Putting Things in Context

Published: Wednesday, 09/20/2006 12:00 am EDT

The last few days have been rather unsettling. We have seen images of anger and protest, burnings in effigy, and more disturbingly, young children with toy guns marching with adults shouting angry statements against Christianity and against the Pope. The Holy Father is genuinely shocked that Muslim believers have been offended by a part of his lecture at the University of Regensburg during the papal visit to Bavaria. The Holy Father is genuinely disturbed, as all people are, of the scenes of anger and hurt. Undeniably, many Muslims throughout the world have been offended by the Pope's address. What is also undeniable is that the Holy Father has communicated his apology for that offence, for that hurt, on three separate occasions: last Friday, through the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi; last Saturday, through the Cardinal Secretary of State, His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone; and finally, through his own personal and unreserved expression of sorrow for the offence caused and his unreserved disassociation from the views of the Bzyantine emperor whom he had quoted, a quotation which the Pope had already disavowed by his description of it as 'brusque'.

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