Benedict XVI: Catholic Church Faced and Embraced Enlightenment at Vatican II–Now it is the turn of Islam!

Here is a startling idea. Contrary to the judgement of many conservative Christians today, the Enlightenment was a “Good Thing”. In whose estimation? No one less than Pope Benedict XVI himself. He praised Vatican II precisely for facing up to the challenge of the Enlightenment and embracing it (albeit in a judicious and specific fashion). He said this in his annual ADDRESS TO THE ROMAN CURIA in the Vatican on Friday, 22 December 2006. Furthermore, it is encumbant upon Islam to come to terms with the Enlightenment in a similar manner appropriate to its own beliefs.

Read on (Caution: this is the sort of thing that will make the SSPX guys and the sedevacantists squirm):

In a dialogue to be intensified with Islam, we must bear in mind the fact that the Muslim world today is finding itself faced with an urgent task. This task is very similar to the one that has been imposed upon Christians since the Enlightenment, and to which the Second Vatican Council, as the fruit of long and difficult research, found real solutions for the Catholic Church.

It is a question of the attitude that the community of the faithful must adopt in the face of the convictions and demands that were strengthened in the Enlightenment.

On the one hand, one must counter a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from the life of the community and from public organizations, thereby depriving man of his specific criteria of judgment.

On the other, one must welcome the true conquests of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its practice, and recognize these also as being essential elements for the authenticity of religion.

As in the Christian community, where there has been a long search to find the correct position of faith in relation to such beliefs – a search that will certainly never be concluded once and for all -, so also the Islamic world with its own tradition faces the immense task of finding the appropriate solutions in this regard.

The content of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims will be at this time especially one of meeting each other in this commitment to find the right solutions. We Christians feel in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom. In this sense, the two dialogues of which I have spoken penetrate each other.

The real novelty of what the Pope says here is (in part) the open acknowledgement that the Catholic Church had to struggle toward a realisation of the truths relating to human rights and religious freedom. He seems to be openly acknowledging that the Church does not have an unblemished reputation in this regard. He is not, therefore, holding up a spotless Christianity in contrast to a benighted Islam–rather he is saying: We have had to face the same problems and the same realities about ourselves as you do. The Church has walked (is walking?) a path through this bog/maze, and we are offering to walk alongside you if you are prepared to take the journey with us.

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