Controversies never end between the Holy See and Islam. Dialogue between a Vatican group and an Egyptian one is now suspended in a surprising move. From what I can tell, some individuals are easily swayed by sentiment and the immediacy of political power and not by true faith and reason. Not to mention the poor translations of speeches given by the Pope. This is not a new issue and it is a matter of concern. I am inclined to say that the tensions originate not in Pope Benedict’s statements on Islam and Christianity, religious freedom and reciprocity, and faith and reason, but the tensions in Egypt (and other Islamic countries) over secularizing tendencies of some government leaders and the more conservative religious types. Islam, like Christianity, is in a precarious situation with the faith not being able to fruitfully interact in society. They are facing what 1968 was for the West. Islam is losing ground with many people, though it’s hard to prove this on occasion. On the other hand, I am not convinced, from what I read coming from certain religious leaders in Islam, that broadening reason by faith is a priority. They say one thing and do something opposite. Many of them can’t (won’t?) distinguish secularity from secularism. Certainly conflicting statements and reversing previously held “positions” is confusing and leading to heightened anxieties.

Now the Islamic University of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s most prestigious institution of higher learning, is accusing Pope Benedict with propagating a negative attitudes toward Islam and therefore freezing dialogue. Those who hold that idea aren’t reading what the Pope has said. And our consistent approach is openness to dialogue. What does that tell you? And who, really, does the dialogue benefit? The answer: the West according to some Muslims.
This statement comes a month before the meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions. provided this story today. I highly recommend it.