Krauss on Reaction by Islamic World to Pope's Remarks

In response to the controversy swirling around remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI at a September 12 university address, Professor Michael Krauss suggests that Benedict has "introduced the world audience to a spectacle of irony that Sophocles would have trouble besting," in a TCS Daily op-ed.

Admit We're Peaceful—or Else, TCS Daily, September 27, 2006. By J. Peter Pham and Michael I. Krauss.


"Addressing a packed St. Peter's Square during his weekly general audience last Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI revisited his September 12 lecture to academics at the University of Regensburg. The pontiff, a celebrated university professor, explained that his controversial reference to the an episode from the life of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos was a pedagogical device 'to introduce the audience to the drama and the actuality of the topic...[of] the problem of the relationship between religion and violence.'

"While pundits spun this latest address as another papal apology, one cannot help but wonder if the erudite Benedict was not scoring another point at the expense of his bien pensant critics. These, including the editorial board of The New York Times, condemned his Regensburg speech as 'tragic and dangerous' and demanded a 'deep and persuasive apology' for the 'pain' they caused. The precise word the pope used in his St. Peter's Square address, delivered in Italian, was drammaticita. This not only means 'drama,' but also 'dramatic power' in the theatrical sense of tragic or dramatic irony—as when the words and actions of characters belie the real situation, which the spectators fully realize.

"Pope Benedict concluded his reflections on his Regensburg remarks by noting: 'I trust that after the initial reaction, my words at the University of Regensburg can constitute an impulse and encouragement toward positive, even self-critical dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith.' Moderate Muslims as well as Jews and Christians should pray that on this count, his words do not foretell more dramatic irony."