Rob Kall, via Charlie Sykes.
What the Pope was lecturing on, in his modest, quiet, careful way was the crucial role of reason. His triple play consisted in using reason to get three different runners out at three different bases.
He told Christians and other religious people that reason is indispensable for disciplining religious faith. As he put it in an earlier lecture, it is important for reason to take the toxicity out of religion.
He told secularists, who define reason solely as science and limit it to empirical knowledge, that their grasp of reason does them an injustice by its narrowness. This tunnel vision cuts them off from many forms of human understanding and insight. It also prevents them from having reasoned conversation with that vast majority of the world’s people who are religious.
Finally, practically as an aside — as if he had intended to make a double play, then saw an opportunity to make a third out — he also tried to save the honor of Islam as a religion that once had a high and civilizing tradition of reason (and in many quarters still does). He tried to do this by pointing out that those in Islam’s midst who are seen daily preaching and practicing violence are injuring the faith’s good name.
Ratzinger is not stupid. Including the reference to the passage that has incited Muslim anger was no accident. It was a calculated, intentional strategy designed to help George Bush and the Republicans in the 2006 elections, just like the Catholic church systematically helped Bush and the Republicans in the 2004 elections, through Cardinals and Bishops who attacked Kerry.
The Vatican has become a partner with the republicans, so they coordinate, come the final stretch of election time, to make things happen, make statements, take positions that help the Republicans.
They help the republicans because the Republican positions on birth control, abortion, stem cells, gay marriage, pre-marital sex are closest to the Roman Catholic Church's positions.
By firing up an angry Muslim response, a predictable response after the cartoon episode earlier in the year, the Pontiff in red has created a media situation that makes nervous soccer Moms and quick to ignite Christian nationalists rev up their fear, their xenophobia and... their loyalty to the Republicans-- who not too deeply beneath the surface-- are racist, anti-Muslim, anti non-Christian.
To spell it out, it seems that the Pope intentionally drew an angry, violent, anti-Catholic, possibly anti-Christian response from Muslims on the street in the Arab world. This makes great TV-- burning the Pope or Christians in Effigy, threats to terror Bomb the Vatican and Catholic Churches. This is designed to raise the hackles of American Christians, to intensify the fear of Muslim terrorism, to boost the belief that there are 1.1 billion Muslims plotting against Americans.