil and reconsecrate Hagia Sophia. But really, just exactly what good would that have done? I would love some day to see (or even better to attend) a Mass said in Hagia Sophia, don't get me wrong. But to make that kind of an act now is kind of like slow-trotting a solo home run when you're down by ten runs - it just doesn't make sense.

No, you wait until it means something, until you can do something with it. Don't make a rash, brash decision now just because it makes you feel better. Some day, if it is God's will, the Pope will take that slow walk in and step on home plate, pointing to the sky, pointing us to God. That will be the home run worth waiting for.

This Pope, I will say, has an impeccable sense of timing and a magnificent grasp of the higher ordering of things in this world. I'd say things went far better than I'd hoped for at the beginning, and I'd also say that is what happens when good people like the Pope stick to what they intend to do (ecumenical relations with the Orthodox, a pastoral visit to the Catholic communities and pressing the issue of religious freedom) and don't let themselves get forced into what others would like them to do (such as authoring a direct confrontation with Islam). God works in His time, and the smartest thing for us to do is work with Him in that.