Cultural Psychology

Archive for November 2006

Positive Catholic-Muslim Relations

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We are seeing more irresponsible and inflammatory statements in the world news media concerning Pope Benedict XVI and Catholic-Islam relations.

Can we just state matters simply? Very well, here are things stated simply:

  • The problem is not Catholics.
  • The problem is not Pope Benedict XVI.
  • The problem is not Islam.
  • The problem is the news media.

Christians and Muslims in the modern world need to comprehend and deal with the fact that at this point in human history, the “enemy” is no longer another nation or religion. The “enemy” is a complex system of human institutions–of which the news media are a prime component–which seeks to diminish and de-humanize human beings. We have, in effect, created a monster of technology. We have created a new Tower of Babel. But unlike the old one, this one is active, dynamic, intelligent. The new Tower of Babel is intelligent–because it has motives and adapts–but is not conscious; it is soul-less; it is a machine. It is a mega-system, a mega-institution, more complex and insidious than anything humanity has faced before.

As is true with any intelligent complex system, one of the primary motives of this Tower of Babel is to preserve itself. And to accomplish this it must, as one of its first priorities, seek to destroy, diminish and oppose the parts of human nature–love, intelligence, spirituality, peace, wisdom–that threaten its existence.

So that is what we have. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus–people of all faiths: wake up and smell the coffee! It’s time to join together and face the
common enemy, which is this thing I call the new Tower of Babel.

Perhaps the first thing on our agenda (that is, after having prayed for help and guidance) is to define exactly what this thing is. It is not, strictly speaking, identifiedwith any particular institution. It is not the United States government–though we can all too easily point to ways in which parts of the US government are compliant in the service of this thing. President Eisenhower once told Americans to “beware the military-industrial complex.” Nobody has defined what a “military-industrial complex” is, but we all have a general intuition that it is a kind of huge, organized, intelligent system–a complex. So, we have a precedent of sorts for our understanding. This thing we face, this new Tower of Babel, is, I propose, a member of this same general categoryof entities as the military-industrial complex–though even vaster and more insidious. But it remains for us to understand what this category of things and how to cope with it.

Now, as to whether the Vatican has any kind of anti-Muslim bias, that is utter absurdity. This is a fabrication of the news media designed to sell newspapers by fostering anxiety, jealousy, fear and hatred. If there is any doubt about the genuine friendly feelings of the Vatican towards Islam, and other religions, I call attention to two recent representative statements released by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.



Message for the end of Ramadan – ‘Id al-Fitr 1427 H. / 2006 A.D.

Christians and Muslims: in confident dialogue aimed at solving together the challenges of our world

Dear Muslim friends,

1. I am happy to address this message to you for the first time as President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and to extend the Council’s warmest greetings as you celebrate the conclusion of the fast of Ramadan…

4. As Christian and Muslim believers, are we not the first to be called to offer our specific contribution to resolve this serious situation and these complex problems? Without doubt, the credibility of religions and also the credibility of our religious leaders and all believers is at stake. If we do not play our part as believers, many will question the usefulness of religion and the integrity of all men and women who bow down before God…

7. With sentiments of sincere friendship I greet you and entrust to you my thoughts for your consideration. I beseech Almighty God that they will contribute to the promotion everywhere of the relations of greater understanding and co-operation that have arisen between Christians and Muslims, and thus offer a significant contribution to the re-establishment and strengthening of peace both within nations and between peoples, in accordance with the profound desires of all believers and all men and women of goodwill.

Paul Cardinal Poupard, President


Message of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
TO the Hindus on the Feast of Diwali 2006

Dear Hindu Friends,

God loves us all without exception and his love is unconditional. Our human response to God’s love must be spelt out in concrete stewardship of God’s creatures, especially to human beings. It is urgent and necessary that believers of different religions manifest jointly to the world that hatred can be overcome by love…

Written by John Uebersax

November 29, 2006 at 12:00 pm