“It’s an especially nice touch to suggest that many traditional Christians are upset about the concert segment in which Madonna hangs on a disco-mirrored crucifix because it contains too much religion. This is something like saying that Muslims were upset about the Danish cartoons because they contained too much religion, as opposed to the fact that they contained religious content that they considered offensive.”
“But Western reactions to Muslim “days of anger” have followed a familiar pattern, too. Last winter, some Western newspapers defended their Danish colleagues, even going so far as to reprint the cartoons — but others, including the Vatican, attacked the Danes for giving offense. Some leading Catholics have now defended the pope — but others, no doubt including some Danes, have complained that his statement should have been better vetted, or never given at all.
I don’t mean that we all need to rush to defend or to analyze this particular sermon; [oops, this one] I leave that to experts on Byzantine theology. But we can all unite in our support for freedom of speech — surely the pope is allowed to quote from medieval texts — and of the press. And we can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies and elderly nuns. By “we” I mean here the White House, the Vatican, the German Greens, the French Foreign Ministry, NATO, Greenpeace, Le Monde and Fox News — Western institutions of the left, the right and everything in between. True, these principles sound pretty elementary — “we’re pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence” — but in the days since the pope’s sermon, I don’t feel that I’ve heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus. A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice.”