Interesting observations here, via Instapundit.
The Holy Father is in a tough spot. Millions of Catholics, such as the Italian nun who was murdered yesterday in Somolia, are hostages to the violence of Muslim fanatics who respond to the statements of the various ayatollahs, mullahs and brotherhoods. What exactly do they want the Pope to say? Apparently, saying the views of the medieval Byzantine emperor he quoted were not at all his own, but that he esteems Muslims, was not enough, though the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt thought at first it was, and then changed its mind. Saying that he regrets having caused offense is not enough. What is he supposed to do?
This may indeed be a pivotal moment for the Pope. Perhaps he will discover that the people who want him to apologize still more are not acting in good faith, but are in fact every bit as evil as that Byzantine emperor who had been chased across Asia Minor and was shortly to be chased out of Byzantium, said they were. Consider, what kind of man, even if he thought his religion had been insulted, would make comments that he thought could lead to the deaths of innocents, such as the Italian nun? You would have to be one flinty hearted monster. But then, these religious leaders, many of them anyway, are the same ones that laud the crimes of Hezbollah and al Qeada. Children reduced to body parts in the streets? God's work.
I think the Pope must reach back into his own experience and consider the effect Naziism had on his fellow Germans, and consider whether something very analogous now inhabits the Muslim faithful, and is as ubiquitous there as HIV is in Africa. What purpose would be served by the bizarre spectacle of Benedict, a learned and holy man, apologizing to these murderers of women and children, is beyond me, but, sincerely, I do not presume to judge. The New Testament is full of unwarranted acts of forgiveness, and those are just the ones we know about. The Pope also has to think of all the Catholics and other Christians held hostage inside the countries where mobs or just a few assassins (an apt word here) can be unleased upon them. If he says the wrong thing, or nothing at all, Christians will probably die. It is no longer about what he ought to say in some abstract sense; it is more akin to, what do you say to the gunman who holds, say, a pregnant woman hostage. He is in a very difficult position, like one to whom a very difficult question is put. He can hardly stand on his dignity, and yet, if we know anything from the Nazis and their ilk, it is that the first necessary thing in fighting evil is to recognize it as such. Maybe some post-modern professor of multi-cultural studies cannot bring her/him/itself to call 9/11 or suicide bombers in Haifa evil, but the Vicar of Christ needs to call a spade a spade, or what is the office worth? The whole world, from the Koran quoting killers in blood up to their elbows, to the humble believers who just want peace, will be watching what this man, who once deserted a Wehrmacht AA battery and now finds himself in the shoes of the fisherman, decides he must do.