church fire 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Christian leaders and theologians said Saturday night that distorted media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's speech resulted in Muslim violence.
However, at least one rabbi involved in interfaith blamed Muslim hypersensitivity.
Archbishop of the Melkite-Catholic Church in Israel Elias Chacour, who was attending an interfaith conference in Holland, said that the pope's speech was not understood properly.
But Chacour also deplored the Muslim reaction.
"Such a violent reaction does not inspire peace and brotherhood," said Chacour.
Commenting on relations between Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land, Chacour said that everything would be done to maintain peace.
Rabbi David Rosen, in charge of interfaith at the American Jewish Committee said in response that the reaction showed the hypersensitivity of the Muslim world.
"It is very sad that the pope cannot even make a reference to a historical text without it leading to violence," said Rosen.
"I believe that the violence against churches in the Holy Land is not from Muslim leaders. Rather, it was initiated by the people. Normally, Muslims are much more tolerant."
Father David Neuhaus, professor of Scripture at the Roman Catholic Seminary in Beit Jalla, said that secular media "ripped" the pope's statement about Islam out of context.
"The pope's speech was about how there was no room for violence in the relationship between reason and faith," said Neuhaus. "And his message was directed primarily at secularism, not Islam.
"Then he read something from the polemical discourses of the 14th-century Byzantine Christian emperor Manuel II Palaeologus which would be considered unacceptable to modern Church doctrine."
Neuhaus added that he was not trying to justify Muslims' reactions to the Pope's speech.
"The violent reaction was out of proportion," said Neuhaus. "But I believe all religious peoples are hypersensitive because of Western culture's highly anti-religious attitude and lack of tolerance." Rosen rejected the idea that media misrepresentation could be blamed.
"Reacting violently without first looking beyond a newspaper report is not responsible," said Rosen.
"Objectively, this was a gross overreaction." Rosen theorized that the Muslim reaction was a result of an inferiority complex.
"Somebody who feels wounded and humiliated results in the denigration of the other. At the same time, the West sees itself as the wounded party. This creates a cycle of mutual injury."