A "news" piece titled "Pope Invites New Look at Catholicism," written by Brian Murphy, makes a number of interesting statements about Church history and relations between Catholicism and Islam. Here's a little pop quiz based on Murphy's article:
1. "There is this impression among Muslims that the pope was saying, `We are superior and we are without problems," said Ali El-Samman, president of the interfaith committee for Egypt's High Islamic Council. "The history books will tell you otherwise."
Is that "impression" true? Does the fact that the Pope focused the vast majority of his lecture on Christianity and secularism mean anything? Would you like to see a list of the "history books" referred to by El-Samman?
2. The Vatican in recent years has tried to clear away some historical baggage, including a 2001 apology by Pope John Paul II for the medieval Crusades, which are widely seen by Muslims and Orthodox Christians as Western invasions.
Can you find a statement by John Paul II apologizing for the Crusades? If not, why not? Is an "invasion" still considered an invasion if the Crusades began in 1095 when Pope Urban II responded to pleas for help from the Byzantine emperor, who was being attacked by Muslims?
3. But a professor of Islamic law at Qatar University, Muhammad Ayash al-Kubaisi, proposed another route: A debate with the pope on the history their faiths. His offer, posted last week on the Web site of the Al-Jazeera television network, contends Christians should study their own turbulent past.
Who would win the debate if it took place? Why? Also, is it possible to exist for 2,000 years and not have a "turbulent past"? Is it possible to exist for forty years and not have a "turbulent past"? Finally, does Islam appear to have a "turbulent past"? Present? Future?
4. Crusaders in 1099 captured Jerusalem and began wholesale attacks on its population, including Muslims and Jews, historians say. At the same time in other parts of the Muslim world, a golden age of science, medicine and learning was under way with its intellectual hub in Baghdad.
Do these mysterious "historians" note why the Crusaders were so interested in winning back a city and land that had once been largely Christian? What happened to Islam's "golden age"?
5. Religious scholars have noted that Ottoman policy did not demand conversion to Islam across its realm, which covered much of the Balkans at its peak. But some places, notably Albania and Bosnia, welcomed the faith. In Orthodox Christian Greece, an old saying is still widely used: Better the turban than the papal tiara.
And in some places it is said that it is better to say, "Better the turban than the papal tiara," than have your head cut off. Oops, that wasn't a question. Should it have been?
6. Then the infamous tribunals during the Spanish Inquisition persecuted and executed thousands of Christians for perceived heresies and conspiracies -- including scientist-astronomer Galileo Galilei. He was "rehabilitated" by the Vatican during John Paul's papacy and the late pontiff wrote that "the Inquisition represents almost the symbol ... of scandal"
Was Galileo "persecuted"? Executed? If John Paul II's remark, quoted here, is supposedly an admission of bad things done, why does this 2004 AP story use the same quote as evidence that John Paul II wasn't willing to admit that the Inquisition was as bad as it is often portrayed?
7. In recent decades, Islamic groups and others have increasingly targeted Christian missionaries for allegations of forced conversions and as symbols of Western interference.
Have you ever heard of anyone being forced to convert to Islam? Have you heard any recent stories of Christian missionaries holding guns to the heads of captives and demanding that they convert?
8. But at a religious workshop of Muslims and Christians earlier this year, the Rev. Hans Ucko, a representative from the nearly 350-member World Council of Churches, said no real understanding is possible until the faiths look beyond their own texts. "The Quran, Bible and other sacred books should come with a warning label," he said. "It should say, `These books may contain passages that can be interpreted for violence and intolerance.'"
Does anyone other than the MSM pay attention to the World Council of Churches? Have you ever actually read a document produced by the WCC? If so, do you think it should have come with a warning label that states, "This document may contain passages that can be interpreted as silly and politically correct"? Do you think that all sixteen people who read the document should sue the WCC for wasting their time?
You have concluded today's pop quiz. Since it was based on a news report from the MSM, there are no true or false answers to the questions in the quiz. What is most important is your opinion, especially if it is uninformed by logic, evidence, facts, and decent scholarship. Remember, we care how you feel. Thank you.