Identity and Openness
John Allen has his usual perceptive analysis of the Pope’s visit to Turkey. Among other points he makes:
Relativism, not Islam, is Benedict’s real bogeyman, and it explains why he believes he can “square the circle” by preaching Christian identity and openness to Muslims at the same time. Whatever their differences, Christians and Muslims believe in God, in public morality, and in truth, and in the pope’s mind that’s the basis for real dialogue.
Whether Muslims will buy it, of course, is another question — though the generally positive response to Benedict in Turkey suggests it’s not as implausible a hypothesis as it might seem.
Much more on the Pope’s visit with helpful links in Amy Welborn, including this classic Benedict proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ during his homily this morning at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul:
Gathered this morning in this house of prayer consecrated to the Lord, how can we not evoke the other fine image that Saint Paul uses in speaking of the Church, the image of the building whose stones are closely fitted together to form a single structure, and whose cornerstone, on which everything else rests, is Christ? He is the source of the new life given us by the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Saint John has just proclaimed it: “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water”. This gushing water, this living water which Jesus promised to the Samaritan woman, was seen by the prophets Zechariah and Ezechiel issuing forth from the side of the Temple, so that it could make fruitful the waters of the Dead Sea: a marvellous image of the promise of life that God has always made to his people and that Jesus came to fulfil. In a world where men are so loath to share the earth’s goods and there is a dramatic shortage of water, this good so precious for the life of the body, the Church discovers that she possesses an even greater treasure. As the Body of Christ, she has been charged to proclaim his Gospel to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19), transmitting to the men and women of our time the Good News which not only illuminates but overturns their lives, even to the point of conquering death itself. This Good News is not just a word, but a person, Christ himself, risen and alive! By the grace of the sacraments, the water flowing from his open side on the Cross has become an overflowing spring, “rivers of living water”, a flood that no one can halt, a gift that restores life. How could Christians keep for themselves alone what they have received? How could they hoard this treasure and bury this spring? The Church’s mission is not to preserve power, or to gain wealth; her mission is to offer Christ, to give a share in Christ’s own life, man’s most precious good, which God himself gives us in his Son.