In a surreal clash of the sacred and the profane, the New York Times - that citadel of secularism - has declared in its editorial of this morning that Pope Benedict "needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology," for having quoted a 14th century Christian emperor who said:
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The Times is only being fair and balanced, I suppose. After all, hardly a week goes by that you can't pick up the paper and read an editorial condemning this or that mullah, imam or ayatollah for the latest fatwa ordering the death of such-and-such infidel or the destruction of entire countries found to be an annoyance. Or not.
But the Times suddenly gets religion, if they'll excuse the expresssion, when it comes to the Pope. Oh well. At least there's one hopeful sign in all this. It was of course Stalin who dismissively asked how many divisions the Pope had. By its editorial according great weight to the words of the Pontiff, the Times would appear to be breaking with Uncle Joe. Might this be the start of a hopeful trend?