A piece by Thomas D. Williams at Breitbart looks back at some of the comments of Pope Benedict regarding religions and the roles they play in the World:
In that talk, Benedict cited the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus regarding the relationship between religion and violence. “Show me just what Mohammed 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 quote read.
Pope Benedict XVI, a scholar who wrote extensively about religious freedom as well as the proper relationship between church and state, always insisted on speaking about religions (plural) rather than religion (singular). He based his reflections not only on a solid philosophical footing, but also on impartial observation of what religions actually propose and the sort of societies they create.
In his 2009 encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, Benedict made the case that not all religions contribute equally to the development of individuals and societies. Some, in fact, may obstruct it. “Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism,” he wrote, “nor does it imply that all religions are equal.”
Benedict also proposed that in order to safeguard and promote the common good, political authority must in some way discern among different religions. “Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions,” Benedict stated, “especially on the part of those who wield political power.”
The Pope noted that certain religions “teach brotherhood and peace and are therefore of enormous importance to integral human development,” yet other traditions “do not fully embrace the principle of love and truth and therefore end up retarding or even obstructing authentic human development.”
Even before becoming pope, Joseph Ratzinger wrote on the differences between religions, noting that “anyone who sees in the religions of the world only reprehensible superstition is wrong” but also “anyone who wants only to give a positive evaluation of all religions… is equally wrong.”
In his own critical considerations of religions, Ratzinger wrote with brutal honesty, observing that there are “deviant, esoteric forms of religion on offer” as well as “pathological” forms of religion. He wrote of religions that are “obviously sick” and religions that are “destructive for man.” He asserted, moreover, that with the detachment of religion from reason, “pathological forms of religion are constantly increasing.” Continue reading